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Australia closed its borders to foreign workers, now it is desperate to bring them back

Australia closed its borders to foreign workers, now it is desperate to bring

Australia closed its borders for more than two years during the pandemic, but also blocked access for foreign workers and is now desperate to send them back.

On Friday, the government increased the number of permanent migration visas to 195,000 – an increase of 35,000.

Employers hope this will help fill gaps in the workforce, but with nearly half a million job vacancies across the country and an unemployment rate of 3.4%, much more is needed.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says his government received a record number of one million visa applications that officials are working to eliminate.

"Many of them are employees or potential employees who had agreements with employers for work...and they've been waiting," he said.

At a summit in Canberra, he committed A$36 million to clear the backlog of applications, but experts say the government could find itself in the same position as employers - with too few workers to do the job.