Australia’s skilled migration program brings in over 120,000 new migrants to Australia a year and is the backbone of their migration program and arguably one of the key drivers to keeping their economy consistently strong and stable over the last 30 years.
This article will go through the basics of the skilled migration program, but as it’s a complicated and ever-changing subject, we recommend you contact us if you have any specific questions not covered here.
Skilled Migration Visa Types
Australia’s general skilled migration program of GSM for short is a points based system that comprises of 3 main visa subclasses. These being the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189), Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) and Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489), the first two being permanent residency visas with the last being a provisional residency visa.
We typically refer to the 3 visa types by their subclass number for ease of reference.
Australian legislation dictates that you need to meet a minimum point score to qualify for skilled migration, but this varies depending on your occupation and the supply of applicants for that visa type – the higher the pool of qualified applicants, then the higher the likely minimum points you would need to qualify.
You get points for your age, academic qualifications, english capability, years of work experience and other factors – the sum of all these points is your final points score.
Skilled Migration Lists
Regardless of which type of visa subclass you choose to apply for, you would need your occupation to be on one of two lists, the Medium and Long Term Strategic List (MLTSSL) and the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) which we’ve covered before in past articles.
Occupations on the MLTSSL do not require a state to sponsor your application, whereas occupations on the STSOL will need a state to sponsor your application. Not all states are open for all occupations all the time, they open and close at different times of the year every year.
There exists an industry in Australia where qualifications are certified for both industry recognition (within Australia) as well as for skilled migration purposes. Basically if you say you are an engineer, or accountant, there will be an assessing authority (non government) that will look through your documents and confirm if this is the case.
These assessing authorities exist for every single occupation on the skilled migration lists above and the results they provide are the same that is provided to the department of migration/ department of home affairs to qualify your application.
English Language Ability
Australia as a predominantly English speaking nation require a minimum English language ability for skilled migration purposes, but the interesting factor is that for those with proficient or superior English skills are rewarded with greater points for their points test.
These English levels are not loosely defined, rather they are quantified through approved tests such as IELTS and PTE, where participants are tested on their reading, writing, listening and speaking ability.
If you score a specific result you are potentially rewarded with 10 or 20 extra points for your application, which is significant considering the minimum points score legislatively is currently at 60 points (as of time of writing).
Certain occupations require a state to sponsor an application for skilled migration. This visa is known as the subclass 190 visa type and involves all occupation on the STSOL mentioned earlier.
Additionally, if your occupation exists on the MLTSSL and you are low on points, or is in high demand and people are being selected at a higher average points score, you can also apply for state nomination/ sponsorship – this gives you 5 more points if selected, helping boost your final points score. This too is the subclass 190 visa.
Lastly there is regional state sponsorship (visa subclass 489), it works similar to the above, except it gives you an additional 10 points to your points score, however requires staying in designated areas in each state.
State nomination is not available for every state all the time, meaning if your occupation is X it doesn’t mean you can just apply for any state you want – you need to know which state is open at what time and what requirements that state needs of you.
We’ve touched on just the basics of skilled migration above, but the above are the most common sections of the points system and the process that people need to know about.
The migration environment is very fluid and although some parts of migration law aren’t easily changed, others such as the skilled occupation lists can and do change every year.
For now we’ll leave it at this, but we may cover a more in-depth explanation on Australian skilled migration in future articles. If you’ve read the above and want to know if you qualify for one of the skilled visas mentioned, please ask for a free assessment below and we can help you out.