ICVS | Visa Services
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Visa Services

The Australian Immigration System contains over 120 different visa categories to suit various individual circumstances. The vast range can be difficult to negotiate and requires an in-depth knowledge of specific laws and conditions imposed by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Speak to us about how we can help you find the right visa.

General Skilled Migration

SkillSelect is an online portal operated by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). It is designed for skilled workers and business people interested in migrating to Australia to submit their details to be considered for a skilled visa through an Expression of Interest (EOI) scheme.

The three subclasses for General Skilled Migration within SkillSelect are:

  • Subclass 189 – Skilled independent (permanent)
  • Subclass 190 – Skilled nominated (permanent)
  • Subclass 489 – Skilled regional (provisional)

Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent visa

The subclass 189 visa is available for independent, or non-sponsored migration to Australia.

If eligible to apply for a subclass 189 visa, you do not need sponsorship by an employer, or nomination by a State or Territory. However, the processing time for these visas is longer than for sponsored or nominated visas, and an EOI is less likely to be selected.

If eligible to apply for this visa, you are able to include your partner, and dependents in the application, but (as of July 2013) there are additional charges for each applicant.

The basic prerequisites for the subclass 189 visa are:

  • You must have been invited to apply for the visa, after your Expression of Interest has been selected
  • You must score a pass mark of at least 60 points on the points test
  • You must have an occupation found on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL), and have the relevant qualifications and experience necessary to obtain a positive Skills Assessment for that occupation.
  • You must be under 50 years of age at the time of invitation
  • You must have at least competent English, which is generally classified as a score of at least 6 in each band in an IELTS test

If successful in applying for this visa, the visa holder is entitled to live permanently in Australia, in any area.

Subclass 190 – Skilled Nominated visa

The subclass 190 visa is available for State or Territory nominated sponsored migration to Australia.

To be eligible to apply for a subclass 190 visa, you need to be qualified for an occupation that has been nominated by a State or Territory, and you need to apply for nomination to that State or Territory. The processing time for these visas are shorter than for an independent visa, and if you apply successfully for State or Territory nomination, your EOI will be automatically selected from the pool.

If eligible to apply for this visa, you are able to include your partner, and dependents in the application, but (as of July 2013) there are additional charges for each applicant

The basic prerequisites for the subclass 190 visa are:

  • You must have been invited to apply for the visa, after your Expression of Interest has been selected.
  • You must score a pass mark of at least 60 points on the points test.
  • You must have an occupation found on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), and have the relevant qualifications and experience necessary to obtain a positive Skills Assessment for that occupation.
  • You must be under 50 years of age at the time of invitation.
  • You must have at least competent English, which is generally classified as a score of at least 6 in each band in an IELTS test.
  • You should be willing to settle in your Nominated State or Territory for a period of at least 2 years.

If successful in applying for this visa, the visa holder is entitled to live permanently in Australia.

 

Subclass 489 – Skilled Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) 

The Skilled Regional (Provisional) Subclass 489 visa is a 4-year provisional visa, which requires holders to live and work in a regional area to obtain permanent residence. To qualify, you would need to be sponsored by a relative living in a designated area.

SkillSelect Only Application

In order to apply for a Skilled Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) Subclass 489 visa, you must first lodge an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect and be invited by the Department of Immigration (DIBP) to apply.

Once you are invited to apply for a skilled visa, you must lodge your application within 60 days, otherwise the invitation lapses. Accordingly, it is very important that you have all required documentation prepared to lodge as soon as possible after receiving the invitation.

Employee Sponsored Visa (ENS) & Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)

 Permanent Sponsorship

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)

Subclass 186 Visas

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) results in a permanent visa for the sponsored employee. It is a common way for 457 visa holders to qualify for permanent residence, but has a higher skill level than the 457 visa.

ENS Stages

There are two stages to the ENS subclass 186 application:

  • Nomination: involves review of the business’ operations as well as the position offered to the employee
  • Visa Application: there are three possible pathways which may require a skills assessment, English language testing and health and police checks

Application Pathways

There are three possible application pathways for an ENS visa:

  • Temporary Residence Transition: where applicants have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. In this case, no skills assessment is required and an English level equivalent to IELTS 5 is required.
  • Direct Entry Stream: the employee will need to provide a formal skills assessment in their occupation, and show that they have worked in their occupation for three years. The required English level is IELTS 6 equivalent.
  • Agreement Stream: where the employer has a Labour Agreement

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 Visas

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme or RSMS visa is a permanent employer sponsored visa which requires a job offer in a Regional Area of Australia.

