Home Loan Experts

SkillSelect: Changes to Skilled Migration

Blog author

Otto Dargan


Takes only 5 minutes


24 Oct, 2012


Updated: 10 Jul, 2024

As of the July 1st, 2012, skilled migration has undergone some changes. The application process has changed, and for specific visa subclasses, the number of points needed to qualify for selection has been lowered.

The subclasses relate to various employment skill bases the Australian Government has determined are in short supply. Policy has also been changed in relation to skills requirements, including English skills.

The SkillSelect program has been designed to enable employers to fill gaps in the labour market and address the skills shortages.

What are the major changes?

Firstly, for visa subclasses where it is deemed we are in demand of skilled workers, the number of eligibility points for visa subclasses has been dropped from 65 to 60.

The application process has also changed. Instead of sending in an application, you send in an Expression of Interest (EOI).

The SkillSelect system now constitutes an electronic two-stage process. First, a claim is submitted for skilled migration as an online EOI. Second, on the basis of an EOI, the applicant may be selected to submit an Australian visa application.

How will the changes affect different visa subclasses?

The changes will affect various visa subclasses differently. It will be compulsory to submit a complete expression of interest (EOI) and receive an invitation, before you can lodge a visa application for the following visa programs:

  • Subclass 189 Skilled – Independent (Permanent) (Class SI)
  • Subclass 190 Skilled – Nominated (Permanent) (Class SN)
  • Subclass 489 – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (Class SP)
  • Business Skills visa program

It is optional (although highly recommended) to submit an EOI in order to be found and contacted by an employer, for the following visas programs:

  • Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (Class EN)
  • Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (Class RN)
  • Subclass 457 – Temporary Business (Long Stay) (Class UC)

With the addition of new Employer sponsored visas, the Employer Nominated Sponsor (121/856) visa subclass is closed to new applications as of July 1, 2012.

SkillSelect supplies employers with high quality, pre-screened migrants interested in sponsorship. Therefore, although an EOI is optional for subclasses, such as the temporary long stay 457 visa, it will greatly increase your chance of a sponsorship offer.

457 visa holders also do not have to wait the full two years before applying for a permanent residency visa. However, they must meet the minimum requirements for application, based upon how they apply.

For example, if they are applying from the temporary resident stream, the applicant must be working for their employer for at least two years, and must be offered a full time role in that occupation.

What visa subclasses are newly introduced?

The subclasses 189, 190 and 489 mentioned above, are newly introduced. To simplify eligibility requirements, there is now no distinction between onshore and offshore points tested visas and threshold requirements. More importance is being placed upon the points test if you want to apply.

What occupations are in demand in Australia?

Many different occupations are in demand in Australia. These include but are not limited to:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Chiropractors
  • Nurses
  • Engineers
  • Teachers
  • And many more…

To see other occupations in high demand, and which visa applications have been affected by the Skills Occupations List (SOL), you can you can follow this link to view the full list. The SOL list applies to all occupations that are eligible for independent (unsponsored) and family sponsored migration.

What is the new application process?

Instead of applying directly, you begin by registering an Expression of Interest (EOI) to apply for an Australian visa. This is the first stage of the new, two-stage electronic application process.

You are required to answer questions to determine a “Pass Mark”. This number determines whether you are eligible to apply for points based Australian visas. The pass mark is normally 65. However, for the visa subclasses mentioned above it has been lowered to 60 points.

You can apply even if your points do not equal the pass mark. You will not be sent an invitation to apply in this instance, however you can save you progress and add to your EOI as your situation changes. Once you have enough marks to apply for applicable visa subclasses, you are then eligible to be sent an invitation.

It is possible to express your interest in more than one visa subclass. Then, if you have the needed points, and there are still places in the queue for your desired skilled visa, you will be considered for invitation or sponsorship.

How do I start the application process?

To start the application process, go to the SkillSelect website, research which visas would best suit your skills, find out what points you need to achieve a “Pass Mark” in those subclasses, and apply!

What about the boom in migration to regional areas?

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is going to start giving priority to those wishing to work in regional areas. SkillSelect is looking to attract workers for the mining and resources sector for example, especially in places such as Western Australia.

As skills shortages exist in regional areas, the DIAC hopes to address this by prioritising migration applications to these areas through visa subclasses such as the 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)(Class RN).

What skill requirements have been changed?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and other skills requirements have been adjusted. For example, applicants are required to obtain all necessary skills assessments before submitting an EOI. This includes the relevant English language requirements.

Will it be easier for employers to find skilled overseas workers?

SkillSelect program will make it easier for employers to fill gaps in the labour market and address the skills shortage.

Once of the key aims of the migration program is to ease skills shortages for employers, by providing a pool of skilled migrants seeking employer sponsorship. Employers will be able to search across a number of key selection criteria including:

  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Language skills
  • Willingness to work and live outside major metropolitan centres

To gain access to the list of potential migrants and their EOIs, employers require a valid AUSkey identification. With this they can log in and gain access to SkillSelect and other government services. To find out more and apply for an AUSkey, go to the AUSkey website.

The program, with its new visa subclasses and lower pass mark, is going to change pathways to permanent residency for some applicants.

Banks and lenders find guaranteed employment very important when assessing home loan applications. As these skills are in short supply, and long term employment is more likely, it may therefore be easier for people in the SkillSelect program to get approval for a home loan.

Will home loan approval be easier for skilled migrants?

Most temporary residents who have purchased a home are on a 457 visa or a spouse visa, and are unlikely to be affected by the changes to skilled migration policy.

Other visa types that have been affected should talk to one of our mortgage brokers by calling 1300 889 743 (When outside Australia call +61 2 9194 1700), or you can enquire online.

Some migrants on visa subclasses that purchase homes in Australia include, but are not limited to:

  • Temporary Business (457) (this is the most common subclass)
  • Skilled Independent (189)
  • Skilled Nominated (190)
  • Skilled Nominated or Sponsored (489)
  • Business Talent (132)
  • Business Innovation and Investment (188, 888)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (187)

SkillSelect makes it easier for some skilled workers to apply and migrate to Australia. As their services are in high demand, a sponsor is more likely to offer them a stable job, with a good income. Combined with their visa status, the banks are more likely to consider them able to service a home loan.

Therefore, SkillSelect may encourage more migrants to take advantage of these opportunities, and to break into the Australian property market.

Will applying for Australian Government approval change?

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) deals with all foreign investment in Australia. Approval criteria, housing status and other foreign investment rules have not been changed by the implementation of SkillSelect.

For more information you can see out page on FIRB approval.

Apply for a loan today!

Are you a newly arrived temporary resident, or permanent resident looking to buy a home? Our mortgage brokers are specialists in home loans for skilled migrants in Australia. Contact us on 1300 889 743 (When outside Australia call +61 2 9194 1700), or enquire online.