Major Proposed Changes To Australia Skilled Migration Program

Australia skilled migration changes

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world apply to migrate to Australia, but only a select group make it through the annual intake process.

In a recently submitted report to the Australian Government, the Productivity Commission has recommended significant changes to Australia’s Skilled Migration program.


Some of the major recommendations are:

Reduce the age limit for skilled migration

The commission has recommended that the Australian Government should consider reducing the age limit of 50 years for permanent migration under the skill stream and provide greater weight in the points‑based system for younger immigrants.

But having said that, the commission wants the Australian Government to maintain the existing capacity to provide exemptions to the age rule for particularly skilled applicants.

Use Skilled Occupations List as a benchmark

The commission has suggested that the Australian Government use the Skilled Occupations List as the sole basis for determining skill requirements for the different streams of the permanent skilled immigration program, including for those using the Temporary Residence Transition visa.

It also recommends undertaking a small pilot scheme that tests the merit of supplementing the Skilled Occupations List with:

  • a more granular treatment of some occupations that cannot be easily allocated to the different skill levels
  • the inclusion of particular, well‑defined, skill sets that are not occupationally‑specific.

‘Single’ applicants should get maximum points

Primary applicants without dependents would be given the maximum level of extra points under the commission’s plan.

Primary applicant should get more points for secondary applicant’s skills/traits

Commission says the Australian Government should significantly increase, up to a given maximum, the contributing points to a primary applicant based on the skill and other characteristics of the adult secondary applicant.

Streamline ‘points-system’ for all permanent skilled migrant applications

Commission recommends that the Australian Government adopt a standard points system for the entire permanent skill stream, but in doing so should add points to a visa application by a primary applicant who has been nominated by an employer.

Currently, the selection criteria are different for skilled migrant intake and ’employer-sponsored’ applicants.

Assess partners and adult children for their English-competency

Under the commission’s plan, partners and adult children would be assessed on their English ability, work skills, age and education in addition to the assessments currently made of the primary visa applicants.

According to the Commission, almost half of visas issued under the skilled migration stream are for secondary applicants. The Productivity Commission says there’s significant scope to use those applicants to raise the overall calibre of the intake.

So what’s next?

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is now in the process of considering the Productivity Commission’s recommendations and would respond “in due course.”

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