Obtaining a permanent skilled visa to live in Australia isn’t easy. Applicants must have a particular skillset that the Australian Government deems to be in demand by the Australian economy. And furthermore, these eligible skillsets change from time to time. In this article Gerald Santucci and Dominic Cookman outline the most common types of visas and how recent changes may assist certain applicants to obtain permanent residency in the ACT.

Skilled visas

The most common skilled visas are employer-sponsored visas, skilled independent visas, and state- and territory-sponsored visas.

Employer-sponsored visas (subclass 186 and 482)

Under these visas, an employer must act as a sponsor for the visa applicant.

Skilled independent visas (subclass 189)

Instead of requiring a sponsoring employer, under this class of visa the applicant must meet a points-test threshold. Applicants receive points according to specified criteria, including experience, qualifications and age.
Before submitting an application for a visa, an applicant can calculate their points to give them an approximate score. If they feel that they meet the criteria, they can submit an expression of interest (EOI) to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The DHA will then assess the application.
Each month, the DHA publishes the points test cut-off scores, which vary for each skillset. The DHA may then invite applicants who meet the applicable points threshold to apply for a permanent visa.

State- and territory-sponsored visas (subclass 190)

While much of the process for this visa follows the subclass 189 process, prospective visa applicants can apply to a state or territory government to sponsor them for a permanent visa.
Successful applicants can be fast-tracked through the visa process if they commit to living and working in the sponsoring jurisdiction for an extended period of time.

Skilled occupation lists

To manage the flow of skilled migrants, the DHA publishes two skilled occupation lists. These lists outline who is eligible to apply for the skilled visas. They are also regularly amended to show the skills that are currently in demand.

Medium- and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MTMSSL)

The MTMSSL is dominated by highly skilled occupations, particularly in the medical and engineering fields. A visa applicant whose skills are listed on this list is eligible to apply for a permanent skilled visa. They can also be sponsored for a temporary subclass 482 visa by an employer. That same employer can subsequently sponsor them for permanent residency (a subclass 186 visa).

Short-Term Strategic Skills List (STSSL)

This list is comprised of a variety of trades and professions that are deemed to be needed by the Australian economy. These trades and professions may or may not require formal tertiary qualifications. Applicants with a skill on this list cannot apply for a subclass 186 or subclass 189 permanent visa and are specifically precluded from having a pathway from this visa to permanent residency.  Applicants can, however, apply for a temporary subclass 482 visa (up to a maximum of 4 years).

Migration to the ACT

We are often consulted by subclass 482 visa holders whose skills are on the STSSL (but not the MTMSSL). They are naturally disappointed that they don’t have a clear pathway to permanent residency.
But for certain visa holders, there may be another way.
The ACT Government (and other state governments) publish their own list of professions that they’re willing to sponsor for a subclass 190 visa. At the end of 2018, the ACT Government overhauled its procedures for approving subclass 190 sponsorships. It now implements its own points test, based largely on the applicant’s skills and their ties to the ACT.
The interesting thing about the ACT’s most-recent list is that it contains several professions that are on the STSSL. These professions, therefore, wouldn’t otherwise be allowed a pathway to permanent residency. For example, as a hairdresser, illustrator, bricklayer or panel beater, you wouldn’t be eligible for a permanent skilled visa through either the employer-sponsored pathway or the points-test program. However, the ACT Government has listed all three professions on the ACT Occupations list. This signals its willingness to sponsor people with these skills for permanent residency, assuming they meet the requirements of the ACT program.
This is fantastic news for people with these skills who have come from overseas and would like to make Canberra their permanent home.

How can we help?

Snedden Hall & Gallop is a market leader in skilled migration advice and we would be very happy to advise you on your eligibility for an ACT Government sponsored 190 visa. To make an appointment, please contact our Migration team on 02 6285 8000 or by email.