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Changes to points-tested skilled migration visas

Reforms to Australia’s skilled migration program take effect on 1 July 2012. Included in these reforms are changes to points tested skilled migration visas for migrants who wish to live and work in Australia without employer sponsorship.

Simplifying eligibility requirements, the changes include the introduction of three new points tested skilled migration visas:

  • Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa
  • Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa
  • Skilled Regional Sponsored (subclass 489) (provisional) visa.  

The distinction between onshore and offshore points tested visas and some threshold requirements will be removed – with more importance being placed on the points test to find the best suited independent skilled migrants.

If you want to apply for one of the three new points tested skilled migration visas you will still need to:

  • nominate a skilled occupation on the relevant skilled occupation list
  • be under 50 years old
  • have competent English skills.

From 1 July, if you are interested in a points-tested skilled migration visa you will need to complete an expression of interest in SkillSelect. SkillSelect is a new online system where skilled workers interested in migrating to Australia can record their details to be considered for a skilled visa. Only those who are invited by the Australian Government can lodge a visa application.

More information about the changes to the points tested skilled migration visas is available on our website.

Post your questions about the new visas below. As always we cannot provide case-specific advice, but we can answer general questions you may have.

Comments (185)

I think what is really missing from the points system is lack of points for people who have an offer of employment from an Australian employer and for whatever reason the employer is not willing to sponsor them for the employer nominated scheme. this is a significant factor for immigrants who are settling in a new country and already have arranged their job in advance

Mike, thanks for your comment. You make a good point that skilled migrants with jobs already arranged have a better chance of success. You may be interested to know the results of the department’s Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants found the best employment outcomes for new migrants were for employer nominiated migrants. Next best were independent skilled migrants who were coming from overseas.

That is one of the reasons why employer nominiated skilled migration has become a much bigger part of the skilled program over the past five years (it is now about 40% of the program – up from about 18% five years ago). This is the part of the program that is designed to address short term skills needs and employers have increasingly been using this stream to address immediate skills needs. Some reforms to ENS were recently announced that are designed to streamline use of the scheme for employers. Our website has more information: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/whats-new-esw.htm#9march

With so many employers and migrants using ENS, there is no provision in the points test for an employment offer. We know some countries do, or have had, points for an employment offer. We think the ENS and RSMS arrangements adequately cover skilled migration options for people already with employment, although they do require a nominiation, not just an offer. The points tested part of the program is designed to meet medium to long term skills needs, which is why it is focused on a limited number of occupations in medium to long term shortage and on well rounded individuals skilled in those occupations. Selecting the skilled migrants with the optimal mix of skills and attributes provides those migrants without an employer sponsor, with the best chance of finding employment and settling in Australia.

Hi, I am a former international student working as an engineer in WA for almost one year. I will be applying for visa 190 in this coming July but i only have 60 points unless i obtain WA State Sponsorship. My question is, do i apply for State Sponsorship to qualify myself for 65 points before lodging the EOI or after the EOI? And also, how frequent will DIAC invite the candidates for permanent visa application?

Many Thank.

Hi Henry,

If you want to be nominated by a state or territory government for skilled migration, you can enquire with the relevant government agency first about nomination, before submitting your EOI. Alternatively, you can select the state/territory nomination option when you submit an EOI and you may be contacted through SkillSelect by a government agency to organise nomination. You don't have to have the pass mark score to make an EOI.

We also expect that the program will search the available EOIs to make invitations once a month, subject to occupation ceilings.

Thanks for the question.

Hi Kelvin,

Thanks for your questions.

You’re right in saying that if you meet all the requirements, you’ll still be able to apply for an 885 visa after 1 July 2012 and up to 1 January 2013. This is the case for transitional applicants and for non-transitional applicants. The 885 visa regulations will not change on 1 July 2012, so if you do apply for this visa before 1 January 2013, you will still need to meet the same basic requirements for it that you do now. For non-transitional applicants, this includes things like having to nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List current at the time of application.

More information about the 885 visa, including eligibility requirements, can be found at these links:

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/transitional/885/ (for transitional applicants)

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/885/ (for all other applicants)

By that I mean those who are waiting for approval of their 485 visa application or those who already held a 485 visa

By that I mean can those who are waiting for approval of their 485 visa application or those who already are holding a 485 visa still apply for this subclass AFTER 01/07/2012 and before 01/01/2013?

