Despite pressure to cut Australia’s annual permanent migration intake, the Government has confirmed the migration program ceiling will remain unchanged at 190,000 visas for 2018-2019. However, Interstaff migration agent, Sheila Woods says that unlike previous years, recent trends indicate the full quota may not be reached.
Although the Government has confirmed the intake will remain at 190,000, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said, “We’ve made it quite clear we’re not proposing to reduce that 190,000 number but it is a ceiling, it’s not a target.” This seems to indicate the Government could consider offering fewer permanent residence visas in 2018-19, which contrasts with the way permanent migration intake has been approached in previous years.
Australia’s migration intake has remained fairly consistent in the past. Since 2012 almost exactly 190,000 migrants were granted a permanent visa each year in line with planning levels. However, in the most recent 2016-17 financial year, 183,000 permanent visas were granted, which was 7,000 less visas than the planning level and may indicate the start of a trend.
Statistics for the 2017/18 financial year will be available in coming months, however Department of Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton has already confirmed he expects the number of permanent visas granted over the current year to be “less than 190,000.”
Sheila Woods says she has noticed trends which may contribute to the full permanent residence visa allocation not being reached by the end of the 2017-18 financial year. The General Skilled Migration program comprises a significant portion of permanent residence visa allocations and Ms Woods says, “We’ve seen the Government become a lot more selective when offering invitations for General Skilled Migration visas. Statistics are telling us that General Skilled Migration invitations are no longer being issued to people with less than 70 points even though the required pass mark is 60 points to receive an invitation.” Read our article on recent General Skilled Migration statistics here.
It is worth noting however that while the full migration quota may not be reached, it’s not likely that the annual permanent migration figures will drop too significantly. A report released by the Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs which backs the notion of a big Australia indicated that permanent annual migration was forecast to add 1 per cent to GDP growth each year for the next 30 years. As the annual migration intake forms an intrinsic part of Australia’s economic growth, cutting the intake will not be considered lightly.
Ms Woods believes that changes to permanent residence pathways may however reduce the number of people who can apply. Aside from increased competition in the points-tested visa pathways she says, “It is now more difficult to apply for permanent residence visas through the employer sponsored visa program because the eligibility requirements have rendered people over 45 years of age ineligible in some cases, the character and English requirements are harder to meet and businesses face greater costs and compliance obligations.” The Government is continuing to assess Australia’s permanent migration pathways and Interstaff will continue to keep you updated.
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