Upcoming Immigration Changes 2024

Ending onshore visa hopping

The Minister for Home Affairs published a media release that announces further changes to the migration system that were articulated within the Migration Strategy. These changes are to stop what is referred to in the Migration Strategy and the media release as visa hopping where temporary visa holders continue to apply for further temporary visas onshore to extend their stay in Australia with little prospect of becoming permanent residents.

As a measure to restrict visa hopping the media release outlines the following changes to commence from 1 July 2024:

The legislative instruments that will bring about these changes have not yet been released.

The Australian government released its much-anticipated Migration Strategy, which outlines a new vision for Australia’s migration system and a what to expect in 2024.

The key Australian immigration changes in 2024 are:

Summary Details
Creation of a new Skills in Demand visa with 3 targeted pathways to encourage migration worker mobility in the labour market. The visa streams will include:

1.      Specialist Skills pathway – for highly-skilled migrants that are beneficial to Australia’s national productivity with guaranteed annual earnings at least AUD 135,000 and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation. All occupations except for trades workers, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers will be eligible for this steam;

2.      Core Skills pathway  for applicants whose occupation is on a new Core Skills Occupation list which relates to occupations identified by Jobs and Skills Australia as being in shortage and earning at least the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (“TSMIT”); and

3.     Essential Skills pathwaythis will be for workers paid below AUD 70,000 with essential skills and is still under development by the government. Workers under this pathway are currently sponsored through labour agreements.

The government will implement a new Skills in Demand visa, will replace the current TSS 482 visa. The key aspects of the new Skills in Demand visa are:

  • Three pathways– the visa will be split into three different pathways, set out in detail below Tier 1 – Specialist Skills Pathway, Tier 2 – Core Skills Pathway, Tier 3 – Essential Skills Pathway.
  • Time periodthe visa will provide for a 4-year stay for all streams;
  • Service standardsa commitment to median processing times of 21 days.
  • Streamlined labour market testingthe Government has already removed the requirement to advertise (LMT) positions through Workforce Australia, and will subsequently increase the validity period of advertisements from 4 to 6 months;
  • Increased employee mobilityvisa holders will have 180 days to find a new sponsor if they cease employment with their sponsor (up from the current 60 day period). Visa holders can also work during this period.
  • Increased pathways to permanent residencyall visa holders will have a pathway to permanent residency, and time spent with any approved employer will count towards permanent residency eligibility (as opposed to the current 186 visa Transition stream).
  • Potential for reduced upfront employer costs the Government will explore moving employer fees (such as the Skilling Australia Fund) to a monthly or quarterly model, to reduce upfront employer costs.
  • Public sponsor register the Government will develop a public register of approved sponsors, which will publish the numbers of sponsored workers and their occupations, to assist migrants seeking a new sponsor.
The government will explore a reformed Points Test for permanent skilled migration and a new Talent and Innovation visa for migrants who can drive growth in sectors of Australia’s interest.
  • The points test will be reviewed. Further consultation will occur on a new points test, with the development of a new analysis-based points test to identify more effectively the independent migrants who will make the greatest contribution to the country.   This pathway will have a faster pathway to permanent residence for graduates working in skilled jobs.
  • A new Talent and Innovation visa resulting in a single, streamlined pathway to attract relatively small numbers of highly talented migrants to Australia
  • As the government reviews the new Talent and Innovation visa, no new allocations for the Business Innovation and Invest Program will be provided
Student SC500 visas (GTE and higher English requirements)


For student visa applications, the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement will be replaced with a new Genuine Student (GS) requirement. It will require evidence to help the Department of Home Affairs ensure that applications are received from genuine students.

In early 2024, the Australian Government will increase the English language requirements for Student visas. The new English language requirements will better support learning and employment outcomes for you.

  • The test score required for a Student 500 visa will increase from IELTS (or equivalent) 5.5 to 6.0.
    • The test score required for students undertaking an English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) before their main course of study will increase from IELTS (or equivalent) 4.5 to 5.0.
  • The test score required for students undertaking university foundation or pathway programs that deliver reputable English language training will be IELTS (or equivalent) 5.5.
  • Concurrent Confirmation of Enrolment cannot be issued until students have completed 6 months of their courses
  • Increase the amount of saving international students need to prove when apply for a student visa
Simplified Temporary Graduate SC485 visas


The length of post-study work visas will change. However, Australia’s Temporary Graduate visa will still give you time to gain valuable work experience and demonstrate your skills to Australian employers.

Reducing the length of Temporary Graduate visas to:

  • Bachelor degree or Masters by coursework: 2 years
  • Masters by research or PhD: 3 years
  • Students in regional areas: eligibility for second visa of 1-2 years in length depending on location

If you gain work in a skilled job during your post-study work period, you may be eligible to apply for the new 4-year Skills in Demand visa. This visa provides a clearer pathway to permanent residency. The work experience requirement for the TSS visa and future Skills in Demand visa will be changed for Temporary Graduate 485 visa holders, to enable better transition to a temporary skilled migration visa.

