FAQs About Immigration to Australia

QUESTION:  What is a Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Australia?

ANSWER:  A Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Australia is a document issued by the Australian government that authorizes foreign nationals to live long-term in Australia. People who have been granted a PR Visa to Australia are authorized to legally work in Australia; may access educational programs; can receive free basic healthcare through Australia’s Medicare program; may be able to sponsor eligible family members for permanent residency; and have the option to apply for Australian citizenship after living in Australia as permanent residents at least four years and meeting other requirements.

 

QUESTION: What is the Australian General Skilled Migration (GSM) Visa Program?

ANSWER:   Australia’s General Skilled Migration (GSM) Visa Program is an Australian immigration program designed for qualified skilled foreign workers. This points-based Australian immigration program assigns points for various factors (e.g., age, English language level, skilled employment, education, etc.), with a minimum of 65 points required to qualify, along with meeting other criteria (including health and character requirements). The Australian GSM Visa Program has two major visa subclasses: (1) the Skilled Independent Visa to Australia (Subclass-189) and (2) the Sponsored/Nominated Visa to Australia (Subclass 190). Each of these two Australian visa subclasses is a Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Australia which authorizes a foreign national to live, work or study long-term in Australia.

 

QUESTION:   What is the difference between the Subclass 189 Visa to Australia and the Subclass 190 Visa to Australia?

ANSWER:   The Subclass 189 (Independent) GSM Visa to Australia is a Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Australia that authorizes an eligible foreign national to live, work or study anywhere in Australia. The Subclass 190 (Nominated/Sponsored) GSM Visa to Australia is also a PR Visa to Australia that authorizes a foreign national to live, work or study in the Australian State or Territory that sponsored/nominated them during their first two years living in Australia (since their occupation is needed there), after which they are free to live, work or study anywhere in Australia.

 

QUESTION:   How can I know if I am eligible to apply for a PR Visa to Australia through the GSM Program?

ANSWER:  Our experienced legal team can evaluate your eligibility to apply for a PR Visa to Australia and inform you about your Australian immigration options. We have created a user-friendly online assessment form where you can enter your relevant details and upload your CV in English which will be carefully reviewed by our Australian immigration lawyer. You will then receive a detailed Australian immigration assessment from our legal team which will inform you as to whether you are likely to meet the requirements to apply for the Australian GSM Program, including how many points you are likely to receive for this points-based Australian immigration system. This professional assessment can be a valuable tool to help you make an informed decision regarding your Australian immigration options.

 

QUESTION:   What are the next steps if I am evaluated as likely to meet the eligibility criteria for the Australian GSM Program? 

ANSWER:  If you are evaluated by our legal team as likely to meet the requirements to apply for immigration to Australia through the General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program, our Australian immigration experts can assist you through each stage of the procedure – simplifying the process for you, making sure the procedure is done correctly and answering your questions along the way. In general, the Australian immigration procedure will involve the gathering and careful review of the documents required for the process; guidance on getting your English language abilities evaluated; accurate filing of the Skills Assessment with the appropriate assessing authority for your nominated occupation; receiving a favorable Skills Assessment for your nominated occupation; proper filing of your Expression of Interest (EOI);  assistance in correctly filing your application for the Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Australia, along with the required documents, if you receive an official Invitation to Apply (ITA) for immigration to Australia; and consultation regarding any health or character checks that may be required and concerning preparations to move to Australia should you be approved for Australian immigration. You will also need to pay the Australian governmental fees at the appropriate time before the visa is issued.

 

QUESTION:   Do I have to get my English language abilities evaluated?

