Changes to the Skilled Migration Program points test system commencing in November 2019

The Federal government has announced that significant changes will be introduced to the Skilled Migration Program which will commence in November 2019.

These changes aim to encourage migrants to relocate to regional Australia and attract migrants with the potential to offer maximum economic and social contribution to Australia.

Changes to existing visas – New Regional Visas

The government has released the regulations to introduce the following new regional (provisional) visas from November 2019:

  1. Skilled Work Regional (provisional) (subclass 491) visa:
    • This visa will replace the current Subclass 489 visa.
    • This is a revised points-tested visa which requires a state government nomination or a sponsorship from an eligible family member living in designated regional area in Australia.
    • Applicants must not be over 45 years of age and
    • They must have a positive skill assessment in their occupation.
    • Applicants will have access to an increased number of eligible occupations and the definition of regional Australia will be expanded to include all non-metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth.
  1. Skilled Employer Sponsored (subclass 494) visa:
    • Similarly, this visa will replace the current subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa.
    • The major change is that this visa is a provisional visa which requires the applicant to live and work in regional Australia for at least three years to be eligible for permanent residency within a five-year visa validity period.
    • This visa requires employer sponsorship for a position which must be valid for at least 5 years.
    • The age limit is also 45 years for potential applicants
    • In addition, applicants must demonstrate Competent English, RCB advice and the remuneration must be according to the Australian Market Salary Rate
    • This visa also requires applicants to have a positive skill assessment and at least 3 years of skilled employment (if not exempted).

Relevant Permanent Visa pathway:

The Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa is available to applicants who have held the above Subclass 491 or 494 visas for at least 3 years and have complied with all visa conditions. They must also have met the minimum taxable income requirements to be eligible for this permanent visa.

Revised Points Test System

The government has also introduced revised points test system for the new Subclass 491 visa as well as the existing Subclasses 489, 189 and 190 visas.

From November 2019, potential applicants can claim these additional points:

  • 10 points for having a skilled spouse or de facto partner
  • 15 points for State or Territory government nominated applicants or those sponsored by a family member living in regional Australia
  • 10 points for certain STEM qualifications
  • 10 points for applicant with no spouse or de facto partners
  • 5 points for applicants who have spouse or de facto partners with competent English

The purpose of the revised point system is to recognise the contribution of the secondary applicants who are skilled and possess characteristics which will allow them to contribute to the Australian economy.

Ethos Migration Lawyers will continue to provide updates as they become available regarding the new visas aim at regional Australia.