This has been a difficult year for those applying for the Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189). First off, the cut off points have stayed above 60 points up til the recent invitation round on 6 September 2017. The overall invitations released have also been lower.
The big question is why?
An examining the occupation ceiling versus invitations to date chart published on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website revealed some strange figures.
Given that we are barely through the first quarter of the programme year, pro rated occupations are being filled to the maximum of their quotas and have to date accounted for 4,830 of the 6,172 invitations released. That means that only 1342 invitations were sent for non prorated occupations / general occupations.
That very small number of invitations for general occupations for 2.5 months out of the programme year is probably why the cut off mark has been usually high, at 70 points in July and August, dropping to 65 points only in the 23 August 2017 invitation round. With so little invitations for general occupations being given out, SkillSelect is still skimming from the very top of the pile.
How much are the pro rated occupations having an impact on the rest of the occupation groups? In programme year 2016/17, the maximum quota for all the pro rated occupations was 16022, and in proportion to the total of 31,867 invitations released that year, accounted for 60%.
The total occupation ceiling number for all the pro rated occupation groups this year is 19,384 places, more than 3000 more places than last year. Supposing that this year the maximum quota for all pro rated occupations is met, this year will see even less general occupations receiving invitations than ever. At the moment, 4830 invitations for pro rated occupations out of the total of 6172 invitations being sent is a very high 78%.
A question of balance?
It seems considerably out of balance that the 8 pro rated occupations are currently making up 78% of the invitations. Wasn’t the system meant to create a balance? The DIBP declares that this is their aim. The SkillSelect system was created to ensure a fair approach to our migration intake.
This table shows the occupation ceilings for and the invitations sent this year for pro rated occupations.
This in comparison, to 8 general occupations with the highest occupation ceilings for this programme year.
An occupation group that has a higher occupation ceiling is meant to reflect a greater demand in the workforce. Registered Nurses  which has a whopping quota of 16,741, is not getting the attention it needs, with only 326 invitations being sent to date. Secondary School Teachers  with an occupation ceiling of 7910, has also only filled 0.8% of its quota. Perhaps this is due to a lack in applications for these general occupations but we doubt that is the case. It is more than likely an issue with the way that the system has been designed.
The table on the right are the results for invitations released that was published in the 6 September Round Results
The invitations issued in July and August of 2017 are a touch lower than that for July and August 2016, which were 3050 and 2800 respectively.
So the next question is why are there less invitations being given than ever? Two possible speculations are that a portion of the 189 visas are being held for the new New Zealand stream. Depending on how many applications the DIBP is receiving, we may see the flow of invitations alter over time.
The other possibility is that the Government is simply playing to the flare up in anti-immigrant sentiment. We have already seen great shifts in regulations over the course of the last year making it more and more difficult across many visas, including citizenship. And if you remember Peter Dutton’s media release about the abolishment of the 457 visa where he claimed that Australia was a great immigrant country but “Australian jobs are for Australians”. Quite recently Dick Smith’s anti-immigrant ad came under the spotlight.
Whatever the case, the degree to which the points system is currently skewed does not seem like it would be actually beneficial to the workforce. The huge influx of immigrants in only certain industries is more likely to overpopulate those particular industries which could lead to the impression that jobs are being taken and create even greater and unfair dissent.
We hope some some of balance to the SkillSelect system will be found for the sake of both Australia and it’s immigrants.