There are a variety of visas for skilled migrants available for those wanting to make a permanent move to Australia. These visas are points-based and depend a range of factors that vary depending on what kind of job you apply for, where in Australia you intend to move to and your own personal skills and circumstances.
How the points-based system works
The Australian government operates a general skilled migration programme. It is essentially a points-based system where points are awarded to applicants based on age, qualification, experience and English language skills.
Your occupation is the basis for your eligibility, so those holding occupations in demand will have the greatest visa options. Australian immigration officials frequently update both the national and regional skills list which determine which occupations are most needed.
Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189 visa)
The Skilled Independent visa is a permanent resident visa. It is the most desirable visa as it gives the holder the freedom and flexibility to live and work anywhere in Australia.
Successful applicants must be under 45 years of age, score at least 65 points on the immigration points test and have an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).
Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190 visa)
The Skilled Nominated visa is a permanent resident visa, only granted to applicants who are nominated by a state or territory government.
The state governments have assessed their own labour market needs and formed lists of occupations in demand. In addition to receiving state nomination, the successful applicant must be under 45 years of age, score at least 65 points and have an occupation on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL). State nomination adds an additional five points to an applicant’s score, which could make the difference in meeting the 65-point threshold.
Skilled Recognised Graduate visa (subclass 476 visa)
This visa is specifically aimed at engineering graduates, under the age of 31, who wish to gain up to 18 months of skilled work experience in Australia.
You will need to have completed an engineering degree at a recognised institution within the last two years. This can be either a University or a Technikon. You will also need to have had a major sequence of study, or a specialisation in:
You will also need to have had a major sequence of study, or a specialisation in:
- Civil engineering
- Structural engineering
- Chemical engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Electrical and electronics engineering
- Mechanical, production and plant engineering
- Mining and material engineering
Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491 visa)
The Skilled Work Regional visa will allow you to live and work in specified regional areas in Australia for up to five years. To qualify, you’ll need to either be sponsored by an eligible relative or be nominated to apply by a state or territory government agency.
You must score 65 points or more and be under the age of 45 when you apply, and your occupation must be on the list of eligible occupations. After three years of living in Australia on the Skilled Work Regional visa, you’ll be able to apply for a permanent residence visa.
The designated regional areas are:
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Australian Capital Territory
- Victoria (except the Melbourne metropolitan)
- Queensland (except the greater Brisbane area)
- Northern Territory
- New South Wales (except Sydney)
Australian partner visa applications
If you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia or an eligible New Zealand citizen, you might qualify for an Australian Partner visa. These are extremely popular visas.
Types of Australian Partner visas
The Australian Partner visa category is divided into various subclasses. Their classification is dependent on whether the visa is temporary or permanent as well as where the application is made.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection assesses applications under a “combined application”. This means that your application will be assessed against the criteria for both temporary and permanent partner visas. You will be issued with the appropriate visa, depending on which criteria you meet.
Temporary Partner visa
The temporary Partner visa is valid for two years. During this period your relationship will be assessed to ensure that you intend to stay with your partner. If your relationship passes the test, you will be granted a permanent Australian Partner visa.
Permanent Partner visa
The Permanent Partner visa is valid for five years. Once you have held this visa for four years, you will be eligible to apply for citizenship.
All Australian Partner visa applications are assessed on the following:
- The financial aspects of the relationship, which includes how financial responsibilities are shared or pooled
- The nature of the household, which includes how household tasks are divided and shared
- Social aspects of the relationship, which includes how you are perceived as a couple in public
- Nature of the persons’ commitment to each other, which includes the willingness to move to another country
Bringing your partner to Australia
There are four routes to bringing your partner to Australia:
- Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309 visa) and Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100 visa)
Must be applied for outside of Australia
- Partner visa (subclasses 820 visa and 801 visa)
Can be applied for within Australia
- Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300 visa)
For couples engaged to be married
- New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) visa (subclass 461 visa)
For those with New Zealander partners
Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309 visa) and Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100 visa)
Any person submitting an application for a visa falling under either subclass 309 visa or 100 visa must do so outside of Australia. You may not enter the country while your application is being assessed.
Partner visa (subclasses 820 visa and 801 visa)
As subclasses 820 and 801 visas cover permanent partner visas, you may apply from within Australia.
To apply, you must hold a valid Australian visa (excluding a Bridging, Criminal Justice or Enforcement visa) or be eligible for a waiver. In addition to this, these applicants must not hold a visa with condition 8503, which prevents you from making a further application in Australia.
You may apply for this visa if you possess a Bridging visa, which allows you to live and work in the UK while your partner visa is processed. Applications for the partner visa can take a year or more to process.
Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300 visa)
The purpose of this permit is to allow the unmarried partners of Australian citizens to travel to Australia to get married and is granted for nine months. As this is a temporary visa, you must be outside of Australia when you apply for the visa as well as when it is granted.
The Prospective Marriage visa has unrestricted work rights. The holder is required to marry their partner and apply for the Australian Partner visa before the visa expires.
This visa is often referred to as the fiancé visa and is used by unmarried individuals who cannot show that they have cohabited for 12 months.
New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) visa (subclass 461 visa)
This visa allows a non-New Zealand family member of a New Zealand citizen, who is living in Australia, to live and work in Australia for up to five years.
This is a five-year provisional visa that will not lead to permanent residency in Australia but can be renewed onshore as required.
This visa allows the holder to:
- Work and study in Australia
- Live in and travel to and from Australia for five years from the date the visa is granted