Major Partner Visa Changes, Family-Employer-Business Visas Prioritised Within 160,000 Places

The federal government announced its 2020-21 budget, and it released new details regarding its 2020-21 immigration program. The migration program for 2020-21 will focus on Australia’s economic recovery and job creation post-COVID-19.  We have done the hard work for you and have summarised the key points of the budget announcements!

Migration Program levels

The government announced that the migration program level would remain at 160,000 for the 2020-21 program year. Whilst the quota remained the same, the distribution of the quota will change. The family stream will increase from 47,732 places to 77,300. To ensure that Australia recruits talented individuals to help with the economic recovery, Employer-Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be given priority.  Onshore visa applicants and partner visa applicants in regional areas will also be prioritised. This is to encourage migration to regional areas of Australia.

2020-21 Migration program planning levels
Stream and Category 2020-21
Skill stream
Employer Sponsored 22,000
Skilled Independent 6,500
Regional 11,200
​State/Territory Nominated 11,200
Business Innovation & Investment program 13,500
Global Talent 15,000
Distinguished Talent 200
Skill Total 79,600
Family Stream
Partner 72,300
Parent 4,500
Other Family 500
Family Total 77,300
Special Eligibility 100
Child (estimate; not subject to a ceiling) 3,000
Total 160,000
State and Territory nominated visa allocations
State Skilled Nominated (Subclass 190) Visa Skilled Work Regional (Subclass 491) visa Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP)
ACT 702 598 30
NSW 3,550 2,800 2,200
VIC 2,500 1,043 1,750
QLD ​1,000 1,250 1,200
NT 500 500 75
WA 1,100 340 360
SA 1,500 1,850 1,000
TAS 1,000 1,400 45
Total 11,852 9,781 6,660
Visa refunds and waivers

The federal government has indicated that some visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund. Prospective Marriage visa holders and Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders will be able to have their VAC refunded. If you are a temporary skilled workervisitor or a working holiday maker, you are eligible to have the VAC on the subsequent visa application waived. Visa refunds and waives are only applicable to visa holders who are unable to travel because of the border closure and travel restrictions.

Subclass 189 – New Zealand Stream

New Zealand citizens who intend to apply for a subclass 189 under the New Zealand stream will have to show that their taxable income is at or above the income threshold for at least three years out of the last five income year. This is planned to change from needing to show income above the threshold for four years out of the five years.

The income threshold since 2014 is $53,900.

Please note that the latest instrument did not provide the announced COVID concession on the income threshold of 3 years in 5 years immediately before applying for this visa subclass which is disappointing, We hope it will be updated in 2021 (there is no confirmed date).

Business, Investment and Innovation Program

The 2020-21 migration program aims to support the economic recovery post-COVID-19. For this reason, places for the business, investment and innovation program has increased to 13,500. The government will be streamlining and improving the operation of the Business Innovation and Investment Program from 1 July 2021. The visa application charges will also increase by 11.3% from 1 July 2021.

Global Talent Independent program

A Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce will be established. The purpose of the task force is to attract international businesses and outstanding talents to Australia to help with the post-COVID-19 economy recovery. It builds on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program.

It is expected that the GTI program will be tripled to 15,000.

Family stream program and visas

New changes have been introduced to the partner visas.  The government has allocated 77,300 places for family visas. This is an increase from 47,732 places. Pertinent changes visa are:

Budget winners and losers

Regional applicants Metropolitan applicants
Family Stream Visa Offshore visa applicants
Partner Visa
Employer Sponsored Visa
Global Talent Visa
Business Innovation and Investment Program
Subclass 189 – New Zealand Stream

Above are the new changes that will be implemented in the 2020-21 program year.

The joint media release by Minister Dutton and Acting Minister Tudge is available here

Related: Top occupations for Permanent residency in 2019-20 Migration Program

Related: English Test for Permanent Stage of Partner Visas

Related: Partner visa grants, refusals, cases on hand and processing times

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