Australian Skilled Visa Overview (GSM stream)

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Quick Overview of an Australian Skilled Visa Application

Points tested Australian Skilled Visas subclass 189, 190 and 491 visas

Immigration Library facts and information

GSM (General Skilled Migration) Visa Applications are a 3 Step Process

You must complete step 1 before step 2, and can only get to step 3 (the visa application) following step 2

Step / StageWhat is this ?Average Processing Time
Get a Professional AssessmentOur lawyers will spend time with you to advise on your best pathway, options and then provide you with a detailed report
  • 24 to 48 hours including follow up consults with you

Skills Assessment

  • Your skills might need be assessed for the purposes of skilled migration by the relevant assessing authority for the occupation you nominated when you apply for a GSM visa
  • An assessing authority checks that you meet the standards they set for your occupation. The standards include university or trade qualifications for your occupation as well as relevant work experience
  • Assessments are valid for 3 years from their issue date unless a shorter period is listed on the assessment
  • Pre application: Takes most applicants around 2 to 4 weeks to prepare and gather all the documents / evidence for the assessment
  • Processing by the Skills Assessment Authority: Takes between 4 and 16 weeks* (depends on the occupation and authority)

EOI stage

+ a State sponsorship Stage if you apply for a 190 or 489 visa

  • An expression of interest (EOI) is a pro forma application to show your interest in applying for a skilled visa for a GSM visa
  • The EOI is lodged online via the DoHA’s SkillSelect portal.
  • Invite rounds are held on the 11th of each month
  • It is essential that all claims made in the EOI can be verified if you are invited for a visa
  • Invite rounds held once a month on the 11th
  • an Invite for a 189 visa is based on numerous factors e.g. points total, number of places for the specific occupation and other policy items
  • 189 applicants: High points applicants (75+) typically receive an invite within 30 – 60 days. 70 point applications can take longer (depends on the occupation) and at 65 points, you can potentially have a wait time of up to 2 years or more
  • 190 & 491 Applicants: Invite for the visa received pretty much instantly after a state approves your sponsorship
    • State sponsorship applications: The state has to invite you to apply for state sponsorship (can take several months) and the state processing varies between 2 to 8 weeks

The Visa stage

  • The actual main visa application

Typical things you need to do and have ready

  1. Complete your English test (must be done for you to lodge an EOI)
  2. Ensure that you can verify and evidence all your claimed employment
  3. Have all your ID documents ready e.g. passport, unabridged birth certificates, marriage / divorce documents, ID documents, drivers licences etc
  4. Have copies of all your qualifications, including transcripts

The basic criteria to apply for a GSM (general skills migration) visa


  • You should ideally be under age 45 at time of application for a skills based visa (employer sponsored visas can be applied for when you are over 50 but conditions apply).
  • You can claim points for age up to age 44.
  • The only realistic option for applicants over 45 would be the employer sponsored or regional employer sponsored pathways (or business stream/ investors etc)

Nominated occupation

  • You must be able to nominate an occupation on the STSOL or MLTSSL (skills occupation lists)
    • MLTSSL occupations requires state sponsorship in order to apply for a visa (the state governments support occupations on the STSOL or MLTSSL based on specific skills shortages in that state).
    • BUT do note, the states each have their own list of occupations they sponsor and NOT all occupations on the STSOL are sponsored. Furthermore, the states have specific requirements in order to sponsor.
    • Eligible Family in Australia can also sponsor you if you have an occupation on the MLTSSL
      • Eligible family means close family eg siblings / uncles / aunts / 1st cousins (in select cases only) and then step versions of these.
      • Eligible family must be settled permanent residents or citizens of Australia, and live in a specific designated part of Australia (e.g not Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth etc)
  • to nominate an occupation (for visa purposes), you have to have the right set of qualifications PLUS work experience for that occupation. Post graduate work experience is very important, and you need the points claimed for post grad work experience in most instances
  • In the majority of cases, to qualify for a visa (based on your nominated occupation), you need either a bachelors degree OR a formal regulated apprenticeship to meet the base criteria or points test criteria

