What the Australian budget said about emigration and visas – and how many South Africans are moving

Australia’s 2021-22 federal budget shows that the country will continue to target skilled immigrants, with increased demand expected once international borders re-open.

In an analysis of the changes, immigration specialists Hammond Taylor said that the Australian government will maintain the 2021-22 migration program planning level at 160,000.

“However, with the international borders expected to be closed until at least mid-next year, it’s now expected that net overseas migration is expected to fall from around 154,000 persons in 2019-20 to be around -72,000 persons by the end of 2020-21, before gradually increasing to around 201,000 persons in 2023-24,” it said.

Based on the balance of allocation of places to thevisa, it appears there will be an overall decrease in other skilled migration visa places, Hammond Taylor said.

It outlined the most popular visa routes and options as follows:

  • The number of Family and Skilled Visa places will be maintained at their 2020-21 levels, with a continued focus on onshore visa applicants and reducing the onshore partner visa pipeline.
  • Skilled visas will make up around 50% of the migration intake with the program giving priority to highly skilled migrants in the Employer-Sponsored, Business Innovation and Investor Program and Global Talent visa steams.
  • Family visas will be set at 77,300 places for 2021-22.

Popular option 

The most recent data from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs shows that the country remains a popular destination for South Africans  – even during the Covid-19 lockdown.

up to 3,743 migrants from South Africa moved in 2019/2020, and the country remains one of Australia’s 10 largest source citizenship sources.

The department’s data shows that the majority of South African migrants entered on a skilled visa (3,260), with a smaller number entering on family (427) and child visas (56).

This is a slight decrease from prior years with 3,861 migrants reported in 2018/2019 and 4,235 migrants reported 2017/2018.

While this decrease can partly be attributed to Covid-19 and restrictions on movement and travel, it is clear that Australia’s stricter visa requirements and other factors have also had an impact on potential South African migrants.

In 2010/2011, over 8,612 South African migrants were reported as part of the program – over twice as many than what was recorded in 2019/2020. The change has seen South Africa slip from fifth to eight in Australis’s ranking for migrant countries.


Read: New Australian visa changes coming in July – what South Africans should know

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What the Australian budget said about emigration and visas – and how many South Africans are moving