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Massive drop in 189 visa invites; increase in invites issued for regional areas in 2019-20

Source: SBS

Less than 8,000 invitations for skilled independent visa were issued by the Department of Home Affairs in the last financial year, the latest figures reveal.

Australia has recorded a significant decrease of 66 per cent in the number of invites issued for Skilled Independent visa in 2019-20 compared to the previous year.

Compared to 22,920 invites issued for Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) in 2018-19, only 7,720 invites were issued in the last financial year.


  • Only 7720 invites for subclass 189 issued in 2019-20
  • Overall, 66 per cent drop in the number of invites compared to 2018-19
  • Increase in number of invites for state and territory nominated visas

Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) is a permanent residency visa that allows the visa holder to live and work anywhere in Australia.

Invitations issued in 2018-19 and 2019-20 program year.
Invitations issued in 2018-19 and 2019-20 program year.
Department of Home Affairs

However, there was a significant increase in the number of regional visas issued in 2019-20, after new regional visas were introduced in November 2019.

In 2018-19, 120 invites were issued for Skilled Regional (provisional) visa (subclass 489) whereas 1780 invites were issued in 2019-20 after Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) – Family-Sponsored was introduced.

Overall, there was a huge decline from 23,040 invites issued in 2018-19 to the number dropping two-thirds in 2019-20 to merely 9500 invites.

“This number could represent the most significant decrease of invitations and applications in the history of the Australian skilled migration program,” Mr Mark Glazbrook, an Adelaide-based registered migration agent told SBS Hindi.

“This is incredibly disappointing for aspiring skilled visa hopefuls, especially those onshore who have been working towards meeting the eligibility criteria for a skilled migration visa,” he said. 

Increase in State and Territory Government Nominated visa invites

In contrast, a significant increase was reported in the number of invitations issued for State and Territory Government nominated visa subclasses in 2019-20.

Compared to 17,350 in 2018-19, 25,589 visa invites were issued by the State and Territory Governments from 1 July 2019 to the end of June 2020.

In June 2020 alone, 3,481 invites were issued by the State and Territory Governments.

STate and Territory invitations
The number of intending migrants who received nominations from State and Territory Governments from 1 July 2019 to the end of June 2020
Department of Home Affairs

Migration is a key component of Australia’s economic recovery in 2020-21: Department of Home Affairs

How will border closures and COVID-19 affect immigration to Australia?

While details of the 2020-21 migration program planning levels are yet to be revealed, the Department of Home Affairs has confirmed to registered migration agents that the existing 2019-20 migration program settings will continue to remain in place.

The Migration program is set annually with the number of places available capped at a ceiling of 160,000. 

Migration agents have told SBS Hindi the invitation round of visa invites in July 2020 indicates that the regular monthly process continues.

However, states and territories have put their migration programs on hold as the migrant quota is yet to be allocated.

Every year the states and territories receive quotas from the government, based on which the states and territories nominate skilled migrants for various visa programs.

However, this year, the Department of Home Affairs has advised the states and territories to put their programs on hold until further notice as the quota for 2020-21 is yet to be allocated to states.

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Hindi the government was still working on the Migration Program for 2020-21 and that migration was a key component of Australia’s economic recovery as it responds to COVID-19 crisis.

“Migration makes a substantial contribution to Australia’s economic prosperity, national wellbeing, and social cohesion,” the spokesperson said.

“The Government is focused on ensuring the Migration Program provides Australia with the skilled workers required to ensure continuity of critical goods and services in sectors essential in Australia’s response to COVID-19 and our national economic recovery.

“In the COVID-19 recovery period, migration will be a key component of Australia’s economic recovery.

“The Australian Government is considering how best to shape the Migration Program to drive economic growth and support job creation during the recovery phase.”

‘Time to focus on onshore applicants’

Adelaide-based agent Mr Glazbrook said with borders shut, it was time to focus on onshore applicants and urgently reopen the state and territory programs.

“With international borders remaining closed for the foreseeable future and with a number of skilled visa hopefuls in Australia, the focus of the migration program over the next 2-3 years should be focused onshore, but also focused on demand-driven migration programs, targeting regional employer-sponsored visa programs and pathways to permanent residency,” he said. 

“The Department should also urgently reopen the 190 program. The current closure of regional and state/territory programs is resulting in many highly skilled and qualified visa hopefuls being unable to lodge an application for a skilled visa and in some cases before their current visas expire,” he said. 

However, when asked by SBS Hindi, the Department of Home Affairs did not provide any timeline on when the state and territory nominated skilled visa programs will resume.

Instead, the spokesperson of the department said, “State and Territory nominated skilled visa programs will play an important part in Australia’s economic recovery and continue to be a part of the Migration Program.”

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Disclaimer: We’d like to point out that the information contained in this segment is general and is not specific advice. If you would like accurate information relevant to your situation, you should consult a registered migration agent.