Hi ,

I would like to know the points for working in regional area for 2 years.

I am aware of points for study in regional area but in my case its something different ,I did masters in Brisbane so unable to claim regional study points .presently Living in Regional area and working for 2 years in a Nominated skill,is there any way I can gain points for Regional area 2 years work experience?

I am on 485 visa which expires in July 2013 ,before that I would like to apply for PR . I am short of 10 points out of 65 .


Hi Bhaskar,

You’re right when you say that the points test awards points for study in a regional area. It also awards points for Australian skilled employment. For this requirement, it doesn’t matter where in Australia you are, but the work still has to be in your nominated skilled occupation or a closely related skilled occupation. As it says in our points table fact sheet, working more than one but less than three years in Australia would allow you to claim five points.

Remember that to have a chance at being invited, you will at least need to meet the pass mark, but you can put in an EOI that doesn't reach the pass mark and look for things like State/Territory nomination.

Hey,Im doing my masters in Information systems,,,, I got my student visa on March 2010 and will be finishing the course by this june.....Am i eligible for Visa 485???

Hi Vignesh,

Thanks for your question. The subclass 485 visa will not be a part of SkillSelect and will not be changing on 1 July 2012. This means that the requirements for the 485 visa will continue to be the same as they are now. More information about the 485 visa can be found at this link: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/485/

Perfect! Like this system so much. Very similar as the one in NZ - EOI system. Approved candidates released fortnight from the pool. Need more information about how AU's EOI work.

Hi Xi,

More information about the way expressions of interest will work can be found on the SkillSelect website: http://www.immi.gov.au/skills/skillselect/

We will continue to update our site with more information as we get closer to 1 July. Thanks for the comment.

I am a cook completed Diploma in Hospitality Management in April 2011, I just got TR
Am I rligable to apply PR?

Hi Tej,

Thanks for the question. You will find more information about the new visas in the fact sheets which I hyperlinked at the top in my original post. Having a look at these will be the best way to check if you will be eligible for one of the new visas from 1 July this year. You should also consider looking at information about employer sponsorship.

I did hold a student visa on 8 Feb 2010, and I will finish my degree in July this year, am I eligible to apply for a 885 visa till end of this year or only 485 visa holders on 8 Feb 2010 are eligible?

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your query. The subclass 885 visa will stay open to new applicants until 1 January 2013. Both 8 February 2010 transitional applicants and non-transitional applicants will still be able to apply for an 885 up to 1 January 2013, as long as they meet the visa requirements, which can be found at the following two links:

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/transitional/885/ (for transitional applicants)

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/885/ (for all other applicants)

You mean students who have 573 visa before 8 Feb 2010, but graduating end of this year, will not be subject to EOI?


Hi Victor

People eligible to lodge an application for a subclass 885, 886 or 487 visa will be able to do so until 31 December 2012 using the current application process, and will also be able to submit an EOI for one of the new visa subclasses under SkillSelect from 1 July 2012.

In relation to visa subclasses 885, 886 and 487, the Australian Government has provided transitional arrangements to former international students affected by the reforms to the skilled migration program. These transitional arrangements are in place until 31 December 2012. These visa subclasses will remain open to new applications (both those with access to transitional arrangements and other eligible applicants) after the introduction of SkillSelect on 1 July 2012 until they are closed on 31 December 2012.

We have information about this published on our website http://www.immi.gov.au/students/8-feb-students.htm

Thanks for the question and reply. I am completing Master of Information Systems in this June and results would be releasing on 29th June. I was so worried that there will be changes for 485 subclass. So I can apply for 485 in July. My student visa expires in March 2013. When I apply for 485, I should be in a bridging visa? when will this bridging visa starts? Does the bridging visa affect after student visa expires?

I have school age children. Do I have to pay school fees when on bridging visa?


Hi Eua,

Thanks for asking your question. Here is a link to information about bridging visas: http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/bridging.htm

School fees are not set by DIAC. They are a matter for the body running the school your children are attending, whether that be a state or territory education department or another body.

Just wondering when will you announce the maximum ceiling for each occupation in skill select. I remember DIAC had announced that further details regarding skill select will be released in April

Hi Adeep,

Thanks for the question.

