Australia to introduce major changes to the points test for skilled migrants


Skilled Independent Visas, skilled migrant category, skilled migrants, SkillSelect,


The Australian government has indicated plans to reform the points test for skilled migrants, which plays a crucial role in determining eligibility for entry into Australia.

Plans to reform the points test system for skilled migration have been unveiled as part of a comprehensive plan aimed at reducing Australia’s immigration numbers to what is deemed a manageable, or sustainable level, in the aftermath of a significant influx following the Covid pandemic.

Alongside the strategic reduction in overall immigration numbers, there is a concerted effort to address the misuse and exploitation within the student visa program. The government’s plan includes tightening regulations and improving oversight to ensure that the program better serves both the educational goals of the students and the labor market needs of the country.

New English Language Requirements for Student and Temporary Graduate Visas

A reformed immigration points test is coming

The Federal Government has just released a discussion paper which maps a path to reforming the Points Test, which has not been updated since 2012. This is a key focus of the Government’s reforms to skilled migration. Given this is a part of the capped permanent skilled migration program, it does not have an impact on net overseas migration.

Australia uses a points test which attributes weightings and a pass mark to tailor the points tested visa programs. This reflects Australia’s long-term labour market needs. We invite independent migrants to apply for a visa based on their skills, attributes, and suitability for employment. 

The points test objectively compares candidates’ skills sets and attributes needed to succeed in the Australian labour market and society. The current general points categories are:

  • Age
  • English language proficiency
  • Employment experience, both overseas and in Australia
  • Educational attainment, including specialist qualifications and study in regional Australia
  • English language proficiency of the migrant’s partner.

The points test applies to the following visa programs:

  • Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189) visa – for migrants with high levels of human capital
  • Skilled Nominated visa Subclass 190 visa – for migrants that have secured a nomination from an Australian State or Territory Government, and
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491) visa – for migrants nominated by a state or territory government agency, or sponsored by an eligible relative and intending to live and work in regional Australia.

Almost two-thirds of permanent skilled migrants are selected through the Test. It determines who comes to Australia permanently and who will become Australia’s future citizens. [3]

Points table for Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189)

The Migration Review found that a reformed Points Test should:

  • Focus on characteristics that are associated with migrants successfully finding skilled work 
  • Better target the skills Australia needs now and in the future
  • Give applicants a realistic sense of the likely success of their application and not drive ‘permanent temporariness’
  • Reflect that younger migrants will spend more years contributing to Australian workplaces
  • Better recognise the potential contributions to Australia from partners.

The Government has begun work on reforming the Points Test by commissioning the Australian National University to analyse the factors that drive success in Australia.

This discussion paper explores how a better Points Test can meet the objectives of our Migration System, improve living standards and create a system that is efficient and fair towards the migrants who decide to build their lives here.

Submissions to this phase of consultation will close on the 24th May 2024.​

Australia’s population growth hits new record

The population of Australia’s capital cities grew over 500,000 in the year ending June 2023, the largest annual growth recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Beidar Cho, ABS head of demography said: “Australia’s capital cities grew by a record 517,200 people last financial year, with this growth largely driven by net overseas migration.”

Melbourne (up 167,500) and Sydney (up 146,700) had the biggest increase in 2022-23, with Perth and Brisbane each also adding over 80,000 people. Along with Adelaide (28,100), these five cities had their largest annual population growth since the start of the series in 1971.

Perth had the highest growth rate (3.6 per cent), followed by Melbourne (3.3 per cent) and Brisbane (3.1 per cent). 

Capital cityPopulation change 2022-23Population 30 June 2023
PeoplePer cent
All capitals517,2003.017,991,300
Regional Australia117,3001.48,657,600

The largest growth areas were mostly in outer-suburban parts of the capital cities, where population growth was driven by net internal migration gains. [2]

11 things you may not know about Australians born overseas

  1. Australia’s population included 8.2 million people who were born overseas as of June 2023. This was an increase of 494,000 from one year earlier.
  2. The percentage of people born overseas increased to 30.7% in 2023. This is the first time the percentage has exceeded 30% since 1893 and comes as international travel rebounds following COVID-19 safety measures being lifted.
  3. The lowest proportion of overseas-born Australians since records began was 10% in 1947 with major global events like World War I, the Great Depression and World War II affecting migration. 
  4. England, India, China and New Zealand were the most common countries of birth within the overseas-born population in June 2023. Together, they made up over one third of Australians born overseas.
  5. Australians born in England (962,000) were still the largest group born overseas. However, this population has steadily fallen from a peak of just over one million in 2013. Those born in India (846,000) were the second largest group born overseas. 
  6. India was the country of birth with the largest population increase (other than Australia) in Australia’s population over the past decade, increasing by 467,000 people since 2013.
  7. The median age of people born overseas decreased from 45 years in 2021 to 43 years in 2023. This change occurred due to the re-opening of international borders and associated increase in younger people (such as international students) migrating to Australia.
  8. The country of birth with the highest median age was Latvia at 80 years. Qatar had the lowest median age at 15 years. 
  9. The age group with the highest proportion of people born overseas was 35 to 39 year olds with 43% born overseas. This contrasts 0 to 4 year olds, with only 3% born overseas. 
  10. Western Australia had the highest percentage of people born overseas (34%) in June 2021, but it was the only state or territory to record a drop since 2016, down from 35%. Tasmania had the lowest proportion in 2021 with 16%, however it had the largest increase from the previous five years, up from 13% in 2016.
  11. Globally, in 2020 Australia was ranked ninth by number of people in national populations who were born overseas, with 7.7 million. In that year, the United Nations estimated 280.6 million people worldwide resided outside their country of birth – 3.6% of the global population. [1]

[1] Source: Commonwealth of Australia

[2] Source: Commonwealth of Australia

[3] Source: Australian Government

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