Immigration update: Australian states open skilled visa nomination programs for 2021-2022

Australian states and territories have opened their Skilled Migration Programs aimed to support the country's economic and public health response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Temporary migrant

Australian government announces major visa concessions for temporary graduates stuck offshore. Source: AAP

  • Australian states and territories open their skilled visa nomination programs for 2021-22
  • NSW nomination for Subclass 491 is now by invitation only
  • Victoria introduces major changes to its state nominated program
Australian jurisdictions receive quotas from the federal government each year, based on which the states and territories nominate skilled and business migrants for the Skilled Nom­inated visa Subclass 190 and the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa Subclass 491.

Just like last year, the program in the current financial year will continue to respond to the challenges posed by the ongoing health crisis, with an emphasis on migrants who will make productive investments in Australia, create jobs, provide critical health and medical skills, and support economic productivity. 

Here’s a state and territory wise update for the program year 2021-2022:

New South Wales

New South Wales continues to be the state with the highest number of allocations for its skilled nomination program. It has received 4,000 places for Subclass 190 and 3,640 for Subclass 491, a significant increase from last year’s total which stood at 6,350.

The state has now invited applications for Subclass 491. As part of the new process, the state will select and invite candidates to apply to a Regional Development Australia (RDA) office during a submission window and up to seven days after a submission window closes.

Submission windows for the current financial year are the months of August, October, January, and March.

There are three nomination streams this financial year:

  • Stream 1 — I am living and working in regional NSW
  • Stream 2 — I have recently completed study in regional NSW
  • Stream 3 — I am skilled in an occupation required in regional NSW
Melbourne-based migration agent Ranbir Singh said it is important to note that under Stream 3, applicants currently residing anywhere in Australia will be able to register their interest for the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (Subclass 491).

"The key change here is that the applicants not currently residing in NSW will also be considered for an invitation. This change, in particular, is a ray of hope for prospective applicants in other states who have been unable to secure an invite in their respective states," he said.

Mr Singh, however, warned that preference would be given to applicants currently residing in regional NSW.

Immigration to Australia, Migration to Australia, Australian Work Visa
تحديثات فيروس كورونا: نيو ساوث ويلز تبدأ في التعافي وفيكتوريا تعاني Source: Pexels


Victoria has received a total of 4,000 places this year – 3,500 for Subclass 190 and 500 Subclass 491. This is marginally more than the previous program year.

Mr Singh said the number of spots allotted to the 491 visa goes against the government’s agenda to reduce congestion in cities.

“The numbers allocated for 491 are a bit surprising. Slashing those spots by over 50 per cent goes completely against the government’s push for regional migration,” he told SBS Punjabi.

Federation Square
Victoria has received 4,000 places for its skilled nomination visa program. Source: AAP

However, this year, Victoria will focus on onshore applicants who are currently living and working in the state in one of the seven target sectors designated by the state based on their STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical) skills.

The seven target sectors include health, medical research, life sciences, digital, agri-food, advanced manufacturing and new energy, emission reduction and circular economy.

Priority will be given to those using their critical skills in Melbourne’s business precincts, namely, Parkville, Footscray and Docklands.

Explaining the changes, Canberra-​based migration lawyer Ben Watt said the state has changed its focus to align with the country’s current political, health and economic necessities.

“It’s quite similar to what happened last year when states were given instructions to nominate people with occupations that could support their economic recovery. So, they are not doing all occupations, they are only nominating people in target sectors that are essential to lead jurisdictions out of the economic crisis,” he said.

Western Australia

The General Stream of Skilled Migration in Western Australia is divided into two categories based on occupations: the WA Skilled Migration Occupation List (WASMOL) Schedule 1 and Schedule 2.

The state has expanded its occupation lists, but Mr Singh said the most noticeable change in the program is that applicants who apply for General Stream, do not have to be currently studying, working or living in the state to receive a nomination.

All they need is a job offer in the state to be eligible for this stream.

“The WA state nomination is unique and positive as it is open to applicants throughout Australia rather than limiting it to the state. Also, WA’s skilled occupation list is quite liberal with opportunities for trades like motor mechanic, chef, cook and painter. Applicants specifically from Victoria and Queensland will benefit from WA’s state nomination since the options for these occupations are limited in these states,” Mr Singh said.

The state has received 1,100 places for Subclass 190 and 340 for Subclass 491.

State and Territory nominated visa allocations for 2021-2022. Source: Department of Home Affairs

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT has received 600 more places for its skilled nomination program this year as compared to the last.

Its skilled migration program remains closed to offshore applicants until the federal government reopens the international borders.

South Australia

South Australia’s skilled nomination program has received 2,600 places each for subclasses 190 and 491, a total of 1,200 more places than last year.

Mr Singh said the increased allocation would mean applicants will have more chances to secure a nomination.

“The number of allocations is quite promising as they stand at 5,200 spots for the 491 and 190 visas combined, and are only second to NSW. SA is unique in a way that unlike states like Victoria, it didn’t restrict invitations to critical occupations and the trend is likely to continue this financial year as well,” Mr Singh added.

The state’s general skilled migration program is now open.

SBS Malayalam
Source: Getty Images/FotografiaBasica


Queensland has received the same number of places as the previous year – 1,000 for Subclass 190 and 1,250 for Subclass 491.

The state is currently finalising the criteria for its skilled nomination program, which remains closed until further notice.


Tasmania has received 1,100 places for Subclass 190 and 2,200 for Subclass 491, slightly more than last year.

The state will continue to assess applications for the Skilled Nom­inated visa in this program year which were not finalised by 30 June.

The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa applications lodged before 20 March, which were not finalised in the last financial year, will also continue to be assessed in the current year.

The state will open its nomination program for 2021-22 on 4 August.

Northern Territory

The Australian jurisdiction with the smallest skilled nominated program has been allocated 1,000 places, 500 each for Subclass 190 and Subclass 491, the same as the previous year.

While the NT program remains open for new onshore applicants, it is closed to overseas applicants. However, all existing applications will be assessed.


Disclaimer: This content is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at 

Listen to  Monday to Friday at 9 pm. Follow us on  and 


7 min read
Published 3 August 2021 at 3:38pm
By Avneet Arora