The migration program 217-18 has been publicly released after two and a half months of Senate estimation. As reported in The Australian, the outcome was indeed 162,417 over 27,500 below the ceiling of 190,000- the largest program shortfall in the last 50 years.
The reason of low ceiling is accounted by shifting risks and an increased focus on integrity resulted in the number of visa refusals and withdrawals. The total number of refusals increased by46.2 percent while withdrawals increased by 17 percent.
The reason of low occupational ceiling is not clear unless and until Home Affairs Minister provides a detailed breakdown of the increased refusals and withdrawals by visa category.
There were good amount of application numbers to meet the ceiling though increase in backlogs in 2017-18 increased the processing time to alarming levels, even in visa categories where the application rate fell significantly.
The reasons of visa refusals can be termed as bizarre or silly. Some of the information became obsolete while some reconsider applying their application. The backlog at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is now almost 50,000 applications- well beyond current AAT resourcing levels.
In the year 2017-18, skill stream delivered 111,099 visas under employer sponsored migration and independent skilled visas. The visa issued in the employer sponsored categories was down from 48,250 in 2016-17 to 35,528 in 2017-18. The application rate fell by 27.1%. This means there was decline of 53,094 persons at end June 2017 to 52,503 at end June 2018.
Within the employer sponsored categories is the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS). The RSMS outcome in 2017-18 declined by 39% to 6,221 compared to 2016-17. The demand for RSMS places decreased in 2017-18 with 17,003 applications received as compared to 20,236 applications in 2016-17. This decline is because of the tighter policies for regional Australia.
The skilled independent visas 189 category in 2017-18 were 39,137 as compared to 42,422 in 2017-18. The key to the lower outcome was the slow rate at which former Immigration Minister Dutton released places for processing.
Hence, to get clear picture of migration program number for 2017-18, there should be exclusion of permanent resident visas grants to New Zealand citizens.
Skilled Nominated Visa 190 increased from 23.765 in 2016-17 to 27,400. The visa numbers for Business Innovation and Investment Program in 2017-18 was 7,260 visas; this is the same number for 2016-17. The demand for state and territory visas has been increased in 2017-18 by 34.8 percent to 20,610.
The family stream visa numbers for 2017-18 was 47,732 down from 52, 220 in 2016-17. The decline of the visa numbers were in partner category. In each of the previous three years, exactly 47,825 visas were issued in the partner category.
While the partner visa issued in 2017-18 were less, surprisingly the new applications increased by 5.4 percent. The size of pipeline fell by 0.8 percent to 80, 936 suggesting a substantial number of applications withdrawn. In September 2018, the AAT had almost 5,000 partner visa decisions for review.
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