New Entrepreneur visa and changes to the points test

This blog post is part of a series of three on our role in supporting the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Entrepreneur Visa

On 10 September 2016, we made changes to the visa system as part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.

A new Entrepreneur visa is now available for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and $200,000 in funding from a specified third party who want to develop and commercialise their innovative ideas in Australia. Visit SkillSelect on our website to express your interest.

We have also made changes to the points test for skilled migration. Five additional points are now available to graduates from Australian institutions with doctorate-level and masters by research qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and information and communication technology fields.

Visit our website to learn more.


Visa innovation: supporting international education and enhancing integrity

Today the Department of Immigration and Border Protection introduced a simplified student visa framework (SSVF).


The main changes under the SSVF include:

  • a single student visa (subclass 500) for all students, regardless of their course of study
  • the global roll out of online visa lodgement to all international students
  • a new targeted approach to managing immigration integrity.

The existing eight Student visa subclasses are being reduced to two—the Student visa (Subclass 500) and the Student Guardian visa (Subclass 590). Online visa lodgement will also make the application process simpler for students and education agents, while creating efficiencies in processing.

Importantly, the SSVF will also enhance integrity by delivering a more targeted approach to risk management. All students are subject to the same core visa requirements such as being a Genuine Temporary Entrant and meeting health and character criteria. Under the SSVF, a combined country and education provider risk framework guides a student’s evidentiary requirements.

‘The Department needs to be satisfied that students are genuine and they and their accompanying family members can support their study and living expenses while in Australia,’ said David Wilden, First Assistant Secretary, Immigration and Citizenship Policy Division.

Students can use the online tool to determine evidentiary requirements
Students can use the online tool to determine evidentiary requirements

Students can enter where they’re from and where they’re intending to study using an online tool on the Department’s website. Results will be used to help a student determine their likely financial or English language evidentiary requirements and guide them through the online application process,’ Mr Wilden said.

The move to more digital services will not only benefit students, but combined with other changes in the programme will result in expected red tape savings of $24.1m per year and reduce student visa regulations from 145 pages to eight.

No more forms! Students can now lodge visa applications online
No more forms! Students can now lodge visa applications online

The SSVF will support the sustainable growth of Australia’s international education sector by making the process of applying for a Student visa simpler to navigate for genuine students, reducing red tape for business and delivering a more targeted approach to immigration integrity.

More information on the simplified student visa framework


Tips on lodging Partner visa applications

Applications for Partner (Temporary) visas (subclass 820) and Partner (Provisional) visas (subclass 309) are currently taking between 12 and 15 months to process, due to high demand. If you are planning to apply for a Partner category visa, either in Australia or overseas, here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Use a document checklist to help prepare your application.
  2. Lodge your application with all required documentation using ImmiAccount.
  3. If you need help, consider using a registered migration agent.

1.     Use a document checklist

There are checklists on our website to assist you in preparing your application.

Stage 1 – Temporary Partner or Prospective Marriage visa (300,309,820)

Stage 2 – Permanent Partner (100, 801)

For applicants outside Australia:

For applicants in Australia:

Note: If you hold a Stage 1-Partner (subclass 309 or subclass 820) visa, you can check your eligibility for the Stage 2 Permanent visa using the Partner (Permanent) Calculator.

2.     Lodge your complete application using ImmiAccount

Lodging your application online is a quicker and easier method, and will get you faster results than lodging by paper. First, you will need to create or login to your ImmiAccount. Once logged in, you can submit your application and attach any relevant documentation. You can login to your ImmiAccount at any time to prepare, track or manage your application.

All documents must be scanned and uploaded to your ImmiAccount. Do not send them by email or by post as it will delay your assessment.

Complete applications that contain comprehensive documents in support of a genuine relationship will get priority and are quicker to process.

Information on creating an ImmiAccount and lodging on line can be found here:

Information on attaching documents to an online application can be found here:

See Partner Category Visa Options for detailed information about what to lodge with your Partner application.

