Migrating to Australia

SkillSelect migration program

Many international students who study in Australia choose to apply for permanent residency after they finish their studies. International students can express their interest in applying for permanent residency through Australia’s SkillSelect migration program.

SkillSelect is an online service that allows intending migrants to lodge an online Expression of Interest (EOI). The EOI contains information about their skills and attributes, which will be assessed through a points test (resulting in a points score). Once an EOI is lodged, intending migrants may be invited to lodge a skilled visa application or nominated for a skilled visa by Australian employers or government departments.

Skilled Independent Visa

There are different types of permanent residency visas, but this section focuses on skilled migration for students who have graduated from Australian study and are not being sponsored by an eligible relative or employer, or nominated by an Australian state or territory. For information about other visa options that create pathways to permanent residency for international students, visit the SkillSelect section of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Eligibility requirements

In order to qualify for the Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189), you must satisfy the following basic requirements:

  • Invitation to apply: You must submit an EOI through SkillSelect and be invited to apply for a visa.
  • Age: You must be younger than 50 years of age when you are invited to apply.
  • Nominated occupation: You must nominate a skilled occupation that matches your skills and qualifications and is on the relevant Skilled Occupation List (SOL). You are required to obtain a suitable skills assessment for your nominated occupation before making an EOI.
  • Health: You must undergo a medical examination and meet minimum health requirements.
  • Character: You must be able to prove that you are of ‘good character’. You are required to sign an Australian values statement and provide police certificates and other relevant documents.
  • English ability: You must provide evidence that you have competent English in the form of English language tests.

The points test

In addition to the requirements above, applicants must meet the points test pass mark in order to gain permanent residency. The pass mark is currently 60 points for the Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189). For more information about the points test, see the Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189) section of the SkillSelect website.

Applicants score points according to different criteria at the time of invitation relating to:

  • your age (must be between 18 and 49)
  • your English language ability
  • Australian and overseas skilled employment experience in your nominated skilled occupation or a closely related skilled occupation
  • your educational qualification level (diploma, bachelor degree or doctorate, for example)
  • Australian study (you must have completed one or more Australian qualifications that required two or more years of study in Australia)
  • your partner’s skills
  • studying and living in regional Australia or a low-growth metropolitan area
  • accreditation in one of Australia’s community languages
  • completion of a government-approved Professional Year Program (PYP) in Australia.

How much will the visa cost?

The Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189) application costs start at AUD$3,755. Applicants who are bringing eligible family members to live with them in Australia should note that an additional applicant charge applies.

In addition to the application cost, there may be other costs associated with the visa, such as skills assessments, English language testing, medical examinations, police certificates and the certification and/or translation of documents. Please note that fees are subject to change at any time. For up-to-date information, visit the SkillSelect website.

How to apply

Before applying, you should research your visa options and prepare the information and supporting documentation required, such as skills assessments and English language test results. You should also check to see whether your occupation is listed on the relevant SOL, that you meet the basic criteria and that you meet the points test pass mark. You can submit your EOI for the Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189) online through the SkillSelect website, from within Australia or overseas.

When you complete an EOI, the system will give you a points score and results based on your claims, which will then be processed by SkillSelect. If you are invited to apply for a visa, you will receive an invitation to apply from SkillSelect. You will have 60 days to make a valid visa application online before the invitation expires. Because more people want to migrate to Australia than there are places available, not everyone who submits an EOI will receive an invitation to apply for a visa. Your EOI will remain in the SkillSelect database for a maximum of two years after submission. During this time you can update it if your circumstances change — if you gain any additional qualifications or experience, for example. Any changes will be taken into account and may increase your ability to be invited.

Temporary Graduate Visa

Another option is the Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485), which allows eligible international students to live and work in Australia temporarily after completing their course. If you do not meet the requirements for a Skilled Independent Visa, the Temporary Graduate Visa can provide you with an opportunity to remain in Australia to gain skilled work experience or improve your English language ability, which may increase your eligibility for permanent residency. Applicants must have completed at least two years of study in Australia. The visa has two streams: the Graduate Work Stream and the Post-study Work Stream. Applications are submitted through DIBP rather than SkillSelect. For more information, see the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

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