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Australian skilled migration points test under review

The Albanese Government is releasing a discussion paper which maps a path to reforming the skilled migration points test, which has not been updated since 2012. A review of Australia’s migration system led the Government to commence a reform announced in December 2023 and skilled migration points test is one area of focus. 


The discussion paper indicated that reforms to the skilled migration points test should continue to result in pathways for temporary migrants looking for permanent residency in Australia. It also called for the points test to provide greater certainty and pay attention to industries with skills deficits. 


This is a key focus of the Government’s reforms to the skilled migration system. Given the permanent skilled migration program is capped, the reform does not have an impact on the net overseas migration. 


We’re focused on making sure that a smaller migration program is bringing in people who have the skills we need to build Australia’s future. That’s where the Points Test really matters,” said Clare O’Neil Minister for Home Affairs. 


The migration review, undertaken by Dr Martin Parkinson AC PSM, Professor Joanna Howe and Mr John Azarias, found that the current skilled migration points test is “not designed to identify applicants with the best potential to contribute to Australia over the long term.” It said a recalibrated points test should “form the core of a future permanent skilled migration program”. 


The federal government called on the Australian National University to carry out an analysis of skills that drive success in Australia as part of reforms to the skilled migration points test which plays an important role in Australia’s migration system. Almost two-thirds of permanent skilled migrants are selected through this test. It determines who comes to Australia permanently and who will become Australia’s future citizens. 


The migration review found that a reformed skilled migration points test should: 

  • Focus on characteristics that are associated with migrants successfully finding skilled work in Australia

  • Better target the skills Australia needs presently and in the future 

  • Give applicants a realistic sense of the likely success of their application and not drive ‘permanent temporariness’ 

  • Reflect that younger migrants will spend more years contributing to Australian workplaces 

  • Better recognise the potential contributions to Australia from partners. 


The paper analysing the skills that drive success in Australia explore how a better skilled migration points test can meet the objectives of Australia's migration system, improve living standards and create a system that is efficient and fair towards the migrants who decide to build their lives here. 

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