Don’t submit your Expression of Interest (EOI) on Skillselect for your Australian Skilled Migration Visa until you have considered all these important questions and discussed your situation with a MARA registered migration agent.

COVID-19 has had a considerable influence on Australia’s skilled migration program resulting in a significant reduction for Skilled Independent applicants (cut from 18,652 to 6,500) and the states and territories (cut from 38,968 to 22,400) in the 2020/2021 program year. However that is all changing in 2022. With Covid out of the way and a new Prime Minister looking to boost the economy, skilled migration to Australia is back on the cards in a big way.

Priority is being given to applicants whose skills and work experience will contribute to Australia’s economic recovery and public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this program year, Skilled Independent applicants and those seeking nomination from a state or territory government will generally only be invited if they have skills and work experience in select health, IT, and engineering occupations.

If, however, your dream is to start a new life in Australia, do not get too disheartened as many British people still successfully migrate to Australia every year. To have the best chance of success you need to carefully research and consider the various stages of the application process and decide which visa option is best suited to you. With proper planning and seeking the right advice before you submit your Expression of Interest (EOI) for an Australian skilled visa through SkillSelect, you will be able to plan your future with the confidence that your expectations are realistic and achievable.

At PSS International Removals we work with a number of experienced MARA registered migration agents. Their expertise is ever more valuable and necessary as the migration process becomes more complex, challenging and competitive.

We’ve asked Grahame Igglesden – a veteran of the Australian migration industry, for his advice for UK migrants starting out on their visa application journey on Skillselect.

With proper planning and preparation before you submit your Expression of Interest (EOI) for an Australian skilled visa through Skillselect, you can assure yourself the best possibility of success in 2021.

You may also want to check out which occupations have the most demand as these will receive more EOI invitations. Our article “Australia’s Most Wanted: The Most In Demand Jobs for Skilled Migration To Australia” goes over this in detail including a rank of the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List for Covid-19 recovery.

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Important questions you must ask before submitting your EOI on SkillSelect


By Grahame Igglesden, Director, Concept Australia Limited and Registered Migration Agent 9901024

Australian Government Department of Home AffairsI have been a Registered Migration Agent for 22 years and involved in the Australian migration industry for much longer at both federal and state level. The changes I have witnessed over many years and introduced by the DHA means that if you are a skilled person contemplating a new life in Australia you will experience a far more complex visa programme and will now face greater challenges throughout your visa journey.

So, what should you be contemplating in attempting to navigate your way through the visa process and how realistic are your chances of success.

Some of the questions you should be asking are:

How to apply for an Australia Skilled Migration Visa in 2021?

Nowadays, there is far more to consider, and much can change as you weave your way through the migration maze. The first thing to understand is that you cannot apply for a visa until you have been invited by the DHA.

To do this you must lodge an EOI and to receive an invitation from the DHA you will need to have generated sufficient points. You should not submit your EOI for your Australian Skilled Migration Visa until you have explored all your visa options and considered all these important questions.

There are 3 main visa sub-classes available under the General Skilled Migration program.

Skilled Independent -189

This is a permanent visa which enables you to settle anywhere in Australia. The visa class is subject to quarterly invitation rounds.

Skilled Nominated – 190

The is also a permanent visa which requires you to be nominated by a state or territory government and a commitment to living and working in the nominating state or territory for a period of 2 years. If you are nominated you will automatically be invited by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to submit a visa application.

Skilled Regional – 491/191

This is a provisional visa which requires you to either be nominated by a state or territory government or sponsored by a close relative. You must be prepared to settle in regional Australia for a period of 3 years (anywhere other than Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney) but you can then apply for permanent residence (subclass 191).

General criteria

All applicants must meet the following criteria to receive an invitation:

  • Have a skilled occupation on the relevant skills list – Australian Government website.
  • be under 45 years of age at the time of invitation by the DHA
  • Have received a positive skills assessment in your nominated occupation
  • Have achieved the required number of points for the visa class selected
  • Have at least competent English
  • Have lodged an Expression of Interest
  • Be nominated by a state or territory government if applying for a subclass 190 visa
  • Be nominated by a state or territory government of close relative if applying for a subclass 491 visa


What is SkillSelect and an Expression of Interest (EOI)?

