Australia’s SkillSelect System:
Generally, persons wishing to migrate to Australia who are not sponsored by an employer or a family member (under the Family Migration Program), apply under the General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program.
On 1st July, 2012, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) introduced their SkillSelect Program, which affects how a person applies under the GSM Program. Rather than directly applying for a visa, a person now first submits an Expression of Interest (EoI) and, only after invited by DIAC, can they lodge an application for a visa. Once invited a person has 60 days to lodge their application via the SkillSelect program
Factors within the SkillSelect System:
The SkillSelect Program is a "Points Tested" Program, in which an applicant is required to achieve, or exceed, the minimum Pass Mark for the visa Subclass they are applying for. Points are awarded to an applicant based upon their Age, English Language ability, Qualifications, Work Experience, Nomination / Sponsorship (if applicable), etc.
The current Pass Mark under the SkillSelect Program is 60 Points. Though Invitations have been issued to applicants who have only scored 60 Points, we recommend that you strife to achieve at least 65 Points, preferably higher. This would ensure you are Invited before other potential applicants who only just reach the Pass Mark.
The Points are determined at the time an applicant is invited to lodge their Visa Application rather than at lodgement or when a decision is made on their Application.
Expression of Interest (EoI):
The EoI is submitted via the internet, and must specify which Subclass(es) of visa(s) you wish to apply for. If applicable, you must also indicate whether you are seeking just nomination / sponsorship form just one or all States and / or Territories. No supporting documents are required to be submitted with the EoI.
An EoI is not a visa application, it is an indication that you would like to be considered for a skilled or business visa. As such, there is no fee to submit an EoI nor is a Bridging Visa is granted when you submit your EoI.
You will be asked to provide a range of information in your EoI depending on the visa(s) you want to be considered for, such as:
When you submit your EoI the system will give you a Points Score based on your claims.
To submit an EoI you must meet all the threshold criteria for the relevant visa subclass you identify. If you do not meet the threshold criteria, you will have to deselect the visa before you can submit your EoI. An EoI can be stored and returned to later to complete if you are not able to satisfy the criteria for submitting the EoI. If you have not submitted your EoI it will be stored for two years in SkillSelect, but you will not be eligible to receive an invitation.
Once you have submitted your EoI, it will be held in SkillSelect and is valid for two years. After two years your EoI will be removed from SkillSelect.
After you submit your EoI, you will receive notification and an ID Number from SkillSelect. With this ID Number you can access your EoI and update your information at any time. You should do this if you have gained new work experience, gained a higher qualification, improved your English language ability and/or changed your family composition.
It is your responsibility to update your details when circumstances change. You will not be able to update your EOI between the time you receive an invitation and the expiry of that invitation (after 60 days). As your invitation to lodge a visa application is based only on the information presented in your EoI you need to ensure your EoI is up-to-date and correct at all times.
Depending upon the visa Subclasses you select, your EoI can be viewed by Australian employers (for Subclasses 457, 186 and 187) or the various State or Territory Governments you indicate (for Subclasses 190 and 489). They will be able to view certain information that will enable them to determine if you would be suitable for their sponsorship / nomination whilst particular information that would enable them to specifically identify you would be blocked.
Your EoI will be removed from SkillSelect if you are either granted, refused or withdraw a permanent visa application or a Subclass 489 Visa Application. Likewise, if you receive 2 invitations and fail to apply for the visas your EoI will also be removed from SkillSelect.
However, if you are either granted, refused or withdraw from a temporary visa your EoI will remain in SkillSelect and you will still be eligible to receive invitations for other visas.
Nominating an Occupation in your EoI:
DIAC has created a list of occupations (called the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List [CSOL]) that a person must nominated in their EoI.
You should nominate that occupation for which you have the required academic / trade qualifications to obtain a positive Skills Assessment (some Skills Assessments may also require work experience) and the necessary work experience to be awarded the most Points.
To be awarded Points for work experience, you need to show you have either sufficient experience in your nominated occupation or a closely related occupation. DIAC deems a closely related occupation is one that "fall within one unit group classified under ANZSCO" and that "(c)areer advancement . . . can be considered to be closely related where it follows a well-established path for career advancement."
Once you receive your Invitation you will need to provide evidence that you have obtained a positive Skills Assessment, from a relevant Australian Assessment Authority, in your nominated occupation. This Skills Assessment must be obtained prior to the invitation being issued: DIAC will not accept a Skills Assessment dated after the invitation has been issued.
Thus, it is highly recommended that you obtain your Skills Assessment prior to submitting your EoI.
To obtain the Skills Assessment you will need to provide evidence that you have the required relevant academic or trade qualifications (depending upon the occupation) and, if necessary, the required amount of skilled work experience. To be considered skill this work experience will need to be post qualification.
English Language ability:
As part of the EoI you will need to indicate your English Language ability and claim Points according to this ability. You will be required to provide evidence that you have the indicated level of English claimed in your EoI at the time the invitation is issued: Again, DIAC will not accept evidence of English language ability that is dated after the invitation is issued.
Thus, it is also highly recommended that you undertake the English Language Test prior to submitting your EoI.
Invitations issued by DIAC:
Invitations are issued according to “ranking” with no involvement by Immigration staff. Your Points Score, along with your time and date of submission determines your “ranking” under SkillSelect: The higher your Points, the higher your “ranking” will be. For applicants with equal Points, those who submit their EoI earlier will be “ranked” higher than those submitting their EoI later.
