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The Beginners' Guide to General Skilled Visas

We hear this question all the time: “Where should we start if we want to live in Australia?” So we decided to explain here all the basics you need to know.

We believe that the Australian government is much friendlier to its citizens than many other governments we have heard of or experienced ourselves; however, when it comes to non-Australians who wish to travel, study or work in Australia, the former friendliness is replaced with a complex and rigid system that assesses every application for a visa on its own merits. Even though there are strict regulations and policies in place, they change frequently which makes understanding the system and planning for a visa even more difficult.

There are many visa pathways allowing work in Australia, that may suit different applicants under different circumstances, such as working holiday, work and holiday, student, different employer-sponsored visas, training visas, skilled recognised graduate and more; we will go into more detail about these options in the future. In the meantime, remember: if you are not eligible to apply for a permanent visa based on your occupation, you may still be eligible to apply for a temporary visa, which may open other doors for you in the future.

In this blog, we will explain the steps for skilled people who are not sponsored by an employer but consider relocating to Australia based on their occupations.

So where do we really start?

You need to start with the information that The Department of Home Affairs is interested in: how old are you, what did you study and where, what work experience did you gain and its length, and what is your English level as tested in an eligible English proficiency test (unless you are exempt). If you have studied in Australia or if you are an accredited translator/interpreter, you may be eligible for additional points.

In the immigration process, each of these factors is valued by points, and the sum of these points is your score at “The points test”. The required minimum today is 65 points, although, given the current competition on the limited number of visas, some candidates need to demonstrate higher scores to gain an advantage over other candidates with the same occupation.

In addition, you also need to identify your occupation and confirm that it is on the list of eligible occupations for migration purpose. This also applies to your partner’s occupation, if it is relevant; if their occupation is on the relevant list it may assist you to claim additional points in the points test.

What do you mean by “identifying my occupation”?

Answering the question “what is my occupation” can be quite easy for some; however, if you are skilled in more than one field, or worked in different positions throughout your career, you may find that you can fit into the description of more than one occupation.

We recommend comparing your qualifications and work experience with the detailed descriptions of Australian occupations in the official dictionary of occupations (“ANZSCO”); these descriptions are critical to the various steps in the migration process. An official and updated version of this dictionary can be found here.

Once you have identified your occupation in its Australian name and ANZSCO code, you can check its eligibility for migration.

How do we know if the occupation is eligible for skilled migration?

As for today, there are two main relevant lists of occupations. The first list includes occupations which were assessed as required in Australia for the medium-long term, and the second includes a list of occupations which were assessed as required for the short term. The Department of Home Affairs updates these lists frequently, and they can be found in legislative publications and on the department’s official website.

If your occupation is in the medium-long term list, and you score at least 65 in the points test, you are lucky! You have a chance to apply for a permanent visa without state sponsorship.

If you find out that your occupation is on the short-term list, you will need to research under what conditions states or territories in Australia may offer sponsorship for applicants in your occupation. State sponsorship needs to be obtained prior to submitting a visa application. Note that state sponsorship may be an advantage for all applicants, as it automatically gives five or ten additional points in the points test.

At this stage, you might find out that you can only apply for a visa that requires you to live in a regional area of Australia, or that you can reach the required minimum of 65 points only with regional state sponsorship. Do not give up just because you do not want to live in a remote town in the middle of the vast Australian desert…! in fact, most of Australia is defined as regional for the purpose of skilled visas, and many of the areas under this definition are very popular among immigrants and locals alike.

Is that it?

That was only the beginning.

A mandatory step that every potential visa applicant needs to take is obtaining a positive skills assessment.

If you have not done it so far, this is the time to contact a registered migration agent. The agent, who should have a comprehensive knowledge of Australian visas, will review your information. The agent will assess your chances and will explain how and what documents to prepare before you start investing precious resources in your visa.

The skills assessment process is different for each occupation and is conducted by different professional authorities. For some occupations, skills assessment process includes additional studies or exams, while others require only assessment of the applicants’ qualifications and work experience. Your agent will discuss the requirements with you and will confirm if you are eligible to apply for skills assessment prior to submitting the application.

Obtaining a positive skills assessment is mandatory before lodging a visa application and before submitting an EOI form, which we will discuss later. The results of your skills assessment may also affect your scores in the points test because the skills assessment authority is authorised to decide if and how your qualification and work experience meet the Australian standards. For example, if your skills assessment letter recognises only four of your five years of work experience in your occupation, you will be able to claim points for four years only and not five.

We have been lodging successful skills assessment applications for years now, and we can assure you: if you do not know what you are doing, you risk a very expensive failure.

Is that the end?

If you ticked the English and the skills assessment boxes, and you can score at least 65 points with or without a state sponsorship, it is time to submit your expression of interest (EOI).

The system calculates your points based on the information you provide on your EOI form. Even if you made it so far without engaging a registered migration agent, do not miss our article about the ten mistakes you must avoid when completing your EOI form.

What are the next steps?

If you applied for a state sponsorship, you will be invited to apply for a visa once the state confirms its sponsorship.

If you lodged an EOI form for an independent visa, you can only wait now. Remember that the occupations lists, the states that offer sponsorship and the eligibility requirements for each of the steps, can all change at any time; therefore, it is crucial you keep up to date, so you do not miss an opportunity that may not be offered again.

Yes!!! We received an invitation to lodge a visa application!

Wonderful news! At this stage, you will need to provide additional information about yourselves and your family members, including information for health and character assessment.

And what else should we know?

Unfortunately, we cannot cover here everything that may be relevant in your visa application process, so our best advice is to consult with a registered migration agent; this way you will maximise your chances to succeed in each of the steps from the beginning.

Remember also that every step of the way has its own costs, some of them can be very high. This is another reason to aim for success from the start; refusal of any application means a painful loss of efforts, time and money.

We got the visa!

That’s great news, congratulations! Welcome to your life’s biggest adventure!

Soon we will also share our relocation specialist’s tips for settling in Australia smoothly and economically.

Contact us for additional information; this is a visa program that we strongly suggest you have managed by an expert.

Let us be there for you; we love being part of great changes in people’s lives, and we are good at it!


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