Work experience

  • Work experience must be relevant to your qualifications.
    • Work is defined as a min 20 hrs per week (paid work) in your nominated or closely related occupation
  • In most cases, you need at least 3 years work experience in your nominated or closely related occupation (and those over 40 need at least 8 years work experience)
  • work experience is critical as the minimum requirement is to have some post graduate work experience  to claim work experience points (this means, after you met the academic or training requirements, or trade qualification for the occupation you will nominate), and in many cases, this extends to 3 years post grad work experience (to enable you to claim any points for work experience, 3 years post grad is the min requirement).
  • To claim points for work experience you need either 3, 5 or 8 years post grad work experience.

Qualification skills assessment

  • The first step in a GSM application is called a skills assessment. (always step one in any skills application) This is basically where a specific authority determine whether your qualifications and work experience meet the base criteria for migration.
  • This is determined by the specific authority tasked with setting the standards for the occupation nominated (there are 20+ of these authorities for all the different occupations).
  • The skills assessment is an assessment of your qualifications AND work experience.
  • In most instances, the minimum academic requirement is either a bachelors degree OR a formal apprenticeship (trade training) .
  • Note however, unless you have a formal diploma (2 or 3 year diploma) or degree or completed formal trade training, you can not claim any points for qualifications. Therefore, managers and IT applicants, without formal qualifications, would most likely only meet the pass mark if they achieve an IELTS score of 8 for each part, and have 8 years work experience etc

Other considerations

  • English language abilities
    • IELTS test or similar
    • The majority of people need to score at least 7 (from 9) for all 4 categories of the IELTS test, and those over 40, generally need to score 8/9 for all 4 categories of the IELTS test
  • specific work experience in e.g. Australia
  • Spouse / partner points can be claimed if your spouse meets ALL criteria in terms of IELTS, occupation, qualifications & work experience (and partner must have an occupation on the same occupations list as your occupation)
  • Family sponsorship:  Family can only sponsor if they reside in a designated area (generally in a rural area)


  • You cannot apply for a “work visa” as such. When you apply for a visa, the visa will either allow you to work (e.g. a skilled visa) OR not (e.g. a visitors visa)
  • You can apply for an employer sponsored visa (you get a temporary residence visa (called a TSS), or in select cases, an employer can sponsor you for a permanent residence visa. BUT you can only apply for these visas if you have a job offer in hand (which must meet minimum salary levels, and in many cases also minimum qualification / work experience levels) from an eligible employer (generally the employer must show that they have been in business a while, can afford to sponsor you etc)

Briefly therefore, what you need to show:

  1. The points test pass mark = 65 (in most instances, you realistically need at least 80+ points to receive a 189 visa invite, and 80 (including state points)  for a 190 visa (and 85+ for a 491 visa)
  2. Have an occupation on the STSOL or MLTSSL (and if on the STSOL have options for a state to sponsor you)
  3. Have the correct qualifications AND work experience (tasks & duties similar to that of the occupation you nominate) for the occupation you nominate
  4. Meet the skills assessment criteria for the occupation you nominate
  5. Meet the age, and English criteria
  6. Meet health and character criteria

Next Steps

To determine your visa eligibility, register with us for a comprehensive assessment report and we will assist and advise you on your options, requirements, costs and eligibility.

Visa Solutions Fees and Processing Times

Service Level

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Processing Time

Managed Visa Application
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Australian Government Fees and Processing Times

Government Item

Government Fee and Processing Time

Visa Application Charge:
Main Applicant
AU$ 4,045
Visa Application Charge:
AU$ 2,020
Visa Application Charge: 
Per Child
AU$ 1,015
Additional Requirements
English Test Outcomes are required for the EOI stage, Medicals and Police Clearances required only after main visa application has been lodged
Average Government Processing Time
6 to 8 months [excludes skills assessment processing time, EOI and state sponsorship application time (if applicable)]

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