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Points Tested Visas – understanding the minimum requirements

When you work in a policy area it is important to talk to the people who have a personal interest in the work you are doing. Recently we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak to a group of international students at the Australian National University in Canberra. For one of us it brought back memories of hours spent in that very lecture theatre, though this time, with a different view from up the front.

Before explaining the visa options available within the skilled migration program, the first point we wanted to make to students was to explain the difference between the student visa program and the skilled migration program. The differences might seem obvious but it is important to distinguish the purpose of each program because students shouldn’t make their decisions about choice of study for the wrong reasons.

We are often asked by students what they should study in terms of meeting skilled migration requirements. The skilled migration program’s aim is to meet the needs of the Australian economy.
As the economy changes the program has to be flexible so it can respond quickly to these changes. Because requirements can and do change, there can be no guarantee of a migration outcome for students, so students should choose to study courses which they are interested in, rather than studying a course that they think will help them reach a migration outcome.

After delivering the presentation we answered a number of questions, and it struck us that there is often a misunderstanding about the minimum requirements needed to apply for a visa and points awarded through the points test.

Minimum requirements need to be met before a person even considers self-assessment of the number of points they may be eligible for under the points test. Minimum requirements for a points tested visa are:

• is under 50 years of age;
• demonstrates competent English;
• nominates an occupation that is on the SOL; and
• provides a positive skills assessment in their nominated occupation by the relevant assessing authority.

Those applying directly from a student visa will also need to have recently completed recognised study in Australia.

There are other visa options within the program for those applicants who do not meet the minimum requirement of recent study in Australia. Those applicants who have evidence of recent skilled employment in any skilled occupation on the SOL can also meet the minimum requirement for points tested visa, those visas are granted outside of Australia.

Some of the skills and attributes needed to satisfy the minimum requirements can also separately earn points through the points test, and this is where the confusion lies. For example, while competent English is one of the minimum requirements to make an application, a person can also be awarded points for higher English language skills through the points test. Another example is age. While applicants need to be under 50 years of age to submit an application, the points test also awards points for age depending on how old (or how young) a person is.

This post highlights the minimum requirements. There is more detailed information about the points test and visa options on the department’s website. Where people are interested in applying for a points tested visa, we suggest they first go through all the minimum requirements, and if they meet those – then check to see if they reach the pass mark of 65 points.

We hope this information makes the application process clearer but it is important to remember a student visa is a temporary visa and there can never be a guarantee of a permanent migration outcome.

Thanks to all those students who came to our presentation and we wish you all the best with the rest of your studies, and hope you enjoy your time and experience in Australia.

Comments (6)


Hi Sir, if an applicant is aged 43, has 12 years work experience in an overseas company and recently went to Australia as a student and finished a course there (Accountancy), should he pursue a points-tested visa or are there better alternatives considering his age will not get him enough points to reach pass mark 65?



Hi Oliver,

Thank you for your question. As you are aware, there are a number of skills and attributes for which points can be awarded, including age, English, qualifications, skilled employment and Australian study, amongst others.

Under the points test, an applicant who applies at the age of 43 would be eligible for 15 points. Whether they reach the pass mark or not will depend on their eligibility for points for other attributes. If an applicant meets the minimum requirements explained in the post above, they can self-assess the number of points they may be eligible for here.

Where an applicant finds they do not meet the points test pass mark they can find further information about other visa options using the ‘Visa Wizard’ on the Department’s website.

Obviously we can’t give you a definitive assessment on the blog, but hopefully these links will help you make a well informed decision.


The government is making it harder for genuine organisations to bring in skilled labour, this will only increase the demand in "the black market". I cannot understand how qualified tradesmen from some European countries are denied visas while we are flooded daily with offers of labour from Middle Eastern countries who are not qualified and who cannot speak any English. How can that be so?


Dear Jacinta,

Thanks for your comment.

First and foremost, it is important to remember that Australia runs a non-discriminatory migration program. As indicated in our original post, the points test is a mechanism for the Australian Government to ensure that those people with the skills and attributes that the Australian economy needs are given preference when applying for a skilled migration visa. One of the attributes in the points test is the requirement that applicants have English language skills.

For employers there are several avenues that can be pursued to sponsor skilled migrants to come to or remain in Australia. There are permanent and temporary visa options for employers to hire migrants for the short or longer term. There are also minimum requirements for these visas that all applicants must meet. More information about employer sponsored visas can be found on our website.


I work with 100's of students through my Backpackers hostel in Brisbane and its information like this which they constantly seek and ask me about. I recommend you work with the universities who bring them over to better educate the international students.


Hi Karin,

Thank you for the information. I know there are certain skills that are in high demand, carpenters being one of them. My point is that the english knowlege test doesn't prevent exploitation and because it is so much harder to bring in qualified people the ones that were doing the wrong thing will continue to do so and continue to not only exploit the staff as well as the system. 457 visa holders are turning up without english and that aren't qualified. My question is how can this happen? There are many falling through the cracks and immigration isn't catching them, while the rest of us that continually obey the rules are giving up on the system.

Thank you