Additional Points for General Skilled, State and Regional Migration Applicants
Accompanying legislation for the new visas: subclass 494 and 491, will introduce several changes to skilled migration from 16 November 2019 including awarding additional points to certain applicants.
These amendments introduce a revised points system for subclass 491 visa as well as existing General Skilled Migration visas (that is, subclass 189 and 190 visas). Points are awarded for attributes that are linked with the applicant’s ability to make the greatest economic contribution, as the key purpose of the skilled migration program is to maximise the economic benefits of migration to Australia. The changes to the points test are to introduce:
- more points for having a skilled spouse or de facto partner (10 points);
- more points for applicants nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by a family member residing in regional Australia (15 points);
- more points for having certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) qualifications (10 points);
- points for applicants who do not have a spouse or de facto partner (10 points); and
- points for applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who has competent English (5 points).
Currently, Skilled Independent (189) and Skilled Regional (489) visas are sitting at a minimum 80-point score. This means that applicants who lodged their EOI which is below 80 points are unlikely to receive an invitation in the next round.
The revision of Australia’s Skilled Migration Points score has been revised as a result of Productivity Commission in its 2016 Report called Migrant Intake into Australia. The Productivity Commission recommended that the points system be amended so that secondary applicants with skills and other desirable employment-related characteristics contribute significantly to the points score of the primary applicant.
The Commission noted that around 50 per cent of Australia’s permanent skill intake are secondary applicants, many of whom have limited skills. Given the significant share of secondary applicants in the permanent skill stream immigration, the Productivity Commission stated that it is important to assess their contribution to the Australian economy and the community more generally as failing to give appropriate weight to the skill (and other) attributes of a spouse or de facto partner can shift the composition of immigration away from those that are most likely to benefit Australia (at p.454).
The additional points for single applicants will ensure a single person with identical skills to a primary applicant who has a skilled spouse or de facto partner will not be displaced in the points test. This measure is based on a recommendation from Migrant Intake into Australia. The extra points for partners with competent English incentivise couples as a unit to improve their English competency in order to be more competitive in points test rankings. The additional points ensure Australia is able to select the best and brightest skilled migrants for its valuable migration places – single or partnered.
New points system will take effect from 16 November 2019. This will coincide with repeal of subclass 187 (RSMS visa) and subclass 489 (Regional Provisional Visa) and introduction of Subclass 491 and 494 visas.