If you are currently studying in Australia or would like to do so in the future, the prospect of gaining Australian permanent residency (PR) might be on your mind. We address some common questions below.
What does it mean to be an Australian permanent resident?
An Australian permanent resident is a non-citizen who holds a permanent visa. Permanent residents can live, work and study in Australia without restriction, and are given most of the rights and entitlements of Australian citizens. Permanent residents also have access to Medicare, the Australian Government’s national health scheme. The Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP), which allows students to defer the cost of their tertiary education tuition fees, is only available to Australian citizens.
How can I become a permanent resident?
Many international students choose to apply for permanent residency after they graduate. To do so, you must ‘express interest’ through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s SkillSelect migration program. SkillSelect is an online service that allows applicants to be considered for a skilled visa by submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI). Applicants must provide personal details; a nominated occupation; information about work experience and education; information about their level of English language proficiency; details of a skills assessment related to the nominated occupations; and information about business and investment experience. This service allows applications for a number of visas.
For graduates, the most likely option is the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). The Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189) is a points-tested visa for skilled workers aged 18 to 49 who are not sponsored by an employer or family member or nominated by a state or territory government. This visa allows you to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident. Along with submitting an EOI, applicants must undergo a skills assessment. This provides evidence that your skills have been assessed as suitable for the nominated occupation.
How can I improve my chances of gaining PR?
There are many ways to improve the likelihood of gaining PR. This includes staying in Australia after completing your degree to gain work experience and language skills through the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485); completing a more advanced qualification; improving your English language skills; and completing a Professional Year Program (PYP). PYPs are structured professional development programs that combine formal learning with workplace experience, available in the fields of accounting, computer science and engineering.
What is the ‘points test’?
The points test is a way of determining applicants’ suitability for a visa, in this case the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). After submitting an EOI, applicants must score at least 60 points to be invited to apply for a visa. Points are awarded for the following factors: age, English language ability, skilled employment, qualifications, Australian study, and other factors such as your partner’s skills and qualifications or study in a regional area of Australia. Each category has a different point allocation and some have scales depending on factors such as your age range or level of English language proficiency. For example, while applicants are awarded 25 points between the ages of 18 and 24, this drops to 15 points at ages 40 to 44 and 0 points at ages 45 to 49.
Applicants receive five points if they have completed one or more degrees, diplomas or trade qualifications at an Australian institution. To be eligible, the course must have been:
- registered through the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)
- completed in a total of at least 16 calendar months
- completed as a result of at least two academic years of study
- taught in English
- completed while in Australia.
For more information about the points test for the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa, see the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.
Where can I get information and advice about PR?
Applying for permanent residency involves a number of steps and can be confusing. To make sure you receive the most up-to-date information and take the correct path to PR, it is important to research your options on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website. You can also find further information at the links below.
- Migrating to Australia
- Pathways to permanent residency — Department of Immigration and Border Protection
- Improving your chances of gaining permanent residency (PR) in Australia
- Courses that lead to permanent residency