Skilled migrants

Australia now has an invitation-only application system for skilled migration without a sponsor. Expressions of interest, a skills assessment and a points score are used to select the migrants needed. Skilled workers can be nominated or sponsored in several ways. Business talent migrants must bring large amounts of capital and business skills or innovation.

Who are “skilled migrants” under the new “skilled select” system?

Applicants for the Skilled Visa program must complete an “expression of interest” indicating which stream they are interested in and whether they are seeking nomination by a state or territory. The applicant will then be “invited” to apply for the visa.

The expression of interest must be accompanied by a skills assessment by the appropriate skills assessing body for the applicant’s occupation (obtained at the applicant’s expense) and other personal information. Only those occupations on the relevant Skilled Occupation List will be considered (see www.border.gov.au). DIBP will then decide whether it will accept their offer by “selecting” them.

Whether a SkillSelect offer will be made will depend upon how many applicants for each skilled occupation have already been selected in the migrant program year. If the number in a particular occupation has been reached, no offer will be made. If the number has not been reached and the Expression of Interest indicates that the proposed applicant would score more than 60 points, an offer may be made. However, if the numbers in the particular occupation category are greater than needed, offers only go to the highest points scored in that round.

The government hopes, by this system, to avoid long standing problems it has had with its “pipeline” of skilled visa applicants in particular occupational groups “clogging up” the system, when there are already enough skilled migrants in that occupation. Of course, this increased efficiency is at the expense of the rights of visa applicants, because they will not know, at the time they make their Expression Of Interest, whether they will be selected. If they are not selected, they cannot recover the money they have spent on getting a skills assessment, undergoing English testing, etc. in making the expression of interest. This same SkillSelect selection system also applies to business owners who wish to apply for a visa to start a business in Australia.

Consolidated Skilled Occupation List

On 1 July 2012, the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) was approved. This is a single list of occupations that replaced the state/territory nominated (STATSOL) list, the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENSOL) list, the subclass 442 Occupational Trainee list and the subclass 457 Skilled Occupation List.

The CSOL is used for those who have an Australian or overseas business willing to sponsor them and should not be confused with the skilled list for independent skilled migration (i.e. no sponsor) called the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

The CSOL has over 640 occupations, while the SOL only lists around 180 occupations. Skilled migration is biased towards sponsored migration because research indicates that there is a far greater probability of an intending migrant having future work in their skilled occupation, where there is an Australian employer who is sponsoring.

Skilled Migration (189, 190, 489) common requirements

To be able to lodge a valid application for this visa you need to first submit an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect. You can do this within or outside Australia.

You must meet the following basic requirements:

be invited to apply;

be younger than 50 years of age when you are invited to apply;

nominate an occupation that matches your skills and qualifications and is on the SOL;

have your skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority as suitable for your nominated occupation;

have at least competent English;

score at least 60 on the points test;

meet the health and character requirements.

Skilled independent (subclass 189) visa

This points-based visa is 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. Certain family members can be included in the application.

The visa applicant must apply under an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for this visa. Prior to lodging an Expression of Interest, a visa applicant should undertake a “Skill Assessment” with the relevant regulatory body if an applicant does not hold the relevant Australian qualification.

Skilled – nominated (subclass 190) visa

This visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory. A visa holder can live and work permanently anywhere in Australia. Certain family members can be included in the application.

The main advantage of state or territory nomination is that it provides the applicant with additional points in the “Points Test”. The relevant occupation list for the subclass 190 visa is the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL).

Skilled – nominated or sponsored (provisional) (subclass 489) visa

This visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory or sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated area in Australia. The visa is valid for four years, and a visa holder must live and work in a specified regional area. Certain family members can be included in the application. This visa also allows holders of visa subclasses 495, 496, 475 and 487 to stay in Australia for an additional year.

The advantage of applying under for the subclass 489 visa is that it provides the applicant with additional points in the “Points Test”. Subclass 489 visas are also given processing priority by the DIBP. For this visa the relevant occupation list is the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL).

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

This visa is for skilled workers from outside Australia or skilled temporary residents who live and work in Australia. It has three streams. The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for two years and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position. The Direct Entry stream is for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market. The Agreement stream is for people sponsored by a employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)

This visa is for skilled workers from outside Australia or skilled temporary residents who live and work in regional Australia. It has three streams. The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for two years and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position. The Direct Entry stream is for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market. The Agreements stream is for people sponsored by a employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

Business talent (permanent) (subclass 132) visa

This visa has two streams:

Significant Business History stream

You, your partner, or you and your partner combined must have all of the following:

total net assets of at least AUD400 000 as the ownership interest in one or more qualifying businesses for least two of the four fiscal years immediately before you are invited to apply and if the qualifying business(es) was a publicly listed company, a shareholding of at least 10 per cent of the total issued capital;

net business and personal assets of at least AUD1.5 million that are legally acquired and can be transferred to Australia within two years after the visa is granted;

a total annual turnover of at least AUD3 million in one or more of your main businesses in at least two of the four fiscal years immediately before you are invited to apply;

ownership of at least:

51 per cent of a business with turnover of less than AUD400 000 per year

30 per cent of a business with turnover of more than AUD400 000 per year, or

10 per cent of a publicly listed company

an overall successful business career;

no involvement in unacceptable business activities; and

a genuine desire to own and maintain a management role in a business in Australia.

You must also be younger than 55 years of age, although a state or territory can waive this requirement if your proposed business will be of exceptional economic benefit to the region where it will operate.

Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream

You must have received at least AUD$1 million in funding from an Australian venture capital firm.

The funding must be for the start-up, product commercialisation or business development of a promising high-value business idea.

The venture capital firm must be a member of the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Limited (AVCAL). AVCAL has information about the venture capital category of membership in its venture capital entrepreneur visa factsheet. You must have entered into a formal (contractual) agreement with the venture capital firm for the funding.

Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (subclass 188) visa

The purpose of these visas is to boost Australia’s economy and to compete effectively for high net worth individuals seeking investment migration. Applicant’s must be invited to apply by the minister and, in some cases, must be sponsored by the relevant state or territory.

This visa includes four streams:

Business innovation stream: for people with business skills who want to establish, develop and manage a new or existing business in Australia.

Investor stream: for people who want to make a designated investment of at least AUD$1.5 million dollars into an Australian state or territory and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia after the original investment has matured.

Significant investor stream: for investors who are willing to invest at least AUD$5 million dollars into complying investments in Australia and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia.

Premium investor stream: for investors who make a complying and designated investment of AUD$15 million dollars into an Australian state or territory.

Holding this visa is the first stage before becoming eligible to qualify for a Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa (subclass 888).

Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) visa

The Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa (subclass 888) is the second stage of the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188). Applicants can apply for this visa after satisfying the requirements of their provisional visa.

For holders of a subclass 188 visa, the subclass 888 visa is the expected pathway to Australian permanent residency.