Skilled migration – can you pass the points test?


Skilled migration has for many years been the main migration program for Australia. In this program, there are three distinct visa subclasses that all require passing the points test. In this article Dr Etienne Hugo of Teleo Immigration Specialists will briefly discuss the different subclasses, the points test and the requirements for each of the subclasses.

Skilled Migration

Skilled migration allows skilled migrants to migrate to Australia either independently or through state/family sponsorship based on their skills and personal profile. This program applies to you if:

  1. You are under the age of 50 (at the time you are invited to apply for the visa),
  2. You have the minimum level of English required, have competent English with a score of 6 in each band of the IELTS test (or equivalent in another test),
  3. You obtained your skills assessment for your occupation by an assessing authority for your nominated occupation.

Once you know you will meet the above basic criteria, the points test will be used as a measure to assess whether you qualify for any of the following visas:

  1. Skilled- Independent – (Subclass 189) – Permanent visa

This visa allows skilled migrants whose occupations are listed on the SOL list (Schedule 1 occupations) to apply independently without necessarily needing state support. Nonetheless state support can be obtained for points reasons. Then an expression of interest (EOI) can be submitted and once invited, the visa application can then be lodged.

  1. Skilled- Nominated – (Subclass 190) – Permanent visa

If the occupation is listed on Schedule 2 of the CSOL, then you must get state support prior to applying for the visa. Each state and territory in Australia has its own occupation list that changes based on the demand and supply of jobs in that certain area. In order for a state/territory to nominate you, your occupation has to be on their list. The different state and territories include: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, ACT and NT.

Once you obtain the necessary state support, you can then apply for an expression of interest (EOI) and once invited, you can apply for the visa.

  1. Skilled- Regional Sponsored (Provisional) – (Subclass 489)

Under this stream, an applicant has to be sponsored by either an eligible Australian relative living in a ‘Designated Area’, or nominated by a participating state or territory government. This is a provisional visa that is valid for 4 years and you will have to live, work or study in the regional area where you were sponsored. You can then apply for a permanent visa: Skilled-Regional (Residence) visa (Subclass 887) after two years.

What is the points test?

The points test is a criteria (not an actual written test) that allows for points to be awarded for each of the following:

  • Age (0-30 points)
  • English language ability (0-20 points)
  • Overseas employment (5-15 points)
  • Australian employment (5-20 points)
  • Professional year (5 points)
  • Educational qualifications (10-20 points)
  • Australian study (5 points)
  • Credentialed community language (5 points)
  • Studying and living in regional Australia (5 points)
  • Partner skills (5 points)
  • State/territory government nomination (Visa Subclass 190) (5 points) and
  • Designated area sponsorship (Visa Subclass 489) (10 points).

The pass mark is 60 points. If you do not achieve the pass mark at the time of application, you won’t be eligible to apply for a skilled migration visa.

For most of the above criteria, there is minimum evidence required to prove your eligibility to the different points.

If an applicant meets all of the above criteria including age, English, skills and passes the points test, then skilled migration is a good option as it does not involve discretion on the part of the Department of Immigration. You will either meet the criteria and have the necessary skills assessment or not. Once you have the state sponsorship (if needed) and the skills assessment approval, you then apply for an expression of interest (EOI) as explained above. Once you are invited by the Department of Immigration to apply, you can then apply for a skilled migration visa.

Useful tips if you are interested in skilled migration

  • Always check the up-to-date SOL & CSOL list (new list was announced applicable from 1 July 2016 with 9 occupations will be REMOVED from the SOL list and 2 occupations will be added to the SOL.
  • Get your skills assessment early on in the process and be aware of the expiry date.
  • With English requirement, you can only receive extra points if EACH of the IELTS test components is at least 7 (you receive 10 points) or 8 (you receive 20 points) or equivalent in another test. The average is not relevant.
  • Alternative English tests include TOFEL, PTE, Cambridge English & OET (only relevant to certain health occupations).

About the authors

This article was written by Marial Daniel, a solicitor and a registered migration agent (MARN: 1575322) of Teleo Immigration Specialists.

Teleo has successfully represented thousands of applicants over the past 10 years, including complex matters, visa cancellations and review applications.

The director of Teleo Immigration Specialists, Dr Etienne Hugo (MARN: 0004435) has over 17 years of Australian immigration experience and is one of only 35 accredited specialists immigration lawyers in New South Wales. Etienne is admitted as a lawyer in NSW and also the High Court of Australia. He was awarded both his BLC and LLB degrees with distinction and subsequently completed a LLD (Doctor of Law degree) from the University of Pretoria. He obtained his Immigration Law certification from UTS with distinction. Dr Hugo is a Fellow of the Migration Institute of Australia and regularly presents papers on Immigration Law. He has also taught at ANU in the graduate diploma for Immigration since 2006.

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DISCLAIMER: Immigration law is complex and is subject to constant regulatory and policy change by the Department of Immigration.  The information provided here may therefore be out-dated and no longer accurate.  The information provided above is a general guide only – it is not tailored for your specific circumstances or immigration purposes and you must under no circumstances rely on this information for immigration planning or the lodgement of an application with the Australian government or related bodies.  In order to ensure your eligibility is accurately assessed and to allow for tactical decision making that would best suit your desired immigration outcome, it is essential that you consult with a capable immigration advisor registered with the relevant Law Society and/or OMARA.  We direct new client enquiries to schedule an initial consultation with our office – email: During an initial consultation we have the opportunity to obtain a complete set of facts that will allow us to explore all the available options.  Another reason we engage clients within the context of an initial consultation is to protect our firm from potential professional liability which may flow from providing a brief, unconsidered opinion.  As a paying client you/ us have the benefit of professional indemnity insurance. Liability limited by a scheme approved under the Professional Standards Legislation.

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