Since the budget speech, additional information has become available about two areas of interest in relation to the migration programme:

  1. 2021 planning levels
  2. English requirement for the Partner visas.

2021 Visa planning levels

More detail has been provided for the different visa categories as follows:

2020-21 Migration program planning levels
Stream and Category2020-21
Skill stream
Employer Sponsored22,000
Skilled Independent6,500
​State/Territory Nominated11,200
Business Innovation & Investment program13,500
Global Talent15,000
Distinguished Talent200
Skill Total79,600
Family Stream
Other Family500
Family Total77,300
Special Eligibility100
Child (estimate; not subject to a ceiling)3,000

(source: Migration program planning levels – Department of Home Affairs: Immigration and Citizenship )

You can also read more about changes specifically in the tourism and agriculture space in this media release from the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs.

As announced in the budget, emphasis is being given to regional migration. This is seen by the figures above showing that the Skilled Independent category makes up only 22.5% of the overall GSM programme, the balance made up of regional temporary and permanent visas.

In the employer sponsored category, whilst priority is being given to these visas, the number has reduced from the previous year, down by some 8 000 visas.

In the family stream, Parent visa allocations have reduced from over seven thousand to four and a half thousand visas. Child visas remain uncapped with estimates of up to 3 000 visas. This will enable offshore permanent residents who are living overseas and who have had their children overseas, to return to Australia  and have their child’s visa processed either offshore or in Australia, within a reasonable time period. This will enable the return of skilled workers to Australia, another of the Government’s key budget plans.

Partner Visa English Criterion

Acting Home Affairs Minister Alan Tudge has stated the following will be applied from late 2021 for Partner visa applicants and sponsors:

  • Functional level of English required
  • Must make reasonable effort to achieve functional level
  • 500 hours of Adult Migrant English classes will constitute a reasonable effort
  • English requirement to be met at time of permanent visa processing

Migration legislation currently defines the following options for Functional English:

  • Achieved a score on an approved English test as follows:
    • IELTS: 4.5 overall
    • PTE Academic: 30 overall
    • TOEFL iBT 32 total
    • Cambridge English Advanced: 147 overall


  • Study in English medium:
    • all primary education and at least 3 years of secondary education
    • at least five years of secondary education medium
    • at least one year full time study towards a diploma or degree qualification in Australia
    • diploma, trade certificate, degree or higher degree that required at least 2 years of full time.

For both the applicant and sponsor, obtaining advice early about English requirements and then adding that step into the  ongoing migration strategy will be a new and necessary part of the already complicated Partner visa process.

If you already have questions about how this might effect you or if you are considering a Partner Visa, please reach out to us to discuss your concerns and the opportunities available to you right now