Are you a skilled professional exploring non-employer-sponsored or independent skilled work visa options that allow you to live and work in Australia permanently? Or is your business reviewing its options to engage skilled migrants that have already secured Permanent Residence? Not all work visas require employer sponsorship. If your occupation is on a relevant list of eligible skilled occupations, you may be able to apply to work and live in Australia under a Skilled Independent (189 – Points-tested Stream), Skilled Nominated (190) or Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (491) Visa. An added benefit is that all of these visas allow the visa applicant to include their eligible dependent family members. These visas can only be applied for after being invited by the Government to apply.
#1 Potential applicants whose occupation is on a relevant Skilled Occupation List can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to let the Department of Home Affairs know of their intention to apply for an Independent Skilled Visa.
#2 Once the EOI is submitted, applicants will be ranked against others that have lodged an EOI for their occupation. The EOI will be stored in the system and is valid for 2 years.
#3 Invitations are issued regularly via ‘invitation rounds’.
Generally, the minimum score to receive an invitation for Independent Skilled Visas is 65 points, however, this does vary according to the occupation a person is applying under. The Expression of Interest process is highly competitive and you may need even more points than the minimum required for your occupation if others apply with more points than you. Invitations are issued based on points rankings. Applicants must declare that they have a suitable skills assessment and provide this when they lodge their application. They will also need to achieve a ‘competent’ level of English and be under 45 at the time they receive the invitation. After receiving an invitation to apply for an Independent Skilled Visa, you can proceed with preparing the visa application.
Like for many other visas, the Department of Home Affairs requires the main applicant and any dependent family members who apply for the visa to meet specific health and character requirements. The applicants may need to have health examinations to prove they meet the health requirement. To prove that the applicants have good character, the Department may also request documents such as police certificates. The visa applicant will also need to pay any debts to the Australian Government if funds are owed. All applicants who are 18 years or older must also read and sign the Australian Values Statement. Applicants who have had a visa cancelled or refused may be ineligible for this visa – you may wish to seek professional migration advice if so.
The Skilled Independent (189) Visa is a permanent visa, therefore once the visa is granted, it provides direct Permanent Residence and allows the visa holder to stay in Australia indefinitely. There are two different streams within the 189 visa, the Points-tested stream and the New Zealand stream. The Points-tested stream allows invited workers with skills needed in Australia to live and work permanently anywhere in Australia whereas the New Zealand stream allows eligible New Zealand citizens to migrate if they have demonstrated commitment and contributed to Australia.
The Skilled Nominated (190) Visa is a permanent visa, similar to the Skilled Independent (189) Visa (Points-tested stream). However, the difference is that the applicants will need to be nominated by the State or Territory governments to receive an invitation. Each State or Territory has their own requirements for nominations. As nominations are issued by the State or Territory, the intending applicants are ranked against other applicants in the State or Territory rather than the whole country, which may provide a higher chance of being invited. Points will also be added for the nomination. As with the 189 Visa, 190 visa holders can live and work anywhere in Australia once the visa is granted.
The 491 Regional Visa also requires an invitation by the Department to apply. Potential applicants can either be nominated by the State or Territory governments; or sponsored by an eligible relative. The main difference between the 491 Visa and the 189 and 190 Visas is that it is a provisional visa instead of a visa that provides direct Permanent Residence. 491 Visa holders need to meet certain requirements throughout their 494 Visa period to become eligible to apply for a Permanent Visa, which is why it is considered a ‘provisional’ visa. For example, 491 Visa holders are required to live and work in a ‘Designated Regional Area’ for at least 3 years before applying for Permanent Residence through the 191 Visa. The definition of a regional area for vis and migration purposes is currently quite broad. It refers to any area outside of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Remote and rural areas are considered regional, but also smaller metropolitan cities such as Perth.
As the 491 Visa is a Regional Visa, eligible occupations include those on a Regional Skilled Occupation List, which may reflect a broader or different set of skills than lists for non-regional areas. This means skilled migrants with different skill-sets may be able to access opportunities to migrate to Australia through this visa.
Our migration agents would be happy to assess your eligibility for Permanent Residence through an Independent Skilled Visa. We begin by reviewing a copy of your resume including your skills, experience, and qualifications and then advise on the options available and the requirements for applying. During a consultation, our migration agent will also provide advice on how you can maximise your points and any visa conditions that you may need to be aware of so you can make a more informed decision. After the consultation, you can choose to engage our services to manage your visa application and receive ongoing advice on how to prepare the evidence requirements.
If you would like to understand your options to migrate to Australia through Independent Skilled Visa pathways, we encourage you to get in touch with Interstaff’s Registered Migration Agents on 1800 449 858 (Free Call Within Australia) or +61 8 9221 3388 for International clients.
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