General Skilled Migration Visas – Who is Eligible?

Australia is nicknamed “The Land of Immigrants” for two main reasons: 1. The fact that it was built on immigrants and 2. Its immigrant-friendly policies.

The fact that 50% of Australians today are migrants or children of migrants, proves that.

Ever since the immigration waves started in the 1800s, the Australian government kept promoting more immigration opportunities, programs, and incentives to people who wanted to start a new life for themselves. One of those famous programs is the General Skilled Migration Program.

As Australia included more and more immigrants from every corner of the world, the country continuously grew economically, culturally, and in almost every other aspect of life there.

Bob Hawke, during his time succeeding as the Australian Prime Minister in 1988, famously declared: “it’s not the way a person looks or dresses or talks, that makes you an Australian today, what makes you an Australian today in this country is quite simply a clear commitment to the future of our nation.” And this quite simply portrays Australia’s sentiment toward immigration.

Australia has an Aboriginal heritage, a British foundation, and has grown a multicultural society following this logic.

Let’s take a look at one of the main immigration programs called: “The General Skilled Migration Program”.

What is the General Skilled Migration Program?

The General Skilled Migration program is for immigrants with particular skills, knowledge, and professional experience suited for the job demand in Australia. The list of demanded professions is updated on the SkillSelect Job Occupation List. Eligible skilled immigrants can eventually apply for permanent residency in Australia. 

If you take a look at the list, you’ll see there is a wide range of jobs covering every sector you can imagine. Browsing through this list you’d expect to see shortages of only seemingly crucial jobs such as doctors and nurses, and generally speaking, medical professions, engineers, trades, and computer professions are all in high demand in Australia; but you’d be surprised to also scroll across jobs such as restaurant/cafe manager, dog trainers, florist, makeup artists, dancers…these are all occupations that are in short supply locally in Australia currently.

Australia has one of the most expansive immigration programs in the world. 190,000 places are held each year for permanent residents, 70% of those are to fill jobs on the skilled occupation list. 

Keep in mind that this list changes constantly.  The Australian government updates this list every six months. The constant change means that if you have a skill on the ‘Shortage Occupation List’, then you should act as soon as possible.  Next time you look, your occupation may not be on there and you may have missed your possible window of opportunity to gain a working visa Australia.

If you can’t find your occupation on the list – there is always the easy option of studying a relevant course and then becoming eligible to apply for one of the jobs on the list. This may prick your interest and be the nudge you are looking for to make that career change you’ve been considering.

Now, let’s come back to the main subject – the General Skilled Migration program.
The General Skilled Migration Program includes 3 types of work visas:

  • Skilled Independent Visa (You can apply for the skilled independent visa if your occupation is on the SkillSelect Job Occupation list);

  • Skilled Nominated Visa (You can apply for the skilled nominated or skilled regional if your occupation is on the state or territory occupation lists – Each state or territory has its own state migration requirements);

  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa.

Let’s delve into the different visas; there are specific basic prerequisites that all 3 visas have in common. In all 3 cases, applicants must:

  • Be under 45 years of age when applying for the visas

  • Be able to select an occupation in one of the occupation lists

  • Have obtained a positive Skills Assessment in their occupation before application for the visa

  • Meet the minimum English requirements

  • Score a minimum of 65 points in the Points Test

So, we indicated the similarities and the conditions shared by all 3 General Skilled Migration Visas in Australia, but there are numerous contrasts:

The Permanent Skilled Independent Visa – Subclass 189 is the ultimate working visa Australia. It allows candidates to live and work in any region of Australia permanently and there are no additional conditions attached to it.

Being so advantageous, this is the most competitive visa and only certain professionals can apply, as the list of occupations accessible to this visa is limited. The relevant list is the MLTSSL (Medium and Long-term Strategic Skilled List).

The Permanent skilled Nominated Visa – Subclass 190 is also a permanent visa and the process is fundamentally the same as the 189, however, the distinction here is that applicants are not invited to apply by the Federal Government (SkillSelect) but rather are invited by a State or Territory.

The 190 visa requires that the applicant be invited by a State or Territory of Australia to apply, and each State and Territory has their own prerequisites in terms of who they want to select.

This indicates that applicants are not competing for points in most cases, but there are some States where only candidates with high points are invited to apply, like New South Wales and Victoria.

Similar to the 190 visa, the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa 491 involves a State or Territory nomination, but the prime deviation between these two visas is that the 491 visa is a temporary visa with 5-year validity.

Once granted, the 491 visa entails that you and your family members take up residence in a designated regional area of Australia for a minimum of 3 years and earn no less than $53,900 a year.

As soon as you meet those two requirements, you should be in a position to apply for a Permanent Visa – Subclass 191, which will ultimately permit you to live and work in any area of Australia permanently using this working visa Australia.

Regional areas encompass the whole country, with the exception of Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.

Who is eligible for the General Skilled Migration Program?

