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‘Tough to get permanent residency’, as Australia's migrant intake falls to decade-low

Source: SBS

It has become tougher to get permanent residency as Australia cuts down the migrant intake and moves towards sending more migrants to regional areas.

It is getting tougher to acquire Australia’s permanent residency compared to three years ago suggests migration expert as Australia records its lowest migrant intake in a decade.

The latest figures released by government indicate the number of permanent residency visas granted in 2018-19 was the lowest in a decade with only 160,323 visas (ceiling of 190,000) granted under the Permanent Migration Program.

The data also reveals there was a significant increase in the number of visas granted to those in regional areas, in sync with the government’s plans to send more migrants to regional areas.

Within the skilled stream, the general skilled migration (where the skilled worker can live and work anywhere in Australia) saw a decline whereas those granted visas under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (where the employer sponsors the skilled worker to live and work permanently in regional Australia) saw a 44 per cent increase.

Compared to 68,111 visas granted under the general skilled migration in 2017-18, only 60,240 visas were in 2018-19, accounting for 7871 fewer visas.

On the contrary, 8987 visas were granted under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme in 2018-19, up from 6,221 places in 2017-18 – a 44 per cent increase.

David Coleman

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the Government will continue to increase its focus on regional migration.

“Our population plan will ease the pressure on the big capitals while supporting the growth of those smaller cities and regions that want more people,” Mr Coleman said.

“This year, we’ve reduced the cap for the Migration Program from 190,000 to 160,000.

“We’re also dedicating 23,000 places for regional skilled migrants and have announced two new regional visas to help fill some of the tens of thousands of job vacancies in regional Australia.

“We’re directing migration to those smaller cities and regional areas that are crying out for more people and those regional economies that simply cannot fill jobs with local workers.”

The migration intake for the next four years including 2019-20 has been capped at 160,000 places.

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‘Tough for those aspiring for Australian PR’

Indians are the biggest source of migrants to Australia since the 2016-17. Over 20.5 per cent of the total permanent migration program (33,310 places of 162,417 places) came from India. China accounted for 15.5 per cent of migrants and the United Kingdom accounted for 8.4 per cent of migrants in 2017-18.

India is also the second-largest source of international students for Australia, with more than 70,000 international students enrolling at Australian educational institutes in 2018.

The recent tweaks to migration policy mean last two years have been tough on international students and skilled migrants aspiring for a permanent residency visa, migration agent Rohit Mohan says. 

The number of permanent visas granted has dropped from 183,608 visas in 2016-17 to 160,323 visas in 2018-19.

“Around three years ago, international students pursuing courses in occupations that are in high demand like accounting and professions related to Information Technology, would get an invite to apply for PR on basis of 60-75 points. Now it is very tough,” Mr Mohan told SBS Hindi.

“In two years, the whole scene has changed. Students are frustrated as they are not getting an invite to apply for PR despite 80 points. It has become very competitive.”

Mr Mohan says people hopeful of applying for permanent residency are eagerly looking forward to the new regional visas being introduced in November 2019.

“We do not have the details of the new regional visas yet but many hope that criteria to apply for those visas will be a bit relaxed than the general skilled migration as the government is pushing for migrants to live in regional areas of Australia,” Mr Mohan said.

Regional Australia for skilled migration is all of Australia except Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

New regional visas coming in November 2019

Australia is introducing two new regional visas requiring the visa holders to live and work in regional Australia.

The Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa will be for skilled migrants sponsored by an employer in regional Australia while the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa will be for migrants nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia.

Both visas will be a five years long visa with the possibility to apply for a Permanent Residence visa after living in the region for three years.

2018-19 Migration Program – Outcome as of 30 June 2019

Stream and Category


Skill Stream


Employer Sponsored


     Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme


     Employer Nomination Scheme


General Skilled Migration


  Skilled Independent


  State/Territory Nominated


Distinguished Talent


Business Innovation and Investment


Skill Total



Family Stream






Other Family


Family Total


Special Eligibility






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