ANSWER:   Yes – the Australian government requires that you have your English language skills professionally evaluated before you file your Expression of Interest (EOI), unless you are an English-speaker with a valid passport from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States or New Zealand. English-language abilities are a key requirement for immigration to Australia and an applicant has the potential to earn up to 20 points out of the 60 points required to file an EOI if they receive the maximum score for each section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam or the maximum score on other English language evaluation tests approved by the Australian government for the purposes of immigration. In addition to the IELTS, applicants may also have their English language skills evaluated with the PTE Academic or the TOEFL iBT exams. In some cases, the Occupational English Test (OET) is requested for certain health practitioners.  Although English-speakers with a valid passport from the UK, Ireland, Canada, the United States or New Zealand are not required to have their English language skills tested to file an EOI, they will not receive any points for their English language skills, which could affect their eligibility to file an EOI. Therefore, it is strongly advised that all applicants for the GSM Program prepare for and take the IELTS exam (or other English language exam authorized by Australia’s government) in order to maximize their points potential for this points-based Australian immigration program. Our legal team can advise you regarding which English language you will need to take. A fee is normally charged to take one of the English language evaluation exams.

 

QUESTION:   What is the Expression of Interest (EOI)?

ANSWER:   The Expression of Interest (EOI) is your formal notification to the Australian government that you want to apply to immigrate to Australia.  Before you can file an EOI, you must first have your English language abilities evaluated by taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam (or another English language assessment test approved by the Australian government) and you must receive a favorable Skills Assessment from the appropriate skills assessing authority for your nominated occupation. If the Australian government reviews your EOI and believes that you appear to meet the eligibility requirements for the GSM Program, they may issue you an official Invitation to Apply (ITA) for immigration to Australia.

 

QUESTION:   What is a Skills Assessment?

ANSWER:   The Skills Assessment is required before you may file your Expression of Interest (EOI) to immigrate to Australia and it is performed by one of approximately 36 authorized assessing authorities, depending on your nominated” occupation. The purpose of the Skills Assessment is to evaluate to what extent your jobs skills, experience, education and other factors are similar to those possessed by people working in the same occupation in Australia. A fee is charged by the assessing authority for the Skills Assessment.

 

QUESTION:   What is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam? 

ANSWER:  The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is the most common method authorized by the Australian government for the assessment of the English language abilities of individuals applying for a PR Visa to Australia through the GSM Program. The IELTS exam is given by the British Council on certain dates during the year at various locations in countries around the globe and scores are issued for each of its four sections: (1) listening, (2) speaking, (3) reading and (4) writing. A minimum score of 6 is required in each of these four sections, but points will only be given toward the 60 points needed on the points-based Australian immigration program if a score of 7 or 8 is achieved in each of the four sections. In addition to the IELTS, applicants also have the option for their English language skills to be evaluated with the PTE Academic or the TOEFL iBT exams. In some cases, the Occupational English Test (OET) is requested for certain health practitioners.  It is a good idea to prepare for the IELTS exam (or other authorized English language evaluation test) before taking it, even if one is a native-speaker of English, since the IELTS (and the other authorized English exams) is a standardized test and understanding how the IELTS (or other) exam is structured and what to expect on the test may help one to get a higher score. A fee is usually required to take the IELTS exam. After completing the IELTS exam, a certificate will be issued with one’s score and other details that will be required in order to file the Expression of Interest (EOI).

 

QUESTION:   What is a nominated occupation?

ANSWER:  A key requirement for filing an Expression of Interest (EOI) to immigrate to Australia is to have an occupation that is on one of two official Australian government lists of needed occupations that are eligible to be “nominated” for the General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program. Your nominated occupation” must be on either the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for the Subclass 189 (Independent) GSM Visa or the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL) for the Subclass 190 (Nominated) GSM Visa and you must also receive a favorable Skills Assessment from the appropriate assessing authority for your “nominated occupation” before you may file your EOI to immigrate to Australia. Our legal team can examine the details you provide in your online assessment form and CV and inform you as to which eligible occupation you should “nominate” when your EOI is filed.

 

QUESTION:   What is a Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and a Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL)?