Overall, each visa type under this program has its own specific requirements, but there is a main criterion each individual must meet to apply:

  1. Have a relevant, highly demanded profession

  2. Have a skills assessment for your profession

  3. Achieve a minimum of 65 points on the points test

  4. Prove your proficiency in English

  5. Meet health and character requirements

  6. Be invited to apply for the visa

What are the benefits of the General Skilled Migration Program?

It’s no wonder Australia is one of the most popular choices for expats, with its magnificent weather, metropolitan cities, stunning natural landscapes (golden sandy beaches with clean water, tropical rain forests, arid deserts, and snowy mountains), and a laid back lifestyle.

Australia is one of the most desirable immigration destinations around the globe, undoubtedly, when you consider the excellent quality of life in Australia.  It is a melting pot of diverse cultures, each bringing its own traditions and rich customs.

It just so happens that Australia scores well on all levels.  Australia truly has it all! (See here for further proof).

When migrating to Australia, you are not just making a new future for yourself but also for all your future generations. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have the advantages of growing up in a contemporary society with high life satisfaction (when requested to rate their overall satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Australians on average gave it a 7.5 score. This is commendatory, when you take into consideration that the OECD average is 6.5), and a long time to enjoy it with Australia’s high average life expectancy; The average life expectancy in Australia is 83 years of age, which is three years older than the OECD median.

Besides being able to explore and experience all of that and perhaps make some career and/or business connections, the General Skilled Migration Program provides several other great benefits:

Sponsor your family to come live with you

You can bring the following family members with you to Australia:

  • Your spouse or common-law partner

  • Your dependent child

  • Your spouse or common-law partner’s dependent child

  • A dependent child of a dependent child

Apply for permanent residency

The first step to becoming an Australian citizen is to become a permanent resident. Once you have your working visa Australia – You’ll be able to become a citizen after you have lived in Australia for just 3 years!

Receive social benefits (such as free health care and education)

Australians are immensely proud of their health care system and with good reason.  Citizens and permanent residents enjoy access to publicly-funded health care that guarantees coverage of medically necessary services regardless of income level. Australia boasts universal public healthcare. All permanent Australian residents have access to Medicare, the state health care provider, and this is paid for through taxes: no one has to worry about soaring monthly premiums. Medicare offers a thorough basic healthcare coverage including general practitioner costs, hospital costs, and 85% of specialist costs. Prescription drug prices are heavily subsidized and there are plenty of other benefits. Often, Medicare is billed directly through a system called ‘bulk billing’, meaning that you’ll never see the bill yourself. 

Their Education system is also something to write home about; with 99% of all Australians being literate. Education in Australia is compulsory between the ages of 5 or 6, and 15, 16, or 17, depending on the state or territory and date of birth – and it’s free! Most of Australia’s universities are public, and student fees are highly subsidized.

Australia also has the 3rd highest number of universities in the world’s top 100 ranked universities. All of these reasons accumulate as to why Australia is ranked 15th for having the best education system in the world, meaning that Australia is an ideal destination for families with younger children because they can enjoy free public education of very high standards.

Develop a career in a strong economy

Australia has a strong and vigorous economy, with 28 years of annual consecutive economic growth (one of the few economies in the post-WWII period to achieve this). Australia boasts the 14th largest economy in the world, the 10th highest GDP per capita, and the 16th largest stock exchange. 

Australia is currently the world’s wealthiest nation in terms of median wealth per adult, ahead of Switzerland according to the Global Wealth Report. This ensures a high standard of living, quality of life, and well-paid job opportunities for its residents.

Enjoy high standards of living at low costs

One of the main deciding factors when figuring out whether to move to a country is the cost of living in said country, or if you have already settled on the chosen country, finding out the cost of living is the first step, in order to ensure you’re prepared for your big move and able to adjust accordingly.                             

Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia and ranks 42nd on the Mercer cost of living index.   Melbourne is ranked 99th, Perth 104th, Canberra 118th, and Brisbane 126th.

This makes Australia a more attractive choice of the expatriate hub, with others like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo all sitting in the top ten.

In Conclusion

Does the quality of life in Australia grab you, and you’d like to consider the possibility of living in Australia?  We are here to help you on your pathway to a fresh start in life, with the General Skilled Migration Program. 

Contact UIS Australia‘s immigration team without further delay, to arrange an eligibility assessment and to discuss your options. Our team is MARA certified with vast experience in Australian immigration. 

If you need any more reason to choose us to help, please take a look at this.

Don’t miss this window of opportunity – click the link below to make a fresh start today!

Ron Ford

Ron Ford immigrated with his family to Australia in 2005 to work as a social worker. Following their difficult immigration process, he slowly turned to blogging and creating content about immigration: "…As a family of 5, we struggled to make ends meet. I was working around the clock and Clarissa was working in housekeeping any time she could spare. The move to Australia completely changed our lives, but it cost us a lot of money, time, and tears. Ever since I've wanted to help others on their journeys the way I wished someone had helped us".

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