Ending Visa Hopping: Strengthening Australia's Migration System

06/12/2024

Introduction

On July 1, 2023, the Albanese Government, led by Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O'Neil, introduced significant measures to end "visa hopping" within Australia’s migration system. This initiative is a key part of the Government's Migration Strategy, aimed at closing loopholes that allow temporary visa holders to extend their stay indefinitely, often without progressing towards permanent residency.



The Issue of Visa Hopping

Visa hopping occurs when individuals continuously switch between various temporary visas to remain in Australia without securing permanent residency. This practice undermines the integrity of the migration system and creates challenges in managing population growth and ensuring that visas fulfill their intended purpose.

Data Highlights

  • Growth in Visa Hopping: The number of international students staying in Australia on a second or subsequent student visa has increased by over 30%, reaching more than 150,000 in the 2022–23 period.

  • Visitor to Student Visa Pathway: From July 1, 2023, to the end of May 2024, over 36,000 applications were made by Visitor Visa holders seeking to transition to Student Visas.

Key Measures Announced

  1. No Further Stay Conditions:

    • Implemented on visitor visas to prevent continuous visa switching.

    • Reinforced by the Genuine Student requirement introduced in March 2023, which stops students from hopping between student visas without credible course progression.

  2. Restricting Onshore Visa Applications:

    • Visitor Visa holders can no longer apply for Student Visas onshore, closing a major loophole.

    • Temporary Graduate Visa holders are also restricted from applying for Student Visas onshore, encouraging them to seek skilled employment or return to their home countries.

  3. Changes to Temporary Graduate Visas:

    • Shortened post-study work rights.

    • Reduced age limit for applicants from 50 to 35 years.

    • Increased English language requirements implemented in March 2023.

Expert Opinions

Peter McDonald, a renowned Australian demographer, supports these measures, suggesting that curtailing visa hopping by reducing onshore visa applications would more effectively manage population growth than cutting the permanent migration intake.

The Grattan Institute’s "Graduates in Limbo" report found that 32% of Temporary Graduate Visa holders return to study after their visas expire to extend their stay. The new policies address this issue directly, promoting skilled employment over indefinite temporary stays.

Government's Commitment

Minister Clare O'Neil emphasized the government’s dedication to creating a smaller, better-planned, and more strategic migration system that works for Australia. She stated, “Our Migration Strategy outlines a clear plan to close the loopholes in international education and this is the next step in delivering that plan.”

Conclusion

The measures announced on July 1, 2023, represent a significant step towards ending visa hopping and restoring integrity to Australia's migration system. By closing key loopholes and promoting genuine visa progression, the government aims to reduce net overseas migration and ensure that the system supports Australia’s economic and social needs.

For more information, visit the Department of Home Affairs website​ (Department of Home Affairs Website)​​ (HomeAffairs Ministers)​​ (HomeAffairs Ministers)​.