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On May 14th, 2024, the Australian Government released the Federal Budget for 2024-25. This budget includes some announcements that impact international students, skilled workers, and migration.

If you’re planning to work, live or study in Australia, we’ve collected the important highlights from the announcement that may impact you.

In this article, we will focus on announcements that affect the following visa subclasses:

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Permanent migration program announcements

2024–25 Permanent Migration Program planning level is set at a total of 185,000 places, with 132,200 places (around 70 per cent) allocated to the Skill stream:

  • Employer-sponsored visa (subclass 186) places will increase to 44,000

  • Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) will be reduced to 16,900

  • State-nominated visa (subclass 190) will increase to 33,000

Read more about the Migration Program Planning levels on the Department of Home Affairs website

Changes affecting international students

The Government had several recent announcements that affect international students applying to and graduating from Australian universities and educational providers. We have compiled the key highlights below.

Student visa (subclass 500) announcements:

1. Changes to the minimum English requirement:

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2. Genuine Student requirement

The Government has replaced the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement for student visas with a Genuine Student (GS) requirement. This is effective for student visa applications lodged on and after 23 March 2024.

All applicants for a student visa must be a genuine applicant for entry. They must stay as a student and be able to show an understanding that studying in Australia is the primary reason of their student visa. The GS requirement is intended to include students who, after studying in Australia, develop skills Australia needs and who then go on to apply for permanent residence.

3. Financial capacity

From 10 May 2024, the amount of money that Student and Student Guardian visa applicants need to have to be eligible for the visa is increasing.

Read the announcement on the Department of Home Affairs website and see the table which outlines the funds you need to show to meet the minimum financial capacity requirement.

4. The Government to introduce international student caps

The number of places for international students is being capped, the details to be determined in negotiations with universities, as part of the Draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework.

The Framework will support the sustainability, quality, and integrity of Australia’s education sector, and the limit on international students will be determined on a provider-by-provider basis.

Each institution will have their own maximum allocation for international student enrolments, which will be determined based on several factors, including the provision of student accommodation.

This proposed legislation sets to ensure that Australia continues to provide high-quality education and training to the world.

Read the Minister of Education’s joint media release.

Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) announcements:

1. Changes to the minimum English requirement

  • increased from IELTS (or equivalent) 6.0 to 6.5

  • scores must be from a single sitting/attempt

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2. Re-alignment of the Temporary Graduate visa streams to levels of study

The Government is looking to restructure graduate visas in to help align post-study work rights with actual career prospects.

There will be changes that will take effect from 1 July 2024, subject to the passage of legislative documents, to re-align the Temporary Graduate visa streams to levels of study.

The maximum eligible age for Post-Vocational Education Work stream (formerly called the Graduate Work stream) and Post-Higher Education Work stream (formerly called the Post-Study Work stream) applicants will reduce to 35 years of age or under.

Exceptions: Hong Kong and British National Overseas passport holders as well as students who studied Master by research and Phd (may be 50 years of age or under).

The ‘select degree’ 2 year extension will cease.

Stay periods will change to the following:

  • Bachelor degree (including honours) – up to 2 years

  • Masters (coursework and extended) – up to 2 years

  • Masters (research) and doctoral degree (PhD) – up to 3 years.

Hong Kong and British National Overseas passport holders may be able to stay for up to 5 years.

Stay periods for Indian nationals, as agreed in the Australia India – Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA), remain as:

  • Bachelor degree (including honours) – up to 2 years

  • Bachelor degree (with first class honours in STEM, including ICT) – up to 3 years

  • Masters (coursework, extended and research) – up to 3 years

  • Doctoral degrees (PhD) – up to 4 years.

Read more about these updates on the Temporary Graduate visa page and on the Department of Home Affairs website for the official announcement.

Changes to the minimum English requirement for Student and Temporary Graduate visas:

Visa Subclass 

Visa Type 

Previous IELTS Requirement

New IELTS requirement 

Is One Skill Retake approved? 

Subclass 500

Student Visa 

5.5

6

Yes

Subclass 485

Temporary Graduate Visa

6.0

6.5

No

*Changes were announced and have taken effect starting March 23, 2024.

Changes affecting skilled workers and migrants

Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) announcements:

The Government will also 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.