RSMS Application Stages

There are in general three stages to an RSMS application:

  • RCB Certification: the Regional Certifying Body will ensure that the position is genuine and in many cases require that the position has been advertised
  • Nomination: review of the business and position by the Department of Immigration
  • Visa application: there are three pathways, and generally the skill level is lower than for the ENS program. Applicants must be aged under 50, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

RSMS Regional Areas

In order to be granted an RSMS visa, the employee must be offered a position in a “regional area”. The regional areas are specified by postcode by the Department of Immigration.

The following are considered Regional areas for the purposes of RSMS sponsorship:

  • The whole of Western Australia
  • The whole of South Australia
  • The whole of Tasmania
  • The whole of ACT
  • The whole of Northern Territory
  • New South Wales (NSW) – all areas excluding: Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong
  • Victoria – all areas excluding Melbourne
  • Queensland- all areas excluding Brisbane

Application Pathways

There are three possible application pathways for an RSMS visa:

  • Temporary Residence Transition: where applicants have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. In this case, no RCB certification is required and an English level equivalent to IELTS 5 is required.
  • Direct Entry Stream: the position will need to be certified by an RCB, and the employee will need English level equivalent to IELTS 6. Applicants in trade occupations may require a formal skills assessment.
  • Agreement Stream: where the employer has a Labour Agreement

Benefits of Applying for RSMS over ENS visa

The requirements for RSMS are more straightforward than ENS in a number of important ways:

  • The employer does not need to meet the training requirement
  • The visa applicant requires a lower level of skill for the Direct Entry Stream – most applicants do not require a skills assessment, and there is no minimum work experience requirement
  • It is possible to apply for RSMS in a wider range of occupations than ENS
  • RSMS is the highest priority visa in the skilled migration stream
457 Visa

457 Temporary Business Sponsorship Visas

The 457 visa is the main visa used to sponsor employees to work in Australia. The employer can either be a business operating in Australia or overseas.

Most employers will apply for approval as a Standard Business Sponsor (SBS). The approval generally lasts for 3 years and there is a limit to the number of employees who can be sponsored over this time.

Criteria

The application for a company sponsorship visa consists of 3 parts:

  • Sponsorship Applying for approval as a business sponsor would require the business to provide details to show:
    • The sponsor is a lawful, operating business
    • The sponsor has the financial ability to meet its sponsorship obligations

The sponsoring business meets certain training benchmarks

  • Nomination: The employer must then apply for permission to sponsor an overseas resident to fill certain nominated position(s). The main criteria here are that:
    • The position is in an occupation on the CSOL (Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List); AND
    • The applicant is to be paid a base salary of at least the TSMIT (currently $53,900); AND
    • Terms and conditions of the employment are no less favourable than for an Australian in an equivalent position – in particular, the salary paid is at least at the market rate.

 

  • Visa Application: The employee would then apply for a visa to work in Australia to fill the nominated position. This would involve providing the following evidence:
    • That the employee has the required skills to fill the position and is eligible for any required licensing or registration
    • The employee meets the 457 English requirement
    • That the employee meets the health requirements for the visa and holds suitable health insurance.

Duration and Conditions

The 457 visa is valid for up to 4 years, and extensions are possible. The 457 visa is subject to a condition 8107 work restriction and can only work for the sponsoring employer, unless a different employer lodges a new nomination for the employee. The visa can be cancelled if the employee ceases employment for more than 90 days, and the employee must maintain their health insurance cover.

Temporary Graduate Visa

Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485)

This visa is for international students who have recently graduated from an Australian educational institution.

It lets you work in Australia temporarily after you have finished your studies.

The Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) lets you live, study and work in Australia temporarily after you have finished your studies. Students are only able to access the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) once as a primary applicant.

This visa has two streams:

  • Graduate Work stream – for international students with an eligible qualification who graduate with skills and qualifications that relate to an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). A visa in this stream is granted for 18 months from the date of grant.
  • Post-Study Work stream – for international students who graduate with a higher education degree from an Australian education provider, regardless of their field of study. This stream is only available to students who applied for, and were granted, their first student visa to Australia on or after 5 November 2011. A visa in this stream can be granted for up to four years from the date the visa is granted, depending on the visa applicant’s qualification.

