My prediction for the Skilled Migration Program 2023/24 – expect far less State / Territory nominations and invitations as the Department seek to reduce their backlog of unprocessed Permanent Residency visa applications.

We have heard about the Federal Government’s desire to reduce the visa backlog but how can the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Government reduce the number of permanent visa applications in their pipeline (applications lodged but not processed) when you consider that only 190,000 permanent visas can be granted in the 2023/24 migration program year.

Not only this, but we also need to consider that historically, more new permanent visa applications are made every year than the total number of permanent visa’s that are available to be granted over the corresponding 12 month period.

The answer is simple, increase the number of refusals and limit or restrict the total number of new permanent residency visa applications made.

Consider this, if there are 500,000 pending permanent visas in the Department’s pipeline and they grant 190,000 this program year, but accept 250,000 new permanent residency applications, the pipeline will increase from 500,000 to 560,000 unprocessed applications. This goes against what they have publicly stated in terms of what they want to achieve.

However, if the Department were to only accept 125,000 permanent visa applications, grant 190,000 and refuse 50,000 visa applications, the 500,000 pipeline of unprocessed permanent visa applications will be reduced to 385,000 by the end of the 2023/24 migration program year.

I am not foreshadowing visa refusals at the rate we experienced in 2018 within the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 program, however, increased refusals is absolutely a way for the Department to clear out and reduce their backlog of unprocessed permanent residency visa applications.

I do anticipate that we will see significantly reduced numbers of state and territory skilled nominated/state sponsored (subclass 491/190) places available in the 2023/24 migration program year than previous years and far less invitations issued to (subclass 189) independent general skilled migration applicants through the invitation process, and whilst this will see less applications made for permanent residency, visa grants will remain the same (due to a large backlog of applications).  This is something that may well continue for the next 2-3 years as the Department works through its backlog of unprocessed applications.

The Department can not restrict spouse visa applications or parent visa applications, unless they change the application or eligibility guidelines, however, they can restrict the number of skilled migration visa applications by issuing less invitations, therefore, my prediction is that we will see far less invitations issued within the skilled stream in an attempt to reduce the departments backlog of unprocessed permanent visa applications.

Watch this space…

The total number of on-hand permanent visa applications in the Departments pipeline will be released shortly in the 2022-23 Migration Program Report.

Restrictions to the permanent skilled migration program can also be achieved by delaying the re-opening of the State/Territory sponsorship process.

Mark Glazbrook, CEO

About the author. Mark Glazbrook is founder and CEO of Migration Solutions. He has over two decades of experiences in migration strategy and advice, and is an advocate for migration reform.

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