One of the biggest hurdles that any potential migrant faces is not only leaving behind family and friends but bureaucracy! Red tape can make a new immigrant’s experience a disastrous one if you are not well-informed. In Australia, navigating through the visa system can be one of these hurdles. The following is a summary of the most common migration pathways to Australia:

  1. Skilled Migration or GSM

    Skilled Migration remains one of the most popular pathways to obtain a visa for Australia. The advantage with these visas is that you can work in any occupation you choose when the visa is granted and you are free to work as much or as little as you would like. The most common skilled visas are the following:

    • Skilled Independent (189)
    • Skilled Sponsored (190)
    • Skilled Graduate (485)
    • Provisional skilled (either State sponsored or family sponsored) (489)

    All of these visas require you to: have an occupation on the correct occupations list (CSOL or SOL), obtain a positive skills assessment for your occupation, have at least functional English, pass the points test and obtain State or Territory or family sponsorship for 190 or 489 only. Keep in mind that some occupations require you to have State or Territory sponsorship! The  Skilled Graduate visa is especially designed for students who have recently graduated in Australia to allow them to remain in Australia after their studies and either find an employer who wants to sponsor them or obtain sufficient points to continue with one of the permanent Skilled Visas.

    Since July 2012, in order to apply for the 189, 190 or 489 visa, you must first submit an Expression of Interest with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Once this is done, you then wait to be invited to apply. How soon you are invited will depend on how many points you have, the number of invitations left within your occupation (occupation ceilings) and whether you have State or Territory sponsorship.

  2. Employer-sponsored

    These visas are designed for people who have a business or an employer wanting to sponsor them. You can either apply for the temporary visa or for the permanent visas. The subclasses are the following:

    • Temporary Work (Skilled) (457)
    • Employer Nomination Scheme (186)
    • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (187)

    For most of these visas, your sponsor will need to apply to become a business sponsor before being able to nominate your occupation and then you can apply for your visa. You need to demonstrate that your occupation is on the correct list and demonstrate you have the skills required as well as functional English.

    The temporary visa will only allow you to work in the occupation you were nominated for with that employer. However, the permanent ENS will allow you to change employers in the future but with the RSMS, you are required to remain with your employer for at least 2 years otherwise your visa could be cancelled.

    There are several ways of obtaining the permanent ENS or RSMS: either by working for your employer for 2 years on a temporary 457 visa or through direct entry. The requirements are different depending on how you apply for the permanent visa and it may involve you having to do a skills assessment. Your employer will usually need to provide evidence of market salary rate, training and that the business is lawful and operating amongst other requirements.

  3. Students

    For students wanting to come to Australia, you first have to find out what your Assessment Level is. The Assessment Level is based on your country of passport and the type of course that you will be studying in Australia. You will receive either a low Assessment Level (1) or a higher one (up to 5) depending on these factors. Your AL is important because this is what will tell you how many documents you need to provide for each section. Generally, you will need to prove that you have sufficient finances, English at the required level, you have been accepted into a full-time registered course and you have any qualifications require for this.

    First, you will need to obtain your Certificate of Enrolment and once you have this you can then apply for your visa. Most AL 1 students are able to apply online while the other need to apply on paper. However, some courses at certain participating Universities exempt students from the AL framework so that they are able to only provide documents as though they were AL1 students.

  4. Family visas

    Family visas can include: Partner visas, Child visas, Aged dependent relative visas, Parent visas, Remaining relative visas and Carer visas. It is important to note that most of these will require sponsorship by your family member and you will need to prove your relationship to them. For example, partner visas are for people who are either married or a de facto couple. To meet de facto requirements, you will usually need to prove that you have lived together for at least 12 months otherwise you may be able to apply for a prospective marriage visa if you are looking to get married soon.

    Parent visas will require sponsorship by your Australian child or permanent resident child and also require you to pass the balance of family test, some have age requirements and other have very high financial requirements (these are called contributory visas). If you decide to apply for a non-contributory parent visa you will find the processing time can be very long (at least approximately 6 years).

  5. Business visas

    Business visas are designed for people with high assets and that have a successful business career. These visas are for people who would like to either enter Australia on the innovation and investment stream or based on their excellence in business. They will require an applicant to demonstrate very high personal and business assets usually and most will also require State or Territory sponsorship as well as passing a points test.

Keep in mind there are well over 140 Australian visas! Most permanent visas will allow you to remain in Australia as a permanent resident indefinitely. However, they will only allow you to leave and re-enter the country for 5 years. After this time, you will need to apply for a Resident Return visa to be able to re-enter the country.

In Australia, you can either apply for a visa on your own or you can obtain the help from a Registered Migration Agent. These are people who have studied immigration law and are registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.

About the author: Claudia Rodenbach is appointed Head of Migration with Crossing Borders – Australian visa and immigration solutions. She is a Registered Migration Agent and has many years’ experience in this field. To contact the author, please refer to following site:




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