Changes to the Skilled Migration Program being introduced on 16 November 2019

The federal government has announced changes to the skilled migration stream that will be introduced in 2019-20 financial year.

Migration program for 2019/2020

Some of the key changes are as follows:

  • Reduction of the total migration program ceiling to 160,000 from 190,000 places in 2018-19.
  • Subclass 189 program allocation has been reduced from 43, 990 in 2018-2019 to 18,652 places for 2019-20, which is a reduction by almost 57%.
  • 23,000 places have been allocated to two new regional visas being introduced in November 2019.

The changes demonstrate the governments focus on Regional settlement of migrants.

New skilled regional provisional visas

The department of home affairs will introduce two new regional provisional visas on 16 November 2019:

  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa – for applicants nominated by State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia. This visa will replace the existing subclass 489 visa. It is a points tested visa, and applicants need to be under the age of 45, hold a positive skills assessment in an occupation in the skills list and have competent English. The Department of Home Affairs has announced that 77 more occupations will be available for this visa than the closest non-regional equivalent visa.
  • The Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa – for persons sponsored by an employer in Regional Australia. This visa will be incorporated in the Standard Business Sponsorship framework. Visa applicants need to be under the age of 45, hold a skills assessment in the nominated occupation, have at least three years’ fulltime relevant work experience in the nominated occupation or related field, at the same skill level and meet competent English. Visa holders will have access to Medicare. The Department of Home Affairs has announced that 450 more occupations will be available for this visa than the closest non-regional equivalent visa.
There will be a pathway to permanent residency for the new regional visa holders which will open for application from November 2022, Permanent Residence (skilled Regional). To access this pathway, regional visa holders are required to have lived, worked and studied in regional Australia for at least three years and earned a minimum taxable income (which is yet to be announced).

Definition of Regional Australia

From November 2019, the definition of Regional Australia will be expanded to include all of Australia except the following metropolitan areas:

  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Sydney

Compliance framework

There will be anew compliance framework introduced for the Regional provisional visa holders. The conditions will include the following obligations:

  • Condition 8578 – to notify immigration of change of personal and contact information
  • Condition 8579 – visa holders must live, work and study only in regional Australia
  • Condition 8580 – if requested, to provide evidence of address, employer, location of employment, address of the educational institution attended.
  • Condition 8581 – if requested, attend an interview with the Department of Home Affairs

Critical dates

  • If you intend to apply for a subclass 489 visa, the last day to lodge an expression of interest and be invited to apply is 10 September 2019.Subclass 489 program will close for applications from 15 November 2019.
  • Applicants can lodge an EOI for the new subclass 491 visa from 16 November 2019.
  • The last day to lodge RSMS Direct Entry applications will be 15 November 2019.
  • RSMS Temporary Resident Transition stream will only be available to transitional 457/482 workers.
  • If an associated visa application has not been lodged, RSMS nominations lodged before 16 November 2019, where the nomination has not been approved or refused before 16 November 2019 will be taken to be withdrawn on 16 November 2019.


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