Skilled Migration

Skilled Migration also referred to as General Skilled Migration (GSM) is made up of independent , nominated and sponsored skilled migration. They are different but they form part of the overall Skilled Migration program. The terminology is confusing however because categories include independent skilled categories as well as employer, family, state and regionally nominated and sponsored categories.


SkillSelect, is the mandatory system designed to meet market demand for skilled labour. The SkillSelect process is initiated by the lodgement of an Expression of Interest (EOI).

The Department of Home Affairs ( DHA) uses the tools below to ’select’ applicants to receive an invitation from the SkillSelect database based upon the following factors:

  • Choosing an eligible occupation from the MLTSSL and the STSOL;
  • Entry English language ability;
  • A positive skill assessment from an authorised assessor; and
  • Passing the Point Test (points test pool score  is now 65). The DHA is able to manipulate the entry point score generally (for all applications) or for specified in-demand occupations (such as accountant (95), certain engineers (90-95) and selected ICT occupations (90)). The general entry score and scores for selected occupations can vary over the program year.

*SkillSelect is also the portal for the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) but this information on this page is limited to GSM visas:

worker while doing a welding with arc welderA basic explanation of the procedure:

Stage 1 Applicant submits an online EOI.  Before doing so applicants should complete a mandatory skill assessment and English language testing so they can accurately record their information for ranking purposes. When the EOI is lodged, the applicant will need  to include basic biographical and other occupation and work experience information. They may also register their interest in one or more visa programs depending on their eligibility and personal preferences.

The GSM visas that this will affect include the independent, family sponsored, State or Territory nominated and business skills visas. At this stage, it will be important for applicants to have a good understanding of which visas they are eligible to apply for. It is important that applicants keep all of their options open, so please seek our advice to ensure that you register your interest in as many options as possible.

Stage 2 – Upon meeting the current mandatory points score independently for the Skilled Independent SC189 visa or including a nomination from a State & Territory and nomination points to reach 65 points for the Skilled Nominated SC190  visa and Skilled Work Regional (Provisional ) (State & territory nominated) SC 491 visas, a formal invitation will be issued by the DHA to make a skilled migration visa application. Invitations from the MLTSSL are issued on a highest points basis and are competitive, whereas for the nominated visas (which can include occupations on the MLTSSL) once the score of 65 is reached with or without points but always with a nomination, an invitation is issued automatically.

Stage 3 After receiving an invitation to lodge an invitation for one of the selected options, a visa application together with supporting information substantiating the information noted in the EOI must be lodged within sixty (60) days from the invitation date.

Selected employers (both state and territory governments and authorities and non-government alike) will also be able to access the SkillSelect database to offer applicants non-points tested temporary skilled employer sponsorship (Temporary Skill Shortage visa program) or permanent employer nomination (Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) SC186  visa or Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) SC494 visa . Once selected the visa application procedure will continue separately for whichever visa was selected and is not a part of the SkillSelect procedure.

Ranking and take-up of invitation

EOI’s will be ranked in accordance with the points claimed against the skilled migration points test, at the time of the EOI submission.(time of effect).

The time of effect will be updated each time the intending migrant amends their EOI resulting in a change to their points test score or eligibility for a visa subclass. If an intending migrant changes their information, but it does not change their points score or eligibility, this will not alter their date of effect for the purposes of ranking against a particular subclass of visa.

The Points Test  allocates values to the core indicators such as:

  • Age (under 45 after 1 July 2017),
  • English-language ability (Superior, Proficient or Competent – Functional for adult dependents);
  • Relevant work experience (both inside and outside Australia – maximum 20 points);
  • Qualifications (Doctorate, Bachelor, Diploma, trade qualification or award recognised by the assessor)
  • Specialist qualifications (A Masters degree by research or a Doctorate degree from an Australian educational institution that included at least two academic years in a relevant field).
  • State or territory nomination points;
  • Other factors (Accredited community language, Partner points, Australian study points)

Ranking is an objective and automated process.Invitations for migration under GSM visa categories are now issued  monthly -see below:

SkillSelect scores released for the 11 April 2020 show that for the independent visas including the pro-rata occupations listed, scores have remained at very high levels half-way through the new program year  commencing on 1 July 2019.

Point scores and the dates of effect cut off  for the pro-rata occupations in the 11 April 2020 invitation round.