Your “ranking” is set by when you submit your EoI or when you updated your EoI causing your Points Score to change.
DIAC will be issuing invitations to potential applicants monthly, or sometimes twice monthly. As applicants with a higher “ranking” EoI will be invited to lodge an application before applicants with a lower “ranking” EoI, achieving the Pass Mark will not, by itself, guarantee an invitation to apply.
Further, DIAC is also setting an occupational ceiling for each ANZSCO Occupation Unit Group, such that only a set number of invitations per ANZSCO Occupation Unit Group will be issued in any particular program year (a program year runs from 1st July to 30th June) or month. This is to ensure there is not an excessive number of migrants who have nominated a particular ANZSCO Occupation Unit Group each year or month. Once the ceiling has been met no further invitations for that ANZSCO Occupation Unit Group will be issued for that program year or month.
If you receive an invitation to lodge an application you have 60 days to do so, including lodging most of the necessary supporting evidence (Health and Character Checks excepted), and failure to lodge the application within 60 days will void the invitation. If you do not make a valid visa application after receiving two invitations, your EOI will be removed from SkillSelect.
DIAC is indicating that the processing time between being invited and being granted the Visa is around 3 – 6 months (though this will depend upon a number of factors).
If your actual Points Score is less than claimed in your EoI, your visa can be refused on the basis of having provided false information (even if you do pass the Points Test and meet other threshold criteria). As such, you need to ensure your EoI is up-to-date and correct at all times..
You will not receive a refund of any visa application charge if your visa application is refused. Further, if your visa is refused on the basis of having provided false information you can be subject to a three year ban preventing grant of a visa (e.g. claiming higher Points for English language than you are eligible for could be deemed to be false and misleading information).
SkillSelect GSM Visas:
Within the SkillSelect program there will be two General Skilled Migration (GSM) Permanent Visa Subclasses, and one GSM Provisional (i.e. temporary) Visa Subclass a person could be eligible for:
The Class: SI; Subclass 189 (Independent - Permanent) Visa is for those applicants who are not sponsored by a State or Territory Government of Australia. You will need to indicate this visa in your EoI and it can only be applied after an invitation from DIAC.
The Class: SK; Subclass 190 (Sponsored - Permanent) Visa, is for those applicants are sponsored by a State or Territory Government of Australia. You will need to indicate this visa in your EoI and it can only be applied after an invitation from DIAC.
State or Territory Governments will have access to the EoIs lodged via the SkillSelect Systemand will nominate those applicants they consider best able to contribute to their State / Territory. When a State or Territory Government nominates you, an invitation will automatically issued to you to lodge an application for this visa.
Provisional (Temporary) Visa:
The Class: SP; Subclass 489 (Regional Sponsored – Provisional) is for applicants who have a relative who lives in a Designated Area of Australia who will sponsor them for the visa, or a State or Territory Government who will sponsor them for the visa. You will need to indicate this visa in your EoI and which particular State or Territory Government, if any, you wish to consider your EoI. Likewise, it can only be applied after an invitation from DIAC.
Any State or Territory Government is able to nominate you for this visa. This nomination will require that you live and work in a regional area of the nominating Australian State or Territory.
State or Territory Governments will have access to the EoIs lodged via the SkillSelect System and will nominate those applicants they consider best able to contribute to their State / Territory. When a State or Territory Government nominates you, an invitation will automatically issued to you to lodge an application for this visa.
Relatives eligible to sponsor an applicant for a Subclass 489 Visa include parents, children / step-children, siblings (natural, adopted or step) aunts or uncles (natural, adopted or step), or nephews or nieces (natural, adopted or step) and first cousins. You will not receive an automatic invitation is sponsored by a relative and, so, invitations will be issued according to your “ranking”.
General Criteria for the Grant of SkillSelect Visas:
Health and Character Requirements:
As well as the above, an applicant for a GSM Visa is required to satisfy the health and character criteria for the visa.
The health criteria requires the applicant and members of their family unit (whether applying for a visa or not) to undergo specific health examinations. This is to ascertain if the applicant and / or members of their family unit is free from tuberculosis and is free from a disease or condition that is, or may be, a threat to public health in Australia or a danger to the Australian community.
The criteria also assesses whether the applicant(s) and members of their family unit are free from a disease or condition in relation to which require health care or community services, or meet the medical criteria for the provision of a community service.
In terms of the provision of the health care or community services DIAC is concerned with whether this is likely to result in a significant cost to the Australian community in the areas of health care and community services, or prejudice the access of an Australian citizen or permanent resident to health care or community services. If any of these factors exist the application for the GSM visa could be rejected on health grounds.
As part of the character criteria all applicants and members of their family unit aged 16 years and older are required to obtain a Police Check from each country they have resided in (accumulatively) for at least 12 months since turning 16 years of age.
If an applicant, or their family unit member, is deemed to have a substantial criminal record, the application can be rejected. An application can also be rejected if DIAC considers the applicant does not pass the Character Test. (Please note, a member of the family unit includes spouse and all dependents of the family head and / or their spouse. Generally, they do not include parents, brothers, sisters and children aged 18 years and over, unless they are financially dependent upon the family head or the spouse of the family head.)