General Skilled Migration Changes

The 1st July marks the introduction of several key changes to the General Skilled Migration program that you should make sure you are aware of.

Changes to the Age Limits applied to 189 Visas

At present the upper age limit on General Skilled Migration is fixed at 49 years of age. However, for Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visas the upper limit will be dropped to just 45 from 1 July onwards. (read more about Skilled Migration to Australia) UPDATE: notice has now been received that the lower age limit WILL ALSO APPLY TO ALL SKILLED VISA SUBCLASSES: Official figures indicate that approximately 1% of all applicants for the 189 subclass lie within the 45 - 49 band at present so the global impact on numbers is expected to be small.

The NZ Citizen Pathway

As of 1st July 2017 a new permanent residency pathway will be opened to New Zealanders who have lived and worked in Australia for 5 years or more. (Read more about New Zealand Visas) The scheme will run as part of the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa to expedite the historically slow process that has been in place up to this point. Particular points of note include:
  • Affordable application fees
  • Lack of age restrictions
  • Health requirement concessions
  • No assessment of skills or English language proficiency
It is estimated that between 60-70,000 New Zealanders are currently eligible for this scheme, and that as a result of these large numbers there will be a tightening of the number of places on offer through the existing points based system.

The Release of Occupational Ceilings

Occupational ceilings help manage the General Skilled Migration Plan by limiting the maximum number of EOI invitations that can be sent in a given period of time. If these ceilings are maintained at current levels it is anticipated that a higher points score will be required by future applicants.

Revised Skilled Occupation Lists

It is expected that the MLTSSL and STSOL will be revised from 1 July 2017, with jobs in sectors such as engineering which fail to appear on both lists concurrently being prime candidates for removal. It is also likely that several of the growing number of flagged occupations will be removed. In addition we expect a strong concerted lobbying effort from Australian Business groups looking to add key occupations to both lists.

Reopening of State Migration Plans

The majority of states are expected to reopen their migration plans, and whilst new places will be on offer candidates are strongly advised to submit their applications as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

In Conclusion

We expect the process of Skilled Migration to become increasingly difficult and competitive in 2017-18. This will increase the necessity of researching alternative routes such as employer sponsorship and state nomination. Need advice about your Skilled Visa Application for Australia? Speak to a Registered Migration Agent at or call 0800 193 6900 or 0131 625 6900.

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