Following commitments made during the Jobs and Skills summit, the Department of Home Affairs has made one of the largest rounds of visa invitations to skilled migrants since 2018.
In August, more than 12,000 invitations were issued for independent skilled visas in a wide range of occupations, predominantly professionals and trade occupations and the minimum points score was 65 points.
What is the General Skilled Migration program?
Australia’s migration scheme is composed of several parts, including family migration, humanitarian migration, business skills migration and skilled migration.
In the skilled migration section, the permanent migration places are divided between employer-sponsored permanent visa options and independent and State and Territory visa options. The General Skilled Migration (GSM) program includes independent and State and Territory nominated visa options.
While employer-sponsored visas require a job offer and an Australian company to nominate the visa applicant and their family members, GSM visas use a points test to select migrants for permanent migration to Australia.
How do you apply under the General Skilled Migration program?
You must be invited by the Commonwealth government, through the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), to apply for a Subclass 189 or Subclass 190 visa. The DHA invites migrants who satisfy the immigration points test and have an occupation in demand in the Australian economy.
Points may be claimed in a range of categories, including age, English language ability, work experience in Australia and overseas, study in Australia and whether or not an applicant will be nominated by a State or Territory government.
The pass mark for the points test is 65 points and the most recent invitation round included invitations to migrants with 65 points. This marks a difference from invitation rounds in recent years where the minimum points for invitations was generally over 70 points.
In order for a skilled migrant to be in consideration for the DHA invitation rounds, which are now expected to occur regularly throughout the year, they must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through the Department of Home Affairs website. The EOI collects information that creates a points test profile and outlines the migrant’s English level, work experience, qualifications and skills assessment details.
What are the permanent visas available in the General Skilled Migration program?
The two permanent visas in the skilled migration program are the Independent Skilled Subclass 189 and the State/Territory Nominated Subclass 190.
The Subclass 189 visa is by invitation from the Commonwealth government only and allows a migrant to apply for permanent residence based on their points profile alone. Subclass 190 involves two steps – first a nomination by a State or Territory government and, if that is successful, an invitation from the Commonwealth government to allow the intending migrant to submit a visa application. Each State and Territory administers its own migration program for nominations based on the particular needs within its geographical area and economy.
In both cases (Independent or State/Territory nominated) only the Commonwealth government through the Department of Home Affairs can issue an invitation to apply for a visa. Applicants must submit their visa application within 60 days of receiving an invitation from the Department of Home Affairs so it is really important that skills assessments and English tests are arranged before an invitation is received, usually before an EOI is submitted. Applicants may be in Australia or overseas at the time they apply.
Why has the General Skilled Migration program increased in 2022?
Since 2018, the General Skilled program was reduced significantly so that invitation rounds for visa applications in the program were issued less frequently and when they were issued, the number of invitations was lower than historically had been the case.
For example, in December 2018 only 2,490 invitations were issued for the Subclass 189 visa with the majority of invitations going to those with 75 points. In June 2019 only 100 invitations were issued for the same visa with the majority going to applicants with 85 points. Throughout the COVID-19 border closure period, invitation rounds were less frequent and a high points claim was essential (often 80 points).
As part of its commitment to increase the number of skilled migration places in the migration program to June 2023, the government has committed an extra 35,000 permanent places in the skilled program. The increased number of invitations for the GSM program is evidence of this in action.
What will this mean for individual migrants and Australian businesses?
For intending migrants, this means the possibility of receiving an invitation to apply independently or with the support of a State or Territory government has increased. For businesses in Australia, it should mean a greater number of skilled professionals and trades will be available in the labour market from early to mid-2023.
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