The largest number of people moving to Australia in several years were recorded in the 12 months to July 2017 with the states of New South Wales and Victoria seeing the biggest increase.

Official figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that there were 245,400 arrivals, taking the nation's population to 24.6 million. This was the largest number of immigrants in a 12-month period since December 2009.

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Overall immigration was up by 27% compared with the previous 12-month period and up by 31% in New South Wales and 23% in Victoria. ABS demography director Beidar Cho pointed out that the increases showed both states beating their previous records for net overseas migration set in 2008/2009.

The ABS figures show a marked increase in net overseas migration arrivals, with the numbers increasing by 11.5% or 56,900 people between July 2016 and July 2017 to reach 552,900 -arrivals. Over the same period, migration departures rose 1.5% to 307,500 and Australia's total population grew by 388,100 people, or 1.6%, to reach 24.6 million by the end of June this year.

Victoria was also the fastest growing state or territory, with a population increase of 2.3%, followed by the ACT which recorded a population growth rate of 1.7%. The population increase in Victoria was 144,357, in New South Wales it was up by 121,794 while Queensland's population increased by 79,580 and Western Australia's by 21,403.

However, Victoria is so popular and receives so many applications for state sponsored visas that it has had to close certain applications for certain occupations. It has temporarily closed visa applications for engineering and building jobs.

It is expected that the programme will re-open in the middle of January 2018. A state spokesman said that applications were stopped due to an unprecedented high number of submissions.

'The closure will allow processing of all outstanding applications and reduce the risk of delay for future applicants. Applicants who hold an offer of employment in Victoria in their nominated occupation or meet the streamlined PhD or 457 pathways are not affected by this closure and may apply for these engineering and building occupations during this time,' the spokesman explained.

The positions affected are listed as mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, engineering technologist, building associate, civil engineer, civil engineering draftsperson and electrical engineer draftsperson.

The spokesman explained that if applicants want sponsorship from Victoria specifically, they will need to apply directly, asking for sponsorship to support their Skilled Visa 190 or 489. 'A decision usually takes three months, and if approved, an invite is automatically issued. It is worth noting though, that spaces for Pro-rate occupations are limited, and so getting sponsorship from Victoria will be very competitive,' he added.