The 2021 Guide to Skilled Visas

The 2021 Guide to Skilled Visas

Skilled visas let you stay and work in Australia permanently, without requiring an employer to sponsor you. They let you migrate permanently to Australia based on your meeting of various criteria placed on a points-based system. But what is a skilled Visa? Which type should you apply for? And what are the requirements? Find out in our guide to skilled Visas below.

What is a Skilled Visa?

A skilled visa is a points tested work visa that allows you to live and work in Australia permanently. The points system is administered by SkillSelect as of 2012, and it helps the Australian government to manage a migration flow that keeps an even spread of professions and skillsets across the general skilled migration program.

The Points Test

Skilled visas are points tested visas, requiring a starting amount of 60 points in order to qualify for the program. Points are allocated to applicants based on certain personal criteria, including work experience, qualifications, English level, and age.

Occupation on the Skilled Occupation List

To be eligible for a skilled visa, you need to identify an occupation on the relevant skilled occupation list. You will need to meet your skills and qualifications with the particular occupation. The appropriate list will depend on the type of skilled visa you are applying for.

Skills Assessment

You will need a positive skills assessment from the relevant third party body that assesses your nominated occupation.

Expression of Interest (EOI)

To be eligible for a skilled visa, you must first submit an Expression Of Interest (EOI). You must then wait to be invited to apply. Invitations are specific to occupation, and are extended in point order rather than according to wait time. You will be ranked against other intending applications to determine if you are invited. So for example, an accountant with 75 points will be invited to apply before an accountant with 60 points, regardless of how long each has been waiting.

The exception to this invitation based process is for those applying for skilled regional visas, who apply through the extended stay pathway.

What are the requirements for a Skilled Visa?

Different skilled visas have different requirements. There are, however, a number of requirements they all share. To apply for a 189, 190, or 489 visa, you must:

  • Have an occupation which appears on the relevant skilled occupation list
  • Have a positive skills assessment for this occupation
  • Meet the points test benchmark of 60 points
  • Be invited to apply (excluding the 489 extended stay pathway)
  • Be under 45 years at the time of application
  • Have Competent English (IELTS band 6 or greater)

What types of Skilled Visa can I apply for?

The three visa subclasses for skilled independent visas are the 189, 190, and 491. These all work in slightly different ways, whilst sharing a common application process.

Skilled Independent (189) Visa

The Skilled Independent 189 visa lets you live and work anywhere in Australia. However, it is also a highly competitive type of visa. Although the 189 only requires a 60 point minimum in order to submit an expression of interest, in reality you may need more than this to secure your invitation to apply.
Learn more

Skilled Nominated (190) Visa

The Skilled Nominated 190 visa is similar to the 189 visa. However, instead of receiving a general invitation to apply, you require nomination by a particular state or territory to apply. You must live and work in that state or territory for at least two years. It can be more competitive to receive a nomination from popular states such as NSW and Vic.
Learn More

Skilled Regional (491) Visa

Skilled regional visas work differently to the 190 and 189. The 491 requires you to live in a designated regional area when granted. After two years on the 491 (Provisional), you can then apply for the permanent 887.
Learn more

The Process

In Summary, the process is as follows:

  1. Locate your occupation on the skilled occupation list
  2. Attain a positive skills assessment
  3. Submit an Expression of Interest
  4. Receive an invitation
  5. Lodge the visa

When you are going through the process of obtaining a skilled visa, the first thing you need to do is submit your expression of interest. Once this is submitted, you must wait to be invited to apply.

If you are in Australia and your current visa is about to expire when you submit your expression of interest, you may need a contingency plan to account for time between expiry of your initial visa, and lodgement of the independent visa. (You are not eligible for a bridging visa on having submitted an expression of interest.)


Once you receive an invitation, you have 60 days to lodge your skilled visa.

It will then take an additional period of time to process your skilled visa. The Department of Home Affairs has indicated that 90% of 189 and 190 applications are processed within 12 months of lodgement. If you are in Australia, and your underlying visa expires after you have lodged your visa application, your bridging visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia until your skilled visa is processed.

Can I include my family in my Skilled Visa?

You can include your partner (spouse or defacto), and any dependent children, in your skilled visa. Additional costs will be will required for dependants when lodging the visa application. If you are adding a person over 18 to your visa, you will have to pay an additional fee if they do not have functional English.

How can a Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer help me with my Skilled Visa?

As you may have realised from reading this guide, skilled visas have complex requirements, and the coordination of various applications from different institutional bodies.

First and foremost, a migration agent can help you pick the skilled visa that’s right for you, balancing your lifestyle preferences with the best chance of success. Immigration Lawyers can also assist in more complex cases.

A migration agent can also prepare the required documentation for you, including finding the listed occupation that best fits your skills, and helping you to obtain a skills assessment. They can also advise on how to increase your point score, and add family members to your application.

Finally, if you are placed on a bridging visa once your application is lodged, a migration agent can help you obtain work and travel rights, so you can start your life in Australia without the wait.

Looking for an Immigration Lawyer in Sydney? We can help. Contact us today to find out how we can make your Skilled Visa application easy and stress free.

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