If you are applying as the main applicant, you and anybody else covered by the application must be in Australia when you apply for this visa and when your visa is decided.

Business Skills Visa

Business Visas

The Australian Business Visa Program provides opportunities for successful business owners, investors and senior executives to settle in Australia with their family while developing new or existing opportunities in the Australian business market.

There is a new Business visa program available that started from 1 July 2012 through the SkillSelect program. Below are the current available pathways for people interested in obtaining a business visa in Australia:

  • Provisional visas – for business people to establish a new business, manage an existing business or invest in Australia. Provisional visas can later offer a pathway to permanent residence.
  • Permanent residence visas – for holders of a provisional visa who have established the required level of business in Australia. A direct permanent residence visa, without the need of a provisional visa is also available for high-calibre business people.

Business migrants who wish to obtain permanent residency must undergo a 2 stage visa progression. Applicants must first be granted a Business Skills (Provisional) Visa for 4 years and, after establishing the required level of business or maintaining their investment, they will be eligible to make an application for a Business Skills (Residence) Visa.

The second pathway is known as Business Talent Visa and it leads to direct permanent residence but is only open to high-calibre business migrants that are sponsored by a State/Territory Australian government.

 Provisional business skills visas

Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (subclass 188) visa

This visa has two streams.

  • The Business Innovation stream – for people who want to own and manage a new or existing business in Australia.
  • The Investor stream – for people who want to make an investment in an Australian state or territory and want to maintain business and investment activity in Australia after the original investment has matured.

To be eligible to apply for either stream, an applicant must fulfill certain requirements.

Applications are by invitation only. To be invited lodge an application, a person must first lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) with the SkillSelect system and be nominated by a state or territory government. The main requirements are:

  • Be less than 55 years of age.
  • Have a successful business or investment history.
  • Have the required personal and business assets.
  • Score at least 65 points on the innovation points test.

Innovation test points are awarded for:

  • Age
  • English language ability.
  • Experience in business or investments.
  • Net personal and business assets.
  • Business turnover.

There are other requirements that mainly depend on whether you apply for the Business Innovation stream or the Investor stream.

 

Permanent business skill visas

Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) visa

This is a permanent visa with two streams:

  • Business Innovation stream – designed for people who own and manage a business in Australia
  • Investor stream – designed for people who have a designated investment in an Australian state or territory and want to maintain business or investment activity in Australia after the original investment has matured.

To be eligible to apply for the Permanent Business Visa an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Already hold a provisional Business Innovation and Investment visa.
  • Have met the requirements of that visa (including the specific requirements for the stream in which they first applied).
  • Are nominated by a state or territory.

Business Talent (Permanent) (subclass 132) visa

The Business Talent Permanent Visa has also two streams.

  • The Significant Business History stream is for affluent owners or part owners of a business who want to have a major management role in a new or existing business in Australia.
  • The Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream is for business people who have obtained at least AUD $1.000.000 ($1 Million) in funding from an Australian venture capital firm.

 

Applications are by invitation only.

To be invited to apply, you must first lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI), be nominated by a state or territory government, and

  • Have personal and business assets of AUD $1.5 million (AUD $400 000 must be net assets in the business), and have a business turnover of AUD $3 million, or
  • Have obtained at least AUD $1 million in funding from an Australian venture capital firm for a promising high value business idea.
Partner Visa

Partner Visas 

Partners or fiancés of Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens may apply to enter and remain with their partner in Australia on permanent visas. Partner category migration may apply to:

  • Married partners
  • De facto partners
  • People intending to get married (fiancés)

There have recently been several changes to partner visas, including recognizing same-sex relationships under the de facto visa option, and removing the category of interdependency visas.

  • Partner – Temporary Visa (subclass 820) & Permanent Visa (subclass 801) (onshore)
  • Partner – Temporary Visa (Subclass 309) & Permanent Visa (Subclass 100) (offshore)
  • Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300) (offshore)
Parent Visa

Parent visas

Parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents, or eligible New Zealand citizens may apply to migrate to Australia under two different categories of parent visas to remain with their children. These are:

  • Parent; or
  • Contributory parent

All parent visas require sponsorship, usually by their Australian child, and all visa subclasses are restricted in what welfare benefits the parent can claim upon arriving in Australia.

