If you’re a skilled worker looking to immigrate to Australia and gain permanent residency, the Subclass 189 visa may be a great fit for you.
Known as the Skilled Independent visa, the Subclass 189 is a permanent residency visa for workers who want to live and work in Australia long-term without requiring employer sponsorship like the Employer nomination scheme (subclass 186) we talked about earlier .
Unlike some other Australian working visas that obligate you to a specific employer or regional area, the 189 visa offers the freedom and flexibility to live and pursue employment opportunities anywhere in Australia. The Skilled Independent program uses a comprehensive points-based system to assess applicants based on key factors like work experience, language proficiency, age, education level and skillset demand in Australia. If you meet the eligibility requirements and score highly enough, you can be approved to relocate on the 189 visa.
One of the biggest advantages of the Subclass 189 compared to temporary or provisional visas is that it allows you to both live and work permanently anywhere in Australia without restrictions once granted. As a permanent resident and Skilled Independent visa holder, you also receive many of the same privileges, protections and benefits that Australian citizens enjoy. From access to healthcare, schooling and social services to being able to apply for Australian citizenship later on down the road, the 189 visa offers a direct pathway to building a new life in Australia long-term.
Requirements to Apply
Gaining approval for the 189 visa has some minimum eligibility requirements set by the Australian government. While the system is complex, these are some of the key criteria you’ll need to meet:
Skills Assessment: First, you must get a positive skills assessment from the relevant government authority for your particular occupation. This assessment evaluates your degree, work experience and expertise to determine if they align with current skills demands in Australia.
English Language Proficiency: You must also meet the minimum score on an approved English language test like the IELTS or PTE to prove English proficiency. The exact score depends on the skills assessment authority.
Age Requirement: In addition, 189 visa applicants must be under 45 years of age at the time of application, with some exceptions made in select fields of employment. This age threshold helps align professional migrants with long-term Australian workforce needs.
Recent Work Experience: Further, you need recent work experience performing tasks closely related to your nominated occupation. Usually 2-3 years of experience in a comparable role is required within the last 5 years.
Health and Character: Finally, in order to be approved you must pass health examinations verifying you meet all standard public health requirements. Police certificate and background checks are also required to establish good character.
Meeting eligibility takes coordination but offers skilled professionals a pathway to long-term residency and employment in Australia if requirements are met.
The Subclass 189 visa utilizes a comprehensive points-tested system to assess applicants based on key factors and determines eligibility. Points are awarded across these main categories:
- Age – You will be awarded more points the younger you are, as younger skilled professionals have more years to contribute to the Australian workforce. 25-32 years old is highest point range.
- English Language Ability – Higher scores on English tests like IELTS or PTE will award you more points to reflect stronger English fluency. Superior scores can receive 20 points.
- Level of Educational Qualification – Points are awarded based on your highest educational certification, with higher degrees earning more points to reflect specialized skills and training.
- Years of Experience in Nominated Occupation – More points are awarded the longer you have worked in high demand and specialized occupations related to your visa application.
- Credentialed Community Language Skills – Fluency in certain languages outside of English can award bonus points in some cases.
In addition, factors like completing an Australian educational degree can earn more points. The current pass mark for eligibility is generally 65 points, but a higher point score will make your application more competitive versus other candidates. While rules evolve over time, focusing on areas like English fluency, specialised work experience and advanced education can help maximise your overall points score.
The points system allows Australia to assess candidates in an objective manner to select migrants offering the strongest potential economic contribution.
Benefits of the Subclass 189 Visa
The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) provides significant benefits, rights and privileges as a permanent resident compared to temporary visas. Some of the most notable advantages include:
Live and Work Permanently in Australia: As a 189 visa holder, you are granted permanent residency and have full work rights enabling you to live and pursue employment opportunities anywhere in Australia without restrictions. This provides flexibility compared to employer-sponsored or regional visas.
Access to Healthcare and Schools: 189 visa holders can access Australia’s quality universal healthcare system Medicare as well as highly-ranked public school systems and universities for children and families joining you in Australia.
Ability to Apply for Australian Citizenship: After living in Australia as a permanent resident for 4 years including 1 year as a 189 visa holder, you have the ability to apply for Australian citizenship and obtain an Australian passport enabling you to achieve the full rights and protections of citizens.
Sponsor Eligible Relatives for Visas: Once you become an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can also sponsor certain eligible relatives like a spouse, children or parents for their own permanent residence visas through Australia’s family reunion program.
In addition, as a 189 visa holder you have flexibility to easily leave and re-enter Australia, purchase property in Australia, receive social security benefits once meeting requirements and more that significantly improve quality of life.
The application process for the 189 visa, while comprehensive, is straightforward when handled systematically. After assessing your eligibility and points score potential, you can submit your application via Australia’s online portal. The application fee is currently from AUD $4,640. Supporting documentation like skills assessments, English tests, health exams and police checks will need to be submitted as well.
Step 1: Submit Expression of Interest
- Create a SkillSelect account
- Submit Expression of Interest (EOI) with details of skills, experience, etc.
- Scored and ranked in pool of candidates
- Wait for invitation to apply if meet eligibility
Step 2: Gather Documentation
- Identity documents like passport
- Skills assessment documentation
- English language test results
- Police clearance certificates
- Health examination results
- Other supporting documents
Step 3: Submit Online Application
- Get invitation to apply
- Submit application via ImmiAccount system under SkillSelect
- Pay visa application fee of AUD $4,640
- Attach all required supporting documentation
Step 4: Application Assessment
- Wait for application to be assessed
- Respond to any additional requests for information
- Application either approved or denied
Step 5: Visa Decision
- If approved, visa grant notification received
- Visa granted with conditions outlined
- If refused, reasons provided and options reviewed
Next Steps After Approval
- Validate visa, make travel arrangements
- Land in Australia to activate visa
- Begin living and working in Australia as permanent resident!
The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) offers an excellent opportunity for eligible skilled professionals to relocate permanently to Australia with family to live and work flexibly anywhere in the country. With access to healthcare, schooling, social services and a pathway to full Australian citizenship, the 189 visa provides a prime solution for skilled workers looking to build a new life down under.
To recap key points, the subclass 189 visa uses a competitive points system that considers factors like English ability, education, age, work experience and skills demand. If you can achieve the minimum 65 points score threshold, submit a complete visa application file, and meet all health and character requirements, you have a high prospect of approval for this permanent residency skilled visa.
For further information, check out Australian government visa pages for the latest in program rules, fees and documentation needs as policies can change periodically. Consider authorised immigration assistance services if you have additional questions or needs filing your visa application.