As the end of the program year draws closer, Australian jurisdictions are picking up the pace to fill the remaining places in their programs with skills that support their economic recovery and health response.


  • Health occupations continue to feature strongly in Victoria’s skilled nomination program
  • NSW is currently targeting skilled migrants in select health, engineering and ICT occupations
  • Queensland has closed its skilled program owing to a ‘significant backlog’ of applications


In Victoria, health occupations continue to feature strongly from the registrations of interest (ROIs) that were selected to apply for Skilled Nom­inated Subclass 190 and the Skilled Regional Sponsored Subclass 491 visa categories. This is due to the requirement that the applicant’s skill set supports the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As per the latest program review, 1,140 of 5,121 ROIs were selected to apply for Subclass 190, while 270 of 701 ROIs were selected to apply for Subclass 491, as at 28 February 2021.

New South Wales:

Regional Development Australia (RDA) offices continue to accept and assess applications for the Skilled program in New South Wales – one of the few states that received more places than its allocation in the previous year.

The state is currently targeting skilled migrants in select health, engineering and ICT occupations that support NSW’s economic recovery and health response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In February, the state expanded its occupation list for Subclass 190 to include 10 more professions related to the field of engineering, paving more permanent migration pathways for potential migrants in fields other than those related to health and technology.

Pre-empting the future trends, Melbourne-based migration agent Ranbir Singh said medical professionals, especially registered nurses would continue to dominate the list of applicants who will be invited to apply for skilled programs in NSW and Victoria and most other states in months to come.

“After a long halt, it is good to see some momentum in terms of invites being issued by both Victoria and NSW. As expected, both the states are still prioritising occupations in the critical sectors and are preferring applicants with local experience. It is likely that the trend will continue in the upcoming rounds with a possibility of non-critical occupations being invited as well,” Mr Singh said.

South Australia:

SA continues to accept nominations for its skilled program, but only from onshore applicants.

‘At this stage, any person who is currently residing offshore, or in another state of Australia, will not be eligible to apply,’ the website states.

Abul Rizvi, the former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration, said it comes as no surprise that states are focusing on onshore applicants at a time when the country’s international borders remain firmly closed.

“Most of the states are going very slow in terms of nominating people who are offshore. The vast bulk of the people they are nominating are those who are already here because those are the people who can prove, for example, a commitment to the relevant jurisdiction and that they have had a minimum period of working in that jurisdiction,” he said.
In 2019-20, 80 per cent of the primary visa applicants within the Skill Stream of the Migration Program were already in Australia at the time of application.

Mr Rizvi added that “we have got to remember that for the last twenty years, we have increasingly moved to an onshore Migration Program and this trend is a part of the continuum.”

“Once the borders reopen, that balance will shift back again towards including offshore applicants. But whilst the borders are closed, it’s pointless for states to nominate offshore applicants unless they have a way to get them to Australia,” he added.


The Queensland state nominating body has closed the skilled program owing to a “significant backlog” of applications as case officers continue to assess expressions of interest received between 1-7 February 2020. However, the state has indicated that it will be reopening the program in April for onshore applicants only.

Australian Capital Territory:

The ACT Government continues to hold separate invitation rounds for the 491 and 190 nomination streams. As per the outcome of the latest invitation round, the nominating body issued 23 invitations for Subclass 491 and 39 invitations for Subclass 190. The next round of invitation will be held on or before 26 March 2021.


The island state has already used approximately 60% of its total skilled nomination places. While 190 applications are being considered, Tasmania Migration has indicated that it has fewer than 400 nomination places remaining for Subclass 491 in the 2020–2021 program year, while a high number of applications have not yet been processed.

‘All efforts will be made to consider all applications lodged between 20 March 2021 and 31 March 2021, depending upon the volume of applications received during that period. Applications for subclass 491 nominations lodged after 31 March are highly unlikely to be successfully nominated unless they are in the top 3 priority categories,’ the website states.

Northern Territory and Western Australia:

NT and WA skilled programs continue to remain open for onshore applicants only.


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