Australia is set to drive up the number of places available in the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa category in 2022-23.
The Albanese government will add 16,652 places to the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa program in 2022-23, with the skill stream getting an overall increase of 30,000 places.
The number of additional places in the Skilled Independent visa program could increase even further if there are not enough successful applicants in other parts of Australia’s skilled migration stream.
Places in Australia’s Skilled Independent visa category have been steadily falling since 2013-14 when about 45,000 Skilled Independent visas were granted.
In 2019, former Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg issued his Budget that forecasted the highest level of population growth in the history of Australia, including the highest level of sustained net migration program in the country’s history at around 268,000 per annum.
However, the outbreak of Covid-19 disrupted migration plans, and two years of negative net migration ensued.
With the new government set to increase the number of available places in the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa category, more invitations will be issued to applicants who have lodged an Expression of Interest (EOI) for Australian immigration.
Applicants can lodge an EOI if they score more than 65 points in Australia’s general points test.
Although the Australian government significantly constricted the number of invitations issued under the Skilled Independent visa category in recent years, early 2022 saw a change in this trend.
The opening up of the Skilled Independent visa category was most likely down to a low number of applications for the employer-sponsored migration program lodged to the Department of Home Affairs.
In the 2022-23 migration year, the number of invitations issued will likely reach around 2,000 to 4,000 per quarter. It could reach even higher levels if the employer-sponsored migration program is not reformed.
Australia is already suffering from an aging population and workforce, and the number of critical worker shortages in the country is close to half a million, according to data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The narrow range of occupations that were granted invitations in 2021-22 will need to be significantly broadened if a large increase in the Skilled Independent category is to be ensured in 2022-23.