Priority Group 5


On 14 September 2015 in IMMI 15/112, a cap is placed on subclass 175 (219), 176 (36) and 475 (29) visas. Here is what the Immigration website says about these visas (downloaded 25 September 2015):

5All visas listed in priority 3 and 4 that are not SMP or Nominated Occupation on the SOL – Schedule 1Assessment will commence when all cases in priority groups 1-4 are finalised

Here is what the Immigration website reported on 25 September 2015 :

Allocation of Priority Group 5 applications

There is a change to processing priorities for some visa subclasses in the General Skilled Migration (GSM) caseload and the implementation of a cap and cease on other subclasses.

The change in processing priorities allows applications for the Skilled Regional Sponsored (Subclass 487), the Skilled Independent (Subclass 885) and the Skilled Sponsored (Subclass 886) to be processed and finalised.

An ‘cap and cease’  will apply to applications for the Skilled Independent (Subclass 175), the Skilled Sponsored (Subclass 176) and the Skilled Regional Sponsored (Subclass 475). More information is available about Cap and Cease.

Where an application is affected by the cap and cease visa application charges will be returned to applicants.  Affected applicants can apply for other visas for which they may be eligible.


The Assistant Minister set a cap for offshore General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas which takes effect on 22 September 2015. The following offshore General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas are affected: 

  • Skilled Independent (subclass 175)
  • Skilled Sponsored (subclass 176)
  • Skilled Regional Sponsored (subclass 475).

The cap sets the maximum number of places that can be granted in the 2015–16 financial year for these visa subclasses. This total has already been reached. Therefore, applications for these visas that were not authorize (sic) before 22 September 2015 are taken not to have been made and the relevant visa application charge will be repaid to affected applicants.

If your application is affected by the Cap and Cease determination, we will send you, or your uthorized recipient (if you have one), a letter of notification.

The writer does not agree that ‘cap & cease’ is the correct way to describe this. Here is what the regulation said about the subclass 175 Skilled Independent visa (which was an offshore visa):



Grant of the visa would not result in either:

(a)      the number of Subclass 175 visas granted in a financial year exceeding the maximum number of Subclass 175 visas, as determined by the Minister in an instrument in writing for this paragraph, that may be granted in that financial year; or

(b)      the number of visas of particular classes (including Subclass 175) granted in a financial year exceeding the maximum number of visas of those classes, as determined by the Minister in an instrument in writing for this paragraph, that may be granted in that financial year.


Hence no further places in the migration program for 2015/16 will be allocated for subclass 175, 176 and 475 visas.  However a visa may be refused for failure to meet clause 175.228. Immigration is in effect offering a withdrawal and refund. Once the ministerial direction setting up the priorities was made, my advice was to re-apply for visas in that categories 1 – 4. That is still my advice. However it is often difficult to convince migration advisors and clients to apply for a second visa application. There are times in migration law to recognise when this situation may be hopeless and for the subclass 175 and 175 visa applicants that time has come.

For all practical purposes these visa applicants would need to look for another visa to apply for. There are movement afoot to challenge this Legislative Instrument, but the government is entitled to decide what the visa mix is in any one year and the total is set at 190,000.


Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM)

On 2 June 2015 Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said that:

“A nine-member panel comprising both new and returning members has been appointed as the next Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM).

…the Council will advise the Government on visa and policy settings to optimise the contribution of skilled migration to Australia’s productivity and economy. 

“One of the first tasks of the panel will be to review the composition of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List, with a view to increasing the productivity contribution of sponsored migration.”

“…Mr Innes Willox, the Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group, will Chair the MACSM and Ms Gerardine Kearney, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has also been reappointed. 

Other members are :

  • Mr John Azarias, Senior Partner from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu;
  • Ms Su McCluskey, Chief Executive Officer at Regional Australia Institute;
  • Mr Steve Knott, Chief Executive of Australian Mines and Metals Association;
  • Mr Brett Moller, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland;
  • Ms Carol Giuseppi, Acting Chief Executive Officer at Tourism Accommodation Australia; and
  • Ms Sylvia Burbery, General Manager of Mars Petcare Australia/New Zealand.


It is understood this is still in existence post the July 2016 election.

Barbara Davidson