SkillSelect is the Australian Government’s online application system for anyone wanting to apply for a skilled migration visa to live and work in Australia. You begin your visa journey by first completing an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI).

The good thing is that once you have submitted an EOI on SkillSelect, your details can be found and nominated for an Australian skilled visa by employers as well as state and territory governments. Although your EOI is valid for 24 months and you can update it during that time, you cannot change it once you’ve received an invitation.

It is therefore very important that you aim to get it right first time as once you are invited, you only have 60 days to make an application. If you don’t have the right information and required documents to hand to support the claims you made on your EOI, your Australia visa application can be rejected. It is therefore vital that you ensure you are fully prepared before you submit your EOI in order to give yourself every chance of success.

Is my nominated occupation on the Medium Long Term Skilled Shortage list (MLTSSL) or the Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL)?

If your nominated occupation features on the MLTSSL you can lodge an application under visa sub-classes 189 (Skilled Independent), 190 (Skilled Nominated with the support of a state or territory government) or subclass 491 (Skilled Regional (Provisional) with either nomination by a state or territory government or sponsorship from a close relative settled in a designated area of Australia (anywhere except Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane).

If, however, your occupation only features on the STSOL you must be nominated by a state or territory government or by an employer. You will not be able to apply under subclass 189 and you cannot be sponsored by a close relative.

The up to date skilled occupation list can be found on the Australian Government website.

How can I generate the required number of points to receive an invitation from the Department of Home Affairs?

In the UK, most applicants will generate points for their age, English (via a test), qualifications, work experience, being a single applicant, a spouse, nomination by a state/territory government or sponsorship from a close relative residing in a designated area of Australia. Points can also be awarded for a Professional year, Australian study, Credentialed community language, studying and living in regional Australia and partner skills.

The EOI entry mark for GSM visas is set at 65 points) but with so few invitations being issued places are extremely competitive and will be restricted to targeted occupations. Being nominated by a state or territory government has the benefit of being awarded 5 extra points for subclass 190 (Skilled Nominated) and 15 points for subclass 491 (Skilled Regional).

What are the chances of being nominated by a state or territory government?

Each state and territory has different selection criteria and publishes a list of occupations in demand which can change at any time.

Nomination approval will generally be determined by factors such as your overall commitment to the nominating state or territory, the number of years work experience, specialised skills, employability, English language skills, relatives already residing in the state or territory and the financial capacity to settle in the state or territory.

For the remainder of this program year the states and territories have been directed by the Minister to focus on applicants whose skills and work experience will contribute to Australia’s economic recovery and public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of 04 January 2021, nominations are only being offered to applicants who are already living and working in Australia on temporary visas. Do not be put off if your occupation is not currently a priority as the situation will improve and arranging a skills assessment and undertaking an English language test to boost your points score will place you in a better position in the future to receive an invitation.

Am I prepared to live in regional Australia?

The DHA are actively encouraging people to settle in regional or low population growth areas of Australia. With 15 points available for choosing to live outside some of the more populated cities these points can make a difference in meeting your points target.

Remember also that if you choose to reside in Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, or the Australian Capital Territory you can live in the capital cities of Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra.

Can my work experience be taken into account if I do not have any qualifications?

This will depend on your nominated occupation and which assessing authority is responsible for assessing your skills. Most professional occupations require an education level of a degree or higher diploma with a combination of relevant work experience.

Specific occupations such as Teachers, Nurses and Engineers require relevant qualifications whereas senior managers and IT professionals can be assessed on the basis of work experience or accountants if they are a member of a recognised accounting body.

