Australia, also known as ‘The Land Down Under’ is generally associated with kangaroos, koalas, Crocodile Dundee and the outback. With a mixture of thriving urban centers and vast open spaces in the heart of the country, Australia is a great place to live with a culture that is laid-back and people who are welcoming and friendly. It is also one of the premiere study abroad destinations in the world as the country provides globally recognized degrees and a high-level of classroom instruction. According to ICEF Monitor (an organization dedicated to providing market data for the international education industry), the number of international students in Australia grew by 11.4% in 2018. Currently, there are 693,750 international students enrolled in the country’s universities and colleges. 8 Australian universities were ranked in the top 100, according to the QS World University rankings, with several other institutes ranking highly in all the recognised publications of university rankings globally.
Many international students who move to Australia wish to stay back to work and live after they have completed their degrees due to the high standards of living in the country, as well as the chance to further their careers. This article seeks to provide information on how to secure a Permanent Residence (PR) after completing your studies in Australia.
PR in Australia – Facts about Australian Permanent Residency
A permanent resident refers to a person who moved to Australia and has not yet been granted their citizenship. They key factors of a permanent residency are:
- Permanent residence permit holders are allowed to study, work and live in the country without any restrictions.
- Permanent residents are also provided access to ‘Medicare’, the national healthcare scheme launched by the Australian government.
- Permanent residents however, are not permitted to avail the Higher Education Loan Program or HELP which allows Australian citizens to defer the cost of their higher education tuition fees.
A large number of international students in Australia aspire to get permanent residency after they have completed their course of study. To do this, you must apply for a visa through the SkillSelect program, which is managed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. It is an online portal which allows potential applicants to submit their considerations for a skilled visa through something called an EOI or Expression of Interest. The conditions to apply for an EOI are:
- Personal information as required by the portal
- A nominated occupation
- Information about work experience and education
- Information regarding their English language proficiency
- Details of skills assessment related to the nominated occupation
- Information about business and investment experience
- The age limit is set at 16-49
This portal allows applications for multiple visas as all applications for permanent or provisional visas go through the SkillSelect system. Every fortnight, the Department of Immigration sends out invites to the highest ranked applicants through an automated system. To receive an invitation you must pass the skilled migration points test. For more information on the points test and how scores are calculated for each separate visa class, visit the offical website.
Note: The first step to sending in your EOI is to nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List. If your occupation is not on the SOL, you will need to secure a sponsorship by either a state government or an employer. Also, before you can send in your EOI, you will have to complete the skills assessment and English language testing as well.
PR in Australia – Skilled Independent Visa
The Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189) is a visa for applicants who have not been sponsored by an employer, a state/territory or a family member who is a permanent resident or citizen of Australia. It costs approximately AUD 4,045. This visa will allow you to live and work permanently anywhere in Australia and also has provisions for you to include your family members in the application process. The application process for this visa requires you to secure a positive skills assessment before you send in your EOI through the SkillSelect portal. After you have received an invitation to apply from the Department of Home Affairs, you will have to submit your final, completed application for approval which will grant you your visa. To apply for this visa, you must pass the following requirements:
- Receive an invitation to apply through the SkillSelect portal
- Be younger than 45 years of age
- Nominate an occupation that matches your skills and qualifications
- Have your skills positively assessed by the authorities in charge of the process
- Meet all the requirements for English language proficiency
- Score at least 65 on the points test
- Meet the health and character requirements as set by the authorities
Note: If your application is successful and you receive the visa, you will be allowed 5 years to live and work in Australia with multiple entry granted on your travels outside the country. If you live for 4 consecutive years in Australia under this visa, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. You can also live in Australia for 2 of the 5 years and still get your visa renewed for a further 5 years.
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PR in Australia – Employer Nomination Scheme
The Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) is a visa that allows Australian employers to sponsor international workers by providing them job opportunities and the chance to live and work permanently in Australia. The key features of this visa are that it allows the holder to work and stay in Australia indefinitely as a permanent resident, access to MediCare, travel outside Australia with multiple return entries over a period of 5 years and sponsor eligible relatives for a variety of Australian visas. The Employer Nomination Scheme has 3 streams through which potential applicants are filtered, however for this article we will be taking a look at the most relevant stream for international students which is the ‘Direct Entry stream’.
