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What we know about changes to the skills points test, including partner points

What we know about changes to the skills points test, including partner points

In April we outlined new details on several regional visas to be introduced on 16 November 2019. Coinciding with these new visas are changes to the existing points test for skilled migration.

In addition to affecting the new Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa, the changes are also expected to impact all other points-tested skilled migration visas, which includes the Skilled Nominated (Permanent Residence) subclass 190 visa and the Skilled Independent (Permanent Residence) subclass 189 visa.


What is changing?

The changes to the skilled migration points test include both new categories in which to obtain points and increases to existing points earned:



From 16 Nov 2019
Partner skill qualifications 5 points 10 points
Spouse or de facto partner with ‘competent English’ * 0 points 5 points
Applicants without a spouse or de facto partner 0 points 10 points
Qualifications in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field 0 points 10 points

Nomination by state or territory government or sponsorship by an eligible family member in regional Australia (subclass 491 only)

10 points 15 points

There is no indication to suggest that the general skilled migration pass mark will increase from 65 points. However, we have recently seen in the case of the Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa that only those with a minimum a score of 80 points have been invited to apply.

* this was previously built into the 'partner skills qualifications' points


How could this impact my future application?

In the scenario of a future Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa applicant, there is potential to receive a maximum of 25 additional points under the new points structure if you have a partner with skill qualifications and competent English, and you are qualified in a STEM field.

Even without partner points, single applicants would also receive a net increase of 15 points when applying for the subclass 491 visa.

Even for applicants seeking the Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa pathway, an additional 10 points for being single, or up to an additional 10 points for partner qualifications and English ability, could be the difference between receiving an invitation and remaining in the pool indefinitely.

The splitting of the components that are included in 'partner skill qualifications' (5 points) will also be beneficial. Currently, a partner is required to have both an eligible skills assessment and have competent English in order to achieve the 5 points. With the new changes, these are scored separately meaning that if you have a partner with only one of the requirements you can still benefit.


Potential integrity issues with partner points

The most significant changes to the points test is the increased role that the relationship status of the applicant will have, leading to greater scrutiny whether single or partnered.

While there are currently documents required to show evidence of a relationship, it is not known what proof will be required if claiming the 10 points for being single. Potential integrity issues with single points may include:

Applicants' claiming single points when they are in a partner relationship
Applicants' ending a relationship in order to gain access to single points
Applicants' choosing to make their family and partner non-migrating dependents with the aim to be claiming single points (to be confirmed)


The increased value of points for a skilled partner with competent English may also lead to an increase in checks and evidence required by the Department of Home Affairs to show a genuine and continuing relationship.

Ethical concerns 

These potential integrity issues, particularly around gaining points for being single, raises the question about the whether the new policy will have the unintended consequence of breaking up families.

Wider policy implications

A key aim of Australia's migration program, particularly the skilled visa stream, has been to offset the nations' ageing population. A significant contributor to this is that skilled migrants often have young children join them in Australia. It is arguable that encouraging more single applicants, which may be less likely to be accompanied by children, will have the opposite affect and further add to an already ageing population. This situation is already impacted by a points test which gives more points to those aged 25 to 33, than it does for those younger aged 18 to 25.


Do you need help with an Australian visa application?

At Work Visa Lawyers we are experienced in assisting applicants in all matters relating to Australian visa applications. Our areas of expertise include Partner Visas, Skilled Migration visas, Business Skills Migration visas, Employer Sponsored Work Visas and other Family Migration visas as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Review, Judicial Review and Ministerial Intervention.

If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:

(08) 8351 9956 or +61 8 8351 9956 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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