Australian Election Overview 2022 - Immigration

Original Publication Date - 18/05/2022

With the federal 2022 election encroaching upon us, it’s no surprise that immigration is a hot election topic this year. Immigration to Australia will be relevant to employers looking to employ workers from overseas as part of Australia’s post COVID economic recovery plan.

In anticipation of the Federal election on Saturday, 21 May 2022 we have mapped out the major parties' polices and provided a snapshot of each party’s immigration policies and what it would mean for businesses looking to sponsor skilled workers.


As the party currently in government, the Coalition's immigration policies were set ahead of the election and are unlikely to change if elected. The budget released earlier this year indicated the Coalition’s immigration policies that will be implemented if the Coalition were to be re-elected:

  • Focus on skilled migration with an increase in the number of places available across the skilled stream.
  • Under the family visa stream, processing of partner visas will change to a demand-basis model to provide flexibility to meet demand in any given program year.
  • A one-off cap increase in the number of places available to working holiday makers from countries which have a work and holiday visa (subclass 462) arrangement with Australia.
  • Pledge to create 1.3 million jobs as part of the election campaign this year. ,There is an expectation that skilled migrant workers will be necessary to to fill positions that cannot be met by the local labour force.

The international border closure during the pandemic saw net overseas migration fall into negative figures so experts believe that  for the government to be able to fill these 1.3 million jobs, the skilled migration cap will need to be lifted. However, the Coalition has confirmed that the skilled migration cap will remain at its planned figure of 160,000

What does this mean for businesses?

  • Continuance of the existing employer sponsored visa program. There have been some temporary measures implemented such as relaxation of student work visa hours and the 6 month work limitation for Working Holiday Visa (WHV) holders.
  • Businesses can expect to have access to wider pool of WHV workers in Australia. WHV holders may seek sponsorship on a TSS work visa so businesses will need to prepare and be ready to be in a position to meet work visa requirements, including Labour Market Testing, before an application can be lodged.

Labor Party

Labor has not set out any immigration-specific policies ahead of the election, but have commented on various immigration issues during the election campaign:

  • Labor commitment to create 604,000 jobs, with 5 out of 6 jobs to be created in regional areas.
  • Labour Home Affairs spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, has confirmed Labour’s intention to overhaul a perceived reliance on short-term temporary visas by making it easier for foreign workers to become permanent residents. The Labour Party believes offering permanent residency will attract more foreign workers to Australia.
  • Reform of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Seasonal Worker (PALM-SWP) program. This program allows Pacific nationals to work in Australia for up to nine months in certain sectors (e.g. agriculture, aged care). Labour intends to expand the scheme so workers have permission to stay in Australia longer (1-4 years) and allow visa holders to bring spouses and children (not currently permitted under the scheme).
  • Creation of a new Pacific Engagement Visa for nationals of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste. Up to 3,000 visas would be annually allocated by a ballot or lottery process modelled on the New Zealand Pacific Access Resident Category visa. The program would commence July 2023.
  • Commitment by Labour to ensure there are nurses in all aged care facilities at all times which would require a larger workforce. Labor has confirmed they would prioritize employing Australian workers but would bring in foreign workers if necessary.
  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese has confirmed he supports offshore processing and resettlement in third countries of asylum seekers and refugees (in line with the Coalition’s current Operation Sovereign Borders policy) but does not support temporary protection visas.

What does this mean for businesses?

  • Will be able to attract and retain skilled workers from overseas as there is a clear pathway to permanent residency in Australia.
  • Attention to chronic skills shortages on the aged care sector. This could mean changes to allow for more flexibility for operators in this sector.
  • Greater visa options for regional businesses in sectors eligible for the PALM scheme (agriculture, accommodation, aged care, disability, aquaculture, horticulture, hospitality, meat works and viticulture).


The Greens party are looking to introduce wide range of migration reforms with focus upon rights and rules for applicants and migrants from overseas. Stated aims of the Greens include:

  • Permanent migration program for refugees and migrants to Australia that prioritises family reunion and humanitarian entrants, and facilitates migration or resettlement to Australia within a reasonable time.
  • Review of the family, skilled and business migration streams to prioritise family reunion and meeting skills shortages.
  • Skilled migration program that does not substitute for training or undermine wages and conditions in Australia and does not discriminate on the basis of economic circumstances.
  • Accessible pathways to employment for skilled migrants permanently settling in Australia, including, consistent, timely, fair, transparent and non-discriminatory assessment of overseas qualifications.

What does this mean for businesses?

  • If Greens were to hold a balance of power, they could influence a revamp of the migration program, which could mean changes to the current skilled migration program.

Regardless of outcome, the party who wins the election will need to make skilled migration a priority to address skill shortages experienced by businesses across Australia. Failure to do so will hinder Australia post-Covid economic recovery.