Student Visa and Temporary Workers Migration

Challenges Faced by Temporary Workers

Over the years, many student visa and temporary workers in Australia have faced numerous challenges in their pursuit of permanent residency. And there has always been some buzz in local news about migration and problems that migrants face and how the country is responding to it. I will cite a news article about such an individual that was in the news last month. We will keep his identity secret for confidentiality reasons and we’ll just call him Fred.

Fred first arrived in Australia from England in 2013 at the age of 18, hoping to make this country his permanent home.
Working tirelessly in the hospitality industry, Fred has held multiple working holiday visas, student visas, and even COVID-19 visas.

Unfortunately, due to the financial impact of the pandemic, Fred’s long-term employer has been unable to sponsor him for a skilled visa. Fred has spent the past decade of his life achieving his dream of becoming an Australian resident, but he has faced constant setbacks at a cost of thousands of dollars.

With the government’s recent decision to end its temporary pandemic visa program, Fred, like many migrants, finds himself in a difficult situation where he is unable to secure a new visa.

New Focus On Skilled Migration

Fred’s circumstances are not unique. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 1.6 million temporary residents in Australia at the time of the 2021 census. Recognizing the need for change, a review conducted in 2023 concluded that Australia’s migration system heavily relied on temporary migrants who often lacked clear pathways to permanent residency.

In response to this issue, the Labor government introduced plans to attract skilled migrants and provide them with simpler and clearer routes to gaining permanent residency. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil outlined three new pathways for temporary visa holders: a fast and simple pathway for highly skilled workers on high salaries, a middle pathway for skilled migrants earning above the temporary skilled migration income threshold, and an easier pathway for lower-earning workers in critical sectors experiencing staff shortages, such as aged care.

The government aims to ensure that all skilled temporary workers will have a pathway to permanent residency by the end of 2023. These changes show a positive shift in policy, addressing the concerns of migrants who have been living on rolling temporary visas for an extended period.

However, it is still early days, and the concrete impact of these changes remains to be seen.

Government’s Plan to Halve Migrant Intake

To overhaul the migration system, the Australian government has announced plans to halve its migrant intake over the next two years. The proposed changes include tightening visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers and implementing stricter scrutiny on second visa applications.

The increase in net overseas migration in recent years, largely driven by international students, was blamed for the pressure on the rental market and homelessness in the country. A survey conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that 62% of Australian voters believe the country’s migration intake is too high.

While the government intends to speed up the entry of highly skilled workers (either as temporary workers or permanent) and provide them with a specialist visa that has a one-week processing time, it also plans to reduce Australia’s overall net migration from a post-pandemic high of 510,000 to 250,000 by 2025.
Moreover, tougher tests will be implemented for an overseas student to obtain a student visa, and low-skilled temporary workers will face greater challenges in obtaining visas.

These changes will undoubtedly have significant implications for businesses and various sectors of the economy that heavily rely on migrant workers. The government’s approach aims to strike a balance between meeting the skills needs of the country and addressing the concerns raised by the community.

Migration Law

Migration law in Australia encompasses the regulations and legislation surrounding the movement and settlement of people across the country’s borders. It is primarily governed by the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994, along with other related legislation such as the Judiciary Act 1903 and the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

Migration cases are typically heard in either the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA). Most migration cases are handled by the FCFCOA, although migration appeals and related applications are exclusively heard in the Federal Court.

When bringing migration proceedings to the court, it is essential to understand the jurisdictional requirements outlined in the Migration Act 1958. The Federal Court has jurisdiction in relation to a migration decision when it is transferred by the FCFCOA, based on privative clause decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or the Minister personally, or when specific provisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 apply.

During migration proceedings, the court’s role is limited to reviewing jurisdictional errors in the migration decision rather than assessing the merits of the decision itself. Jurisdictional errors may include the identification of wrong issues, reliance on irrelevant material, or an incorrect interpretation and application of the applicable law.

It is crucial to adhere to the time limits associated with migration proceedings. Generally, an application to review a migration decision must be made within 35 days of the decision date. However, it is possible to seek an extension of time by submitting a draft originating application and an affidavit explaining the reason for the delay.

Migration proceedings are typically held in the Federal Court or the FCFCOA, with the time, date, and place of the hearing specified in the application or notice of appeal. If unsure, individuals should contact the court registry for further information. During the hearing, parties should present their arguments, highlighting jurisdictional errors and their implications. The court may ask for additional information or adjourn the hearing for further consideration.

Migration law is a complex area with specific procedures, timelines, and requirements. Seeking legal advice and assistance from professionals experienced in migration law is advisable to navigate the process effectively. In conclusion, temporary workers in Australia face numerous challenges in their pursuit of permanent residency. The government’s recent focus on skilled migration aims to provide clearer pathways for temporary visa holders to obtain permanent residency. However, with the proposed plan to halve the migrant intake and tighten visa rules, it is imperative to strike a balance between meeting the country’s economic needs and ensuring the sustainability of the migration system. Understanding the intricacies of migration law and following the appropriate procedures is crucial for individuals involved in migration proceedings. Click on this link if you need to talk to an expert on migration law.


1. The temporary workers spending a decade and more than $70,000 chasing their Australian dream

2. Australia plans to halve migrant intake, tighten student visa rules

3. Migration law guide – an introduction – Federal Court of Australia