Australian Immigration Regulations at a Glance
- Do I qualify for immigration to Australia?
- Which class should I apply under?
- What conditions do I need to satisfy?
Here is a brief introduction to the Australian immigration system. Essentially, Australia grants Permanent Residence visas under four main visa "streams":
Under each stream, there is a range of visa classes for immigration to Australia and the key is to select the right class according to your personal situation. The fifth option is to apply for a TEMPORARY RESIDENCE VISA.
Australian off-shore General Skilled Migration (GSM) comprises different visa subclasses that may offer options for different potential immigrants;-
- unsponsored and sponsored
- national (federal) and “local” (state/regional)
- permanent and temporary
For most GSM subclasses, the Australian (Federal) Government – through its Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC) - uses a selection system which comprises the following elements
Introduced in July 2012, under SkillSelect anyone wishing to emigrate to Australia as a skilled migrant must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) - via the online SkillSelect portal - and then receive an invitation or offer of employment before they proceed with the next stage of the emigration process.
Note: Principal applicants for skilled visas must nominate a skilled occupation from the relevant Skilled Occupations List (SOL) and meet the English language and other specific visa requirements.
Applicant's EOIs will include information on their personal details; occupation (and skills assessment), work experience; education; English skills; and business and/or investment experience, (depending on desired visa).
Applicants will receive their potential points score and result of their EOI. EOIs will be ranked according to the results and applicants advised of their current ranking. Those applicants applying under a points tested visa must meet the relevant pass mark when submitting their EOI or they will be ineligible to receive an invitation. The highest ranking EOIs will automatically be issued with an invitation from SkillSelect to proceed with the visa application process, subject to the limits set per occupation.The number of applications available per occupation will be made available to view in the SkillSelect portal.
When EOIs are submitted, State & Territory governments and Australian employers will be able to access the SkillSelect database, and identify suitable applicants with skills in demand. They can then contact candidates directly to discuss settlement & employment options.
Applicants may also receive an invitation from a State or Territory government, with an offer of nomination. Settlement prospects may be improved by indicating in the EOI that the primary applicant and accompanying family are willing to settle in regional Australia.
It is also possible that applicants will be contacted by an Australian employer to discuss a job opportunity. Those applicants may then be in a position to consider accepting an offer of skilled employment and will not need to obtain an invitation from SkillSelect to apply for an employer sponsored visa.
i) It will be important to submit the EOI only once the primary applicant is ready to support their claims, as there are specific visa requirements that must be met at the time of application.
ii) Intending skilled applicants should have obtained a positive pre-application skills assessment from the relevant skills authority in their nominated occupation, along with their English language test report (if applicable), as invitations to proceed may be received quickly and applicants will have only 60 days to complete and submit the visa application.
iii) An applicant’s EOI will remain in the SkillSelect database for a period of two years from the date of submission. Applicants who do not receive an invitation from SkillSelect will be able to update their details and add any new qualifications, additional experience, or improved English language ability, which may increase their opportunities for selection. Applicants who do not make a valid visa application after receiving two invitations will be removed from the SkillSelect database.
iii) DIAC is careful to warn onshore applicants that an EOI is not an application for a visa and no bridging visas will be issued on the basis of an EOI. Those in Australia must ensure they hold a valid visa at all times and depart Australia prior to expiry of their current visa if they are unable to make a further visa application from within Australia.
2. Points Tests
The Points Test is used to select visa applicants with characteristics needed in the Australian labour market. Points are granted for qualifications, work experience, age, English language ability, occupation targeting and spouse’s skills. Additional points may be available if you have studied or worked in a skilled occupation in Australia previously or are fluent and qualified in one of the languages of the country’s major trading partners or ethnic groups. You or your partner’s occupation is often the make or break of an application; if it features on the Government’s main occupations list. Qualifications relevant to your occupation are also important with most degrees and higher trade certifications from recognised tertiary institutes meeting the requirements provided they involve at least 3 years post-secondary school study. Applicants in occupations requiring professional registration (for example Dentists, Nurses and Physiotherapists) may need to apply for registration or meet specific requirements prior to submitting a residence application.