We envisage that information about points will be published after invitations have been issued. What we mean by this is that you will be able to see at what points score people were invited in the last month. Although this number will change month to month, this will provide you with a helpful guide as to whether your points score is likely to be competitive.

At this stage, it hasn’t been confirmed what information about occupation ceilings will be released and when. Keep checking this Blog, as well as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website, for more information.

I am an international student. I have done diploma in community welfare in Melbourne . I am working as Aged care worker in Melbourne from last 3 years . I have also done diploma in general nursing in India and have worked as nurse in India for 3 years. I have got ielts score of 6 band each . Now I am on 485 visa .
So will my experience be counted as closely related to study and am I eligible for EOI .
Please guide me through. I am in big puzzle that how will I get eligible for Australian permanent residency after working as nurse and aged care worker.

Hi Aryan,

Thanks for your question.

Although your question is very specific, you may be interested to know that the points test requirements regarding whether skilled employment experience in a particular occupation is closely related to your nominated occupation are not changing with the introduction of SkillSelect.

Generally speaking, the department accepts occupations as being ‘closely related’ where the occupations fall within one unit group under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). Under ANZSCO, occupations are grouped together to form 'unit groups' which is reflected in the first four digits of the ANZSCO number. To determine if an occupation is closely related to their nominated occupation for skilled migration purposes, individuals should refer to the ANZSCO website for information about occupations in the same unit group as their nominated occupation. Information about ANZSCO is available from the website of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. See: www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/1220.0

What will change from 1 July will be that educational qualifications will not have to be closely related to your nominated occupation to attract points.

Not all educational qualifications or skilled employment experience will be awarded points however and the best thing to do is to consult our points test fact sheet above for more information on the types of qualifications and the length of experience necessary to attract points.

Just wanted to ask a question relevent to 885. As the 885 visa will be open to apply till the end of this year, do the transitional student and other students have to apply for this visa using skills select or they can apply for 885 using the current application system ( that is the current 65 points.)

Hi Yahya,

Although the 885 visa will continue to allow applications up to 1 January 2013, this will not be through SkillSelect but through the same application processes that exist at the moment.

You can also make an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect if you wish to, but you would be expressing interest in one of the new visa subclasses.

Thanks for the question.

Respected Robert,

After reading today's discussion , it appears to me that if i wish to lodge EOI for Subclass 489 provisional visa under skill select. There is no need to score 65 point to be invited to lodge this appication.
At this stage , i have 10 points short to reach the passing marks unless i apply for State/Territory nomination. How does State/Territory nomination works. Your suggestion will be highly appreciated.

Your's sincerely,

Hi Nabajit,

Thanks for the great question. The first thing to say is that your points score doesn’t have to meet the pass mark to submit an EOI. Remember that putting in an EOI can be for not just the points tested visas but also for others including employer sponsored visas.

You could put in an EOI without enough points to meet the pass mark and select the option in SkillSelect to be considered for State/Territory nomination, which does attract points. Once in the database, you could be nominated by a State or Territory government agency which would give you more points. Provided that with these points you then meet the pass mark, you could be eligible for an invitation.

Respected Robert,
Thank you so much for your information.
I would like to thank you again to DIAC for introducing this
new informative way to getting touch with the people that clears all your perception. Thanks again.

Your's sincerely,

Hi Robert,

When I look into skill select website for the visa 489, under visa requirements they clearly saying we need to have pass mark to submit EOI."In order to submit a complete EOI you must meet the points test pass mark. Your complete EOI will then be ranked on the basis of your claims against points test factors. Invitations will be issued to those who achieve the highest rankings, subject to the operation of the occupational ceiling." After reading this blog and comparing the website I am confused.

Will I be able to submit EOI for 489 visa with 55 points and selecting "available to all states “state/territory government nomination(By Expecting 10 pints for nomination to get pass mark 65)

Please help me, I am short of 10 points and I don't have state government or employer or relative sponsor .I can only get 10 points by scoring IETLS 7 in each module or Nomination by a state/territory government. I live in Queensland regional area where there is no state sponsorship available; I am a Software engineer working in a Telecommunication Company from 17 months.

