Despite leaving the White House now being just a matter of time and formality for outgoing US President Donald Trump, some elements of his administration will seemingly outstay the administrator, even after a new government takes over.
The Trump administration oversaw one of the harshest tightenings in US immigration policy, the likes of which has not been seen since the 1930s.
Such was the nature of the immigration policy reform that the US population growth fell to its lowest in a century – that too before international travel was disrupted by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
In his attempt to deliver on his promise of making America great again, President Trump suspended new work visas to the US – the leading skilled migration destination in the world and the driver of innovation of entrepreneurship – and barred tens of thousands of qualified foreign individuals from being hired by US companies.
As a result, US firms lost a whopping US$100 billion from their market value.
This too from just one of around 400 work visa executive orders signed by President Trump.
Although the incoming Biden administration is expected to relax the severely tightened immigration policy, it will not be done overnight.
This is where Australia comes into the picture.
Traditionally, Australia has been a close substitute for the US in terms of being a migration destination for skilled overseas workers, and given the US reluctance on attracting and hiring global talent, Australia could very well benefit from the uncertainty faced by skilled migrants.
Australia ranks among the top five desired destinations for potential skilled migrants, alongside the US, Canada, Germany and France.
The English-speaking nations – the US, Canada, the UK and Australia – attract around 70 per cent of the total skilled migration flows around the world, and with the US taking an increasingly restrictive approach, a large share of US-bound skilled immigrants will turn to Australia.
Unlike the US, Australia is actively looking for skilled migrants to boost its workforce – especially in the Australian regions and territories, where the train of development has well and truly gained momentum.
The government has a number of specialised pathways to Australia for different skills, such as the Global Talent Independent (GTI) Program and the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191). It has also recently announced the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), which focuses on 17 occupations with priority processing benefits for applicants.
Many of these pathways offer permanent residency to applicants, with the possibility of applying for Australian citizenship and obtaining an Australian passport within a few short years.
This is an opportunity that no skilled worker looking for immigration will want to miss out on.
In addition, Australia’s impetus for attracting new immigrants to its shores is set to increase even further in the coming years, especially in the wake of international migration halted by Covid-19.
The Australian government is set to suffer net outflows in 2020-21 and 2021-22 – the first time Australia’s net migration numbers are likely to reach negative levels since 1946.
Moreover, Australia’s birth rate is at an all-time low, which has resulted in the country’s total population growth to fall to an estimated 0.2 per cent in 2020-21.
The severity of this statistic becomes more evident in light of the fact that this is the lowest Australia’s population growth has been since the first World War.
However, because of the pandemic countries around the world have had to enter lockdown and impose border restrictions.
This has dealt a major blow to Australia’s plans of securing its future, and as a result, Australia is in danger of being left with less population and productive potential than before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Clearly, extending open arms to the qualified individuals being shunned by the US will be a welcome move by the Australian government, and combined with possibly setting aside the 160,000 annual migration places cap, this can help Australia retain what it is in danger of losing.
Australia has all the resources to attract skilled migrants from abroad – a stable economy, a globally renowned healthcare system, a diverse and multicultural lifestyle, maximum safety and security for its residents, and an excellent education system for its future generations.
Now, it is up to Australia to use the tools at her disposal to ensure avoiding an impending danger and realise its potential of being the leading migration destination in the world.