This will allow a greater proportion of temporary migrants to secure permanent residence in a timely manner through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.

With the lowered experience requirement, more people, including international students with 485 visas, will be eligible for this visa. Additionally, since the 482 visa is temporary, it is not subject to the federal government's allocated number of permanent residency visas.

Minimum IELTS score needed:

  • Short term stream: Overall band score of at least 5.0 with a score of at least 4.5 in each of the test components.

  • Medium term stream: Overall band score of at least 5.0 with a score of at least 5 in each of the test components.

  • The scores need to be from a single sitting/attempt.

Employer-Sponsored visa (subclass 186) announcements:

The Government has announced an increase in Employer-sponsored visa (subclass 186) places to 44,000, which is a 20% increase compared to this year.

Minimum IELTS score needed:

  • Direct Entry stream - competent English (IELTS score or at least 6 for each of the 4 components)

  • Temporary Residence Transition stream - competent English (IELTS score or at least 6 for each of the 4 components)

  • IELTS One Skill Retake is accepted for this visa subclass, you can check more on the Department of Home Affairs website or your migration agent for more details.

Read about IELTS General Training for migration

Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES)

The Government will implement a new Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES) program for Indian nationals from 1 November 2024.

MATES will be open to Indian nationals who meet the eligibility requirements, which includes a minimum English requirement.

MATES will provide a new mobility pathway for 3,000 Indian graduates and early career professionals (aged 18 to 30 years at the time of application), with knowledge and skills in targeted fields of study to live and work in Australia for up to two years. The visa will have a pre-application (ballot) charge of $25 and an application charge of $365, both of which will be indexed to the consumer price index in future years. This measure is part of the Australia-India Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement (MMPA). As part of the MMPA, the Government also lengthened the validity of the Visitor visa (subclass 600) Business Visitor stream for Indian nationals from up to three years to up to five years.

Minimum IELTS score needed:

  • have proficient English language skills (overall IELTS or equivalent score of at least 6, with a minimum score of 5 for each of the four parts)

Read the official MATES fact-sheet

Other visa announcements:

  • A new National Innovation visa will be introduced, replacing the current Global Talent Visa (Subclass 858) from late 2024.

    • Currently, the Global Talent visa has a minimum English requirement of providing evidence of functional English (an average IELTS band score of at least 4.5 based on the 4 test components), otherwise applicants must pay a second instalment of their visa application charge.

    • We will update on whether the National Innovation visa will have the same minimum English requirements once the visa has been formally introduced.

  • The Business Innovation and Investment Visa Program (BIIP) will cease.

IELTS for migration

With IELTS, you choose how you take your test based on what it is you want to do.

Depending on your goals, you can choose between IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training. The General Training test is used for work or migration purposes. The Academic test is usually for entry into university or professional registration.

You can even choose between taking the IELTS on computer or on paper. 

From maximising your chances of success on your immigration application to helping you achieve your career goals, your IELTS result will bring you one step closer to your migration goals. 

IELTS is accepted as proof of English language proficiency for study, work and migration in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It's recognised by more than 12,000 organisations, including educational institutions, employers, professional associations and governments, in over 140 countries around the world.

By choosing IELTS, you will establish yourselves with an English language test that sets you up to succeed from day one in your study, work and migration goals.

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Preparation is key

If you need to take an English test, preparing early is essential. It allows you to get familiar with the test format and understand how you will be marked and scored. The good news is that IELTS has a range of preparation materials to help you achieve your desired score.

Get feedback and coaching from official IELTS experts, take IELTS practice tests, watch videos to help you prepare, and read the latest news and articles. Additionally, don't forget to access your study plan and get IELTS tips from our IELTS Experts during our Masterclasses.

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If you require assistance with Australian immigration or visa applications, seek expert migration guidance from IDP's team of multilingual migration agents.

Whether you're starting your stay in Australia or seeking an extension, IDP's registered agents can provide assistance. Whether your goal is to study and obtain permanent residency or have a temporary stay, they can help you with various visa types.

To receive support, book an appointment with one of their registered MARA agents located across most of Australia.

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Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for changes that may apply to you.

If you are interested in Australian student visas, work visas, or looking to migrate permanently, you need to lodge an application with the Australian Government. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent.

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Published on May 14, 2024

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