Visa Programs

Australia is one of the most popular immigration destinations in the world. This is not surprising since immigrants enjoy a high standard of living in Australia, including having access to its plentiful job openings, great business opportunities, world-class education, quality healthcare, spectacular scenery, relaxed way of life, and the option to become an Australian citizen. Immigrants also appreciate the equality and many freedoms they have living in Australia. In addition to being one of the world’s most peaceful and prosperous countries, Australia has an immigrant-friendly, multicultural population (28% of its 25 million residents were foreign-born), which helps newcomers to feel comfortable living in the Land Down Under. Australia’s government also has a long history of welcoming new arrivals from around the globe and it has established several Australian visa programs for various categories of immigrants, including for skilled migrant workers and their families.

Skilled Migration Visas

Australia has one of the largest economies in the world and it has been experiencing a record 28 consecutive years of GDP growth (longer than any other country, including the United States). This incredible economic expansion has produced thousands of new jobs in Australia and helped the country to maintain low unemployment and widespread prosperity, but it has also contributed to an ongoing shortage of skilled workers. Australia’s skills shortage is expected to grow as thousands of Australians retire from the workforce. Consequently, skilled foreign workers are needed to fill high-demand jobs in Australia in several business sectors so the country’s economy can continue its impressive growth.

The Australian government established the points-based General Skilled Migration (GSM) program to help employers find the qualified workers they need for various jobs in Australia that they are struggling to fill. According to a recent Australian government report, permanent resident status was granted to 160,323 immigrants between June 30, 2018, and June 30, 2019, and most of this Australian Permanent Resident (PR) Visas were issued through the GSM program to skilled foreign workers and their families.

The General Skilled Migration program has three subclasses of Australian visas:

  • Subclass-189 Skilled Independent Permanent Resident (PR) Visa
  • Subclass-190 Skilled Nominated Permanent Resident (PR) Visa
  • Subclass-491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Temporary Work Visa

Skilled Independent PR Visa

Immigrants who are granted the Subclass-189 Skilled Independent PR Visa to Australia can live and work in Australia for an unlimited period of time in any of the Australian States or Territories; enroll in Australia’s public Medicare health system; study at educational institutions in Australia; sponsor family members for an Australian visa; get social security benefits (if eligible) after a certain period of time; travel to and from Australia; have the option to open a business; be permitted to purchase a home or other property in Australia, and apply to become an Australian citizen after living in Australia four years and satisfying other criteria.

The Subclass-189 Skilled Independent PR Visa to Australia does not require the foreign worker to be sponsored or nominated by an employer, State, Territory, or family member.

The foreign worker must receive at least 65 points for his/her overall score, which is based on points that are given for age, English language abilities, skilled work experience, educational qualifications, partner skills (if relevant), and additional factors. Other requirements include: having an occupation that is on the Skilled Occupation List for this Australian visa subclass; receiving a suitable Skills Assessment; having at least “Competent” English language abilities; submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) containing their required details; being less than 45 years of age when the Invitation to Apply (ITA) is given; satisfying the criteria for good character and good health; filing the Australian Visa Application, including all of the required documents, within the 60-day time limit; paying the Australian Visa Application Fee, and signing the Australian Values Statement.

Skilled Nominated PR Visa

The demand for skilled foreign workers varies in each of Australia’s States and Territories, depending on their local needs and skills shortages. Therefore, the Subclass-190 Skilled Nominated PR Visa to Australia was designed to allow each State and Territory to develop its own criteria for nominating skilled migrants for Australian permanent residency so they can live and work in their area of Australia and contribute to their local economy.

Foreign workers and their family members who are issued the Subclass-190 Skilled Nominated PR Visa to Australia can live and work in Australia for an unlimited period of time as permanent residents; sign-up for Australia’s public Medicare health system; attend Australian educational institutions; have the option to start a business; sponsor family members for an Australian visa; receive social security benefits once the criteria are satisfied; travel to and from Australia; be allowed to buy a home or other property in Australia, and apply for Australian citizenship after living in Australia four years and meeting additional requirements.

A total score of at least 65 points must be reached by the foreign worker, which is based on points that are given for age, English language abilities, skilled work experience, educational qualifications, partner skills (if relevant), and additional factors. Other requirements include: having an occupation that is on the Skilled Occupation List for this GSM visa subclass; receiving a positive Skills Assessment; having at least “Competent” English language abilities; submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) containing their required details; receiving a nomination from a State or Territory governmental agency in Australia; being less than 45 years of age when the Invitation to Apply (ITA) is given; satisfying the criteria for good character and good health; filing the Australian Visa Application, including all of the required documents, within the 60-day time limit; paying the Australian Visa Application Fee, and signing the Australian Values Statement.

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa

Another way to live and work in Australia is with the Subclass-491 Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa. This is a Temporary Work Visa to Australia which is granted for five years to a skilled migrant who has been nominated by an Australian State or Territorygovernmental agency, or who has been sponsored by an eligible family member who is living in Australia, and who also satisfies the other eligibility criteria for this GSM visa subclass. Although this is a Temporary Work Visa to Australia, which is valid for five years from the date it is issued and it cannot be renewed, the Subclass-491 Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa does have a pathway to Australian permanent residency for those who qualify for the Subclass-191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa which launches on November 16, 2022.

The Subclass-491 Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa permits a skilled foreign worker and his/her eligible family members to live, work and study in a Regional Designated Area of Australia (examples include Adelaide, Canberra, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hobart, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, Perth, and Wollongong), and allows them to travel to and from Australia, during the five years that their Australian visa is valid.

In order to qualify for the Subclass-491 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa, the foreign worker needs to obtain a minimum of 65 points for his or her total score, which is based on points that are issued for age, English language abilities, skilled work experience, educational qualifications, partner skills (if relevant), and additional factors. Other requirements include: having an occupation that is on the Skilled Occupation List for this GSM visa subclass; receiving a positive Skills Assessment; having at least “Competent” English language abilities; submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) containing their required information; receiving a nomination from a State or Territorial governmental agency in Australia or getting sponsored by an eligible family member living in Australia; being less than 45 years of age when the Invitation to Apply (ITA) is given; satisfying the criteria for good character and good health; filing the Australian Visa Application, including all of the required documents, within the 60-day time limit; paying the Australian Visa Application Fee, and signing the Australian Values Statement.

Please note that this is a summary of the eligibility requirements for these GSM Australian visa subclasses, other criteria may need to be satisfied, and the requirements and procedures are subject to change by the Australian government.

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