Initial stay periods for Indian nationals will not change, as agreed in the Australian-India Economic and Trade Agreement.

New age limit for Temporary Graduate visa applicants

  • Temporary Graduate visa applicants will need to be under the age of 35 (down from the current age limit of 50)

New English requirement for SC485 visas from early 2024:

  • The test score required for a Temporary Graduate 485 visa will increase from an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score (or equivalent) of 6.0 to 6.5.
Closure of the 408 Covid visa
  • Pandemic Event 408 Covid visa holders will be able to apply for a subsequent visa after 2 September 2023 until the visa is fully closed by February 2024.
  • All other visa holders will be ineligible for the Pandemic Event visa from 2 September 2023.
  • visa applications lodged before 2 September 2023 will be considered for 12 months validity and 2 years for Temporary Graduate 485 visa holder
  • those lodging a visa application on or after 2 September 2023 must hold a Pandemic Event visa that expires in 28 days or less
  • visa applications lodged on or from 2 September 2023 will be considered for up to 6 months stay.
  • From 2 September 2023, the Pandemic Event visa will only be open to applications from existing Pandemic Event visa holders.
Visa Application Fee increases from July 2024
  •  Current fees can be seen here
State requirements for 190 and 491 visa in 2024
Significant number of changes came into effect on 25 November 2023, these included;
  • a pathway through the 186 TRT stream to ENS SC 186 (and RSMS SC 187 in some cases) no matter which stream the applicant had been sponsored under on their TSS SC 482 or SC 457 visa
  • applicants holding SC 482 or 457 are now able to apply for SC 186/187 after two years with their sponsor, done from three years
  • applicants sponsored under Labour Agreements (LA) are also able to access these reduced time-frames, where they have not accessed concessions under the agreement.  Those who have accessed concession are required to complete the requirements for access to SC 186 visas as per the original LA
  • COVID concessions were also ceased on that date, without prior warning, which led to consequential amendments to a number of visa classes
  • SC 309, 820, 801 and 485 visas can now be granted no matter the location of the applicant at the time of grant
  • SC 309 visa applicants were given direct access to appeal to the AAT for review of visa refusals.

Migration Program Planning

The government will extend migration planning beyond the current 12 month planning cycle to fill critical skills shortages and ensure better collaboration with the states and territories.

Net overseas migration numbers are expected to fall from 510,000 in the 2022-23 financial year to 375,000 next financial year (2023-2024) and 250,000 in 2024-25. The numbers are predicted to stabilise at this lower level from that time on.

International student numbers grew to 270,000 in 2022-23 up from 170,000 in 2028-19 prior to COVID, which also saw a return to Australia of students who had been forced to study online and offshore during the pandemic.

Temporary visa holders, ie Temporary Skilled, Working Holidays Maker and COVID pandemic event visas, accounted for 180,000 places in 2022-23, up from 100,000 in 2018-19.

Student visas (sc 500): 
  • The minimum test score for the for the English proficiency requirement increases from International English language Testing System (IELTS) 5.5. to 6.0 (or equivalent)
  • The minimum score to undertake a packaged English Language Intenstive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) course increases from IELTS 4.5 to 5.0 (or equivalent)
  • Students undertaking recognised university foundation or pathway programs that deliver reputable English language training require a score of IELTS 5.5. (or equivalent) these recognised courses will be listed on the Department’s website.
  • For students studying English only through ELICOS, there will be no change
Temporary Graduate 485 visas 
  • The minimum score required increases from IELTS 6.0 to 6.5 (or equivalent) with a minimum score of 5.5 for each component of the test (reading, writing, speaking and listening)
  • Passport holders from Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) are not required to meet this increases minimum English language requirement. The settings for this cohort remains at IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent), with a minimum score of 5.0 for each component of the test (reading, writing, speaking and listening)
  • The test validity window for all Temporary Graduate visa applications decreases from three years to one year. Applicants must provide evidence that they have completed an English language test no more than one year immediately before the date of the visa application.

Despite the document stating that these changes commence on 23 March 2024, there are currently no legislative instruments released on the Federal Register of Legislation that bring these changes into effect.

Reform of Skilled Migration – The Points Test

The Skilled Migration Points Test was introduced through ‘Skill Select’ in 2012, and has not been materially altered since then.  Consultation is taking place to establish how the Points Test can be amended, to attract the best candidates to Australia.  This will apply to Skilled Visas – Subclasses 189, 190 and 491.

Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa – work experience reduced

The Government will reduce the work experience requirement for the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa from two years to one year for all applicants from 23 November 2024 onwards

Highlights of 2023 – Australia immigration changes

If you wish to discuss your migration matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team today.


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