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Australian Skilled Migration Points System And Requirements

If you are considering making a move to Australia, one of the visa categories you may be considering is the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). This is one of the most popular visa categories allowing migrants to work towards permanent residence in Australia, and is awarded based on an applicant’s qualifications and skilled work experience. In this article, we will outline how the Skilled Independent visa works, the points available under the scheme, and the overall eligibility requirements which must be met in order to apply.

How Does The Skilled Independent Visa Work?

The Australian Skilled Independent visa enables the Department of Internal Affairs to select only applicants with the most points (hence the most desirable qualifications, skills, and experience) to apply. This approach allows the government to control how many migrants enter the country and ensure that only those with the traits needed are able to enter. This differs from the UK points-based system, which is more reliant on licensed sponsoring employers to decide who should be offered a job, and hence a visa.

Under the Australian system, prospective workers must first submit an ‘expression of interest’ (EOI). This is not an application for a work visa, rather it enables interested parties to be added to a pool of candidates, from whom the government can select who they want to invite. Applicants must earn a minimum of 65 points to be held in the ‘pool’ of candidates, however, more points will be needed to be selected. Each month, the government sets its selection threshold (these are known as invitation rounds), and invites candidates on this basis. As of the month of writing, candidates needed 90 points to be invited to apply under subclass 189, and 110 people were invited to apply. For some professions, the government may also set a specific minimum point target to achieve the correct balance of skills and professions.

Candidates are held in the EOI pool for two years, and maybe invited to apply at any point during that time. If you are invited, you can then apply for a Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). Unlike many other countries, to apply, you will not need to have a job offer. Also, you will need to have an occupation on the skilled occupation list (SOL), and you must have your skills assessed by a suitable assessing body.

What Are Points Awarded For Under The Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189)?

The full points table for the Skilled Independent visa is available online Points are awarded under the following categories:

  • Age
  • English language skills
  • Skilled employment experience (overseas and in Australia)
  • Education qualifications (these must be recognised in Australia)
  • Specialist education qualifications – 10 points are available for candidates with a Masters or Doctorate undertaken in Australia in specific fields in natural and physical sciences, IT, and engineering and related studies
  • Australian study requirement – 5 points are available for candidates with at least one degree, diploma or trade qualification from an Australian educational institution that meets the Australian study requirement.
  • Professional Year in Australia – 5 points are available for candidates who have completed a Professional Year in Australia. To be eligible for the award of these points, your Professional Year must have been in Accounting, ICT/Computing or Engineering.
  • Credentialled community language – 5 points are available for those who have been accredited at the paraprofessional level or above, certified at the certified provisional level or above, or have a community language credential for interpreting or translating by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters.
  • Study in regional Australia – 5 points are available for applicants who have at least one degree, diploma or trade qualification from an Australian educational institution that satisfies the Australian study requirement obtained while living and studying in an eligible area of regional Australia
  • Partner skills

In order to achieve a higher level of points, and hence have the best chance of being selected, candidates are ideally between 25 and 33 years old, have strong English language skills, at least eight years of relevant work experience, a degree or doctorate (being in a specialist field is a distinct advantage), and some study time or work experience in Australia.

Which Occupations Are On The Skilled Occupation List (SOL)?

There are a number of different skilled occupation lists in Australia, depending on the visa category. For the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189), it is the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) which is relevant. The MLTSSL contains a wide range of occupations include glazier, geotechnical engineer, horse trainer, hydrologist, ICT business analyst, industrial engineer, intensive care specialist, locksmith, and management accountant.

How Do I Get A Skills Assessment?

Skills assessments are carried out by assessing authorities with expertise in your respective field. For example, IT specialists will need to be assessed by the Australian Computing Society (ACS). In total there are 42 assessing authorities approved by the Australian Department of Internal Affairs, including the Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council Limited, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and the Australian Psychological Society Limited. To get a skills assessment arranged, the first step is to contact the relevant skills authority for your occupation. The process of being assessed, including the fees and timescales varies between assessing authorities. Once completed, the assessing authority will provide you with a written skills assessment, a certified copy of which you will need to include with your visa application.

Final Words

Making the decision to move to and work in Australia is a big step for many, especially if this is the first time you have worked outside your own country, and especially if you will be taking your family with you. If possible, it is worth securing the services of international immigration lawyers who can assist you with your application, and verify that you have provided everything needed by the Department of Internal Affairs. By doing so, you will ensure you have the best chance of receiving a positive decision on your Skilled Independent Visa application.

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