3. Occupations Lists
“Skilled Occupation List (SOL)” (also called "Schedule 1"– the principal one. The current version (published by DIAC on 1st July 2012) has 192 occupations. Click here. The SOL is for
“Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) - click here - published by DIAC to outline:-
state-sponsored - the list of occupations from which Australian States & Territories can produce their own State Migration Plans.
employer-sponsored - those occupations under which an Australian employer can sponsor a potential immigrant to fill a position in their company.
COMMONLY-USED VISA CLASSES:
Employer Sponsored Skilled Migration
These visa classes, along with those related to an actual job offer, are currently given the highest priority by the Australian Government.
There are permanent or temporary versions of this, the main ones being;-
Employer Nomination Scheme ENS (subclass 186) - Permanent
This enables employers to sponsor highly skilled workers to fill skilled vacancies in their business. Skilled workers can be recruited either from overseas, or from people temporarily in Australia. Employers must be lawfully operating in Australia, and the position must provide full time employment in Australia for at least two years and meet the Minimum Salary Level.
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme RSMS (subclass 187) - Permanent
This enables employers in regional and low population growth areas of Australia to sponsor highly skilled workers either from overseas, or from people temporarily in Australia to fill skilled vacancies in their business. Employers must be lawfully operating in Australia, and the position must provide full time employment in Australia for two years. Conditions of employment and wages must comply with Australian legislation and awards.
Subclass 457 – Business (Long Stay) visa – Standard Business Sponsorship
A program for employers to sponsor approved skilled workers to work in Australia on a temporary visa. Employers can nominate a number of positions for different occupations under the same sponsorship application.
Main Skilled Migration Subclasses
Skilled Independent (Migrant) Visa (Subclass 189)
A permanent visa for people with skills in demand in the Australian labour market. Applicants are not sponsored, must pass a points test and their occupation must be on the SOL.
Skilled - Nominated (Migrant) Visa (Subclass 190) – State/Territory
A permanent visa for people unable to meet the Skilled Independent pass mark. Applicants must be nominated by a participating State or Territory government. Applicants must pass a points test and their occupation must be on the State & Territory SOL
Skilled - Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 489) - Family or State/Territory
A four year provisional visa for people who can meet the pass mark for this visa. Applicants must be either sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated area of Australia or nominated by a participating state/territory government. After living for two (2) years and working for at least one (1) year in a Specified Regional Area, applicants can apply for a permanent visa. Their occupation must be on the CSOL (for State-sponsored) or the main SOL (for Family-sponsored migration).
Family-Sponsored? – You must have a qualifying family sponsor (parent, non-dependent child, brother, sister, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew). First cousins and grandparents can also provide sponsorship under the Regional Sponsored subclass. Also - your occupation MUST be on Schedule 1 of the Skilled Occupations List
What’s “Regional”? – DIAC outlines the “Specified Regional Areas” of Australia that are permitted for Regional migration, though if being sponsored by a State/Territory the definition of these areas may differ. These areas are usually non-metropolitan, or they may be metropolitan areas with low population growth.
All applicants under the above GSM categories must have their skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority in order to ensure that they do match the criteria of the occupations listed on the SOL or the CSOL. For the current list of Assessing Authorities, click here.
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This category is for persons who can be “sponsored” by a relative or partner who is an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen aged over 18 (resident in Australia before 2001 with Australian tax rights etc).
If your partner is an Australian, you must be married OR in a de-facto relationship for at least 12 months to qualify for residence. You can be sponsored if you are a spouse, fiancée, child/adopted child, parent, orphan relative, special need relative, aged dependant relative or last remaining relative of a qualifying sponsor who is resident in Australia. Contributory Parent options are available for those parents with sufficient capital to contribute to their future health costs in Australia. These visas subclasses are designed to overcome the otherwise lengthy waiting period currently facing parents wishing to migrate to Australia, subject to places being available.
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There are three main categories for business people who wish to move to Australia by establishing a business in Australia, manage a new or existing business, or invest in Australia:-
- Business Owner
- Senior Executive
Each of these have subclasses and normally all business migrants must obtain one of these temporary (or provisional) visas, before later applying for a permanent visa.