The Direct Entry stream is designed for international applicants who do not meet the requirements of the Temporary Residence Transition stream, i.e. don’t have a subclass 457 visa and all the factors associated with it. Applicants going through the Direct Entry Stream have to adhere to the criteria listed below:
The nominating employer must:
- Be lawfully and actively operating in Australia
- Meet the relevant requirements for employee training
- Not have any adverse information about them or any person associated with them
The position you are nominated for must:
- Be a genuine and valid position
- Be a full-time position that lasts for a minimum of 2 years from the time you acquire the visa
- Be listed on the Skilled Occupations List
- Provide terms of employment that are equivalent to those afforded to Australian citizens and permanent residents
The visa applicant must:
- Be under 50 years of age
- Demonstrate their proficiency in the English language
- Hold a successful skills assessment for their nominated occupation
- Have a minimum of 3 years of work experience relevant to their field
- Meet the health and character requirements set forth by the government
Note: If you still aren’t perfectly clear about the Australian visas and application process, visit the official website of the Australian government.
PR in Australia – Increase your Chances of Securing PR
The Skilled Independent Visa is considered to be the best chance for international students to secure their permanent residency in Australia after they have completed their education. Your approval for a GSM or General Skilled Migration category visa (the skilled independent visa is part of this category) is highly dependent upon how well you score in the Points Test. The following are some of the ways you can boost your scores in the test:
- Post-Study work in Australia – Staying back in Australia after the completion of your program will give you more time to work on getting job experience and brush up on your language skills, if required. You can secure a Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) which will allow you to remain in the country for 18-months.
- Increase your qualifications – You can increase your level of qualification to help you get a better score on the points test. For example, diplomas and trade degrees give you 10 points on the test scores while bachelor’s degrees give you 15. The highest points are given to doctorate degree holders with 20.
- Language proficiency – Applicants are required to demonstrate their proficiency in English language. It benefits them as they get more points if they score higher on the language exams. An IELTS score of 7 or 8 awards you with 10 and 20 points respectively.
- Opting for regional universities – If you have completed your degree in a regional area like southern Queensland, it will provide you with some benefits when applying for a permanent residency visa. People who have lived in a specified regional area for a period of 2 years and have worked full-time in that area for 12 months become eligible to apply for the Skilled Regional Visa (Subclass 887).
- Age factor – Remember that your age can have a large impact on your scores in the points test. People between the ages of 25 and 32 are given 30 points but people who are 45 years old and above do not receive any points at all! So try to time your application with that in mind.
- Job experience – Even if you have just one year of work experience in Australia after your degree’s completion, you will find that it provides you with 5 additional points on the test. The more experience you have in your chosen field or profession, the more points you will be awarded. That’s why it’s important for international students to gain some work experience either along with their studies, or after they have completed. Experience in the same field but gained outside Australia will also net you some points.
- Professional year program – These are designed to combine formal learning and hands-on workplace experience which leads to structured professional development of the candidates. Professional year courses last for 12 months and candidates who have completed a course are eligible to receive 5 extra points in the test as well as gain precious Australian workplace experience. These courses are available in the fields of computer science, engineering and accounting. Remember to take a course that is closely related to your degree or your chosen profession.
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Note: Please know that migration policies are in a constant state of flux, especially in the case of Australia. Research is a key tool that will help you navigate through the myriad of visas and constantly changing rules and regulations.
PR in Australia – FAQs
Q. Can I stay in Australia after my studies?
A. Yes, Australia provides post-study extensions on student visas for international students to allow them to live in the country and increase their degree qualifications or find work in their chosen fields. A post-study work visa can even allow you to stay in the country for up to 4 years. For more detailed information, follow Post study work permit Australia article.
Q. What is the SkillSelect program?
A. SkillSelect is a program managed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. It is an online portal which allows potential applicants to submit their considerations for a skilled visa through something called an EOI or Expression of interest. Your EOI is graded based on a points system and your eligibility for permanent residency is calculated accordingly.
Q. What is the Skilled Independent Visa?
A. The Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189) is a visa for applicants who have not been sponsored by an employer, a state/territory or a family member who is a permanent resident or citizen of Australia. This visa will allow you to live and work permanently anywhere in Australia and also has provisions for you to include your family members in the application process.
Q. What does the Employer Nomination Program mean?
A. In simple terms, this program allows a company to nominate a chosen applicant for a relevant position in their organization. A nomination will allow the applicant to apply for a visa which in turn will let them live and work in Australia as a permanent resident. Employer Nomination Program is dependent upon the labour needs of the Australian job market.