The highest ranked clients by points score are invited to apply for the relevant visa. For clients who have equal points scores, the time at which they reached their points score for that subclass (referred to as the date of effect) determines their order of invitation. Expressions of Interest with earlier dates of effect are invited before later dates.

Visa subclass Minimum points score
Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189)              95
Skilled Work Regional (provisional) visa (subclass 491) Family sponsored              95

Due to high levels of demand, and in keeping with previous years, certain occupations -Accountant/Auditors (95), certain engineering  and ICT will be subject to pro rata arrangements to ensure availability of invitations across the program year.

SkillSelect first allocates available places to Skilled – Independent visas (subclass 189) and then the remaining to Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visas (subclass 491). If all places are taken up by subclass 189 visas then there will be no invitations issued for subclass 491 visas in these occupations.

Please contact us if you require further information on these occupations.

Occupation ceilings do not apply to State or Territory Nominated, Employer Sponsored or Business Innovation and Investment visa sub-classes.

State & Territory nomination (and shortage lists – see below)
The likely result of this will be to force more applicants to consider the State and Territory nominated and sponsored visas. However in doing so applicants should consider the various state and territory restrictions or additional conditions which may be applied by states and territories in these competitive times, because will not want to be seen as taking ‘the leftovers’.

Where applicants require state or territory nomination for the points-tested categories like the Skilled Nominated sc 190 and Skilled Work Regional sc491 visas, the process requires the applicant to lodge the EOI whilst nominating the preferred state or territory. Provisional points will be allocated upon lodgment of the EOI subject to nomination. The practice of states or territories vary (some will offer an invitation to apply for nomination (in certain occupations) whereas others allow direct application) but we recommend – applicants ensure that the nominator’s criteria can be met before lodging the EOI. Upon nomination approval (regardless of the approval process) points will be confirmed and invitations will be issued. by DHA State and Territory nomination links:

See:  State and Territory Migration plan lists on the Skilled Nominated (sc190 ) visa and  the Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (sc491) visa pages.

Some points related issues

English language testing  for designated visas (points tested, employer sponsored and nominated and partner visas)

English testing is required for all permanent (and some temporary) visas where applicants do not hold passports from the specified  countries listed below:

  • The United Kingdom;
  • New Zealand;
  • The Republic of Ireland;
  • The United States; and
  • Canada.
English testing 

Various English testing options are available  to establish the required level of English required  including IELTS (and if in Australia),  Pearson (PTE Academic), OET and TOEFL iBT. The scores benchmarked  to the IELTS definitions are listed below.

IELTS has an on-line test format available to applicants called Computer Delivered IELTS and this has been designed to make it easier  to take the test at their convenience from their location.

English language testing comparative table:

English Language
proficiency level
Test component IELTS    TOEFL
Pearson PTE
 CAE     OET 
Functional (TSS family members) Average/total/overall across test 4.5 32 30 147 n/a

Vocational (for TSS visas-

main applicants only)

Listening 5.0 4 36 154 B
Reading 5.0 4 36 154 B
Writing 5.0 14 36 154 B
Spea​king 5.0 14 36 154 B

Competent (qualification


Listening 6.0 12 50 169 B
Reading 6.0 13 50 169 B
Writing 6.0 21 50 169 B
Speaking 6.0 18 50 169 B
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 7.0 24 65 185 B
Reading 7.0 24 65 185 B
Writing 7.0 27 65 185 B
Speaking 7.0 23 65 185 B
(for points tested Skilled visas)
Listening 8.0 28 79 200 A
Reading 8.0 29 79 200 A
Writing 8.0 30 79 200 A
Speaking 8.0 26 79 200 A

Extra Community Language Points for Skilled Migration

You can score an additional 5 points in the points test for skilled migration if you have “credentialed community language qualifications”.

To obtain the community language points, you must be accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) at the para-professional level (Level 2) or higher. At time of writing, NAATI offered accreditation exams in the following languages:

  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Auslan
  • Bangla
  • Bosnian
  • Bulgarian
  • Burmese
  • Cantonese
  • Chinese
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Dari
  • Dinka
  • Dutch
  • Filipino
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hazaragi
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Lao
  • Macedonian
  • Malay
  • Mandarin
  • Nepali
  • Nuer
  • Oromo
  • Persian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Pushto
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Samoan
  • Serbian
  • Sinhalese
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Tamil
  • Tetum
  • Thai
  • Tigrinya
  • Tongan
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

Pearson Academic PTE


Pearson PTE Academic has announced that testing in Australia has resumed with test centres now offering exams in all capital cities and several regional locations.