Trades-persons assessed by Vetassess will need to meet the following skills assessment criteria:

  1. Licensed trade with no formal training – six years work experience
  2. Licensed trade with formal training – four years work experience
  3. Non-licensed trade with no formal training – five years’ work experience
  4. Non-licensed trade with formal training – three years’ work experience.

Applicants must have completed at least 12 months employment in their trade in the 3 years prior to lodging their application.

Tradespersons assessed by Trades Recognition Australia will need to meet the following skills assessment criteria:

  • An internationally awarded qualification must have 3 years full-time or equivalent part-time employment, undertaken after qualification issued including 1 in the 3 years immediately before applying.
  • Without a formal qualification can be assessed under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) which leads to the award of and Australian AQF level 3 certificate. You must have either 3 years full-time or equivalent part-time employment after the certificate was issued or 6 years employment which can be a combination of employment undertaken before and after the certificate was issued.

What date will my skills be recognised from and when can I claim points for work experience?

In most situations, you can claim points for work experience once you have completed your training or recognised qualification and have commenced employment at the appropriate skill level.

The date you will be recognised as fully skilled for migration purposes will depend on your nominated occupation. For example:

General Occupations assessed by Vetassess require applicants to have between 1 and 3 years work experience depending on the relevance of the qualification to the nominated occupation. This work experience cannot be claimed for migration points under the employment factor

The Australian Computer Society require a minimum of 2 years highly relevant work experience including a relevant degree or up to 8 years if you do not have a formal qualification. This work period also cannot be claimed under the points test.

Tradespersons will be recognised as fully skilled on completion of an internationally recognised qualification (formal training) or once the appropriate informal training period has been completed in the workplace in the nominated occupation (see above). The training period in all cases whether formal or informal requires a minimum of 3 years of relevant work experience.

Accountants with a degree in financial accounting will be recognised from the date degree was awarded and is eligible to claim work experience points from that date. Accountants with a degree not relevant to accounting or without a degree will be recognised on the date accounting body exams completed and will be eligible to claim work experience points from that date.

What documents do I need to do to prove my work experience?

We often receive enquiries from applicants who have not kept evidence such as payslips and taxation records or whose work statements are too vague for a case officer to determine the employment history.

Applicants are required to prove their employment history by presenting detailed statements of service specifying the actual period of employment, number of hours worked each week and duties performed.

Statements must be backed up with secondary evidence such as payslips, P60’s, taxation records or bank statements showing a trail of funds deposited by a client or employer. Failure to provide this evidence will result in the case officer not allocating the points claimed in your EOI which may result in your application being refused.

Will I need to sit an English language test and what level will I need to achieve?

Generating points for English via an English language test can pose the biggest obstacle to achieving the required number of points.

I can perfectly understand the need for an applicant whose first language is not English to prove their English ability regardless of the passport held. It would seem reasonable to me that if you were born in a country such as the UK, were educated in an English speaking school, attended further education via an apprenticeship, college, or tertiary institution that you had sufficient command of the English language to be able to live and work in Australia.

Applicants, however, who hold a passport from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, or the Republic of Ireland are considered to have a level of Vocational English but will not be awarded any points for this level of English. To be awarded points for English you will need to sit an English language test to claim 10 points for Proficient English and 20 points for Superior English.

Have I correctly calculated the number of points I can claim in my Expression of Interest (EOI)?

By submitting an EOI you are providing critical information about your age, education and qualifications, skills assessment, employment history, English language skills and other personal details which will attribute points and enable the DHA to consider inviting you to apply for a skilled visa for Australia.

This information needs to be accurate as it cannot be changed after an invitation to apply is received. If you have miscalculated your points and claimed, for example, points for work experience that cannot be verified your application may be refused.

Will I automatically receive a visa application invitation if I have 65 points?

The simple answer is NO.

Invitations for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) and Skilled Regional (provisional) visa (subclass 491) are being restricted to applicants with skills and work experience in select health, IT, and engineering occupations.

