New visa points system announced

Recently published legislation introduces changes to the Points Test for General Skilled Migration visas commencing 16 November 2019. They will be relevant to existing Subclasses 489, 189 and 190 visas, as well as the new Subclass 491 visa which also commences on 16 November 2019.

The changes to the points test will include:

10 points for having a skilled spouse or de facto partner

15 points for applicants nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by a family member residing in regional Australia

10 points for having certain STEM qualifications

10 points for applicants who do not have a spouse or de facto partner

5 points for applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who has competent English

The amendments to the point system follow the recommendation of the Productivity Commission. In its 2016 report, the Productivity Commission had recommended that the points system be amended so that secondary applicants with skills and other desirable employment-related characteristics contribute significantly to the point score of the primary applicant.

The explanatory statement issued by the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs states, "The amendments introduce a revised points system for the subclass 491 visa as well as existing General Skilled Migration visas. Points are awarded for attributes that are linked with the applicant's ability to make the greatest economic contribution, as the key purpose of the skilled migration program is to maximise the economic benefits of migration to Australia."

When points are equal (excluding partner qualifications), invitations will be ranked in the following order:

  1. Applicants without a spouse or de facto partner
  2. Applicants with a spouse of de facto partner who demonstrates competent English but who does not have the skills to obtain Skilled partner
  3. Applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who is not eligible for either competent English or Skilled partner points.

For a spouse or de facto partner to achieve points for competent English, they must successfully complete a recognised English test.