Shortfall for Australian Migration Programme in 2016-17

Australian Migration Programme 2016-17
webster By Mark Webster
Monday, 18 December 2017

Results for the 2016-17 Migration Program have been released.

Unlike other years, the full program numbers were not delivered - there were significant shortfalls in numbers of visas granted for:

  • General Skilled Migration
  • Parent Visas
  • Other Family Visas
  • Special Eligibility Program

This article looks at the results in detail and analyses the results.

Overall Numbers

A summary of the overall migration program numbers versus the planning levels for 2016-17 are below:
Stream and Category 2016-17 2016-17 actuals Difference Percent

Skill stream

Employer Sponsored 48,250 48,250 - -
Skilled Independent 43,990 42,422 -1,568 -3.6%
State & Territory & Regional Sponsored 28,850 25,435 -3,415 -11.8%
Business Innovation & Investment Programme 7,260 7,260 - -
Distinguished Talent 200 200 - -
Skill Total 128,550 123,567 -4,983 -3.9%

Family Stream

Partner 47,825 47,825 - -
Parent 8,675 7,563 -1,112 -12.8%
Other Family 900 832 -68 -7.6%
Family Total 57,400 56,220 -1,180 -2.1%

Special Eligibility

565 421 -144 -25.5%

Child (outside the Migration Programme)

3,485 3,400 -85 -2.4%


190,000 183,608 -6,392 -3.4%

As can be seen from the above table, the overall planning level of 190,000 for 2016-17 was not met and was 6,392 places short overall.

This marks a significant shift from previous years - meeting the migration program numbers is historically one of the most important functions of the Department of Immigration.

Most streams within the program were delivered at the planning level - including the Employer Sponsored, Business Skills, Partner and Distinguished talent streams. It is interesting to look into the programs where planning levels were not met.

Countries of Origin

Compared to 10 years ago, there have been significant changes in the countries of origin of migrants to Australia:

In 2016-17, the top 10 source countries were as follows:

Country Number Percent
India 38,854 21.2%
China 28,293 15.4%
UK 17,038 9.3%
Philippines 12,209 6.6%
Pakistan 6,556 3.6%
Vietnam 5,493 3.0%
South Africa 4,589 2.5%
Nepal 4,290 2.3%
Malaysia 4,049 2.2%
Ireland 3,855 2.1%
Total Program 183,608

Whereas in 2007-08, the composition looked like this:
Country Number Percent
UK 28,029 17.7%
India 22,146 14.0%
China 20,729 13.1%
South Africa 7,178 4.5%
Philippines 6,721 4.2%
Korea (South) 5,155 3.2%
Malaysia 4,842 3.1%
Sri Lanka 4,150 2.6%
Indonesia 3,034 1.9%
USA 2,917 1.8%

UK nationals now make up a far smaller percentage of the migration program. Numbers of people with Indian and Chinese nationality have increased significantly. There are a number of new countries to the top 10 list including Vietnam, Pakistan, Nepal and Ireland.

Split by Occupation

Compared to 5 years ago, the top 5 occupations make up a lower percentage of the skilled program. In particular, there has been a large decrease in the number of accountants and cooks qualifying for permanent residence:
Occupation 2016-17 2011-12 Change Percent
Accountant 3,351 6,914 -3,563 -51.5%
Software Engineer 3,346 1,428 1,918 134.3%
Cook 2,186 4,836 -2,650 -54.8%
Registered Nurses 1,965 1,009 956 94.7%
Developer Programmer 1,535 1,350 185 13.7%
Top 5 Total 12,383 15,537 -3,154 -20.3%
Total Skilled Program 123,567 125,755 -2,188 -1.7%
Percent 10.0% 12.4%    

General Skilled Migration

Compared to the 2016-17 planning levels, there was a significant shortfall in visas granted.

The shortfall for the Skilled Independent stream was 1,568 places or 3.6%, and for the state/territory sponsored stream the shortfall as 3,415 places or 11.8%. Overall, the shortfall as almost 5,000 places or 6.8%.

Given how competitive it is to get a SkillSelect invitation to even be eligible to apply, this is a very disappointing result. It appears that the number of applicants who receive SkillSelect invitations but do not proceed onto lodgement of a General Skilled Migration application is quite significant.

It is also interesting to look at the number of offshore versus onshore applications for General Skilled Migration:

Stream Onshore Offshore Total % Offshore
State/Territory Nominated 8,383 15,382 23,765 64.7%
Skilled Independent 17,412 25,010 42,422 59.0%
Skilled Regional 585 1,085 1,670 65.0%
Total 26,380 41,477 67,857 61.1%

It is very surprising in particular to see that almost two thirds of the state/territory nominated program goes to offshore applicants. Many states and territories are now requiring either a job offer or residence in the state or territory for a nomination to be issued.

Parent Visas

The delivered parent visa stream was under the planning level by 1,112 places or 12.8% under the planning level.

This will be very disappointing to parent visa applicants who are now waiting a significant amount of time for their visas to be processed.

The contributory parent category is supposed to be a fast-tracked option where parents pay $43,600 each on top of the initial lodgement fee for grant of the visa. As of 30 June 2017, there were 38,508 applicants in the contributory parent pipeline for grant. Assuming the planning level of 7,175 places for contributory parents continues, the expected waiting time would be close to 5 years going forward for contributory parents.

At the same time, the pipeline for non-contributory parent visas is 49,735. With an allocation of 1,500 places per year, expected waiting time may be over 33 years for this visa type.

Other Family

The "Other Family" stream was also 68 places under its planning level (7.6%). Waiting times for visas in this stream are also quite long. Processing times are no longer published, but previous indications were that waiting times could be 50 years or more for some of these family sponsored visas.

Numbers are available for grants in each visa subclass within this category - what's interesting is the very low number of grants in some visa subclasses:

Other Family Offshore
Remaining Relative 79
Carer 402
Aged Dependent Relative 2
Orphan Relative 349
Total 832

Special Eligibility

Grants of visas under the Special Eligibility stream were 144 places under the planning level or 25%. This category is for Ministerial Intervention cases so this result most likely indicates the Minister is less inclined to personally intervene in favour of applicants.


The 2016-17 delivered program figures are unusually far from the planning levels for the year. Reasons for the variation are not as yet apparent and no explanation has been provided by the Department of Immigration.

If program numbers continue to not be met, this adds a layer of uncertainty onto likely processing times and eligibility for various migration streams.

As a result, it is more important than ever to get sound migration advice about your possible migration pathways. If you would like advice about which pathways will be best for you, please book a consultation with one of our advisors.


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