Australian States and Territories react to DIAC suspending General Skilled Migration

After last week's announcement from DIAC that they would be suspending the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program, we knew that the changes would impact every level of the Australian immigration process; the only question was how quickly other immigration stakeholders would react and whether they'd follow DIAC's lead in suspending their activities for the timebeing.

We began by looking at the immediate reactions of the Australian States and Territories, who play such an instrumental role in the Australian sponsored visa application process.

See below for how each Australian State and Territory has reacted to DIAC's suspension of the GSM program:


Western Australia hasn't made any official statement regarding the suspension of the GSM program, but they appear to have blocked all online applications through the display of the following message on their website:

"Online visa applications are suspended until further notice."


13 MAY UPDATE: Victoria have responded to DIAC's announcement by suspending their own offshore application process until 1 July.

"If your sponsorship application is in process, and you have not lodged a visa application, the application will remain in process however a decision will not be made at this time. You will be advised of any change to this situation and it is requested that you do not  enquire on the progress of your application. 

If you lodged your visa application with DIAC prior to 8 May 2010, however did not include this information in your sponsorship application, you should advise the Skilled and Business Migration Program by 21 May 2010. No further information will be accepted after this date."

The Victoria state government have also made clear that they will be unable to answer any queries concerning visa suspensions, and that applicants with any concerns should direct their concerns to DIAC directly.


While South Australia first announced that they would only suspend the processing of sponsorship applications received after 14 May, this appears to have been superseded by the following announcement:

"Applicants under the General Skilled Migration Program should be aware that DIAC has made an announcement today suspending all Offshore GSM application. Please direct any enquiries on this matter to DIAC via your nearest Australian High Commission and not to Immigration SA.
As a result, Immigration SA will also be suspending processing all Offshore Sponsorship applications, until further notice. However, Onshore sponsorship applications will proceed at this stage."


Queensland have updated their website with the following statement, although it still remains unclear as to what they're going to do:

"On Monday 8 February 2010, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, announced changes to the Australian Government Migration Program. Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) eligibility is a condition of Queensland nomination to a Skilled Sponsored or Skilled Regional Sponsored visa and other sponsored visas. Please check the DIAC website to see if these changes apply to you."

One interpretation is that once the new Australian Skilled Occupation List (SOL) comes out, they will deny sponsorship to anyone not on it, even if they have lodged with DIAC beforehand.

12 MAY UPDATE: I recently heard from a representative of Queensland that they have ceased processing 176 and 475 nomination applications unless applicants can demonstrate that they had lodged a 175 or a 176 visa application lodged with DIAC on or before 7 May 2010.

They also say they are in the process of sending an email to all nomination applicants they have on hand that have not been finalised.


New South Wales has updated their website with the following statement, announcing that they will be immediately suspending applications for sponsorship for the duration of the GSM program being suspended:

"On 7 May 2010, the Australian Government announced that it would temporarily suspend the acceptance of applications in some offshore visa classes until 30 June 2010. These visa classes include:

  • Skilled Sponsored 176 visa
  • Skilled Regional Sponsored 475 visa

As a result of this decision, Industry & Investment NSW will not accept applications for NSW sponsorship in these visa classes until after 1 July 2010."


There has been no response to the suspension of the GSM program from the Northern Territory as of today, 10 May, 2010.

However, any announcement made will most likely be made available on the Northern Territory skilled migration website here.


Tasmania have made the following announcement that they will be suspending all sponsorship applications from today, 10 May, 2010 to 3 July, 2010.

"The Tasmanian Government will be suspending the assessment of applications for offshore Skilled Sponsored (SS) subclass 176 visas and Skilled Regional Sponsored (SRS) subclass 475 visas between Monday 10 May 2010 and Friday 3 July 2010.  The suspension will take place whilst the Tasmanian Government reviews current sponsorship policies.  During this period the assessment of all other sponsorship applications will remain unchanged."


Everything on the ACT skilled migration website appears normal, and the online form was accessible. 

When can further information be expected?

Assuming that the news of the GSM program's suspension was as much of a surprise to the States and Territories as it was to us, then it's unsurprising that many of them have yet to provide any official statement on how they will respond. However, judging by the reactions we have seen, it seems that most of them will suspend the processing of sponsorship applications ASAP.

It will also be interesting to see if this affects the formation and introduction of the State Migration Plans. For now, we will keep monitoring the situation and provide more information as and when it becomes available.

- Matt Parker is a Caseworker for the Australian Visa Bureau