For information about supporting evidence such as statutory declarations, and certifying and translating documents, see information to help prepare your application.

3.    Consider using a registered migration agent

Registered migration agents can assist you to prepare your application for a fee. To practise in Australia and act on behalf of visa applicants, agents must be registered with the Office of Registered Migration Agents of Australia (OMARA). For more information about using a registered migration agent, see To search for a registered migration agent, visit the OMARA website.


Introduction of payment for visa legislation

Payment for visas pic






On 14 December 2015 new legislation was introduced addressing payment for visas activity through criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, and visa cancellation powers. Asking for, receiving, offering or providing a benefit in return for visa sponsorship or related employment is now illegal.

The payment for visas legislation applies to a range of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas. It is unacceptable for sponsors, nominators, employers or third parties to make a personal gain through a payment for visa arrangement.

New criminal penalties of up to two years imprisonment and/or penalties of up to $324,000 for each instance apply to people requesting or receiving a benefit in return for a sponsorship event. Civil penalties of up to $216,000 may apply for people found to have offered or provided a benefit in return for a sponsorship event occurring. In addition to these penalties, if the people involved in this conduct hold a visa, either temporary or permanent, this may also be subject to cancellation. If visa applicants are involved, their applications can be refused.

Payment for visas undermines the integrity of skilled work programmes, which address genuine skill shortages in the Australia labour market by making employees available from overseas.

For more information about what constitutes payment for visas behaviour including the list of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas affected, go to:

If you have been a victim of, or are aware of payment for visas conduct, please report it to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection:


Australia’s 2015-16 Migration Programme

Up to 190,000 permanent migration places will be available in 2015-16 as announced by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  as part of the Budget on 12 May 2015.

The number of permanent places available will remain the same as last year.   This includes up to:

  • 128,550 places for skilled migrants, including employer sponsored, general skilled and business categories;
  • 57,400 places for family migrants sponsored by immediate family members; and
  • 565 places for special eligibility migrants, who include former permanent residents who have maintained close business, cultural or personal ties with Australia.

Additionally, at least 3,485 permanent Child visa places will be available outside the managed Migration Programme.

What has changed?

Whilst the overall size and composition of the programme remain the same as last year there are changes in how the programme will be managed affecting the Child category visa and Orphan relative visas.

Child category visas (excluding Orphan Relative) will no longer be counted under the managed Migration Programme. This is in response to the Government’s commitment to reform and improve the processes relating to inter-country adoption.  The Child category will continue to be carefully monitored while it transitions to a fully demand-driven model by 2019-20.

Orphan Relative visas will now form part of the Other Family category within the Migration Programme with 400 places allocated to Orphan Relative visas.

For more details about the 2015-16 Migration Programme read the Ministerial Media Release or Fact Sheet 20 – Migration Programme planning levels.

Here is a breakdown of the planning levels for each visa category:

2015-16 Migration Programme
  Planning level
Employer Sponsored 48,250
Skilled Independent 43,990
State/Territory & Regional Nominated 28,850
Business Innovation & Investment Programme 7,260
Distinguished Talent 200
Total Skill Stream 128,550
Partner 47,825
Parent 8,675

Other Family

·         Orphan Relative



Total Family Stream 57,400
Special Eligibility Stream 565
Total managed Migration Programme 186,515
Child (outside the managed Migration Programme) 3,485
Total permanent migration places 190,000


No plans to remove accountants from the 2015 SOL

Some of our blog readers may have seen today’s Australian Financial Review, which  has incorrectly reported that the department has dropped accounting from its list of skilled occupations in demand for 2015.

There are no plans to remove this occupation from the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for the 2015 programme year. The Office of the Chief Economist in the Department of Industry conducts analysis each year on the composition of the SOL. The next advice is expected in March 2015 after the completion of extensive labour market analysis and a public consultation process.

This year, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (whose functions have been incorporated into the Department of Industry) released a detailed analysis of accountants and concluded that they should continue to be included on the SOL.

Are you interested in Australia’s 2015-16 permanent migration programme?

