Australia: Migration Strategy
changes from July 2024

The Australian government recently published its Migration Strategy which outlines a new vision for Australia’s migration system.

The strategy contains a policy roadmap with key actions the government will take to deliver significant reforms to the immigration rules and ensure the migration system works in the best interests of workers, businesses and the nation.

As outlined in the strategy, the following changes are set to come into effect from July 2024.

Closure of Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) subclass 188 visa

As part of the Migration Strategy, the government announced that it would not provide any new allocations for the Business Innovation and Investment program (BIIP) (provisional) subclass 188 visa while a new talent and innovation visa was considered. The new National Innovation visa will be available at the end of 2024.

The BIIP will close permanently from July 2024. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will not accept any new applications for the BIIP (subclass 188) visa. The Migration Review found that the BIIP is delivering poor economic results for Australia. Studies including work by the Treasury and the Productivity Commission support this finding.

DHA will process current BIIP (subclass 188) visa applications in line with government priorities and Migration Program planning levels. DHA will also tighten BIIP policy guidance so that all business migrants coming to Australia must have had a successful business career and will bring an economic benefit to Australia.

Those who hold a subclass 188 visa and meet the criteria for the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) visa can continue on this pathway after July 2024.

Those who hold a subclass 188 visa in the Business Innovation stream or the Significant Investor stream can still apply for the extension stream of the visa. This will give more time to meet the requirements of the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) visa.

Refunds for the subclass 188 visa application charge (VAC) will be available from September 2024 if you want to withdraw your application. DHA will give more information on when to withdraw and how to ask for a refund when they are available.

New restrictions on transferring to a Student visa

From 1 July 2024, Temporary Graduate, Visitor and Maritime Crew visa holders will be unable to apply for a Student visa while in Australia.

In addition to existing visas from which it is already not possible to apply for a Student visa onshore, the complete list of visa holders that will be unable to apply for a Student visa onshore are:

  • Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate)
  • Subclass 600 (Visitor)
  • Subclass 601 (Electronic Travel Authority)
  • Subclass 602 (Medical Treatment)
  • Subclass 651 (eVisitor)
  • Subclass 771 (Transit)
  • Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew)
  • Subclass 995 (Diplomatic Temporary) – primary visa holders only
  • Subclass 403 (Temporary Work) International Relations)) – Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream
  • Subclass 426 (Domestic Worker (Temporary) – Diplomatic or Consular)

The changes to Student visa eligibility were announced as part of the release of the Migration Strategy earlier in 2024.

The Department of Home Affairs states: “Visa hopping has contributed to a growing cohort of ‘permanently temporary’ former international students living in Australia. These changes, combined with other measures, will help to close this loophole and put an end to this practice.

Temporary Graduate Visa holders should depart Australia, or find skilled jobs and/​​or other visa pathways, including those that may lead to becoming permanent residents of Australia. Visitor visa applicants who intend to study will be required to apply for their Student visa from offshore.​

Student visa applicants genuinely intending to pursue studies in Australia can apply outside Australia. Those who meet the criteria will be granted a Student visa.”

For more information, please contact the Smith Stone Walters global immigration team on 0208 461 6660 or email

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