Australia Tightens Visa Regulations Amid Record Migration Numbers

Australia is set to enforce tougher visa regulations for foreign students starting this week, as the latest official data reveals a surge in migration to the country, further intensifying pressures on an already strained rental market.

Effective this Saturday, stringent English language proficiency requirements will be imposed on student and graduate visas. Additionally, the government will be empowered to suspend education providers found repeatedly violating regulations concerning international student recruitment.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil underscored the significance of these measures, stating, “The actions this weekend will continue to drive migration levels down while delivering on our commitments in the migration strategy to fix the broken system we inherited.”

To combat the trend of international students primarily seeking employment opportunities, a new “genuine student test” will be introduced. Furthermore, “no further stay” conditions will be increasingly applied to visitor visas.

These policy adjustments follow a series of actions undertaken last year to roll back COVID-era concessions, such as unrestricted working hours for international students. The government had signaled its intention to tighten rules, potentially halving migrant intake over a two-year period.

Australia augmented its annual migration figures in 2022 to address labor shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted stringent border controls, effectively barring foreign students and workers for nearly two years.

However, the influx of foreign workers and students has further strained an already tight rental market. Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates a 60% surge in net immigration to a record 548,800 in the year leading up to September 30, 2023, surpassing the previous figure of 518,000 recorded in the year ending June 2023.

Consequently, Australia’s population saw a remarkable 2.5% increase – the fastest pace on record – reaching 26.8 million people by September of last year.

Driven primarily by students from India, China, and the Philippines, this record migration has expanded the labor pool, thereby curbing wage pressures. However, it has exacerbated the housing crisis, with rental vacancies remaining at historic lows and elevated construction costs impeding new supply.

Minister O’Neil noted that the government’s interventions since September have led to a notable decline in migration levels. Recent statistics indicate a 35% decrease in international student visa grants compared to the previous year.

As Australia grapples with the complex dynamics of migration and its impact on various sectors, these regulatory changes signal a concerted effort by the government to balance the needs of the economy with the pressures on housing and labor markets. Time will tell how these measures shape Australia’s migration landscape in the coming years.


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