Presently I am on 485 visa, Age is 28, Masters in IT, studied in Brisbane for 2 years, Ielts-6 in each, 1 year Australian experience, Assessed as software engineer by ACS (ANZSCO code 261313), Overseas experience 2years 2months as software engineer which is also assessed by ACS under ANZSCO code 261313.

Your suggestion and information is highly appreciated.

Dear Robert,

Regarding the future skill select, to be nominated by a State or Territory government agency under the visa that would give us 10 extra points (the future visa 489 i believe), is it not necessary to have 65 points under the general points list?

As i understood from your response to Nabajit, will we be able to apply to a state/territory nomination with 55 points general score?

Kind regards,

Hi Nuno,

Thanks for your question. Under SkillSelect, you won't receive an invitation unless you have at least the pass mark score. But you can submit an EOI with a score below the pass mark.

Let me explain - under the 190 and 489 visa options, points are available for state or territory government nomination. For the 190 visa it is 5 points and for the 489 visa it is 10 points. Because you can be nominated by a state or territory once you’re in SkillSelect, it is possible that you could submit an EOI with less points than the pass mark and be invited by a state, if the extra points that nomination gives you would lift your score up to the pass mark. Remember though that you would need to be nominated for a state or territory nominated visa and if you don’t get nominated, or if even with a nomination you don't reach the pass mark, then you won’t be invited to apply for a nominated visa.

Another important point is that you can still submit an EOI without sufficient points if you want to consider employer sponsorship as an option. Employer sponsored visas don't require a points test and SkillSelect will be a great way for potential employers to get in touch with people who might want to migrate under employer sponsorship.

Finally, as I've made clear before, it is important to remember that the pass mark is a tool that is designed to move to help manage the skilled migration program. It can move up or down, depending on what might be in Australia's interests. If it moves down, people who were just under the pass mark might then become eligible for an invitation. Any changes to the pass mark would be published on our website.

Hi Bhaksar,

Thanks for your great question. What we mean with the information under the 489 heading on the SkillSelect website is a reminder that only people who meet the pass mark can be invited to apply for a points-tested visa. Thanks to the comments from you, Nuno and others; we'll take another look at the information and see if we can make it clearer by adding some further text. While you can submit an EOI, if you don’t meet the pass mark, (including with the addition of any points for state or territory government nomination), then you won’t be invited.

If you don’t meet the pass mark without those extra points then you would not be invited for an independent visa. Also, if even with the nomination points you still don’t meet the pass mark, then you could not be invited for a state/territory nominated visa. But as I’ve explained to others, there may be other reasons why you would want to submit an EOI.

One such reason might be that you want submit an EOI without sufficient points as you want to consider employer sponsorship as an option, as SkillSelect will be a great way for potential employers to get in touch with people who might want to migrate under employer sponsorship.

Just wondering, I have a relative that is already a permanent residence in Australia and I just want to know if there is financial ceiling that they need to achieve in order for them to sponsor me for a Skilled Sponsored Visa?

Also, if they will file an application in May, should I still undergo the new system for lodging of application that will be implemented in July 2012?

Hello Bryan,

Thanks for the question.

At the moment, although there is not a financial ceiling that a family member has to meet to sponsor you, part of family sponsorship is that your family sponsor has to make a sponsorship undertaking. This includes agreeing to provide financial assistance as required to meet your reasonable living needs for up to two years from when you arrive in Australia.

You should also be aware that in the new points tested visas from 1 July, only the subclass 489 provisional visa will allow for family sponsorship.

To answer your second question, you can lodge an application for one of the current visa subclasses up to the day they close. So, if you want to apply for one of the current points tested visas in May as you’ve suggested, then your application will not be under SkillSelect.


Just wondering under EOI how to claim parnter bonus as one of the current condition is two year study/6 months completion or 1 year work exp in two years? Will the condition of Australian study/work exp requirement be removed under EOI system?

Thank you.

Hi Eric,

The Australian study requirement and the recent work experience requirement have been removed as minimum requirements. However, although they have been removed as minimum requirements, they still remain factors in the points test and you can still claim points for them (if you qualify for points through the work experience or Australian Study components of the points test).

You should also know that under the points test, you can claim points for your spouse or de facto partner if they apply for the same visa as you and, at the time you are invited, they are under 50, have at least competent English, have a nominated occupation on the skilled occupation list and have had their skills assessed as suitable by their nominated occupation’s assessing authority.

