The 1st July sees the new Australia permanent migration program come into effect, which will see 190,000 permanent visas up for grabs in the coming 12 months. Planning levels like this are re-set by the government each year in Australia.
Of the 190,000, 128,550 places will be allocated to skilled visas, including employer sponsored, general skilled and business categories, while 60,885 places are for family stream visas, i.e. people sponsored by immediate family members.
In the skilled stream, 38% will be employer sponsored, 34% skilled independent, 22% state government nominated, and 6% business migrants. In the family stream, the vast majority of visas will be taken up by partners or parents of Australian residents.
These figures do not count the thousands of other temporary visas availed for working holiday makers, students, and temporary sponsorship by employers. These categories are uncapped.
So, to consider a permanent visa for Australia, unless you are in a relationship with an Australian permanent resident or citizen, you may need to look at the skilled visa options.
The Department of Immigration has two lists of occupations that are eligible for skilled visas – the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) with about 190 occupations, and the bigger Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL) with about 600 occupations. You can find these lists on the immigration website at www.immi.gov.au/Work/Pages/skilled-occupations-lists/skilled-occupations-lists.aspx
First, check the shorter SOL. If you find your occupation here, you may be eligible to apply for Skilled Independent visas as well as having the employer or state government nominated options.
If your occupations are not listed on SOL, check the longer CSOL. If listed here but not on the SOL, you will have skilled visa options but limited to employer or state government nomination.
The 189 Independent and 190 State Government Nominated visa options have a points tested eligibity system, referred to as ‘Skill Select’. To be eligible to make an Expression of Interest (EOI) for one of these visas, you must have at least 60 points; the independent system gives priority to people with higher points.
You can claim points based largely on; your age, qualifcations, work experience, and English ability. Extra points are available for successful state government nomination; this is sometimes the only way some applicants can get the 60-point minimum to apply.
If you are seeking State government nomination, each state government has its own short list of occupations based on CSOL that they will nominate; you need to check these on each state government web site. You can find the points test system at www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/189.aspx
Take, great care; if you self-assess your points incorrectly, you may end up spending a lot of time and expense on applying for a visa, only to find you are not eligible. Consider asking a registered migration agent for a professional assessment of your profile and a personal detailed point’s assessment. This way, you can have confidence that you are setting off on the correct path.
You can find a registered migration agent at www.mia.org.au/find-an-agent
Providing migration advice in Australia requires registration with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) and sound knowledge of migration law and professional behaviour in accordance with the MARA’s Code of Conduct, giving you great consumer protection.
So, once you are confident you can make the 60 points, your next steps are typically to undertake a migration skills assessment and, if needed for points, an IELTS or similar English language test.
If needed, it’s best to do the English test first. The skills assessment takes longer and is not cheap – better to know you can get the IELTS score you need. See www.ielts.com. Native English speakers should not assume that can ace the English test, pre-test preparation is strongly advised.
Migration skills assessments are conducted by different Australian bodies depending on your occupation type; the relevant authority is listed on the SOL or CSOL beside the occupation, appointed by the Australian government. Each assessing authority has its own criteria to meet. It is critical to get this part of the process completed accurately. The skills assessment must be successful for you to proceed to the next stage.
With this done, if you are a SOL applicant, you are ready to make an expression of interest for a 189 skilled visa. Depending on your points score it may be several months before you receive an invitation to apply for the visa. If your occupation is oversubscribed the wait may be longer; there is no guarantee of being picked to apply for the 189 visa. This seems to have resulted in a low uptake on the scheme, which in itself appears to have seen many applicants with 60 points being picked to apply for the visa.
If seeking state government nomination, another application is needed with typically a two-three month wait for an approval. The good news is that once approved, you are guaranteed a visa application. The state lists changes frequently through the year as they fill places, so don’t delay; get an application in as soon as possible.
If you are already in Australia on a temporary visa, the more common option is to find an employer that will be able to nominate you for permanent residence. The employer nomination options are not points tested and UK/Irish passport holders are not required to sit English tests for these visa types.
By John McQuaid
For more information or advice log on to www.arriveaustralia.com.au