New MATES migration scheme seeking 3,000 early career professionals from India to kick off this year

Later this year, Australia will begin accepting visa applications from young Indian graduates as part of the new Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early Professionals Scheme (MATES) aimed at addressing skills shortages.


A newly established pilot initiative will offer 3,000 annual placements for early-career professionals from India, beginning later this year.

In 2021-22, nearly 60,000 individuals migrated to Australia from India, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

‘Visa processing times will be in line with those maintained for temporary work visas,’ a Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said.

The new scheme will be offered to Indian university graduates and early-career professionals from eligible fields including renewable energy, mining, engineering, information and communication technology, artificial intelligence, financial technology, and agricultural technology.

It will commence as a pilot with 3,000 places for primary applicants per program year.

According to the federal government, the scheme will also benefit Australian industry sectors and businesses by enhancing their access to some of India’s most talented graduates with in-demand knowledge and skills.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, said, “Australia and India are close mates, and this pilot will bring us even closer through an invaluable exchange of skills, talent, and development opportunities.”

The scheme is a part of a landmark Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement (MMPA) between the two nations co-signed last year.

The MMPA aims to bolster Australia’s migration objectives by attracting top young talent from India and fostering collaboration between the two nations to address irregular migration effectively.

According to the spokesperson of the Indian High Commission to Australia, MATES offers a unique opportunity for fresh and young Indian graduates to gain international work experience and develop their professional skills in Australia.

“MATES provides a flexible work visa migration pathway for young Indian graduates and professionals to apply for Australian jobs….Both sides are working to operationalise MATES at the earliest,” the spokesperson told SBS Hindi.

What is the scheme?

The scheme will be open to Indian nationals aged under 31 (at the time of application) who have recently graduated from an eligible Indian university with a degree in a specified area of study.

MATES will allow for a multiple entry visa for a period not exceeding 24 months and there will be no requirement for sponsorship by an Australian employer.

According to a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs, successful candidates will receive a temporary visa under MATES, which falls outside of the annual migration program (which counts permanent visas).

“MATES will commence as a pilot with 3,000 temporary visa places for primary applicants per program year. Primary applicants will be able to bring dependents, who will not be counted towards the annual cap,” the spokesperson told SBS Hindi.

“Visa processing times will be in line with those maintained for temporary work visas.”

They said individuals would also have the option to extend their stays in Australia by seeking additional visas that grant temporary or permanent residency, provided they fulfilled all eligibility criteria for that particular visa category.

Expert’s viewpoint

The MATES initiative, designed to foster mutually beneficial skills and knowledge exchange between the two countries, was announced last year during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia.

Former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Abul Rizvi, has praised the initiative as “beneficial”, highlighting its potential to facilitate the exchange of young people between the two countries.

“It adds to exchange of young people between the two countries which is a positive. A possible risk is if the young people find it hard to get a job (noting a weakening labour market) or are exploited and/or underpaid,” he told SBS Hindi.

“If the visa includes provision to extend (their) stay (highly likely), it may add to net migration. Some may seek to apply for permanent residency which would need to fit within the 190,000 places,” Rizvi added.

Hailing the deal, Australia India Institute’s CEO, Lisa Singh, pointed out, “There’s a national shortage in more than a third of all assessed occupations, with tech skills and jobs experiencing particularly acute deficits.”

“Australia needs tech skills migration because with artificial intelligence and cybersecurity core components of our digital economy and security, Australian organisations are striving to remain competitive whilst the need for skilled professionals has never been greater,” she added.


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