Overview of Australia’s VISA requirements

Australia’s Permanent Residence visa categories can be divided into 3 broad groups being Skilled or Economic migration, Family migration and the Refugee or Humanitarian program. This summary covers the first two groups.

Skilled / Economic Migration

1. General Skilled Migration

The General Skilled Migration Program, often referred to as the points test, includes the Skilled Independent Category and the Skilled Nominated Category. There have been numerous changes made to the processing of these visa categories since January 2010 with the most significant change being introduced on 1 July 2012. From this date the General Skilled Migration Program will operate under the new Skill Select arrangements. This means that applicants will first need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and then only if they are invited to lodge an application by the Department of Immigration & Citizenship will it be possible to formally lodge an application for Permanent Residence in Australia. It is important to note that prior to submitting an EOI, applicants must be under the age of 50, obtain a positive skill assessment in their nominated occupation included on the skilled occupation list and where required, a IELTS (International English Language Test) or OET English Test with the required score.

The current passmark is 60 points for both the Skilled Independent (Subclass 189) and Skilled Nominated (Subclass 190) categories however as this is a demand driven program, applicants under the skilled independent category in particular are unlikely to receive an invitation to lodge a visa application with a score of 60 points.

To be sponsored under the Skilled Nominated category applicants must meet the same criteria as the skilled independent category but in addition have an occupation included on the occupation in demand list produced by the relevant State Government and be nominated by that State.

It should also be noted that most applicants will be required to undertake the International English Language Test as evidence of English language ability, unless the applicant holds a passport from one of the following countries and does not require any points for the English Language factor on the points test:

  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • United States of America (USA)
  • Republic of Ireland

2. Employer Nomination Scheme

This category is available to applicants who are sponsored by an Australian employer who is eligible for approval as a Sponsor. By definition applicants must be highly skilled and their occupation included on a list of gazetted occupations specifically for this category. Unless exceptional circumstances apply applicants must be under 50 years of age.

To be eligible applicants generally should either have obtained a positive skills assessment in their nominated occupation and have 3 years relevant experience or have been employed by the sponsoring employer in Australia on a 457 visa for at least 2 years prior to application.

3. Business Skills

At this time there is only one business visa category which results in permanent residence from the outset. This visa is the Business Talent visa, subclass 132. Applicants in this category must be under 55 years old, meet English language requirements and their current business activities and net asset value must meet specified financial criteria. Applicants must also obtain State Sponsorship from the State in which they intend to reside prior to lodgement of an application with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Given the onerous criteria of this category, the more common option for business migrants is the provisional visa stream initially. This pathway is referred to as the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa, subclass 188. It is granted for an initial period of 4 years and provided applicants meet the specified criteria, they will be granted permanent residence in Australia within this 4 year period. The English language requirements are also not as onerous as the business talent visa.

These Business Skills categories are also processed under the SkillSelect system from 1 July 2012. As such, prospective business migrants will need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and then only, if formally invited to lodge a visa application, will it be possible to proceed with an application for residence in Australia.

Family Migration

The family migration stream provides the ability for settled Australian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor a partner, child, parent or remaining relative. Only parents who have at least half their children permanently and physically resident in Australia are eligible to apply under this category. There are currently 2 visa categories available for parents being the contributory parent visa category and the general parent category. The difference between the 2 categories is cost and processing time.

Temporary Residents Options

Australia has a number of visa categories which grant temporary residence for a specified period of time. The most common visa under this category is the Long Stay Temporary Business Visa (subclass 457). The criteria of the 457 subclass are similar to the Employer Nomination category referred to above but there is no age cap.

Medical and Police Clearances

All applicants for visas to Australia must meet health and Character requirements. The evidence to be provided in this regard depend on the visa category under which the application is lodged. Applications for permanent residence will always require police clearances to be provided from every country where an applicant has resided for 12 months or more in the 10 years prior to application. Full medical examinations will also be required for permanent residence applications. In the case of temporary residence applications such as the 457 visa category, the medical requirements depend on the applicants country of residence .

Tourist Visa

This visa is suitable for those would like to travel to Australia for tourism. It has a 3 month validity on any one visit and may be renewable. This visa does not allow you to work during your stay in Australia, but permits you to study for a period not exceeding three months.

Working Holiday Visa

This visa is only issued to citizens of certain countries (including Italy) between the ages of 18 and 30, it allows you to work in Australia and has a validity period of one year and under certain conditions the possibilty to obtain an additional renewal for an equal period. On this visa it is not permitted to work for the same employer in Australia for more than 6 months.

Student Visa

This visa can be issued to those who, regardless of age, want to pursue a study program in Australia. The duration of this visa is closely linked to the duration of the course you wish to attend, and permits students of age to work for a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight.. This visa type is in great demand seeing that the achievement of a recognized qualification in Australia may in certain circumstances lead to a possible permanent reside.


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