Moving to Australia could put your life on a whole new path. However, while the move could be the best decision you ever make, there is a lot that happens between deciding to move and becoming a permanent resident. In fact, there are several ways to become a permanent resident in Australia. Therefore, in this article, we discuss how you can gain permanent residency through skilled migration.

What is a Permanent Resident?

An Australian permanent resident is a non-citizen who is the holder of a permanent visa. They can live, work and study without restriction in Australia.

However, permanent residents are different to Australian citizens in that they:

  • do not have an automatic right of re-entry into Australia if they travel internationally; and
  • cannot vote in Australian government elections.

In addition, a permanent resident can apply for citizenship after four years of living in Australia.

Step 1: Choose the Right Visa

Skilled visas aim to meet skill shortages, increase business capability and encourage entrepreneurial activities in Australia. Accordingly, skilled workers can apply for one of the following visas to gain residency:

  • temporary skill shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482); or
  • permanent skilled visas. 

Firstly, you will need to understand which visa is the best option for you.

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa (Subclass 482)

The TSS visa has replaced the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa
457. This visa is designed to address short-term labour
shortages in the Australian job market by hiring foreign national skilled
workers.

Accordingly, TSS visa holders can work in Australia in their occupation for their
approved sponsor under the:

  • short-term stream (granted for up to two years);
  • medium-term stream (granted for up to four years); or
  • labour agreement stream.

Although TSS visas are temporary, they provide a pathway to permanent residency. Medium-term TSS visa holders will be able to apply for permanent residency after three years of working for the same employer within Australia. They can apply for a:

  • visa 186 if the skilled job was part of the employer nominated scheme (ENS); or
  • visa 187 if the skilled job was part of the regional employer sponsor stream (RSMS). Note that, in this case, the employer must be willing to sponsor the visa-holder for permanent residency under the Temporary Residence Transition Scheme.

Both these visas require nomination by an approved employer.

While the ENS and the RSMS are the two main visas that offer permanent residency, there are other options available depending on your circumstances. These include the:

  • skilled independent visa (subclass 189);
  • skilled nominated visa (subclass 190);
  • regional (provisional) visa (subclass 489); and
  • skilled regional visa (subclass 887).

Skilled Independent Visa 189

The skilled independent visa 189 is a points-tested stream to permanent residency. This means the visa-holder does not need to be:

  • sponsored by an employer or a family member; or
  • nominated by a state government.

Instead, you will need to get a score of 60 or more in the points test to apply for this visa. Points are awarded based on different matters including:

  • age;
  • English speaking proficiency; and
  • educational qualifications.

A visa 189 allows you to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident. To apply for this visa, however, you must submit an expression of interest to the Department of Home Affairs. You will then be ranked against other applicants and invited to apply for this visa if approved.

Finally, expressions of interest are kept on file for two years.

Skilled Nominated Visa 190

The skilled nominated visa 190 is available to those who are nominated by an Australian state or territory government to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident. You will, however, need to submit an expression of interest to the Department of Home Affairs to obtain nomination.

Skilled Regional Visas 489 and 887

The 489 skilled regional visa is a provisional visa. However, there is more than one way to get this visa; there are three pathways:

  1. Extended stay pathwayrequires you to already hold an eligible visa such as the old 475 Visa;
  2. Invited pathwaya state government or family member must nominate you for the visa; and
  3. Subsequent entry pathway: one of your family members must already hold a skilled regional visa 489, or a subclass 475, 487, 495 or 496 visa.

The 489 skilled regional visa will allow skilled workers to live and work in regional areas of Australia for up to four years. In addition, it is a first step to obtaining the permanent skilled regional visa (subclass 887), which is a permanent visa for people who have lived and worked in regional Australia for at least two years.

Step 2: Meet the Visa Requirements

Secondly, you must meet your visa’s specific requirements. However, different visas have different requirements. For example, you may need to have a sponsor, a relative in Australia, or certain work skills to apply for certain types of visas.

Permanent residency applicants must also meet strict health, character and security requirements. Therefore, make sure you carefully identity all the criteria for your desired visa. In addition, you should also obtain legal advice to give yourself the best chance for success.

Step 3: Apply!

Once you have chosen the visa that is right for your circumstances and are aware of the eligibility requirements, you can apply for permanent residency on the Department of Home Affairs Website.

Key Takeaways

Ultimately, there are various visas available to overseas skilled workers to migrate to Australia as an individual. However, some require nomination from state or territory governments which need you to submit an expression of interest. Alternatively, other visas only allow you to work and live in regional areas in Australia. 

Accordingly, if you need assistance deciding what visa is right for you, or help with making a visa application, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Allison Hendriks
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