Fully vaccinated international students, eligible visa holders and travellers from Japan and South Korea will be welcomed back to Australia from next week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said eligible visa holders would be able to come to Australia from the beginning of December without needing to apply for a travel exemption.
“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back, it’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enable us to do,” he said.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said welcoming travellers from those countries would further help the tourism industry recover
“These changes are crucially important to Australia as we go through our reopening phase,” she said.
“We are working on a figure of 200,000, it may well be more than that but we will be actively looking to bring as many people into Australia as soon as we possibly can.”
Migration rates fell sharply when the border was closed to everyone except Australian citizens and permanent residents in March last year in response to the emerging pandemic.
Now, almost two years later, many industries are reporting a shortage of workers, with projects including big public infrastructure works at risk.
The migrant intake will expand to around 200,000 places a year from December 1, including more refugee visas, but it is not yet clear how many new spots will be made available in each area.
Currently, there are 79,600 places in the skilled visa category, 13,750 in the humanitarian program, and no cap on the number of student visas that can be granted.
International students back at uni
Vaccinated international students with a valid visa will no longer need an exemption to travel to Australia, but they will be subject to the quarantine arrangements of the state/territory they are travelling to.
In jurisdictions with quarantine-free travel, international students will not count towards passenger caps.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said international students would be back at universities early next year.
“We would be encouraging them to make their plans, and to be back here to give that lift to universities and to the many other parts of our economy that have benefited so much from international students over the years.”
Senator Birmingham said the expansion would be undertaken in line with the plans of the states and territories.
“As with returning international Australian citizens and permanent residents, you’ve got Victoria and New South Wales who have been playing a leading role in reopening their international borders,” he said.
“Other states have spelt out different criteria for when they will provide that type of movement, and that will be a matter for those states to continue to work through those issues, and we’ll respect that.
“Obviously we want them to get the very high vaccination rates of New South Wales and Victoria so that they hopefully can follow suit and have international students back for commencement at their unis next year.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Sky News more migration would accelerate the economic recovery from the pandemic.
“Both skilled workers and international students play an essential role in our economy,” he said.
“International students are worth some $40 billion to our economy.
“We know that there are workforce shortages out there and skilled workers can play a key part in meeting some of those shortages.”
SOURCE: ABC NEWS