Don’t forget to have a look at our facts sheets which are at the following link: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/new-skilled.htm

Hi Robert

I am currently holding bridging visa A(for 485),which i applied on 25 august 2011, and i am expecting my visa(485) by august 2012. currently i am doing my Professional year course which is due complete on July 13 2012. if i complete PYP program, i will gain enough points(i.e 65).
My question is do i need to apply for EOI or i can directly apply for 885 before 1/1/2013.

Hoping for your kind response.

Hi Suresh,

You could do either, or both - the choice is yours. The completion of a Professional Year (PY) program will continue to attract points for points-tested visas under the new system from 1 July. So, once you’ve finished your PY program, you might want to submit an EOI for one of the new visas.

As we’ve already mentioned, the 885 visa will stay open for new applications until 1 January 2013.

Don’t forget, though, that the points test pass mark could change at any time and as always, you will need to look at the particular visa requirements of any visa you are looking at very carefully, to ensure that you meet those requirements.

Hi Currently I am on visa 485 and my background is Nursing from overseas. I am planning to complete my degree with one year program so currently I have 7 score in my ielts am I eligible to apply for PR after these changes? Or the English requirement is going to change for the nurses.

Thank you

I have 60 points as a secondary school teacher. I am newly qualified with no PAID experience. My aunt can sponsor me in Perth. Is that still an extra 10 points to bring me up to 70? Also, will there be a league table to show where each person is according to their points?

Hi Stephen

You’re right when you say that sponsorship by an eligible family member will attract ten points under the points test, but only for the 489 skilled regional (provisional) visa (which will be the only new visa that will allow for you to be sponsored by an eligible family member). You will also need to make sure that the family member that you are hoping to have sponsor you will be eligible to do so. For example, you might want to check with the following link to make sure that your sponsor lives in the required location: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/specified-regio...

There are no current plans by the Department to publish any kind of league table, which will show individuals’ rankings against each other. There is an intention to publish the score at which people are invited each month, so people can have an idea of what score invitations are issued at.

Thanks for the questions.

I think skillset is great initiative in terms of skilled migration but my only question is who will get invitation i.e those who have scored required 65 points or it's based on candidate profile or any other factors.

Suppose I am mechanical engineer professional with 65 points then, Is my invitation is confirmed ?? or there are other requirements.

My understanding till now is that ,if any one score say 70 points then he/she will be invited first than who have scored 65 points so its a cutoff based system just like taking admission in prestigious universities with a difference that professional fields of migrants will also be a big factor for recieving a invitation i.e Depends who is required more urgently eg:- engineers or accounts etc ete

Is my understanding is correct,please let me know ???

Hi Kirit,

Thanks for your question. The Department’s requirements for IELTS scores (including for points and for minimum requirements) are that the particular score is achieved in each of the four components. So, in your example, an overall band of 7 alone would not be enough to get 10 points – you would have to have 7 or higher in each component.


I am an engineer with 13 year work experiences including 1 year Australian and 12 years overseas. my wife is doing a PHD and she has applied for a processional assessment, but the VET cannot do the assessment before 1 July. At the end of the day, I will be the main applicant but we are not sure that we can lodge before 1 July. I am just wondering what is the affect of new changes in my case?

Thanks for your question Hassan

While we don't answer case specific questions on this blog, other people may have similar questions relating to this scenario. There are a number of options you may wish to consider.

If you meet the requirements for a points tested skilled visa prior to 1 July 2012, you can submit an application under the current system. While the new visas (189, 190 and 489) will be introduced from 1 July 2012, there will be a period of overlap where eligible people in Australia can continue to apply for the existing points-tested skilled migration visas. The 885, 886 and 487 visas will stay open for applications for six months until 1 January 2013.

People already in Australia who want to apply for a skilled migration visa during this period, including those eligible for transitional arrangements, can apply for a 885, 886 or 487 visa and/or submit an EOI for one of the new visas in this period if they wish.

hi how are you,
actually i got one question but i no really where should i leave my question to.
i just wonder what happen to 886 Australian sponsor applicant?it been hold for few week time. is that reaching the cap or some other reason?
or we can know how many quote for 886 relation?

Chow, we will be publishing information about the processing of the subclass 886 visas on our website today. Keep an eye out on this blog for a further update.