Australia manages its Skilled Independent Migration Visa Application Program, through an Expression of Interest (EOI), points based, "SkillSelect" program through the Subclass 189, 190 and 491 skilled visas (NB: on the 16th November 2019 the 489 was replaced by the 491 visa).
To be eligible to submit an Expression of Interest the visa applicant must hold the appropriate qualifications and work experience for an occupation that is considered in demand in Australia, and is listed as eligible in respect of the visa. Skilled Independent visas do not require you to find an employer to nominate your visa application.
It is not possible to apply for a Skilled Independent visa directly. Prospective applicants are first required to submit an Expression of Interest, detailing how they fit the selection criteria. These individual criteria provide each applicant with a points score. Applicants with scores (currently) over 65 are eligible to submit an Expressions of Interest. Expressions of Interest are placed into a 'pool of EOIs' for up to two years.
Skilled Individual 189 (491 family sponsored visas) Individuals are selected from the EOI pool, during regular rounds of invitations. Invitations are issued to applicants with the highest-ranking points scores (this score varies over time). There is a quota of places for each invitation round/occupation and due to high demand several popular occupations are offered on a pro-rata basis targeting higher scoring applicants.
The Expression of Interest is not static and an applicant who has submitted an EOI can still gain, and loose, points over time (e.g. if the applicants age, or the number of years experience in the nominated occupation changes over time) this can increase or decrease their score and therefore the likelihood of being drawn from the pool. The consequence of the SkillSelect system for 189 visa applicants is that, depending upon your points score, submitting an EOI may not result in an invitation to apply for a visa. The competition with other applicants as well as other factors influence the likelihood of being invited to apply for a visa and this can vary over time.
State Sponsored subclass 190 and 491 visas are invited to apply for a visa in a different manner. Applicants must still meet the minimum points score required to submit an EOI. In order to receive an invitation to apply for a state sponsored visa the applicant must first be nominated by a state/territory. In exchange for state/territory nomination the applicant is required to commit to living and working in the nominating state/territory for a period of at least 2 years after the visa is granted.
To check your points we have a Points Calculator
Additional Selection Criteria: In addition to the Points Score there are a range of additional Selection Criteria for the skilled independent visa options including that the main applicant should:
- be under 45 (at time of invitation - NB not EOI)
- hold a valid positive skills assessed required for the nominated occupation
- have at least Competent English language skills
- score at least 65 on the points test: Points Calculator)
- meet health and character criteria (all applicants)
- partners and dependent family members may be included in the application