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Australia suspends working holiday visa scheme

In a significant policy shift, the Australian government has temporarily suspended its Working Holiday Visa program. This decision also affects applicants, and it introduces a lottery-style bid system for the financial year ending June 2025. This suspension, confirmed by the Department of Home Affairs, is part of a broader intake halt as new changes are implemented.


Context and Impact

The suspension comes at a time when over 136,600 Working Holiday Visas were active in Australia as of March 2023. The Working Holiday Visa program, which caters to internationals aged 18 to 30, allows participants to stay and work in Australia for up to 12 months, with possible extensions. The program includes two subclasses: the Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) and the Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462). Notably, subclass 462 requires additional documentation, such as a letter of support from the applicant’s home government and certain educational qualifications, unlike subclass 417.

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New Visa Initiatives

In addition to these changes, Australia is set to introduce a new visa aimed at attracting exceptionally talented workers, replacing a controversial investor migrant program. This initiative, part of the annual budget announced by Treasurer Jim Chalmers, underscores the government’s strategy to draw skilled talent from around the world.


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Balancing Skilled Migration and Population Growth

The center-left Labour government is under pressure to manage migration carefully, especially following a post-pandemic surge. According to Australia’s Bureau of Statistics, overseas migration contributed a net gain of 518,000 people to Australia’s population in the year ending June 30, 2023, the highest since records began. These immigration policy changes reflect Australia’s efforts to balance the need for skilled workers with concerns about population growth and resource management.

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Looking Ahead

As Australia navigates these immigration policy adjustments, the suspension of the Working Holiday Visa program for Chinese nationals and the introduction of a lottery system indicate a strategic shift aimed at managing the country’s migration flow more effectively. The introduction of a new visa to attract global talent further highlights Australia’s focus on enhancing its skilled workforce while addressing the challenges posed by rapid population growth.


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