Australia is making changes to its visas in October – what South Africans should know

South Africans planning to emigrate to Australia on any state-nominated visa should have everything ready for their application to be processed by 6 October 2020, when the new quotas are announced and distributed to the state governments.

Sam Hopwood, migration expert for Sable International, said that the Australian government traditionally announces its quotas for the skilled migration programme at the start of the financial year on 1 July alongside its annual budget.

This sets out how many permanent Australian visas it expects to issue for the year. Each state government is allocated a number of visas for skilled applicants as part of the state and territory nomination programme.

However, due to Covid-19, this year’s Federal budget has been postponed to October. As such new quotas will only be announced and distributed to the state governments then, he said.

Hopwood said that it is not known at this stage whether current migration planning levels will be maintained or whether state governments will receive a higher or lower quota than usual.

“Some state governments have had their nomination application closed since December 2019 and all states are currently closed until they receive new quotas,” he said.

“There is a real risk that in the wake of Covid, the quotas will be reduced to give Australian citizens preference, in a scarcer job market.”


What visas are affected?

The purpose of state nominated visas is to allow states and territories to invite those with skills and occupations that are currently in demand in their areas to address skills shortages.

Hopwood  said that the visas that fall under the state nominated programme are:

  • Business and Innovation Visa: This is a visa for those looking to start or buy into a business in Australia. It can lead to permanent residency for you and your family. The main requirement is that for two out of the four fiscal years prior to applying, you need to have owned a business that had at least AUD 500,000 (R6.12 million) turnover per year. You and your business partner also have to have a total net business and personal worth of at least AUD 800,000 (R9.8 million) that can be used to establish a business in Australia. Generally speaking, you need to be under the age of 55 years or be able to demonstrate substantial economic benefit to the state.
  • Investment Visa: This visa requires that you demonstrate a successful career in managing businesses or investments. If invited to apply for this visa you will need to invest $1.5 million (R18 million) into Australia state government bonds. You are paid a small return on these over a four-year period and then recoup your initial investment amount. This is a temporary four-year visa which then can be converted to permanent residency in Australia. Generally speaking, you need to be under the age of 55 years or be able to demonstrate substantial economic benefit to the state.
  • Skilled Nominated visa: This is a permanent residence skilled migration visa offered to applicants who are below 45 and have occupations on the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) or Medium- and Long-Term Strategic Skill List (MTSSL).
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa: This visa permits you to live and work in a specific regional area. You need to either be sponsored by an eligible family member or nominated by a state or territory government and your occupation has to be on the STSOL or MTSSL lists.

Preparations and requirements 

“It is anticipated that state governments are going to be overwhelmed with new applications when the programme resumes and they will be able to cherry-pick the best of the best.

“So South Africans should get in early and be well prepared so that when you submit your application you have a higher chance of being selected,” said Hopwood.

While applicants are waiting for the Australian government to issue its new visa quotas, Hopwood suggests that that here are some things you can do to make sure you’re ready when the time comes.

  • Complete a skills assessment;
  • Get all your documentation in order;
  • Take the English language test;
  • Gain more experience in your nominated occupation;
  • Thoroughly research state government specific criteria before you apply;
  • Get a migration agent to check your documentation.

Read: These critical skills are in high demand in South Africa

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Australia is making changes to its visas in October – what South Africans should know