The tech and talent migration programs will be scrapped and replaced with a new National Innovation Visa under major federal budget reforms that will ensure 70 per cent of permanent migration places are set aside for skilled workers.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers handed down the 2024-25 federal budget in Canberra on Tuesday night, outlining a significant overhaul to Australia’s migration planning and efforts to half net overseas migration over three years.

With net overseas migration reaching a record 528,000 in 2022-23, Chalmers flagged a halving of this number in the next financial year, and a reduction to 395,000 in the current year.

“We’re addressing the pressures caused by population growth, with net overseas migration next year now expected to be half what it was last year,” Chalmers said in his budget night speech.

There was no mention of skilled migration in Chalmers’ speech or the budget summary document.

But budget documents reveal permanent migration will be cut by 5,000 places in 2024-25, with 132,200 places allocated to the skill stream.

The Labor government has set the planning level for permanent migration at 185,000 places, and from 2025-26 will extend the planning horizon for the permanent migration program from one to four years.

The budget also revealed that a new National Innovation Visa will replace the existing Global Talent visa from late 2024.

This new visa will be targeted at “exceptionally talented migrants who will drive growth in sectors of national importance”.

The budget allocated $1.4 million for system changes to transition to the new visa class.

BIIP gets the axe

The existing Business Innovation and Investment visa program (BIIP) will also be scrapped, while work experience requirements for the Temporary Skill Shortage visa will be reduced from two years to one year from 23 November.

The BIIP was closed to new applicants earlier this year, and there has been a significant decline in the number of places offered through it in recent years.

While 11,000 people received visas under the scheme from 2020 to mid-2022, this number fell to 5,000 spots in 2022-23 and just 1,900 people in the current financial year.

The BIIP includes five streams: business innovation, investor, significant investor, entrepreneur, and extension.

The budget confirmed the establishment of the Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES), a mobility pathway for 3,000 Indian graduates and early-career professionals aged up to 30 years old, as announced earlier this year.

The federal government has also announced a number of measures aimed at addressing the exploitation of migrant workers, which has been spotlighted by a number of recent reports.

The budget has allocated $15 million over three years for awareness and education activities to provide these migrant workers with accurate and appropriate information about workplace safeguards, protections and compliance measures related to migration laws, and $1.9 million in the next year for a data-matching pilot between Home Affairs and the Australian Taxation Office of income and employment data to identify potential exploitation.