ANSWER:   The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is an official Australian government list of occupations that are needed in Australia and are eligible for application to the GSM Program for a Subclass 189 (Independent) PR Visa to Australia. The Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL) is a longer official list of needed occupations that are eligible for application to the GSM Program for a Subclass 190 (Nominated/Sponsored) PR Visa to Australia. The SOL and the CSOL are usually updated each year in July, based on the changing demand for various jobs in Australia.

 

QUESTIONIs an Expression of Interest (EOI) the same as an Application to Immigrate to Australia?

ANSWER:   No – There is a difference between the Expression of Interest (EOI) and the formal Application to Immigrate to Australia. You must first properly file your EOI, informing the Australian government that you want to immigrate to Australia. If the Australian government reviews the information you submit in your EOI and believes that you seem to meet the criteria for the GSM Program, it may then issue you an official Invitation to Apply (ITA) for immigration to Australia (i.e., an invitation to submit an application for a Permanent Resident Visa to Australia).

 

QUESTION:   What is an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for immigration to Australia?

ANSWER:   Immigration to Australia is by invitation only.” This means that you must first notify the Australian government, by properly filing an Expression of Interest (EOI), that you want to immigrate to Australia and if the Australian government reviews the details you provided in your EOI and decides that you appear to meet the criteria for the GSM Program, it may then send you an official Invitation to Apply (ITA) for immigration to Australia. Once you receive an Invitation to Apply for immigration to Australia, you will have 60 days to file your Application for the Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Australia, along with all of the required documents, plus you will need to pay the necessary fee(s) to the Australian government.

 

QUESTION:  Is there an age limit to apply for immigration to Australia through the GSM Program?

ANSWER:   Yes – You must be less than 45-years-old when you receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA) for immigration to Australia. For example, if you file an Expression of Interest (EOI) when you are 44-years-old, you will need to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for a Permanent Resident Visa to Australia from the Australia government before your 45th birthday.

 

QUESTION:  If I am issued a Permanent Resident Visa to Australia, can I take my spouse/partner and children with me?

ANSWER:  Yes – You may take your spouse/partner (opposite sex or same sex) and dependent children (normally under 18-years-old) with you to Australia if you are issued a Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Australia, assuming that they are listed on your Australian immigration application and they meet all of the criteria (e.g., health and character requirements). If you have dependent children under 18-years-old, they must be able to legally leave their country of residence to immigrate to Australia (documentation to verify this may be required in some cases).

 

QUESTION:   What costs are involved in applying for immigration to Australia through the GSM Program?

ANSWER:   In addition to the fees for our professional Australian immigration services, fees must be paid to take the IELTS exam (or other English assessment test approved by the Australian government for the purposes of immigration) for evaluation of your English language abilities; for your Skills Assessment; for any medical or police checks that may be required; and for various Australian governmental fees which can vary depending on your family size, the English language abilities of your spouse/partner (if applicable), and other factors. Furthermore, you will need to have enough money to cover the costs for you and your family members to move to Australia; housing, food and other necessities after you move to Australia (i.e., until you receive your first paycheck from Australian employment), etc. Although there are various costs involved when you move to Australia, keep in mind that people who immigrate to another country often sell their house, car(s) and certain other possessions in their home country to help them pay the moving and settlement expenses for their new country and that approximately 200,000 foreign nationals successfully move to Australia each year.

 

QUESTION:   How long does the Australian immigration process take?

ANSWER:   The amount of time required for the Australian immigration process can vary, depending on several factors, but it generally takes approximately 12-24 months from the time the procedure is started until the PR Visa to Australia is issued. Furthermore, once the Visa Grant Notice is issued by the Australian government, informing the skilled foreign worker that they have been approved for a PR Visa to Australia, they will be notified in the Visa Grant Notice of the earliest date they will be authorized to first enter Australia as a permanent resident and the latest date (i.e., deadline) by which they must enter Australia. It is common to be given up to five years to actually move to Australia once the Visa Grant Notice has been issued to allow the skilled foreign worker and their eligible family members extra time to prepare for Australian immigration.