Last updated 1 September 2016

Permanent visa options are also available on the basis of an applicant’s skills.

Applicants for unsponsored skilled migration cannot apply for an appropriate skilled migrant visa unless they have made an online offer to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

The online offer is not a visa application, it is an indication that an applicant would like to be considered for a skilled visa. To submit an online offer, an applicant needs to include a range of information such as basic personal information, the nominated occupation, work experience, study and education, level of English, details of a skills assessment related to the nominated occupation, and business and investment experience.

Only those occupations on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be considered. 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 allocated number in a particular occupation has been reached, no offer will be made.

An applicant is required to complete an online offer and receive an invitation before an application can be made. Key skilled permanent visas include:

  • Skilled Independent visa (permanent) (subclass 189)
  • Skilled Nominated visa (permanent) (subclass 190)
  • Employer Nomination scheme (subclass 186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187)
  • Business Innovation and Investment visa (provisional) (subclass 188) and (permanent) (subclass 888)
  • Distinguished Talent visa (subclass 858).

Skilled Independent visa (permanent)

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. To be able to lodge a valid application for this visa, an applicant must first submit an expression of interest through SkillSelect. An applicant can do this in or outside Australia.

An applicant must meet the following basic requirements:

  • be invited to apply
  • be younger than 50 years of age at the time invited to apply
  • nominate an occupation that matches their skills and qualifications and is on the SOL (sch 1 reg 1137 Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) (Migration Regulations))
  • have their skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority as suitable for their nominated occupation
  • have at least competent English
  • score sufficient points on the points test (sch 6D Migration Regulations)
  • meet health and character requirements.

Skilled Nominated visa (permanent)

This points-based visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory. The visa holder must stay in the state or territory which nominated them for at least two years. After this, a visa holder can live and work permanently anywhere in Australia. Certain family members can be included in the application. An applicant for this visa must nominate an occupation that matches their skills and qualifications and is on the SOL, and must be invited to apply for the visa after making an expression of interest through SkillSelect.

Employer Nomination scheme

This visa is for skilled workers from outside Australia or skilled temporary residents who live and work in Australia. It has three streams:

  • Temporary Residence Transition stream for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for two years and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position
  • Direct Entry stream for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market
  • Agreement stream for people sponsored by an employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa

This visa is for skilled workers from outside Australia or skilled temporary residents who live and work in regional Australia. It has three streams:

  • Temporary Residence Transition stream for subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for two years and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position
  • Direct Entry stream for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market
  • Agreements stream for people sponsored by an employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

Business Innovation and Investment visa: provisional and permanent

An applicant for this provisional visa (subclass 188) must be invited to apply after having made an expression of interest. The visa has four streams:

  • Business Innovation stream for people who want to own and manage a new or existing business in Australia
  • Investor stream for people who want to make a designated investment (at least 1.5 million) in an Australian state or territory and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia after the original investment has matured. They must be nominated by a state or territory government
  • Significant Investor stream which requires, among other things, an investment of at least five million Australian dollars in a complying investment in Australia and a nomination by a state or territory government or Austrade
  • Premium Investor stream for people who are willing to invest at least 15 million Australian dollars into complying premium investments in Australia, and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia. Applicants must be nominated by Austrade on behalf of the Australian government.

The permanent visa (subclass 888) can be applied for once an applicant has met specific requirements relating to the purpose of the grant of their temporary visa.

Distinguished Talent visa

This permanent visa is available to an applicant who has an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in one of the following areas:

  • a profession
  • a sport
  • the arts
  • academia and research

and

  • is still prominent in the area
  • would be an asset to the Australian community
  • has employment or can establish a viable business in Australia or
  • produces a nomination testifying to their achievement and standing in the area

and

  • is an Australian citizen
  • is an Australian permanent resident
  • is an eligible New Zealand citizen or
  • is an Australian organisation and has a national reputation in relation to the area.

If the applicant has not turned 18 or is above 55 years old at the time of application, exceptional benefit to the Australian community must be shown.