Australia increases visa quotas – here are some popular routes for skilled South Africans

 ·11 Sep 2022

Australia is facing a huge skills shortage and is actively seeking foreign workers across a variety of occupations, notes Sam Hopwood, director: Australia and Oceania Region at Sable International.

After severe pandemic lockdowns, Australia finds itself in a position where a lack of skilled workers is affecting its economy.

In an attempt to correct this, it has increased the quotas for several skilled visa categories. Hopwood looks at popular Australian visa routes for skilled South Africans.

Why is Australia increasing its visa quotas?

During the early days of covid, Australia was one of the first countries to close its borders.

Unfortunately, as the country is historically reliant on migrant labour, this led to a large skills shortage. Two years later, with 96.2% of people in Australia over the age of 16 fully vaccinated, the country has gone back to normal, welcoming back international tourists, students and especially skilled workers.

How have the skilled visa quotas increased?

When Australia announced its 2022-23 Migration Programme planning levels in August, it revealed large increases in the visa quotas for skilled Australian visas, which will make up 70% of the total visas available.

  • The Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa saw a 39% increase
  • The Skilled Nominated Visa (subclass 190) saw a 79% increase
  • The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) saw a 123% increase, and
  • The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) saw a 156% increase.
  • The Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

While eased restrictions around the temporary Employer Nominated visa is good news, finding an employer to sponsor you can be difficult. There might be a better opportunity for you to go to Australia on a Skilled Independent, State Nominated or Regional State Nominated visa if you have the relevant skills, education, qualifications and experience.

State Nominated (subclass 190)

Through the State Nominated visa, the government believes they are going to deliver skills to particular parts of Australia, which they are in need of. This visa is different to 189 insofar as this visa requires that you are sponsored by a state
government. Don’t be confused about the word ‘sponsored’. It’s not being sponsored in a financial sense.

The state government is providing you a nomination and that nomination means that you will get an invitation to apply for a visa. That’s where the support stops. They’re not going to provide you with a job or housing.

The state governments survey their local labour market requirements. And, based on those requirements, they then devise their own lists. If your occupation is on one of their lists, and you meet their criteria, then chances are you might be lucky enough to be nominated by that state.

Once the visa is granted, you have Australian permanent residency from the moment you land in the country. You will need to live and work in the state that nominated you for at least two years.

Thereafter, you can move to wherever you like.

Regional State Nominated (subclass 491)

This is a temporary visa with a clear pathway to permanent residency and with some benefits that other temporary Australian visas don’t offer, like full access to Medicare. You will need to live and work in the particular region that nominated you for three years and earn a taxable income over AUD 53,000 for each of those years in order to apply for permanent residency.

Regional skills shortage lists are much longer than the state or national lists and there are therefore a much greater variety of occupations available.

Skilled Independent (subclass 189)

This visa is independent of any nomination criteria. You are free to live anywhere and work in any

This visa was the visa that traditionally everyone was trying to get and that a lot of people were successful in getting, Historically, Australia issued about 40,000 of these a year. If you scored 65 points, and you were an accountant and or another occupation which was on the list, chances would you could qualify for a Skilled Independent visa.

What are the general requirements to qualify for an Australian skilled visa?

  • You must be under the age of 45
  • You must nominate an occupation on the appropriate skills list
  • You must do a skills assessment
  • You must meet the English language criteria
  • You must be of good health and good character
  • You must meet the legislated points score (which is awarded for factors such as age, experience and education).

How to obtain an Australian skilled visa?

All of these visas require an invitation to apply from either the national or state government. Before submitting your visa application, you’ll submit an expression of interest (EOI) with all your relevant information. The government will then send invitations to its choice candidates.

To stand the highest chance of being selected, it’s important that you apply to the region or state most in need of your skills and tailor your application specifically for them.

Read: Here’s how many South Africans are leaving for Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK

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