Australian Permanent Residence:
Overview: The Skilled Migration Visa Subclasses
The Australian Government uses the skilled migration program to bring to Australia people with qualifications and/or work experience needed to address specific skill shortages in Australia and enhance the skill level of the Australian labour force.
The regulations have therefore steadily been tightened to increase
the focus on the applicant's employment skills rather than on
their family relationships with Australian citizens or permanent
Since 1996, the Australian Government has rebalanced the migration
program towards the Skill Stream. In 1995-96 the Skill Stream
comprised 29.2 percent of the program, but this share increased to 50.3 percent in 1999-00, 52.6 percent in 2000-01, 57.5 per cent in 2001-02, 61.1 per cent in 2002-03, 62.00 per cent in 2003-04, and 65.00 per cent in 2004-05.
These changes were a result of former requirements: Applications made after 1 September 2007 must have been for the visa classes: Skilled (Residence) (Class VB), Skilled (Provisional) (Class VF), Skilled (Provisional) (Class VC), and Skilled (Migrant) (Class VE). These four classes include the following subclasses:
- Subclass 175 (skilled - independent)
- Subclass 176 (skilled - sponsored)
- Subclass 475 (skilled - regional-sponsored)
- Subclass 476 (skilled - recognised graduate)
A further two onshore points-tested visa classes were then further created to enable successful tertiary qualified overseas students in Australia to apply for general skilled migration visas onshore:
- Subclass 885 (Skilled - Independent Overseas Student)
- Subclass 886 (Skilled - Sponsored Overseas Student)
In addition, for applicants who fail to qualify outright under permanent skilled visa classes, a temporary three year points-tested visa class was created where applicant must be sponsored by a State/Territory Government; if granted, an additional permanent residence pathway exists:
- Subclass 487 (Skilled-Regional Sponsored (Provisional))
As of 1 July 2012, other change to the skilled migration program include: only eligible applicants who have registered their interest with the Government, are to be selected (or invited) by the Government - under its automated electronic SkillSelect process - to apply, and if deemed suitable for migration, must then apply within 60 days. The visas under this scheme are limited to:
- Subclass 189 (skilled - independent)
- Subclass 190 (skilled - nominated)
- Subclass 886 (skilled - sponsored)
Note: For the 2012-13 migration program year 129,250 places have been allocated for the Skilled Migration Program.
The current visa subclasses are subject to common minimum requirements for the skill, age and English language ability criteria, which must be satisfied.
These changes mean that all new points-tested applicants as a
- Be less than 50 years of age at the time of visa application
- Demonstrate competency in English (limited exceptions apply)
- Have a skilled occupation with qualifications recognised in
The new points test has resulted in the successful entry of skilled
migrant clients who are doing very well in the Australian labour
market. For instance, of skilled applications made in 1999-00, 81 percent were aged between 18 and 34, and 88 percent scored the maximum points for English.
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