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Bridging Visa holders in Australia at their lowest in four years

The number of bridging visa holders in Australia increased from 179,921 in June 2019 to 183,200 in February 2023, with a peak in 2021-22.

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According to recently released data by the Department of Home Affairs, the number of temporary migrants on Bridging Visa in Australia is at its lowest point since June 2019. This was the time when immigration came to a halt due to Covid-19 restrictions. As of February 2023, there were only 183,200 migrants on Bridging Visa, which is a considerable drop compared to the peak of 373,109 in March 2022.

The backlog of Bridging Visa holders has been a significant concern during the pandemic. This temporary visa allows people to stay in Australia after their current substantive visa expires, while they wait for their new substantive visa application to be processed. The number of bridging visa holders in Australia has been increasing in recent years, with a noticeable uptick in the number of Indian bridging visa holders.

Bridging Visa Holders in Australia, Source: DoHA
Bridging Visa Holders in Australia, Source: DoHA

The data shows that there is an overall increasing trend in the number of bridging visa holders in Australia between June 2019 and February 2023. The total number of bridging visa holders in Australia increased from 179,921 in June 2019 to 183,200 in February 2023, with a peak in 2021-22.

Policy experts argue that during the pandemic, there was a significant decline in offshore visa applications, which could have been used as an opportunity to reduce the number of Bridging Visa holders in Australia. However, instead of reducing the numbers, the Department of Home Affairs allowed it to escalate significantly, reaching a peak of 373,109 in March 2022.

When looking specifically at the number of Bridging Visa holders from India, a consistent increase can be observed from June 2019 to December 2021, with a peak of 78,491 in March 2021. This is a significant increase from the 27,087 Indian Bridging Visa holders in June 2019. However, in the last two quarters of 2022, the number of Bridging Visa holders from India has decreased substantially. It dropped from 86,106 in September 2022 to 41,233 in December 2022 and further down to 33,113 in February 2023.

This decrease in the number of Bridging Visa holders from India can be attributed to changes in Australian immigration policy. The Albanese government announced a $36 million funding boost to the Department of Home Affairs in September 2022 to clear Australia’s significant visa backlog. As part of this, hundreds of extra public servants were deployed to process applications from businesses in dire need of workers. These measures have led to a decrease in the number of Bridging Visa holders in Australia.

The data shows that the number of Bridging Visa holders in Australia has been increasing in recent years, and the pandemic has led to a considerable backlog. However, the recent measures taken by the Australian government to address the visa backlog have led to a decrease in the number of Bridging Visa holders, including those from India.

READ MORE: Indians top the list of skilled migrants in Australia

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