Migration planning program 2020-21: Is Regional Migration still a good move?

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The most-awaited announcement of Migration Program Planning Levels for the year 2020-21 is out and it has come with quite a few startling changes. Though there is no change in the ceiling of the total 160,000 permanent visa places, the program has been restructured drastically. Here are the highlights of the announcements you may want to know.

From the new structure, it is evident that the plan has been designed to meet the country’s social and economic goals after COVID19 has made a severe impact on the economy. Supplying the country with right talents in critical areas is considered a high priority. Here is the distribution of places between the major two streams.

Skill stream

Out of the 160000 places available this year, 50.7% places are allocated to the skill stream to improve the overall productivity and fill the existing skill shortage in targeted areas. This year, priority will be given to employer sponsored, Global Talent Independent and Business innovation visas in the skill stream with a hope that this move will revive the economy, create more jobs for people in Australia.


Employer sponsored 22000
Skilled Independent 6500
Regional 11200
State/Territory nomination 11200
Business innovation/Investment program 13500
Global Talent 15000
Distinguished talent 200
Skill Total 79600

Family stream 

Compared to the 37,118 places last year, family visa places have been doubled this year. However, on-shore applicants  will be given priority for these positions. It is expected that at least 75% of these positions will be allocated to applicants who are in Australia already.

Onshore visa applicants and Partner visa applicants where the relevant sponsor resides in a designated regional area, will be prioritized for the 2020-21 Migration Program.


Partner 72300
Parent 4500
Other family 500
Family total 77300

Migration planning level 2019/2020 Versus 2020/2021 


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What do these changes mean for migrants?  

From these changes, the intention of the government is evident that the primary focus for this year is boosting the economy. By giving high priority to employer sponsored visas, it becomes easy to fill the jobs that are in actual demand of talents. This could be one of the reasons why the total number of positions for Skilled Independent visas is reduced. Onshore applicants and their partners could experience a faster visa processing time since they are the priority for the year.   

Those who have been planning to apply for a regional visa, this may not be the news they like to hear. From 23000  last year, regional visa positions have been cut down to 11200.  Places for the regional independent 491 visa and the employer sponsored Subclass 494 have been combinedly allocated these 11200 places and it would not be so wrong to assume that a majority of these limited positions will be allocated to the employer sponsored regional visa. To obtain a regional visa, due to high competition, the PR point cut-off to get an invitation will be very high. 

Currently, there is no clarity whether this changed structure is a one-off move or will continue in the coming years until the country returns to normalcy. However, in the view of current policy changes, regional migration stands out as the best way to go for a PR visa since general skilled migration has become difficult. For now, it is imperative for migration aspirants to observe the changes carefully and make right choices with expert guidance to obtain a permanent visa faster.


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