Australia’s Migration Program is designed to benefit future and current economic and social advancement in Australia. 

As many know, migration has a significant impact upon Australia’s economic prosperity, culture and national well-being. It has a substantial contribution to the Australian lifestyle and economy by bringing international connections, skills and innovation. Over the past decade, migration has accounted for 58% of the Australian population growth. 

Reducing Population Planning Ceiling 

Currently, the Migration Program is updated and managed annually. The current annual planning ceiling for four years, from 2019-20, was reduced from 190,000 places to 160,000 places. This reduction has been implemented to reduce pressure on major cities’, whilst allowing for improvements in infrastructure and city planning. 

The Australian Migration Program is managed through three main streams, including Skilled, Family and Special Eligibility. 

  • Skilled Stream: Made to improve the productive capacity of the Australian economy, whilst filling skills shortages that are found within the labour market, in particular in regional Australia.
  • Family Stream: Enables Australian citizens as well as permanent residents to reunite with family members, such as dependent relatives and partners.
  • Special Eligibility Stream: Provides visas for those that find themselves in special circumstances that are not found within other streams, such as former residents and those that have been granted a visa through Ministerial Intervention.
  • Child Category: Allows children of parents that live outside of Australia to come to Australia.

The Migration Program size and composition is decided each year according to the Australian Government’s Budget process. It is also updated according to the needs of State, Territory, business and community group needs within Australia. Economic forces, labour market needs as well as diversity and community views are taken into consideration when planning the program. 

Migration Program 2019-20 Planning Ceilings: Skilled Stream
Employer Sponsored 30,000
Skilled Independent 16,652
State/Territory Nominated 24,968
Regional Category*

Skilled – Employer Sponsored
Skilled – Work

Business Innovation and Investment Program 6,862
Global Talent Program 5,000
Skill Stream Total 200


Migration Program 2019-20 Planning Ceilings: Family Stream
Partner 39,799
Parent 7,371
Other Family 562
Family Stream Total 47,732
Special Eligibility 236
Total Migration Program 156,650
Child (Outside of the Migration Program Ceiling 3,350
Total Permanent Migration Places 160,000


Increasing Regional Migration 

Although there has been an overall reduction in visas available, there has been an increase in the amount of regional visas options in Australia. These changes reflect a desire to enhance regional and low-populated areas and support a sustainable population growth Australia wide. Population growth in Australia has occurred predominantly in major cities’, which has placed a significant amount of pressure upon housing, services and infrastructure in these areas. Through the introduction of two provisional regional visas, (1) subclass 494 and (2) subclass 491, the Australian Government is attempting to fill these skills shortages in regional Australia. After completing three years on one of these visa options, the visa holder will then be able to apply for permanent residency, without a second nomination stage, through the subclass 191 visa.  

  1. Subclass 491 visa: 

This new regional visa, Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa allows migrants to live, work and study in designated regional areas of Australia for 5 years (Anywhere except Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane). There are almost 400 occupations that are available through this visa, which means that migrants have more flexibility when it comes to living in popular destinations such as Newcastle.  

  1. Subclass 494 Visa 

The subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored (Regional) visa allows employers that are located in regional areas to sponsor employees, as well as their families through a wide range of occupations. These range from Aquaculture Farmers, to Health and Welfare Services Managers to address specific regional skills shortages and attract migrants of different skills, experience and expertise. On November 16, 2019, the 494 visa will be replacing the current 187 (RSMS) visa and will have 10,000 places allocated per year. 

  1. Subclass 191 Visa  

The subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa can be obtained by those that meet the requirements of the permanent visa (from November 2022). In order to apply for this visa, applicants must have held a subclass 491 or 494 visa for at least three years and must have complied with all conditions of the visa, as well as met the minimum taxable income requirements.  


 Increasing the Benefits of Skilled Migration 

High on the priority list for the Australian Government is designing skilled migration policy in such a way that safeguards jobs for Australian workers. The Department recognises the importance of taking Australia’s economic, labour market and demographic needs, when formulating Australia’s skilled migration program. In order to maximise the benefits of the Skill stream within the Migration Program, the Department must ensure that Australia’s states, territories and businesses are able to nominate, employ and invite skilled workers to fill genuine skill shortages that are being faced within their industry. The Department has responded to the high level of labour market challenges within Australia, by allocating a greater share of skilled migration places to State/Territory Nominated and Employer Sponsored visa categories within the 2019-20 Migration Program. 

 If you are looking to study, visit, work or migrate to Australia, Results Migration are the best in the field, with a team of experienced migration lawyers and registered migration agents that are available to guide you through this complex area of law. Call Results Migration on 1800 808 717 or email us on [email protected] and book your free consultation today!