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States and territories across Australia have announced that their nomination program will remain temporarily suspended while they await the federal government’s allocation of state nomination places for the program year 2020-21.

The General Skilled Migration Program (GSM) is aimed at skilled workers in particular occupations willing to migrate to Australia to improve the country’s workforce, and also to meet the changing needs of businesses within the states and territories.

Every year all jurisdictions receive quotas from the government, based on which the states and territories nominate skilled and business migrants for Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 and the Skilled Regional Sponsored Subclass 491 visa categories.

Highlights:

States and territories in Australia have announced that their nomination program will remain temporarily suspended. The federal government has not yet allocated state nomination places for the program year 2020-2021 “Government is closely monitoring migration and visa settings”: Department of Home Affairs

'COVID-19 pandemic to have a significant influence on the shape of Australia’s Migration Program'

However this year, the Department of Home Affairs has advised the states and territories to put their programs on hold until further notice.In a statement to SBS Punjabi, a spokesperson for the Department said that migration continues to make substantial contributions to Australia’s economic prosperity, national well- being and social cohesion.

“The government is closely monitoring migration and visa settings to ensure they are consistent with public health measures, are flexible and do not displace job opportunities for Australians so that Australia can deal with the immediate and post-recovery impacts of COVID-19,” said the spokesperson.

The Department further stated that the ongoing impacts of the pandemic worldwide, both medically, socially and economically, will have a “significant influence on the shape of Australia’s Migration Program going forward.”

“The Australian Government is considering how best to shape the Migration Program into the future to drive economic growth and support job creation.”

Nominations will be made available to States and Territories in line with these considerations - Department of Home Affairs spokesperson

'Skilled migration has not stopped, it has been temporarily suspended'

Explaining the reason behind the delay, Adelaide-based migration agent Mark Glazbrook said skilled migration will remain suspended until the federal government decides on the size and composition of the Migration Program which is set each year through the Budget process..

“But as the budget will now be delivered in October instead of May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been no formal announcement about the 2020-2021 Migration Program year and as a result of that states and territories haven’t been advised about what their individual quotas are,” he said.

The delay has given rise to speculation among existing visa holders and prospect skilled migrants already reeling under
economic pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Melbourne-based migration agent Navjot Kailay said while the delay is significant, visa seekers must remember that
“General Skilled Migration is an integral part of the Australian migration program and has not been stopped.”

“A lot of misleading statements around skilled migration are in circulation since July 1. I would like to clarify that skilled migration has been temporarily suspended, but it has not stopped or will ever stop. There have been delays in the past as well, the only difference is that this year instead of one month, it has been suspended for a longer period,” he said.

“While applications in some states remain open – this implies that applicants meeting current criteria can apply for Expression of Interest (EOI) and nomination application if invited by the relevant state authority. However, nominations will only be issued once the quota is allocated to the respective state for this financial year.”

Impact of the delay:

Mr Glazbrook said visa holders whose visas are due to expire in months leading to October will be “significantly disadvantaged” due to delay in allocation of state nomination places.

“There are certainly a number of applicants who will be impacted where they might have a visa that expires in the next few months and was going to apply for a skilled migration visa or was going to apply to be sponsored by a state or territory, those programs are temporarily on hold then that could result in those people who ordinarily would have been eligible to apply for a skilled visa, that’s no longer available to those people,” he said.

Onshore student visa holders looking to apply for skilled visas, applicants who have lodged EOIs and have not been invited and some offshore visa holders awaiting permanent residency may also be affected.

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