The Australian General Skilled Migration program has closed indefinitely.
With the new migration program year starting from 1 July 2020, the Federal Government was due to release 189, 190 and 491 visa quotas for the 2020-21 year. However the Department of Home Affairs has not given the state governments their new GSM quotas for the new migration year. This means that the GSM program will not open from 1 July 2020 as planned.
State and Territories cannot open their program until the Federal Government issues invitations. We have no indication of when this will be. Allocations may be issued as late as October 2020, when the Federal Government will set its budget.
This is going to be a massive disappointment for the many thousands for potential applicants who have made preparations for a skilled visa application.
In addition, any changes to the occupation list are unconfirmed.
It could be some time before the GSM program is open again.
Further information has become available from various states that their GSM programs will not be opening until further notice. There is no clarity as to when the Federal Government will allocate the nomination quotas to the state governments.
It is a regrettable situation that there is a lack of transparency in the current GSM system, with no official round results published for the 189 invitations since April 2020. In April where there was only 50 subclass 189 invitations as compared to 1750 invitations in March 2020.
Our sources include information provided in a Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) online briefing for RMA and Immigration Lawyer members. In addition, there are also communications from State Authorities in relation to not having the nomination ceiling for 2021.
Consistent with our previous update, the following states and territories have published the following on their website:
"The Victorian Government’s state nomination program will remain temporarily closed while we await the Commonwealth Government’s allocation of state nomination places for 2020-21. In the meantime, you will not be able to apply for the following state nomination visas:
- Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491) visa
- Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa
The 2020-21 Victorian state nomination program will open at a date to be advised after further advice from the Commonwealth Government. Please check our website news regularly for more information."
New South Wales
"NSW is currently closed to applications for nomination under the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) and the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491).
NSW will open to new nominations once the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs provides us with an allocation of positions for 2020-21. Invitation rounds for NSW nomination under the Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) will also commence at this time.
At this stage we are unable to advise when this will occur."
"The Australian Government has not yet allocated nomination quotas to the states and territories for the 2020-2021 program year. While applications for state nomination by Tasmania remain open and will continue to be considered, no nominations can be made in SkillSelect until quotas are allocated.
Migration Tasmania currently does not have an indication of the size of the 2020 -2021 nomination quota and cannot guarantee all eligible applicants will be nominated."
"BSMQ has been advised by the Department of Home Affairs (HA) that it will not be in a position to open the 2020/21 migration program on 1 July 2020.
As a consequence, BSMQ’s business and skilled migration program will remain closed on 1 July 2020 until further notice. Please note: BSMQ will not be accepting any Expressions of Interests (EOIs) submitted on Skillselect from 1 July 2020. We will post an advice on this website, should the situation change.
BSMQ appreciates your patience in these challenging COVID-19 times. We thank you for your commitment to Queensland and look forward to opening the business and skilled migration program as soon as is possible."
Australian Capital Territory
"The ACT Nomination Program (including the Canberra Matrix) will remain temporarily closed while we await the Commonwealth Government’s allocation of state nomination places for 2020-21."
"Our Skilled and Business Migration programs are scheduled to re-open from early August. This will be dependent on the Commonwealth Government’s allocation of state nomination places for program year 2020-21."
"The Australian Government has not yet allocated nomination quotas to the states and territories for the 2020 to 2021 program year.
This means that the Northern Territory (NT) Government is currently unable to issue nominations under the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program and the Business Investment and Innovation Program (BIIP).
At this stage, if you are currently living in the NT, you will still be able to lodge new applications for NT nomination under the GSM program, and these applications will continue to be assessed. Offshore GSM nomination applications remain closed. BIIP nomination applications remain open.
However, please note that even if your application is successful, you will only be issued a nomination once the Australian Government has allocated quotas to the NT.
Given the uncertainty in allocations for the current program year, there is no guarantee that all applicants who meet the NT nomination criteria will be nominated.
If your current visa is about to expire, you should note that your nomination application may not be finalised before your visa expires. Please also note that the nomination application fee is non-refundable.
It is important that you remain lawful at all times and obtain professional migration advice on options available to you.
We look forward to your continued interest in the Northern Territory’s skilled and business migration programs and we will provide updates as soon as additional information becomes available."
The Department of Home Affairs, via the MIA, has provided further insight to Migration Program Planning for 2020-21.
While acknowledging that migration continues to make substantial contributions to Australia, the Australian Government's priority is to provide employment opportunities for Australians, support critical industries and Australia's economic recovery post COVID-19.
Migration will play a key part in Australia's economic recovery. However the impact of COVID-19 will influence Australia's Migration Program, with the border closures resulting in an expected 30% decrease in net overseas migration in 2019-20 and even further in 2020-21.
Targeted invitation rounds have continued each month and prioritise skills which are in critical need and will aid Australia’s economic recovery.
Despite this, official Skillselect invitation rounds have not been released since April 2020, meaning there is no indication as to the number of invitations issued or the minimum point cut-off since April. It seems likely that invitations for the 189 and 491 (family-sponsored) visas have been issued to medical professionals or occupations in the critical sectors in Australia's post-pandemic recovery.
When will the Government announce the size and the composition for the 2020-21 Migration Program?
The Australian Government is monitoring migration and visa settings to drive economic growth and support job creation in the recovery phase. In doing this, considerations will be given to Australia's economic conditions, future skill needs, changes in labour market and the population objectives of states and territories.
Until otherwise advised, the current 2019-20 Migration Program settings will remain in place. This means that the 2020-21 planning ceiling will remain at a total of 160,000.
According to the 2019-20 Migration Program planning levels, 69.5% or 108,682 places is allocated to the Skill stream, with the following GSM breakdown:
- 16,652 for Skilled Independent (subclass 189)
- 24,968 for State/Territory Nominated (subclass 190)
- 15,000 for Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491)
We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.
Who Will Be Affected?
There are no effects on those who already hold 189, 190 and 491 visas. Applicants who have previously received invitations will not be affected.
Applicants who have lodged EOIs and have not been invited may be affected.
We are still encouraging potential applicants to consider making the necessary preparations for when the program does re-open, which could include:
- Skills assessments
- English test
- Gaining skilled employment
- Gaining work experience in the relevant state or territory
Limited invitations issued for the 189 and 491 family-sponsored visas on 14 July 2020.
Find out which occupations were invited here.
At Work Visa Lawyers, we are always doing our best to be up to date with developments. Being active members of the MIA, the peak professional body for RMAs and Immigration Lawyers, the Law Society of South Australia, the Law Council of Australia, the Australia China Business Association (ACBC) and Business SA, is part of our commitment in staying informed with the latest in Australian immigration.
We welcome any emails with news in relation to migration policy at state/territory or federal levels and look forward to sharing such information.