On 20 March 2019, the Morrison Government announced its planned Migration Program for the 2019-20 Migration Year.
Accordingly, a number of the set quota ceilings (that is, the maximum number of visas that can be issued in that category) have been altered in most of the key visa categories.
PM Scott Morrison has announced a reduction in the yearly Permanent Residence visa ceiling to 160,000. This is don from the previous visa cap of 190,00.
Over the past several years the previous visa quota has been 190,000 (noting that from 2013-2017 the number of visas granted was close to the full quota). However, most recently in the 2017-18 migration year, only 162,417 visas were granted.
With this in mind, this news reflect a closer number to the actual total number of visas granted in 2017-18 (the number granted did not meet the yearly ceiling).
The changes also indicate a strong change towards a focus on regional migration, with additional spaces opening in the regional program.
Two new Provisional Skilled Regional visas will be introduced in November 2019:
- Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa: for people sponsored by an employer in regional Australia. It has been suggested that almost 700 occupations will be available on this new visa.
- Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa: for people who are nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia. It has been suggested that there will be over 500 occupations available on this new visa.
- Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa: holders of the above two provisional visa holders, that meet the eligibility requirements, will be able to apply for this Permanent Residence visa which will commence on November 2022.
These two new visas will be valid for up to five years. The conditions of the visa stipulate that holders will need to live and work in ‘regional’ Australia. It is likely that enhanced compliance measures may be attached to these visas. Holders of the new skilled regional provisional visas will be eligible to apply for a Permanent Residence visa assuming they meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible for permanent residence, holders of the new skilled regional provisional visas will need to demonstrate they have lived and worked in regional Australia while holding one of the new Skilled Regional Provisional visas for the required period.
The table below provides a comparison to permanent residence ceilings in previous years as well as showing the shift towards State and Territory and Regional visa availability.
|Stream and Category||2017-2018||2018-2019||2019-2020||Analysis|
|State and Territory Sponsored||28850||27400||24968|
|Skilled Employer Sponsored||9000|
|Skilled Work Regional||14000|
|State Sponsored and/or
|Business Inn. & Inv. Program||7260||7260||6862||-398|
|Child (not subject to a ceiling)||3485||3485||3350|
|Total Migration Program||190000||190000||160000||-30000|
|Actual Number of Visas Granted
As can be seen in the table, the 30,000 reduction in potential places has reduced the skilled visa options by around 20,000 places and the family options by around 10,000.
Once this new migration plan is enacted and comes into effect, we can expect the following changes:
- Within Skilled visa subclasses, it is likely there will be increased competition for Skilled Independent 189 visas. This may cause the point thresholds to rise to place pressure on Applicants to make more competitive applications.
- Regional visa pathways will become less competitive as the Federal government creates additional quotas for the SC190, SC489 and new regional visa options.
- The reduction of places in the Family visa category means there is likely to be increased scrutiny and mandatory refusal quotas. This is also likely to cause processing times to lengthen and to increase the value of the onshore processes.