Australia announces plans to halve migrant intake

STORY: Australia says it’s tightening visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers.

The country said Monday that decision could cut its migrant intake in half over the next two years and fix what the government called a “broken” migration system.

Australia had boosted its migration numbers after COVID-19 to help businesses fill staffing shortages.

However, the sudden surge in students and workers ratcheted up pressure on an already-tight rental market, with homelessness on the rise.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil:

“We are going to make sure that we bring numbers back under control, that we build a better planned system around essential things like housing, and perhaps most importantly of all, that we build a program that delivers for the national interest.

O’Neil said the surge was mainly driven by international students – a group that was kept out of the nation for almost two years because of the pandemic.

Under the new policies, international students would need to score higher on English tests. There would also be more scrutiny if they want to prolong their stay after their studies end.

The decision came after net immigration was expected to have peaked at a record 510,000 people between 2022 and 2023.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the weekend said Australia’s migrant numbers needed to go back to a “sustainable level.”

A recent survey for an Australian newspaper showed that almost two-thirds of voters said the country’s migration intake was too high.

Still, Australia is now one of the world’s tightest labor markets and has long relied on immigration to bolster it.

The Labor government has pushed to speed up the entry of highly-skilled workers and smooth their path to permanent residency.