Every year, we set a migration programme to best support Australia’s economic and social goals. This year’s programme looks like this:

Visual guide to Migration Programme in 2014-15

To help set 2015-16’s programme, we have prepared a discussion paper, which is now online at This discussion paper provides a broad starting point for thinking about the best settings for migration levels next year.

At the end of the discussion paper, you will find a short survey. This is your chance to tell us what you think is the optimal size and composition of the permanent migration programme. Your responses will be confidential.

So have your say – read the discussion paper, take the survey and let your government know your thoughts before Friday, 5 December 2014.

We’re a diverse mob!

This post is part of the On the Move blog series. These posts have been prepared by our Economic Analysis Unit.

How many places of birth are represented in Australia? Which local government areas (LGAs) have a majority of their residents born overseas? What language could we all be speaking in 2021? All of these questions and more can be answered with the help of a recently released series of publications called The People of Australia (PoA).

Prepared under the auspices of the former RAC (Research Advisory Committee), the PoA series have been released every five years since 2003. They are based on data from the most recent Census and provide detailed overviews of Australia’s population at the national, state and LGA levels. Birthplace, language, religion and citizenship are all covered. With several thousand graphs, tables and maps spread across eleven volumes covering over 4000 pages in total, there is something in here for everyone!

For example, did you know there are 252 distinct places of birth represented in the Australian population? Australia takes out top spot accounting for 15 million of us, while England with 900 000 and New Zealand with 483 000 make up the top three. At the other end of the list Sao Tome and Principe (252nd on the list) has contributed 11 persons.
The PoA can also reveal where all these immigrants live. As detailed in Figure 1, although they are scattered across Australia, of the nearly 600 LGAs only six can claim to have a majority of their population born overseas (See Figure 1).

FIGURE 1 - Canberra Stones

On the issue of languages, PoA reveals that Mandarin is the most common language spoken at home (other than English or Indigenous languages) accounting for more than 1.5 per cent of the population. Italian, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek and Vietnamese are the only other languages accounting for more than 1 per cent each. This might all change however if the growth of the Seychelles Creole language keeps up. As the PoA highlights (see Figure 2), between the 2006 and 2011 Census’ the number of speakers of this language increased nearly 3 800 per cent. Although total numbers remain small (702 in 2011 up from 18 in 2006) if this rate of growth keeps up all of us will be speaking Seychelles Creole well before the 2021 Census!

FIGURE 2 - Canberra Stones

Australia’s 2014-15 Migration Programme

A total of 190 000 places make up Australia’s 2014-15 migration programme, as announced by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection on Budget Day.

Breaking down the numbers, next year’s programme planning levels comprise:

  • 128 550 places for skilled migrants, including employer sponsored, general skilled and business migrants
  • 60 885 places for family migrants sponsored by family members in Australia
  • 565 places for special eligibility migrants, who include former permanent residents who have maintained close business, cultural or personal ties with Australia.

Migration to Australia infographic

The migration programme is set by government annually and lists the planning levels for permanent migration to Australia.  The migration programme benefits Australia economically, through addressing immediate and long-term skill shortages in the workforce, and socially, through the reunification of families.

The size and composition of the programme is set after extensive stakeholder consultation around Australia, and takes into account other factors such as net overseas migration, economic, demographic and labour market trends.

It is managed separately to the humanitarian programme and you can learn more about it on our website

What’s changed?

While the overall size of the programme remains the same, there have been some changes within each stream:

Places have been moved into the employer sponsored category, which is designed to meet immediate to medium term skill shortages that remain in some industries and regions.  If not addressed, these shortages will reduce economic growth and productivity.

Skilled independent category has been reduced to ensure fewer migrants are competing directly with Australians for jobs as the labour market is slightly softening and unemployment is somewhat trending upwards.

Immediate family reunion has been supported by increases in the partner and child categories, as well as in contributory parent.  To maintain the relative proportions of the programme, reductions in the numbers of non-contributory parents and other family visas were necessary.