A closer look at Australian immigration planning levels for 2011/12

The Australian Migration Program planning levels for 2011/12 were recently announced as part of Australia's annual Federal budget announcement, with the total number raised to 185,000 from 2010/11's total of 168,700.

Regional migration initiatives will now take up a higher
proportion of the Australian skilled migration stream. 

Of this, the skilled migration stream saw an increase of 10.5%, with the most gains made for the Skilled - Independent visa pathway, which went from 34,200 places to 44,350 places. The Employer Sponsored visa pathway also saw an increase of 1,850 places with a greater emphasis put on the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), which went from having 10,160 places in 2010/11 to 16,000 places for 2011/12.

The new focus on regional Australian immigration for skilled workers is a welcome one, though there are some aspects which remain uncertain. For example, one major point that has yet to be clarified is the introduction of 'Regional Migration Agreements'.

However, it is hoped that the end result will be a reduction of 'red tape' and the process of applying for and receiving an Australia visa to work in regional Australia will become easier (and faster too, due to the introduction of priority processing for regional visa categories).

The CEO of the Migration Institute of Australia, Maurene Horder, had the following comments to make:

"While details of these programs are yet unknown, these are good and sensible changes to encourage skilled migration to regional areas where it is needed most.

"The announcement that there will be new procedures for selecting skilled migrants will bring about major changes in the way people apply for visas. The Institute calls for considerable consultation with all stakeholders regarding how this will done, and sufficient notice of the implementation of this new selection method

"The MIA knows from experience that when the Government fails to consult all stakeholders – particularly the migration advice profession that deals most closely with visa applicants – there is a danger of unfortunate, unforeseen consequences occurring. It is imperative that the full details and clarification of all these changes are made known as soon as possible so that potential visa applicants and their advisors can properly make significant decisions for their futures."

For a more detailed understanding of how the Australian migration program for 2011/12 has changed from 2010/11, you might like to refer to the table below which shows the variation from last year's program to this year's:

Variations in the Australian Migration Program

 See below for statistics on how the Australian migration program figures have changed from 2010/11 to 2011/12.
  2010/11 2011/12 Variation % Change


42,000 45,400 3,400  


3,300 3,450 150  

Preferential / Other Family

750 1,250 500  


1,000 2,000 1,000  

Contributory Parent

7,500 6,500 -1,000  

Total Family

54,550 58,600 4,050 7.4%

% of program

32.3% 31.7%    

Employer Sponsored

44,150 46,000 1,850  

ENS + Labour Agreement  

33,990 30,000 -3,990  


10,160 16,000 5,840  

Skilled - Independent

34,200 44,350 10,150  

Skilled - State / Territory Sponsored

24,000 24,000 0  

Skilled - Australian Sponsored

3,500 4,100 600  

Distinguished Talent

200 200 0  

Business Skills

7,800 7,200 -600  

Total Skilled

113,850 125,850 12,000 10.5%

% of program

67.5% 68.0%    

Special Eligibility

300 550 250  

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau.