The projected target number of visas for Australia’s Migration Program is announced each year in May (to start in July) as part of the Federal Budget. Due to COVID-19, the announcement for the 2020/21 Migration Program has been delayed until October 2020. In the meantime, the government has kept the Program at last year’s level of 160,000 permanent visas. This number has remained largely unchanged since 2017.
But what does this number actually mean for employers?
First, the number relates only to permanent residence visas. Temporary visas are demand driven and there are generally no caps placed on the number of temporary visas issued.
Second, the 160,000 includes both primary applicants and their family (a visa each) and is divided into three main categories:
- Skills stream (including employer nomination, general skilled, business skill and global talent);
- Family stream (including partner, carer, child, remaining relative, and parent); and
- Other (all other permanent visas that do not fall under the above categories such as refugee and humanitarian visas).
Historically, the skilled stream has accounted for about 70% all permanent visas and we do not expect this to change, regardless of the total number of visas made available. The real question will be whether there will be fewer than 160,000 visas available for 2021, although given that Australia’s international borders are unlikely to open before January (6 months into the program year, which started on 1 July 2020), this may turn out to be a moot point.
So far the delay in the announcement of the Migration Program has not negatively affected the progressing of most employer sponsored permanent visa applications, with most employers still lodging PR applications and the Department still processing them as per usual, albeit somewhat slower. But it remains very unclear whether the total program number might be drastically reduced because of COVID-19 and the unemployment rates in Australia. If the total program number is reduced, then this could have an impact on PR grants next year.
Employers might want to consider working with those employees who are eligible to apply for permanent residency to take advantage of the start of this new Migration Program year by getting in early and submitting their PR application. Your Ajuria team can assist you with planning for this.
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