Australia Unveils 2024-25 Immigration Plans: What You Need to Know

The Australian Government recently revealed its plans for immigration in the upcoming year. It highlighted key changes and allocations that will shape the landscape for skilled workers and families looking to make Australia their home.

Our Key Takeaways

    • Importing skills is a necessity – but the housing shortage must not be exacerbated .
    • More places for temporary skilled visa holders to transition to permanent residency.
    • Regional employers sponsoring skilled workers are a priority –  skilled workers applying for regional skilled visas will get priority processing.

Federal Budget 2024

The announcement, made on May 14, 2024, included the allocation of 185,000 places for the 2024-25 permanent Migration Program, a reduction of 5000 places from last year. The emphasis of this year’s Migration Program is to address skill shortages, bolster regional development through skilled migration, and promote social cohesion through partner visas and family visas. All this, while tackling the challenge of stubborn inflation and a housing shortage.

Overview of Immigration Streams

Australia has 4 main streams of immigration: education, skilled workers, family and humanitarian. The Federal Government’s budget emphasizes the role of skilled workers to boost Australia’s productivity and address Australia’s aging workforce.

  • Skill Stream: With roughly 70% of the program dedicated to skilled visas, the skills stream is designed to increase productivity and ease skills shortages especially in regional areas. While this should be welcome news for sectors like agriculture, mining, construction and healthcare, the number of skilled visa places for 2024/2025 will reduce by 5000 places to 185,000.

This reduction may affect the decision making processes of Department of Home Affairs when they assess visa applications. Employers looking to sponsor a skilled worker will do well to ensure their business case is clearly presented.

  • Family Stream: Comprising around 28% of the program, this stream facilitates family reunification and citizenship pathways, particularly through Partner visas. The government emphasised its aim to strengthen community ties within Australia.

Implications for Sponsoring Employers

Employer Sponsored Visas: The planning level for Employer Sponsored visas has been increased to 44,000, reflecting the government’s efforts to provide more opportunities for temporary migrants to secure permanent residence.

One of the aims for this is to reduce the number of long term temporary visa holders by encouraging a transition to permanent residency through employer sponsorship. This should strengthen temporary visa holders commitment to Australia – and their employer –  by enabling them to set down roots here and help to strengthen communities.

It is also designed to relieve some pressure on housing demand as these skilled workers are already living and working in Australia.

 sponsoring an employee

The increase in Employer Sponsored visas will have implications for employers sponsoring skilled workers on subclass 482 visas. When employers continue to sponsor their employee from a 482 visa onto the 189 visa, employers stand to benefit from longer term employee retention.  

The increase in employer sponsored visas should benefit employers working in the construction and building sector. The State of Western Australia is offering generous subsidies to sponsoring employers in the construction and building sectors who are based in Western Australia. The subsidies are designed to cover the cost of sponsoring an employee, including visa application fees, skills assessments and migration agent fees.

State/Territory Nominated Visas: The allocation for these visas has been boosted to 33,000, with a focus on addressing specific  labour force needs at the regional level. For industries like healthcare, this means greater access to skilled professionals who can contribute to essential services in remote and under served areas.

This affects skilled workers looking to be sponsored on a subclass 190 visas, a permanent residency visa, or a subclass 491 visa, a temporary skilled worker visa. Both of these visas require a skilled worker to be invited by a state or territory to apply.

States like Western Australia and New South Wales are offering incentives to skilled workers who might already be on a temporary work visa to move interstate. These incentives include receiving extra points to make it easier meet visa eligibility requirements. And in Western Australia’s case, skilled migrants with an occupation included in the Construction Visa Subsidy Program could qualify for reimbursements for the cost of their visa application


Focus on Regional Development

The increase in visa places for State/Territory Nominated and Regional Australia reflects a concerted effort to support regional Australia. The Government committed to prioritising visa processing for regional Australia as the domestic pipeline of highly skilled workers bears fruit.

Individual states and territories are also trying to attract skilled workers to the regions. The Government of New South Wales, for example, is trying to make it easier to apply for a Subclass 491 visa. Visa applicants needed to live and work in a designated regional area of NSW for at least 12 months with one employer. But now, the NSW Government has reduced this requirement to just 6 months.

Read more: NSW Government Eases Requirements for Skilled Work Regional Visa (subclass 491)

Another way regional Australia is being supported by migration is through Designated Area Migration Agreement or DAMAs. DAMAs are a type of labour agreement that focus on addressing the unique skilled shortages faced by a specific region. They usually offer exceptions to typical visa eligibility requirements. They enable employers to sponsor employees on subclass 482 visas, subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visas, and subclass 186 Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) visas.

There are currently 12 DAMAs in place. Most recently, South Australia, which has two DAMAs in place announced an expansion to their agreements, adding 128 occupations to the SA Regional DAMA.

Moving Towards Multi-Year Planning

Looking ahead, the Migration Program will transition to a multi-year planning model from 2025–26, providing a four-year planning horizon. This shift aims to better align migration planning with long-term infrastructure, housing, and services planning and a more coordinated approach to managing population growth and development.

Our key takeaways from the Federal Government’s 2024 Budget is that skills matter but the housing shortage must not be exacerbated. Hence one of the reasons the number of student places will be capped and eligibility requirements will be increased.

For existing sponsoring employers who already employ 482 visa holders, the future looks pretty good. Sponsoring employers and temporary skilled visa holders are effectively being encouraged to transition to permanent residency if the opportunity allows. Regional employers sponsoring skilled workers are a priority. The Department of Home Affairs will continue to prioritise processing visa applications for regional skilled visas like subclass 491, and subclass 190 visas.

Head of Operations and human resources professionals trust us for guidance on visa issues. With expertise in skilled visas, we save clients time with our streamlined visa document process. Through our long term partnerships with clients, we help sponsoring employers ensure they are meeting sponsor requirements and employment regulations, giving peace of mind.

Contact us today to discuss your skilled visa options.


Department of Home Affairs

Skilled Migration Western Australia

Move to South Australia

NSW Visas and Migration



Greg Nicolson is a registered migration agent with over 15 years of commercial migration experience. He is Managing Director of the Australian Business Migration Group.