In addition, testing has also resumed in a number of key global locations including China, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand.

More about the availability of testing by country is available here.

New look PTE Score Report for Test Takers

On the 19 May 2020 the format of the PTE Academic Score Report changed.

The information contained in the PTE Academic score report remains the same, however it now appears in a clearer format and is aligned to the view of score report available in the Score Reporting website.

Government, professional bodies and institutions are aware of this change and have been reminded to use the Score Report Code as the unique identifier to verify scores online.

More about the Score Report changes is available here.

My PTE Launch

PTE has also announced the launch of My PTE, a single environment for test-takers to discover, book, prepare, manage and track their PTE testing and learning experience.

The improved account functionality includes a mobile optimised experience, enhanced test availability and seat search capabilities, access to all test and prep resources in one place with single sign on, upgraded multiple parental consent options and more.




It is essential if preparing your own EOI, that any /all information inputted on-line is accurate and can be verified at that time because if an invitation is issued, the points will be frozen in time. All points claimed must be proved. If you are unable to do so, then this will render your visa application invalid.


If invited by DHA to apply, the applicant will have 60 days in which to lodge the visa application. If a visa application is not lodged within this time-frame, the invitation will become null and void. The EOI will remain in the database and the applicant may be eligible for selection in the next or subsequent invitation round.

Please note:

It is important to note the the EOI is not a visa application so lodgment will not result in a bridging visa. Applicants must have an existing visa to apply for an EOI, but in a helpful departure, bridging visas A, B and C holders will be able to lodge an EOI. Applicants must understand that SkillSelect is different to the processing of applications in order of receipt subject to processing priorities.

An invitation to apply will depend upon ranked score and occupation ceilings, so there is no guarantee that an invitation will be made if a score is too low (but still be 60 or above) in a popular occupation.

Next steps:

If you don’t feel confident registering your EOI personally and wish to appoint us to ensure the best result and continuity if you are offered an invitation – with the capacity to lodge a visa application within 60 days – then please go to our Contact page and request our assistance.

Skill Assessment for migration purposes

The explanation above confirms that a positive skill assessment from the relevant skill assessing authority is required before you can lodge an EOI. We receive many queries as to the equivalence of educational qualifications and non trades occupations this can be verified visa the NOOSR web-site. For trade occupations however the question of equivalency is more hit and miss , which makes it difficult for us to advise you categorically because everyone ‘s circumstances differ. There are several web-sites which attempt to list equivalent Australian AQF and C&G and NVQ or SNVQ qualifications from the UK, but this can be tricky for the same reason. I have included a statement from Trade Recognition Australia (TRA) from their web-site FAQs which addresses this matter in relation to the equivalence of certain trade qualifcations:

‘TRA will accept an NVQ 2 as a comparable qualification in some cases and for some occupations. Generally, TRA considers the United Kingdom NVQ 2 to be at a level broadly comparable with that of the AQF Certificate III that is required for the majority of occupations assessed by TRA. However, training programs leading to an NVQ 2 can be highly varied in their content, duration and delivery methods. For this reason, TRA cannot guarantee that your NVQ 2 will be accepted in all cases. 

 When assessing your NVQ 2, TRA will look at the length of your training or apprenticeship period and the subjects you studied for your qualification.  Your NVQ 2 will not be accepted if it is missing components which are major requirements of the comparable Australian qualification for your occupation.  For example, the NVQ 2 in Gas Network Operations is not accepted for Gasfitters because it does not include training in gas appliances, flues or ventilation as is required in the relevant Australian qualification for that occupation, the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Certificate III in Gasfitting.

 If you decide to use an NVQ 2 as the main qualification in your TRA application, you should ensure that you have included detailed evidence of the training that you did to receive your qualification.

 Please note that TRA considers the NVQ 2 to be at most comparable to an AQF Certificate III.  Some occupations require a comparable level of qualification higher than a Certificate III. In these cases, your NVQ 2 will not be accepted as comparable.’

For further information on these issues or Skilled Independent, Skilled Nominated or Skilled Regional visas please click on the links.