On the 20th March 2019 the Liberal Government announced their planned Migration Program for the 2019-20 Migration Year. Below is an analysis of how the visa ceilings (i.e. the maximum number of visas that can be issued in that category) have changed across the different visa categories. The Prime Minister has announced a reduction in the yearly Permanent Residence visa ceiling to 160,000 (from 190,00). (NB: please note that 2019 is an election year it is not clear whether this migration plan would remain in place should the current government loose the election).
In previous years the limit placed on permanent residence visas was been 190,000 (and between 2013-2017 the number of visas granted approached that figure). However, in the 2017-18 year only 162,417 visas were granted.
The new ceiling is similar to the actual total number of visas granted in 2017-18 (the number granted did not meet the yearly ceiling). Within the skilled visas the 2019-20 migration plan also shows a shift in emphasis in the availability of the different visas. With a significant increase in the availability of visas within the Regional areas of Australia and providing the States and Territories more ability to select visa applicants that suit their needs.
Two new Provisional Skilled Regional visas will be introduced in November 2019:
The two new visas will be valid for up to five years. Visa holders will need to live and work in 'regional' Australia, enhanced compliance measures are to be attached to these visa. Holders of the new skilled regional provisional visas will be able 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 visa for the required period.
- 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 in November 2022.
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.
As can be seen in the table the 30,000 reduction in potential places has reduced the skilled visa options by 20,000 places and the family options by 10,000.
Assuming that this Migration Plan is enacted:
- Within the Skilled visas we can expect to see increased competition for the Skilled Independent 189 visas. Most likely an increase in the number of points required and potentially longer waiting periods.
- Overall the States, Territories and Regional visas will have a larger quota of places (towards the SC190, SC489 and new regional visa options).
- Within the Family stream there has been a reduction in the number of places for both Partner visas and Parent visas, therefore we might expect to see increases in processing times for these visas also.