General Skill Migration

Overview of General Skill Migration process 

If you are looking to migrate to Australia and have skills that are in demand in Australia, you may be able to gain permanent residency through the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program.

The GSM program is different to other types of visa applications and it can be confusing. We have noticed an increased interest in the GSM program but also a general misunderstanding of the process, so in this blog we have set out information that will help you decide whether the GSM program is for you and if so what you need to know to make your application.

The GSM Program and July 1 2012 Changes

The GSM program provides visa options for skilled workers to live and work anywhere in Australia, without the need for sponsorship from an employer.

There are 3 visas available under GSM:

1.       Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent Visa

This points-based visa is for skilled workers who are not sponsored by an employer, a state or territory, or a family member

2.       Subclass 190 – Skilled Nominated Visa

This points-based visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory.

3.       Subclass 489 – Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) Visa

This points-based visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory or sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated area in Australia.

The application process

The visa process can be broken down into a four main stages;

1.       Preparation

Before lodging your expressions of interest (EOI) you must prepare all your required documentation. This can include applying to the appropriate skills assessing body for a skills assessment for your nominated occupation, obtaining an IELTS English exam, appropriate police checks, medicals, military discharge documents, references and other suitable documents to evidence current and previous employment. Depending on your circumstances divorce documents, birth certificates, marriage certificates, de facto relationship evidence and sorting out any custody issues. It is also important to self assess yourself to see if you meet the require threshold and are indeed eligible.

2.       Lodge an expression of interest (EOI)

The first stage for applying for a visa in the GSM program is to lodge an EOI. In doing so you will be required to provide basic personal information, your nominated occupation, work experience, study and education history, level of English skills, details from your Skills Assessment and your business and investment experience. You will then be given a score and will be ranked. You will not be shown your ranking. DIAC uses the ranking system to determine who to invite to apply for a skilled visa. Your chances of being asked to apply for a visa therefore strongly depend on the quality of your EOI.  Your EOI will be valid for a maximum of two years. You are able to update it when your circumstances change. It is important to keep your EOI up to date. It may be too late to update this information after you have been invited to apply.

If you are applying for the 190 subclass most state/territories authorities require you to make an application to them and provide your EOI details. All state/territories have different requirements and processes to be followed.

3.       Be invited to apply

Based on your EOI, DIAC may invite you to apply for a visa. Invitations are currently being made twice monthly for 189 visas and are normally automatic once sponsorship from a state/territory authority is confirmed.

For Independent and family sponsored visas, people with the highest ranking EOIs will be invited to apply subject to preset occupation ceilings.

For applicants sponsored by a state or territory government, you only need to have enough points to meet the current pass mark for the visa for which you are applying.

4.       Apply for a visa

If you receive an invitation to apply for a GSM visa, you will have 60 days from the date of invitation to make a valid visa application. After 60 days, your invitation will expire and you will have to wait for another invitation to be eligible to apply for a GSM visa.

Advantages of the GSM process for applicants

  • Employers can have access to skilled workers with relative ease and speed. This means that by lodging an EOI you are making yourself known to possible employees. This could improve your chances of being sponsored by an employer to work in Australia.
  • Once you have been invited and then you make your application to DIAC the processing of your visa will be considerably faster than pre 1 July 2012 applications.

Disadvantages of the GSM program for applicants

  • You can only apply for a GSM visa if you have been invited to do so.
  • There are no avenues to have your case reviewed until you have lodged an application. You cannot appeal DIAC’s failure to invite you to apply for a GSM visa even if you have lodged an EOI.
  • You are not eligible for a bridging visa until you have physically lodged your visa application. This means that you are not eligible for a bridging visa if you have submitted an EOI or have been invited to apply but have not yet lodged your visa application. The GSM program therefore may not be a good option for you if your visa is due to expire soon.

If you have any questions about the GSM application process or would like help with any of the four stages of the process please contact us.