If you are looking to migrate permanently to Australia and you do not have:
– An Partner who is Australian (or New Zealand) Citizen, or Australian Permanent Resident;
– A Job Offer that includes Visa Sponsorship; or
– Family in Australia who wish to Sponsor you
Your best bet for a visa is likely to be under the ‘General Skilled Migration’ pathway.
There are 3 General Skilled Migration (GSM) Visas:
– The Subclass 189 (independent) visa, which entitles you to travel to, and remain permanently in Australia without restrictions;
– The Subclass 190 (State/Territory-Sponsored) visa, which entitles you to travel to, and remain permanently in Australia, provided you commit to live and work in the nominating State/Territory for 2 years; and
– The Subclass 489 (Regional-Sponsored) visa, which entitles you to travel to, and remain permanently in Australia, provided you commit to live and work in regional or low-population growth metropolitan areas of Australia. This visa is temporary, but allows you to transition to the Subclass 887 (Skilled Regional) visa after 2 years.
Whether you can apply for each of these visas depends upon a number of factors. In all cases, you must:
– Be under 45 years of age;
– Be of good health and character (including all dependents);
– Have a competent level of English proficiency (e.g. IELTS 6 / PTE Academic 50 in all bands OR be a UK/Canada/US/New Zealand/Irish citizen);
– Have passed a valid skills assessment for an occupation that exists on the corresponding skills shortage list.
Skills Shortage Lists:
The Australian Government maintains a number of ‘skills shortage’ lists, which contain occupations that are eligible for skilled (and other) visas on the basis of their relative need in the Australian economy.
The relevant lists are:
The Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL),
The Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and
The Regional Occupation List (ROL)
These three lists are written in order of ‘desirability’ for applicants. Essentially, this means that if your occupation exists on the MLTSSL, you will have the widest range of skilled visa options (i.e. the subclass 189, 190 or 489), followed by the STSOL (the subclass 190 or 489) and, finally, the ROL (the subclass 489).
In addition, of course, you still need to meet all other eligibility criteria.
You can view all the Skills Shortage Lists on the Department of Home Affairs’ Website.
The Points Test:
The final piece of the puzzle before you start the application process for the visa itself is ensuring that you meet the minimum points requirement for the visa you ultimately wish to apply for.
For all GSM visas, the minimum score required is 60 points. However, note that there is a points boost that applies to obtaining sponsorship (whether from a State/Territory Government or by family in the case of a regional sponsored subclass 489 visa).
Essentially, this means that you receive 5 points for applying for a subclass 190 visa, and 10 for a 489 visa – bringing the required score, respectively, to 55 and 50 points.
Beyond this, there is a wide range of factors that apply to your individual circumstances, for which you will earn points.
– Your age
– Your english language score
– Your level of qualification
– Your work experience
What is the Process?
So you have your approved skills assessment, you meet the English language requirements and your occupation exists on one of the relevant skills shortage lists. How do you get started?
The first thing you need to realise is you can’t just apply for a skilled visa with the Department. For a General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa, you need to be invited before you can apply.
For all GSM visas, the first step in your application (provided you meet the basic eligibility criteria) is to lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) application into SkillSelect, which is maintained by the Department of Home Affairs.
An EOI is exactly as it sounds. You complete the EOI with your own personal details, nominate which visa type you would like to apply for (as well as where in Australia you would like to live, if you are seeking nomination from an Australian State or Territory Government). At the end of the EOI, you will receive a summary of your points claims.
Be careful: If you over claim points on your EOI, you might be invited to apply for a visa and then have that visa application refused down the track because of your early mistake – so make 100% sure you never over claim your points!
Once you have completed your EOI, it will enter the queue to be considered by any of the jurisdictions that might be interested in supporting your visa application. In the case of a 189 application, this means the Department of Home Affairs – for a 190 or 489, this will mean the State or Territory Government/s that you nominated in your EOI.
Bear in mind a very important point here: For a subclass 189 visa, the points score is the most important factor; the higher your points score, the more likely you are to receive an invitation to apply for your visa. However, for a 190/489 visa, other factors are relevant, which can vary between jurisdictions.
For example, if you are in an occupation that is in acute shortage in a particular State, you might expect a faster invitation. Additionally, if you have a connection to that jurisdiction (e.g. you have a job offer, or studied in a particular State) you might be more likely to be nominated.
If your EOI is taking ages to consider and you aren’t sure what’s going on, the likelihood is your points score is not high enough to have come up yet. In such a situation, it’s important to remember that you can continually update your EOI – and that you should be sure to do so, especially where you have additional points you can claim (e.g. a new English test result).
Step 2: Nomination (for subclass 190/489 visas):
If your EOI has been picked up and the relevant authority is keen to nominate you for the visa, you will receive an invitation. If you are being nominated for a visa by a State/Territory government, you will be requested to complete an application for the nomination itself – which, if you were truthful in your EOI, is generally not overly difficult (although it does take some time and can incur a fee as well).
In the case of a 189 visa, your invitation will be issued directly from the Department of Home Affairs to apply for the visa. Correspondingly, in the case of a 190/489 visa, a once your nomination request has processed, you would receive an invitation to apply for the visa from the Department as well.
Step 3: The Visa Application:
You’ve jumped through a lot of hoops to get your invitation to apply for a GSM visa. Now, the finish line is in sight.
All that stands between you and your Australian visa is a lengthy visa application, a lot of supporting evidence and a lengthy processing time.
As with all visa applications, it is essential to get it right the first time. Even a single mistake during this process can send the whole application careering out of control, so you need to make sure you triple-check absolutely every aspect of each application before you lodge.
If you have any doubt at all, especially when it comes to points claims, it is essential that you check in with an expert. The Department will not advise you of your potential points claims. The most common problem individuals encounter is the assessment of ‘highly relevant’ work experience; it is hard sometimes to predict what the Department will deem relevant or irrelevant – and while some Skills Assessment bodies offer this service (at a cost), the Department does not need to follow this advice.
The GSM visa process does indeed entail a lot of pitfalls, but the prize at the end is immensely valuable indeed. For a Subclass 189/190 holder, that prize is immediate permanent residency and a direct track to citizenship. For a 489, it’s a clear pathway to PR and Australian citizenship.
So do it once, do it right and then you can relax and enjoy your new life down under! We’ll see you here!