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Australia’s Skilled Migration Program: A Pathway to Living Down Under

Australia has always been an attractive destination for skilled workers from around the world, offering a high quality of life, competitive salaries, and an abundance of opportunities in various industries. To attract such talent, Australia has developed the Skilled Migration Program. This comprehensive article explores this program, detailing eligibility requirements, the application process, and resources for those planning to make Australia their new home.

Understanding the Skilled Migration Program

Australia’s Skilled Migration Program is a robust, points-based system designed to draw skilled workers from around the globe to fill gaps in the Australian labor market. It aims to attract individuals who possess skills in particular occupations required in Australia, bolstering the country’s economy by providing a diverse and competent workforce. The program’s points system evaluates candidates on factors such as age, English language proficiency, work experience, and educational qualifications.

There are several visa subclasses under this program, each tailored to specific professional backgrounds and personal circumstances. The two most popular visas are the Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189) and the Skilled Nominated visa (Subclass 190).

Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189): This visa subclass is designed for skilled workers who are not sponsored by an employer, a state or territory, or a family member. A visa holder can live and work permanently anywhere in Australia and can include family members in their application. Eligibility for this visa is determined by a points test, with points awarded for age, qualifications, experience, and English language proficiency. The applicant must also nominate an occupation that is on the relevant skilled occupation list.

Skilled Nominated visa (Subclass 190): This visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by an Australian state or territory government agency. It allows the holder to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident. The benefit of this visa is that it offers additional points towards the points test, boosting the chances of successful application. However, it does come with the obligation to live and work in the nominating state or territory for a specified period.

Both visas offer a pathway to permanent residency, giving individuals the ability to live, work, study, and access healthcare and social services in Australia. They also provide the opportunity to apply for Australian citizenship once eligible criteria are met.

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It’s important to note that both visa subclasses require a skills assessment. This means your qualifications and skills need to be assessed by the relevant assessing authority as suitable for your nominated occupation.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs website provides an overview of the Skilled Migration Program. It offers a wealth of information on eligibility criteria, points tests, and application process for each visa subclass. Furthermore, SkillSelect, the Australian government’s online service, enables skilled workers interested in migrating to Australia to record their details to be considered for a skilled visa through an Expression of Interest (EOI).

The Migration Skills Assessment Program run by Engineers Australia is a useful resource for engineers planning to migrate under this program. They provide a comprehensive guide to getting your engineering qualifications assessed.

Considering the complexities of immigration policies, professional advice is recommended. Engaging a MARA-registered migration agent can be helpful as they understand Australian immigration law and can guide you through the process, increasing your chances of a successful application.

Resource: The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) is a valuable resource for finding a registered migration agent.

Eligibility for Skilled Migration

The Skilled Migration Program has strict eligibility criteria. At a minimum, applicants must:

  • Be under 45 years of age at the time of application.
  • Have competent English language skills.
  • Have an occupation on the relevant list of eligible skilled occupations.
  • Score at least 65 points in the Points Test.

The Points Test awards points for factors such as age, English language ability, skilled employment experience, educational qualifications, and partner skills.

The Points Table on the Department of Home Affairs website provides a detailed breakdown of how points are awarded.

Application Process

The application process for the Skilled Migration Program is extensive. Here are the general steps:

Skills Assessment: Before applying, you must get a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation from the relevant assessing authority.

Expression of Interest (EOI): You then submit an EOI through SkillSelect, an online service that Australia uses to manage its Skilled Migration Program. An EOI is not a visa application but an indication that you would like to be considered for a skilled visa.

Invitation to Apply: If your EOI is successful, you’ll receive an invitation to apply for a visa.

Visa Application: After receiving an invitation, you can proceed to apply for the visa. You’ll need to provide extensive documentation, including identity documents, skills assessment results, English language test results, employment references, and more.

The SkillSelect page on the Department of Home Affairs website offers detailed information on EOIs and the application process.

Processing Time and Cost

Processing times can vary greatly depending on the specific visa subclass and individual circumstances. As of 2023, the average processing time for both the Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189) and the Skilled Nominated visa (Subclass 190) is between 6 and 9 months. The visa application charge is AUD 4,045 for the main applicant.

Resource: The Visa Pricing Estimator on the Department of Home Affairs website provides up-to-date information on visa costs.


Australia’s Skilled Migration Program is an exciting opportunity for skilled professionals looking to start a new chapter Down Under. Though the process can seem complex, with thorough preparation and understanding, it’s entirely navigable. Keep in mind that circumstances can vary greatly, so it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice if you’re considering this path. The adventure that awaits in Australia is well worth the effort.

Organisations such as Migration Council Australia and theMigration Institute of Australiacan provide support and advice throughout the migration process.