The Department places a limit on the number of parent visas granted in each financial year. As a result, there are large numbers of parents who satisfy the requirements for the visa, but who must wait in a lengthy queue before their visa is granted. This waiting time is significantly less for the Contributory Parent visa, however these visas are more expensive.

Which visa Subclass?

There are a number of visa Subclasses for parents. The right visa Subclass for you and your parent will depend on whether the parent is aged, whether the parent is in Australia at the time of application, and how much you are willing to pay for the visa. There are also temporary or permanent options – the benefit of temporary visas is that the significant costs are spaced over a few year period instead of payable upfront.

  • Parent (Migrant) – Subclass 103 (permanent visa)
  • Contributory Parent (Migrant) Subclass 143 (permanent visa)
  • Aged Parent (Residence) – Subclass 804 (permanent visa)
  • Contributory Aged Parent (Residence) Subclass 864 (permanent visa)
  • Contributory Parent (Temporary) Subclass 173 (temporary visa)
  • Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) Subclass 884 (temporary visa)

Capping of Parent visas

The Australian government places a cap on the number of visas granted under the parent visa category each year. For example, in 2008-9, a total of 8500 parent visa places were made available. 2000 of those places were allocated to the general parent visas, while 6500 were allocated to the contributory parent visa category.

Once the cap has been reached each year, all additional applications are placed in a queue according to the date on which an applicant met the visa requirements. If the application does not meet the visa criteria it will be rejected and not allocated a queue date.

Applicants waiting in the queue will have their visas granted in order of the queue date they were allocated.

Once additional places become available applications will be assessed further by the Department.

There is a long queue for all parent visas: currently up to 19 years for ordinary parent visas, and around 2 years for the contributory parent visas before their visas are granted.

Student Visa

Postgraduate Research Sector visa (subclass 574)

You might be able to get this visa if you are enrolled as a student in a registered course for the award of:

  • a masters degree by research
  • a doctoral degree.

Higher Education Sector visa (subclass 573)

You might be able to get this visa if you are enrolled as a student in a registered course for the award of:

  • a bachelor or associate degree
  • a graduate certificate or graduate diploma
  • a masters degree by coursework
  • a higher education diploma or advanced diploma.

Vocational Education and Training Sector visa (subclass 572)

Requirements

You might be able to get this visa if you are:

  • enrolled as a student in a registered vocational education and training course
  • enrolled as a student in a registered course for the award of advanced diploma.

Independent ELICOS Sector visa (subclass 570)

You might be able to get this visa if you are enrolled as a student in a registered English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

Visa Appeals

If you have had a visa refused, in certain circumstances you may seek to have a review of the decision at one of the relevant tribunals. We can provide advice on your chances of success when seeking a review of your visa refusal.

We provide advice prior to application for review and can manage the review process on your behalf. This service includes representation at the actual hearing when called. It is critical to make review applications within the prescribed timeframe as outlined on the communication received from DIBP.

Note: The right to have a decision reviewed at the relevant tribunal is removed in event that the application for review is not made within the time limit.

 

If you are in Australia and you have been notified of either an intention to cancel your visa (NOIC) or your visa has been cancelled, there maybe options available to you to prevent that cancellation from taking place, or seek merits review to overturn any cancellation that has taken place.

Resident Return Visa

Resident Return visa (subclasses 155 and 157)

The Resident Return visa (subclasses 155 and 157) is for current or former Australian permanent residents and former Australian citizens who want to travel overseas and return to Australia as permanent residents.

The Resident Return visa will let you keep or regain your status as an Australian permanent resident.

Only Australian citizens have an automatic right of entry to Australia. All non-citizens need a visa that allows them to enter and remain in Australia.

Other Visa

Working Holiday visa (subclass 417)

This visa is for young people who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year.

Visitor visa (subclass 600)

This visa lets you visit Australia:

  • to visit or for business visitor purposes
  • for up to three, six or 12 months.

You might be able to get this visa if you are travelling to Australia:

  • as a visitor
  • for business visitor activities
  • to visit family
  • on a tour with a registered travel agent from the People’s Republic of China.