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[NEWS] 3 Major Changes to Skilled Migration Coming November 2019

Australian Immigration News

3 major set of changes to the Skilled Migration Program is coming 16 November 2019.

In this blog post, we'll help you easily understand exactly what these extensive changes mean for you and share 4 important tips from our Principal Migration Agent and former-Immigration Officer.


CHANGE #1: 489, 887 and 187 (RSMS) Visas removed and/or replaced

P.S. This is perhaps the most extensive change, so take your time reading this one. The next two will be a breeze, we promise! 🙂

When: 16 November 2019 (16 November 2022 for the 191 visa)


1. The temporary 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa will be removed and replaced by the new temporary 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa

2. The permanent 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa will be removed and replaced by the new temporary 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa

3. The permanent 887 Skilled Regional visa will be superceded by the new permanent 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa, which is also intended to be the new permanent pathway for 494 visa holders.

4. 5 new conditions will also be imposed. The new Condition 8579 will be critical, which requires that you must only live, work and study in a designated regional area (you can move between regional areas).

5. Holders of the new temporary visas will be restricted from applying for these visas:

  • Subclass 124/858 - Distinguished Talent

  • Subclass 132 - Business Talent

  • Subclass 186 - Employer Nomination Scheme

  • Subclass 188 - Business Innovation and Investment

  • Subclass 189 - Skilled - Independent

  • Subclass 190 - Skilled - Nominated

  • Subclass 820 - Partner (Temporary)

6. Holders of the new temporary visa holders can apply for PR via the 191 visa once they have:

  • Lodged at least 3 official annual tax returns with a taxable income that meets the minimum threshold (exact figures are yet to be decided by Immigration);

  • Complied with all conditions of the 491 or 494 visa, especially condition 8579 as listed above.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Here's a summary of the differences and what it means for you.

  1. Longer and harder to get PR: It will take an extra year for regional visa holders to get PR. Instead of being able to apply for PR via the 887 visa after 2 years under the current 489 visa, holders of the new 491 visa will only be able to apply for PR via the 191 visa after 3 years. You should also note that you will also need 3 tax returns with a taxable income that meets the minmum threshold. This is much harder than simply living in a regional area for 3 years.

  2. RSMS applicants need to apply soon: Direct entry to PR with a regional employer (i.e. Direct Entry stream of the 187 (RSMS) visa) will not be available for much longer.

  3. Stricter regional-living requirements: Unlike the current 489 visa, you do not have the option of living in a non-regional area at all when holding the new temporary visas. Breaching this visa condition will not only make you liable for visa cancellation, but will also mean you won't meet the requirements for the 191 visa. Since the 191 visa is your only option for PR, it is extremely crucial that you only reside in a designated regional area for 3 years while obeying all the visa conditions!

  4. Less reliance on employer sponsors: On a brighter note, if you are sponsored by an employer on the 494 visa, you do not have to rely on them to sponsor you for PR as you can apply for it directly as long as you meet the requirements.


CHANGE #2: Points Test Changes

When: 16 November 2019

What: There will be 5 changes to the points test:

  1. State nomination by government or family sponsorship to reside in regional Australia (i.e. nomination/sponsorship for 491 visa) increased to 15 points (currently 10 points)

  2. Skilled* spouse/de facto partner increased to 10 points (currently 5 points)

  3. Spouse or de facto partner with ‘competent English’^ will add 5 points (currently 0 points)

  4. Applicants without a spouse or de facto partner will be awarded an additional 10 points

  5. Certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications will add 10 points

  • * positive skills assessment and 6.0+ IELTS or equivalent

  • ^ 6.0+ IELTS or equivalent

What Does This Mean For Me?

This is perhaps already the most discussed component of the changes in November 16. Many would feel like these are bonus points to be scored, but these changes may not necessarily be good news. Let us explain why.

Currently, your partner can only add 5 points when they meet all the age, skills, occupation and English requirements. Usually, they may have good English but can't obtain a skills assessment. Under the new system, "unskilled" partners with competent English will still be able to score some (5) points. GREAT! ✓✓

Sounds great so far right? So why does this change not feel like a win for some people with partners? This is because applicants with skilled partners, who also have good English, and those without a partner will also receive another 10 points. This leaves partners with good English, but without the right skills, at a 5-point disadvantage against everyone else. Partners with neither the required English nor skills assessment will have a 10-point disadvantage. These disadvantages will affect applicants' ability to meet the SkillSelect points cut-off for PR.

This is in line with Immigration's intention for the change, which they've explained is to stop penalising single applicants simply because they did not have a partner.

So, moral of the story: those with partners are at risk of being disadvantaged if they don't have the required skills assessment and English ability.


CHANGE #3: Invitations for Points-Tested Migration Will Be Prioritised Differently

When: 16 November 2019

What: Where the points score is the same between two applicants, applications will be prioritised based on the profile of the applicant's partner according to the following order:

Skilled Migration Visa Changes 2019

Comments from Principal Migration Agent & Former - Immigration Officer

These changes are major, and can really change your entire PR plans. I have 4 key tips for everyone today:

  1. 187 RSMS applicants should apply ASAP before this direct-to-PR option is no longer available!

  2. It is really important that you work out how many points you can score right now and start putting together a clear plan on how you are going to get PR. If you have a partner that is not currently 'skilled', at the very least they should do an English test to assess their competency. It will be highly beneficial that they at least reach 'competent' English (6.0 IELTS, or equivalent).

  3. Points cut-offs are set to increase. Now that everyone will score higher points, without the migration cap increasing, the points cut-offs for invitations will no doubt increase. Prepare for this so that you don't get caught out thinking that your current points will be enough.

  4. If you were previously considering the 489 --> 887 pathway, you should also consider your ability to get a decent-paying job for 3 years (minimum threshold not yet decided by Immigration). If your expected pay is likely to be not very high, then you should reconsider the regional pathway and start thinking about other pathways (such as the 482 or 190 visas).


If you would like our Principal Migration Agent help you strategise and identify your best PR pathways, our specially-designed 60 minute 1-to-1 PR Strategy Session might be exactly what you need. Take a look here for more information:

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