Also - under each of the 3 categories - there is normally the choice between applying under for a State-Sponsored visa, or one without State Sponsorship. State-sponsored visa subclasses usually have lower eligibility criteria (especially regarding financial matters) than non-State-sponsored ones.
To qualify for a provisional visa, applicants must show that they have “a genuine and realistic commitment to be involved as an owner in a new or existing business in Australia”.
To do this, they must possess net business & personal assets worth AU$800,000 (non-State-sponsored), or AU$500,000 (State-sponsored) in a qualifying business with a turnover of at least AU$500 000 in at least two of the four fiscal years immediately before you apply.
Business Owner applicants must also own a substantial or controlling interest in a business, in other words the minimum business ownership percentage must be:
51% where business turnover is less than AU$400,000; 30% where business turnover is AU$400,000 or more; or 10 % where the business is a publicly-listed company.
Applicants must be under 45 years of age, prepare a viable Australian business plan, have relevant management experience and an overall successful career.
Applicants must show that they “have significant net assets and a genuine and realistic commitment to participate in the management of a new or existing business in Australia”. Such a visa will allow business migrants to establish a new or existing business in Australia, travel in and out of Australia any number of times as long as the visa is valid, and have their family accompany them to Australia. They will have access to work and study rights.
Again, there is a choice between State-sponsorship, or not – and all migrants usually apply for a provisional visa, as the first stage towards a permanent visa. There are various eligibility criteria, the main financial ones being that applicants must have total assets of at least AU$800 000 (AU$500,000 for State-sponsored), which are legally acquired and capable of being transferred to Australia within two years of being granted this visa, and applicants must have sufficient assets (additional to those above) of at least AU$100 000 to settle in Australia.
This visa class is for investors/business people from overseas who are willing to invest funds in a designated investment in Australia for 4 years, and are less than 45 years of age. Applicants must possess personal assets with a net value of at least AU$2,250,000 for the 2 fiscal years immediately before applying.
Applicants must also have made a government-approved Designated Investment of AUD1,500,000 in Australia, which must be available for transfer to Australia within a reasonable period when requested.
The Investor Class enables the granting of a 4-year provisional visa, followed by a permanent visa once investment criteria have been met. Applicants aged 45 to 55 years or those not meeting the above financial thresholds can apply under the Investor Class (State Sponsored), but they must have sponsorship from a participating state or territory. Most notably, the financial requirements are reduced under this class. If you are proposing to establish a business in Australia that your sponsoring State or Territory Government has determined is of exceptional economic benefit, then you can consider an application under the Business Talent class, providing the set financial criteria are met. All applicants are required to satisfy health, character, police and credibility checks, and a range of other criteria.
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Permanent protection visas are available under the humanitarian stream for eligible applicants. For details, please contact your Registered Migration Agent at Migration Bureau
A number of temporary visas are also available:
Investor Retirement visa:
If you are aged 55 plus, of good health and meet the necessary financial thresholds, you can consider an application under the Regional Investor class. Applicants apply for sponsorship to the State or territory in which they intend to settle and need to have sufficient resources to provide for their settlement, an annual income accessible in Australia, and must be prepared to make a designated investment. The financial requirements are lessened for applicants who intend to settle in regional Australia. The initial visa and subsequent visas are issued for 4 years.
Business (Long Stay) Visa: If you are offered a job that cannot be filled by an Australian and the Australian employer is willing to provide “sponsorship”, you may be able to apply for a work visa. This visa is issued for the duration of the employment contract or 4 years, whichever comes first.
Working Holiday Visa:
Citizens of certain countries who are under the age of 30 years may consider obtaining a Young Persons Working Holiday Visa. This visa enables you to work and travel for 1 year, and allows the holder to work for 6 months with each employer or study a course of no more than 4 months duration.
If you are enrolled into a qualifying course at an Australian tertiary institution, you can apply for a student visa. This visa allows you to study and to work 40 hours per fortnight.
**NEW** Australia Work-Study Programme.
Click here for details. Courses available all year!
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LATEST NEWS: For recent changes and news regarding the immigration regulations, please click here
Caution: Immigration Regulations can change without advance notice. You are strongly advised to seek the advice of an Australian Registered Migration Agent before applying.
Information on this page has been verified by David Lloyd, Registered Migration Agent (MARA) No.9251054.
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