Skilled Independent Visa: Subclass 189

by IELTS — February 11th, 2020

Know more about IELTS and Australia’s popular Skilled Independent Visa: Subclass 189. We’ll tell you how this visa works and what the English language requirements are.

Australia is a popular destination for people who want to start a new life. Migrants from around the world come to Australia for its high standard of living and fantastic work opportunities. While being accepted into Australia can be challenging, the Skilled Independent visa is a great avenue for skilled workers who want to live and work permanently in the country.

Skilled Independent Visa – Points Tested Stream

Also known as visa subclass 189, the Skilled Independent visa is a visa stream designed to attract invited workers with specific skills needed by the wider Australian community. If you fulfil the requirements, you are able to live, work, and study permanently anywhere in Australia. The subclass 189 visa is points-tested based on specific work skills. If the visa is granted, invited residents benefit from many of the same rights as Australian citizens.

Visa Benefits & Duration

The Skilled Independent visa comes with a number of associated rights and responsibilities. With this visa, you can stay in Australia permanently, work and study in Australia, and enrol in the Medicare public health care system. Medicare and related programs are designed to provide eligible people with access to some health services at low or no cost.

If the Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa is granted, you can sponsor your relatives to come to Australia, travel to and from the country for 5 years, and become an Australian citizen if you meet eligibility requirements. However, as a newly arrived resident and visa holder, you may have to wait to access certain Australian Government payments and benefits.

The Skilled Independent visa is a permanent resident visa, which means you can stay in the country on an indefinite basis. While the travel component of the visa expires after 5 years, a Resident Return visa (subclass 155 or 157) can be obtained to re-enter Australia after this time. The subclass 189 visa can be granted within Australia, and can also be used to enter Australia. You become a permanent resident for legal purposes the day you receive a Skilled Independent visa.

Including Family Members in your Application

The Skilled Independent visa has a popular family component that allows members of the family unit to be included in the application. Under Australian law, a person is considered a member of your family unit if they are a spouse or de facto partner, dependent child or stepchild, or dependent grandchild or step-grandchild of a dependent child or stepchild.

You can include eligible family member when you lodge your visa application, or add them after you lodge your application if a decision has not yet been made. All family members must meet Australian health and character requirements. If you have a partner or dependent child who is not included in the application, you must explain why.

Visa Cost

The current cost of a subclass 189 visa is AUD$4,045. This price only includes the main applicant, with additional fees needed for each family member listed on the application. There is a Visa Pricing Estimator available from the Home Affairs website. The current cost for a family member over 18 years of age is AUD$2,020, with the current cost for someone under 18 years of age being AUD$1,015.

In addition, an extra charge may be applied for any applicants over 18 years of age who have less than functional English language skills. This fee is charged in a second instalment and only applicable when the visa is successful. The second instalment charge for all family members over 18 is AUD$4,885. Along with these known costs, additional charges may be needed for health checks, police certificates, and biometrics.

Visa Processing Time

You can apply for the Skilled Independent visa whether or not you live in Australia. Processing times can vary considerably due to individual circumstances, and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Timing is dependent on the completeness of the application and supporting documents, requests for additional documents or information, and how long it takes to perform any necessary checks.

If additional information is needed from external agencies regarding health, character, or national security, this may also take additional time. For permanent migration visa applications, the number of available spaces in the migration program will also affect the overall processing time. When applying for a Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa, it’s important to be aware of processing time and possible delays.

Visa Eligibility Requirements

The subclass 189 visa is a points-tested stream, with specific requirements needed to meet the eligibility criteria. Along with being invited to apply and meeting the skills threshold, there are numerous age, language, health, and character requirements:

  • Be invited to apply
  • Undergo a suitable skills assessment
  • Be aged under 45 when invited
  • Score 65 points or more
  • Have a competent level of English
  • Meet the skills requirement
  • Meet the health requirement
  • Meet the character requirement
  • No outstanding Government debt
  • Sign the Australian values statement
  • No previous visas cancelled or applications refused

There may be additional requirements listed at the Home Affairs website. 

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How to Apply for a Skilled Independent Visa (Points Tested Stream)

In order to apply for a Skilled Independent visa, it’s important to go through the comprehensive application process in detail. The outcome of the visa application and the time it takes to process depends on the accuracy of the information provided.

  1. Before you apply, you must submit an expression of interest through SkillSelect
  2. Gather all relevant documents
  3. Apply for the visa online
  4. Receive notifications and instructions for additional documentation if needed
  5. Receive the official outcome of the visa in writing

Skilled Independent Visa – New Zealand Stream

The Skilled Independent visa has a separate stream for New Zealand citizens. This visa is also under subclass 189, with eligible New Zealand citizens who have demonstrated commitment and contribution to Australia able to live and work in Australia on a permanent basis.

Visa Benefits & Duration

With this permanent visa, you can live, work, and study in Australia indefinitely. The New Zealand stream shares fundamental elements with the main subclass 189 stream, including the right to enrol in Medicare, sponsor your relatives to come to Australia, travel to and from Australia for 5 years, and become an Australian citizen if eligible. Once again, Government payments and benefits may not be available immediately. If you live in Australia, this visa begins when granted. If you live outside the country, it starts on the day you arrive.

Including Family Members in your Application

You can include members of your family unit in the application, either when you lodge your documents or after lodgement but before a decision has been made. Once again, all family members added must meet health and character requirements. If your partner or dependent children are not included on the application, you must provide a reason why

Visa Cost

The cost for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent visa is identical to the main subclass 189 stream. The visa costs AUD$4,045 for the primary applicant, AUD$2,020 for anyone over 18 years of age, and AUD$1,015 for anyone under 18 years of age. There is a Visa Pricing Estimator available from the Home Affairs website, and additional fees may be charged in some cases.

Visa Processing Time

Processing times may be affected by the inclusion of a complete application with necessary supporting documents, requests for additional information, and how long it takes to perform any necessary checks. If additional information is needed regarding health, character, or national security, this may also take additional time. For permanent migration visa applications, the number of available spaces in the migration program will also affect the overall processing time.

Visa Eligibility Requirements

Unlike the standard subclass 189 visa, the New Zealand stream is not a skills-based, points-tested system. Specific requirements are still needed to meet the eligibility criteria, however, including health, character, income, and residence requirements:

  • Satisfy the income requirement
  • Have the visa
  • Meet the health requirement
  • Meet the character requirement
  • Lived in Australia for 5 years
  • Sign the Australian values statement
  • No outstanding debt to the Australian Government
  • No previous visas cancelled or applications refused

There may be additional requirements listed at the Home Affairs website.

How to Apply for a Skilled Independent Visa (New Zealand Stream)

In order to apply for a New Zealand Skilled Independent visa, it’s important to go through the comprehensive application process in detail. The outcome of the visa and the time it takes to process depends on the accuracy of the information provided.

  • Check that you meet requirements, including income and residency
  • Gather all relevant documents
  • Apply for the visa online
  • Receive notifications and instructions for additional documentation if needed
  • Receive visa official outcome in writing

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FAQs

What is the difference between subclass 189 and 190?

While subclass 189 and 190 visas both enable permanent residency, 190 differs in that it is a state-sponsored visa that limits where you can live in Australia for the first 2 years.

Is subclass 189 a permanent visa?

The subclass 189 visa is a permanent visa that allows you to live, work, and study in Australia on an indefinite basis.

How many points are required for the Skilled Independent Visa?

The Skilled Independent visa is a points-tested visa based on a skills assessment with a minimum of 65 points.

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