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Australia is a popular destination for skilled migrants, having a structured Skilled Migration program since the 90’s. The program seeks to attract skilled migrants with occupations, studies and work experience in professions that have been identified as in shortage in Australia. With a strong economy and relatively small population, the Government acknowledges that the country needs skilled workers from other countries to continue growing.

Disclaimer: The purpose of the E2 Blog is to provide general information based on publicly available sources and does not constitute legal or migration advice in any way. Anyone seeking advice on relocating to Canada should seek advice from a registered migration agent.

Types of permanent migration

The program offers temporary and permanent visas to those who qualify, allowing them to work and live in Australia. There are 2 main categories in the program:

  • Employer Nomination Program
  • General Skilled Migration Program

Visas in the Employer Nomination Program require a job offer in Australia. The employer needs to apply for approval with the Department of Home Affairs and the job being offered needs to be in line with the visa applicant’s background. The visas in this category are:

  • Subclass 482 TSS (Temporary Skills Shortage) Sponsorship Visa.
  • Subclass 494 Provisional Regional Sponsorship Visa
  • Subclass 186 Permanent Employer Nomination Visa.

Applicants from non-English speaking countries are required to sit for an English Language Exam such as IELTS, PTE or TOEFL.

It is necessary to show evidence of a qualification and/or work experience in the same field of the position being offered. When it comes to Subclass 494 and the Subclass 186 under the Direct Entry Stream, it is necessary to obtain a Skills Assessment.

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Skills Assessment

A Skills Assessment is your “career validation or recognition” and you need to apply with the organization that assesses your type of occupation.

Each occupation has its own Skills Assessment Authority. For example:

Engineers – Engineers Australia

IT Professionals – Australian Computer Society (ACS)

Nurses – Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council

Marketing professionals – VETASSESS

There are many others too.

Each Authority has its own requirements to approve your skills assessment, such as work experience, qualification, a certain level of English and so on. It is crucial that you get familiar with the skills assessment authority requirements for your occupation and what they require before you even start planning to apply for a visa.

The visas in the General Skilled Migration program don’t require a job offer or employer involvement but they require an invitation to apply for the visa. Invitations are issued by an electronic system called SkillSelect.

The visas in this category are:

  • Subclass 491 Provisional Regional Skilled Visa.
  • Subclass 190 Skilled State Nominated Permanent Skilled Visa.
  • Subclass 189 Skilled Independent Permanent Visa.

These visas require you follow these steps:

  1. Identify if your occupation is in one of the occupations lists relevant to the visas for which you want to apply.
  2. Obtain a positive Skills Assessment with the relevant professional body – which varies from occupation to occupation.
  3. Score at least 65 points in a Points Test – this concern your age, English proficiency, years of work experience, qualifications, and more.
  4. Submit an Expression of Interest with SkillSelect to be considered for an invitation.
  5. If you are applying for the Subclass 491 or Subclass 190 visas you will also need to apply for State Nomination – each state or territory has their own occupation lists and different requirements.
  6. Only after you receive an invitation by SkillSelect you will be finally able to lodge a visa application

Invitations are issued according to several factors, such as the number of visas allocated for the financial year, occupation ceilings for invitations by professions, score in the Points Test and competition with other people within the system.

Invitations for the Subclass 491 and 190 visas are triggered when a State or Territory approves your nomination application.

This financial year saw a return to visa allocation to pre-pandemic levels, which was already good news, but with the recent elections this year and a change in government in Australia, we saw a further increase in the number of visas allocated, which has sped up invitations across the boards.

Checklist for General Skilled Migration

To recap, follow these steps to apply for a visa in the General Skilled Migration Program:

1 – Check your eligibility

Identify what occupation you fall under, according to the Australian Immigration definition, and in which list this occupation is. There are different lists for each of the visas listed above, and it is important to make sure you find your occupation in the list that corresponds to the visa for which you plan to apply.

2 – Skills Assessment

3 – Points test

The minimum points that will allow you to submit an Expression of Interest for one of those three visas is 65. The points are allocated in the following categories:

Age: 0 to 30 points, 18 years of age minimum to 45 years of age maximum.

Academic Qualifications: 0 to 20 points, depending on whether the person has a technical certificate/diploma, a Bachelor/master’s degree or a PhD.

Work Experience: 0 to 20 points, depending on how many years of work experience one has, if the experience is in the nominated occupation for migration, and if the experience was in Australia or other countries

Proficiency in English: All candidates must sit for an English exam and achieve a minimum score if seeking to claim points here. Points here are allocated 0-20 according to the English exam score.

Study in Australia: 5 points if you studied in Australia for two years minimum and obtained a qualification that was at least at the level of a Diploma or a Trade Certificate.

Study in Low Population Areas of Australia: 5 or 10 extra points if your studies in Australia were undertaken in one of the Designated Regional Areas of Australia, as defined by the Government

Obtain accreditation in Australia as a translator of another language: 5 points

Skilled Spouse: 5 to 10 points if the applicant’s Spouse has a Skilled occupation and/or a minimum level of Competent English, which can be evidenced in different forms

Single Applicants: get 10 points to avoid being disadvantaged

Professional Year: 5 Points

Nomination/Sponsorship from an Australian State: 5 or 15 points, depending on the candidate’s profession, if a state or territory is seeking that profession, and if it is being sought for a temporary or permanent visa.

 4 – English Test

Anyone looking for a PR in Australia and applying for any of these visas must show evidence of at least Competent English, which means 6 in each test component. The way to do that is by sitting for an English test. Australian immigration accepts IELTS, Cambridge, TOEFL and PTE. If you are from the UK, US, Canada, Ireland or New Zealand you are deemed to have Competent English and won’t need to undergo a test.

If you need more than the minimum 65 points to be invited by SkillSelect, a way to achieve this is by bumping up your English score: if you take 7 in each component of the IELTS, you will receive 10 points; for a score of 8, 20 points.

5 – Expression of Interest

Even if you qualify, you can’t just apply for a visa in Australia. You must be invited by the Government first, be it an Independent 189 visa or a regional 190 or 491 visa – which will involve states and territories as well.

The way to get invited is via submitting an Expression of interest via SkillSelect: a system that selects people automatically, based on the points test ranking. Therefore you might need to aim for a higher score than the minimum of 65 if you are seeking a 189 visa, as the competition is very high.

6 – Applying for a Visa

Once you receive an invitation from SkillSelect, the next step to getting a permanent visa in Australia is preparing and lodging a visa application. That’s the time to show evidence of everything you claimed at the points test stage and Expression of Interest.

If you want to Migrate to Australia, the best decision you can make is to work with a Registered Migration Agent.

Work with Migration agent, like Bravo Migration

Migration legislation is complicated, therefore we strongly recommend you work with a registered and experienced Migration Agent like Bravo Migration. Bravo Migration have worked on more than 7,000 cases and have experience to identify small details, legal nuances to advise which visa / migration pathway is the most effective for you.

This post is written by Erica Carneiro – Registered Migration Agent Bravo Migration

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