Important Changes to Australian Immigration Rules Announced by the Government


The Australian government has recently introduced several significant changes to its immigration rules that could affect visa applicants and employers. We outline these changes below:

Student Visa Processing Priorities

Ministerial Direction No. 107, signed on 14 December 2023, formalizes the Australian government’s processing priorities for student and student guardian visa programs. Each Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)-registered education provider is now assigned an evidence level. This new Ministerial Direction, in conjunction with the evidence-level framework, prioritizes applications from international students wishing to study in Australia.

Ministerial Direction No. 107 gives the highest priority to:

  • Student visa applications lodged outside Australia by Schools sector, Foreign Affairs or Defence sector, and Postgraduate Research sector applicants;

  • Higher Education, English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS), Vocational Education and Training (VET), and Non-Award sector applicants studying at an education provider with an evidence level 1;

  • Subsequent entrant applications lodged outside Australia that include an unmarried family member under 18 years;

  • All Student Guardian visa applications (lodged in or outside Australia).

Any secondary applicant (spouse, de facto partner, or dependent child) included in the primary visa application will be given the same priority as the primary applicant.

The new student visa processing priorities apply to all visa applications lodged on or after 15 December 2023, as well as applications lodged before this date that are yet to be finalized. Student visa applications lodged in Australia will continue to be processed according to existing processing arrangements. Removal of the Labour Market Testing (LMT) Requirement to Advertise on the Workforce Australia Website On 11 December 2023, immigration law was updated to remove the requirement for employers to advertise on the Workforce Australia website. This change applies to subclass 482 and 494 nomination applications, allowing employers greater flexibility in how they undertake LMT. At the same time, the clarifying text has been included in the updated instrument, indicating that nominated positions may be advertised over two or more overlapping periods totaling a minimum of four weeks. This change is an immediate outcome of the Government’s Migration Strategy. Migration Strategy Published On 11 December 2023, the Australian government released its Migration Strategy, including significant reforms to the migration system. The Migration Strategy builds on the findings of the first comprehensive review of the migration system in a generation, the 2023 Review of the Migration System, and the Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia’s Visa System.

The eight key actions of the Migration Strategy are as follows:

  1. Targeting temporary skilled migration to address skills needs and promote worker mobility.

  2. Reshaping permanent skilled migration to drive long-term prosperity.

  3. Strengthening the integrity and quality of international education.

  4. Tackling worker exploitation and the misuse of the visa system.

  5. Planning migration to get the right skills in the right places.

  6. Tailoring regional visas and the Working Holiday Maker Program to support regional Australia and its workers.

  7. Deepening people-to-people ties in the Indo-Pacific.

  8. Simplifying the migration system to improve the experience for migrants and employers.

Expert Support with Your Visa Application

If you are interested in applying for an Australian visa and require support with the application process, Smith Stone Walters can help. Our immigration experts can assess your eligibility and support you throughout the entire process. To find out more about our immigration services, please contact us today.