NEWS Visa simplification: transforming Australia’s visa system

Transforming Australia’s visa system

Australia’s visa system has served the nation without significant change for almost 30 years. Over that time, global migration patterns have changed and so have Australia’s needs.

  • Since the early 1980s, the permanent migration programme has fluctuated from 52,600 places to a planning level of up to 190,000 places in 2017-18. 
  • Volumes of visa and citizenship applications are forecast to increase by around 50 per cent by 2026-27, to around 13 million visa and citizenship applications per annum.
  • In coming years, border crossings are likely to grow from almost 40 million each year to reach nearly 50 million by 2020.

Australia’s visa system is in many respects an artefact of a bygone era and is ill suited to this future. The visa system is highly complex, with 99 individual visa types.


To help inform its consideration of visa simplification options, the Department will be responsible for consulting broadly on design elements of the new visa system.

Key areas for consideration include:

  • the scope for a reduction in the number of visas from 99 at present, to fewer than 10
  • the delineation between temporary entry and long-term or permanent residence
  • the role that a period of provisional residence could play in the pathway to permanent residence and citizenship, and in enhancing the integrity of the visa system
  • ensuring that our visa system supports Australia as a competitive and attractive destination for temporary and longer-term entrants.

The Department has released a policy consultation paper to support stakeholders in developing their responses. Submissions in response to the policy consultation paper should be made through the Department’s website by 15 September 2017.

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