expat network

5 Trends in Australian Permanent Residence Migrants Need to Know

permanent residence
Australia’s permanent migration intake has fallen to its lowest level since 2008 with only 160,323 permanent residence visas granted in 2018-19, according to recent Department of Home Affairs statistics. In 2019/20 and over the next four years, we can expect this figure to plateau with Australia’s new planning cap formally set at 160,000 permanent visas per year.

Written by Sheila Woods of Interstaff 24 October, 2019


Here’s our insights on recent trends we have observed in Australian permanent residence, which have become more apparent since the Department of Home Affairs’ recent release of figures for  permanent migration visas granted in 2018/19.


Migration Program Actual Intake 2018/19

Skilled Stream

  • Employer Sponsored – 42,012
    • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme – 8,987
    • Employer Nomination Scheme – 33,025
  • General Skilled Migration – 60,240
    • Skilled Independent – 34,247
    • State/Territory Nominated – 25,993
  • Distinguished Talent – 200
  • Business Innovation and Investment – 7,261
  • Total – 109,713

Source:  Department of Home Affairs. 


More restrictive employer-sponsored permanent residence options

Only 109,713 people were granted permanent residence through the skilled migration streams in 2018/19 compared to 123,567 people in 2016-17. Recent restrictions to skilled visas, such as the introduction of the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa and less invitations being issued for General Skilled Migration are likely to have influenced this reduction.

Since the introduction of the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa, only Medium-Term Stream TSS Visa holders are eligible for a permanent residence pathway. This restriction has reduced the number of people that can apply for employer-sponsored permanent residence.

Only 38,052 people were granted an employer-sponsored Subclass 186 Visa in 2016-17 compared to 33,025 people in 2018-19. Employer-sponsored permanent residence through the Subclass 186 Visa has only been allocated 30,000 places in 2019/20.

With the introduction of the new 494 Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional Visa in November 2019, employers will have more opportunities to sponsor skilled migrants and it will be interesting to see if this helps to alleviate permanent residence restrictions that currently exist through TSS 482 Visa pathways.

Migration Program – Planning Levels FY 2019/20


Skilled Stream 2019-20 *2017-18
Employer Sponsored 30,000 35,528
Skilled Independent 18,652 39,137
State/Territory Nominated 24,968 27,400
Skilled Regional N/A 1,574
Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) – NEW 9,000 N/A
Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) – NEW 14,000 N/A
Business Innovation and Investment Program 6,862 7,260
Global Talent 5,000 N/A
Distinguished Talent 200 200

Source:  Migration Institute of Australia


Greater competition for permanent residence through Independent Skilled Migration

Less invitations have also been issued for General Skilled Migration Visas to reflect a smaller migration program and conditions are becoming more competitive to migrate independently without an employer sponsor. 67,857 people were granted a GSM Visa in 2016-17 compared to only 60,240 in 2018-19.

Planning levels for 2019/20 show only 57,620 placements have been allocated for GSM visas, which indicates we can expect to see a further reduction in invitations being issued this financial year.

It will be interesting to see how the introduction of the new Regional 494 Points-Tested Visa will attract migrants to live and work in regional areas. We may begin to see more migrants seeking to live and work regionally with the greater availability of permanent residence placements in regional areas.


A focus on regional permanent residence

This year, the size and composition of Australia’s skilled migration intake will also be influenced by the Government’s focus on encouraging migrants to live and work in regional areas. Skilled migrants who would like to live and work regionally may be able to claim more points for Independent Skilled Migration and the commencement of new Regional Skilled Visas in November 2019 will provide more opportunities to work and live in regional areas. The new 191 Visa will become available from November 2022 as a permanent residence visa option for skilled migrants on a Subclass 491 or 494 Regional Visa who have worked in a regional area for three years. Read our article about Australia’s policy direction towards regional migration.


A Sustained Family Migration Intake

The number of permanent residence Family Migration visas granted in 2018-19 has remained very similar to previous years at 47,247 placements. In 2019/20, a total of 47,732 visas have been planned for Family Migration placements. There is usually significant demand for permanent family visas such as Parent Visas, however the number of placements planned have remained very similar each year.


Increased rigour in the Government’s assessments of permanent residence applications

We can expect to see a sustained level of rigour being applied to Government assessments of permanent residence visa applications – particularly in relation to character/integrity, sponsorship compliance and the genuineness of applications. Applicants are required to provide substantial levels of evidence to support their application. This is likely to impact the rate of permanent residence visas granted and standard processing times.


Interstaff assist people all over the world with the legal and professional process to travel or migrate to Australia for temporary work or permanent residence. Established in 1988, Interstaff has been trusted by migrating individuals and businesses for over 30 years and are the strongest group of experts for visa work in Australia. MARN: 0533879.