Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) Visa

If you have a skill in shortage, you may be able to apply for a permanent visa to live in Australia

Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) Visa or Skilled Independent (Permanent) Class SI Subclass 189 visa: Find out if you can apply

Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) visa is for a skilled person who has not been offered a job to live permanently in Australia. Your occupation must be in demand or in shortage (click here to learn more) and you have a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation.

You need to obtain at least 65 points in the GSM Subclass 189/190/491 points test (click here to calculate your points). Your score must not be less than the score stated in the Department of Immigration’s (Department of Home Affairs) invitation for you to apply for the Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) visa. There is no requirement for the points assessed for the application to be identical to the score at invitation. If you have made a mistake in your EOI score, you may be able to correct the score provided the qualifying or “pass” score is high enough for your nominated occupation.

To apply for the Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) visa, you must first lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) and if you are successful, the Department of Immigration will invite you to apply for the visa. Usually you will have 60 days from the date of invitation to apply. If you are in Australia, you must hold a substantive visa or BVA or BVB or BVC and not prevented by section 48 from lodging the application. To learn more about how you may lodge an expression of interest for a skilled visa – click here.

When you are invited, you must be able to meet all the requirements at the time of invitation

The maximum age for Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) Visa is 45

Age limitation

When you are invited to apply for the Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) Visa, you must be under 45.

Positive skills assessment is required for Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) Visa

Skills assessment

You must have a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation. Usually skills assessment result is valid for between 2 to 3 years and must be valid at the time of your invitation. If at the time of being invited to apply for the visa your skills assessment has expired, you can still obtain a new assessment within 60 days of the invitation.

Subclass 189 Skills Assessment after invitation to apply for 189 visa

In Thapa v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs [2021] FCCA 686, Thapa lodged his EOI in 2015 and on 11 December 2018 he was invited to apply for a Subclass 189 visa. The invitation was valid for 60 days after the date of the invitation letter and expired on 9 February 2019. Thapa provide a new (2019) Skills Assessment. On 12 March 2019, after the expiry of the invitation the Department notified him that his skills assessment was not sufficient. On 20 March 2019 the Department refused his application on the basis of a lack of a valid Skills Assessment at the time of invitation because his 21 September 2015 Skills Assessment was no longer valid and his 2019 Skills Assessment had issued after the date he was invited to apply for the subclass 189 visa. Thapa applied to the AAT for a merit review of the Department’s refusal.

The AAT subsequently affirmed the Department’s decision not to grant Thapa a subclass 189 visa because:

  • 2015 Skills Assessment did not have an expiry date but it was considered to have a 3 years validity (cl. 189.222(d)) was expired on 21 September 2018, therefore did not satisfy at the time of invitation of 11 December 2018 requirement
  • 2019 (10 January) Skills Assessment was provided after the invitation (11 December 2018).

The FCCA said that under cl. 189.2, all criteria must be satisfied at the time of decision is made on the application. This is notwithstanding cl. 189.222(1) which states “At the time of invitation to apply for the visa (a) the relevant assessing authority had assessed the applicant’s skills as suitable for the applicant’s nominated skilled occupation. The Court further said that “All criteria must be satisfied at the time a decision is made on the application” means all the criteria were satisfied in the sense that the applicant had met the requirements of cl. 189.222(1)(a) to (d) following the submission of Thapa’s updated skills assessment. This is in addition to s. 55 of the Migration Act 1958 which states (1) until the Minister has made a decision whether to grant or refuse to grant a visa, the applicant may give the Minister any additional relevant information and the Minister must have regard to that information in making the decision. In conclusion, the Court said “Given the invitation to apply for the visa allowed a 60 day period from the date of the invitation, it would seem to be strange result that the applicant was unable to provide additional information which showed that the applicant met all the criteria for the grant of a visa.

If your skills assessment was made on the basis of a qualification obtained in Australia while you held a student visa, the qualification must have been obtained as a result of studying a registered course.

English requirements for Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) visa

Do I have to sit for English test?

You must have at least competent English proficiency, that is, at least 6 in each of the 4 components in the IELTS test not more than 3 years before being invited to apply for the visa. You do not require to demonstrate you have competent English proficiency if you hold a passport issued by the UK or USA or Canada or NZ or Republic of Ireland.

You and your family members must also satisfy the PIC 4005 health criteria (click here to learn more).

visa checklist and including family members for Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) Visa

Including family members

If you are invited to apply for the Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) visa, you can include members of your family unit in a combined application or added to your unfinalised application if the member is a newborn child or a partner (spouse or de facto partner) or dependent child. However, after you have been granted the visa, you will not be able to add any family member, but you may be able to sponsor them for other visa subclass (click here to learn more about Partner visa or Child visa).

If you are a NZ citizen, click here to learn how to apply for this visa or here.

Australian migration law is complex and difficult to understand, contact our immigration lawyer for a consultation (fee applies) to help you decide if you are eligible to apply for the Independent Skilled (Subclass 189) visa (click here to find out how an immigration lawyer or registered migration agent can help you). You may also refer to our FAQs for answers regarding visa application or visa cancellation by clicking here.

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This article is not intended to be or taken as migration legal advice. The author of this article disclaims any liability for any action or omission on the information provided or not provided in this article. You should always consult an immigration lawyer or a registered migration agent to form an informed opinion on your immigration matter.

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