The Migration Amendment (new Skilled Regional Visas) Regulation 2019 has introduced a revised points system for Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491) visas along with General Skilled Migration (subclasses 189 and 190) visas as of the 16th of November.

Along with the increase from 10 to 15 points for nomination by a state or territory government, or sponsorship by an eligible family member, and from 5 to 10 points for a Master’s degree by research or Doctorate degree in a STEM field, applicants are now able to claim additional points for their partner’s skills.

Skill qualification

Previously, applicants were able to claim 5 points if their spouse or partner has a qualification that classifies them as ‘skilled’; that is, they have obtained a skills assessment from the applicable assessing authority in a profession that appears on the skilled occupation list.

Now, they are able to claim 10 points, as recognition of the contribution they are likely to make to the Australian economy given the fact that they have sought-after skills.

Competent English

Alternatively, if an applicant’s spouse or partner is not eligible for skill qualification points, but possess competent English language skills – that is, test scores exceeding a minimum of 6 in each band for IELTS or at least 50 in each component for PTE – they can claim an additional 5 points whereas previously they were not entitled to any.

In order to ensure that single applicants are not disadvantaged given this update to the system, they will be able to claim 10 points if they have never been married or in a de facto relationship, are separated, widowed, or divorced.

Reasoning behind the increase

According to a report published in 2016 by the Productivity Commission, approximately half of Australia’s permanent skill intake is made up of secondary applicants, many of whom have limited skills.

Therefore, given the quantity of secondary applicants and their inevitable contribution to the Australian economy and community in one way or another, it is important to assess the strength of these contributions.

Aside from having a skilled occupation, English language proficiency is undoubtedly a key factor in both the employability and social participation of migrants.

Accordingly, awarding points for competent English is the Department’s way of incentivising secondary applicants to improve their English skills.

This means that in order to remain competitive in the points ranking system, primary applicants need to ensure that their partners are able to meet either the skill qualification or English competency criteria.