COVID-19: Impact on General Skilled Migration Program

As Australia goes through its second wave of COVID-19, many things are uncertain. As a result, the Federal Budget was delayed until October. Along with it, the Australian Government has temporarily placed the General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program on hold.

Today's blog will give you an easy-to-read summary of the current status of all the state nomination programs, as well as top tips from our expert migration agent on what you should do now.

Status of state nomination programs:

Where state nomination programs are closed:

You may technically lodge EOIs for these states, but they are not issuing invitations for nomination applications, or not accepting direct nomination applications.

  • Australian Capital Territory

  • New South Wales

  • Queensland

  • Victoria

  • Western Australia

Where state nomination programs are accepting applications, but not yet issuing invitations for visa applications (i.e. not yet finalising nomination applications):

Any applications lodged during this period will only likely be finalised after the release of the Budget in October 2020.

  • Northern Territory excluding offshore applications, where applications are not being assessed)

  • Tasmania Offshore applications are temporarily restricted to prioritse "High Demand" occupations on the Tasmanian Skilled Occupation List (TSOL) found here. Non-prioritsed applications will have their processing times extended to approximately 6 months from lodgement.

  • South Australia Expected to start finalising some applications in August: There will only be a limited number of invitations issued to critical sectors only. Onshore migrants meeting this requirement will be given early consideration when the program reopens. Which applicants qualifies as 'critical to South Australia's COVID response'? This is somewhat vague at the moment, but it includes"individuals providing critical or specialist medical services, critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services; or delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery".

For hopeful migrants, this situation may seem like it will put a stop to your plans. However, there are still things you can do to prepare yourself for when the program is resumed.

It is expected for the allocations to be announced in October along with the budget.

For people with visas which expire before October, and also live in a state/territory that is not accepting applications currently, it is advisable to speak with one of our migration agents so that alternative options and possibilities can be discussed and explored.

Q&A with our GSM expert here at Skylark Migration - Mancy Zhao

What does this mean for hopeful migrants?

Mancy: This means that currently there will be no 491 and 190 state nomination invitations sent out until the Department of Immigration confirms the quota for this financial year.

What can they do in the meanwhile to increase their PR prospects?

Mancy: While waiting for quota allocations, this is a great time to focus on increasing your points by preparing for your English test and CCL.

What can they do if their visas are expiring during this time?

Mancy: There are a number of things they can do to extend their stay, depending on what their goals/next steps are in their PR journey.

If they are pursuing further study, their best bet would be to apply for a student visa. For people who have a potential sponsor, now would be a good time to discuss the TSS 482 visa with their employer. If they are looking to extend their stay because they cannot leave Australia and the above options do not apply to them, they should consider applying for a visitor visa, however note visitor visas have no work rights.

Are there any other options available?

Mancy: Yes, the government has come out with a new visa , 408 visa, especially for the current COVID-19 circumstances.

You can apply for the 408 visa for 2 reasons:

  1. Remain in Australia to continue your work in critical sectors.

  2. Remain in Australia if you have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

You can find out more about the 408 visa here.

Have questions or concerns? Not sure what you should be doing right now?

Our migration experts are always here to help! Book in for a free consultation to speak 1-to-1 with our migration experts today.

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