This policy of protecting jobs for Australian citizens and permanent residents is almost certainly going to continue for the remainder of this program year which ends on 30 June 2021. Applicants with the highest ranked points score will therefore have to wait until the economic situation improves in Australia.

Can I bring my partner if we are not married?

If you have a partner and you are not married but living in a de-facto relationship you will need to provide evidence of your commitments established in at least the 12 months before your invitation is received.

Emphasis is placed on commitments established between you both which is generally demonstrated by sharing a common residence and evidencing a level of mutual support and co-operation in financial, social, and domestic matters. The amount of evidence you provide will be determined by your personal circumstances and will vary considerably depending on the duration of the relationship.

Applicants who have only recently married will also be required to provide evidence of their relationship history.

Will my visa application be refused if I have a criminal record?

Each case is assessed individually and will have regard to when the conviction(s) were committed, the sentence imposed, the mitigating circumstances and the steps you have taken to rehabilitate yourself.

You must advise the DHA if you have any criminal convictions inside or outside of Australia.

Your visa application may be refused if you fail to disclose any previous convictions including any convictions that have been stepped down from police records as your police report will state ‘No Live Trace’ which indicates you do have a police record.

Will a pre-existing health condition mean that I will fail the medical?

The health requirement is designed to protect the Australian health care system from significant costs plus risks to ensure that additional pressure is not put on health care and community services that are in short supply. No diseases or health conditions will automatically result in a failure to meet the health requirement.

This is because the likely costs will depend on the form and severity of the condition. If a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth assesses you as unable to meet the health requirement because you have a disease or condition that is likely to require the use of health care and community services in short supply or on the grounds of significant cost your visa application will be refused unless a health waiver is available.

Seeking professional advice with a MARA registered migration agent to help you with your skilled visa application

No doubt by now your head will be spinning and you may still be confused and overloaded with information which is difficult to interpret.

If this is the case, do not get overwhelmed and take a deep breath and consider talking to a professional and experienced MARA registered migration agent to help you through the process.

Undertaking research on the internet and sharing information on forums can be helpful but, this may leave you with more questions than answers. The General Skilled Migration process is complex and will be determined by many factors. Speaking to a MARA registered migration agent at an early stage will give you the reassurance that you have a realistic visa pathway to pursue and that you have not overlooked any of the regulations that will be applied to you.

Finding a reliable MARA registered migration agent to help you with your EOI submission and visa application

applying for a australian visa MARA agent

If you wish to engage a migration agent, the DHA recommends using an agent registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) who oversees the code of conduct and good standing of all registered migration agents. All registered agents are regulated and must abide by the code of conduct and must adhere to the highest possible standards.

An OMARA agent must meet professional standards and will only encourage you to proceed with an application if you have a realistic chance of being granted a visa. An OMARA agent is responsible for:

1 Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of migration law and procedures

2 Keeping a professional library with direct access to migration regulations

3 Undertaking continual professional development in order to maintain knowledge of migration regulations and policy

You may now be wondering ‘how do I choose a reliable migration agent?

Well, to get you started, here is three we have worked with at PSS over the years and have been recommended by our customers who have made the successful move to Australia.

All are MARA registered and very experienced at guiding prospective migrants through the Australian visa application process.

Concept Australia Tel: 020 8315 6700

The Emigration Group Tel: 0207 118 2526 (South),   01244 321 414 (North)

Immigration2oz Tel: 01483 550 919

Make sure you mention that you were recommended by PSS International Removals when you call for VIP treatment! They take good care of all our customers 🙂

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Removals and Shipping to Australia

Once you have organised your visa you will need to organise your shipping and removals of your household goods and personal belongings.

Click here for more information on household removals to Australia.

If you are just shipping boxes of personal belongings to Australia then click here.

This article gives you any indication of the costs of removals and shipping to Australia.

Here’s some inspiration to keep you going whilst your waiting for your visa!

Great reasons to move to Australia

Or if you’d like a free trip to Australia see our article on How to apply for BBC’s Wanted Down Under!

Updated: This article was first published in February 2019