Quick Guide to Australia’s Skilled Migration Independent 189 Visa

by | May 10, 2016 | Australian Visas

Disclaimer: I am not a registered migration agent. All the information that follows on the Skilled Migration Independent Visa (subclass 189) I have summarized from the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

If you have specific questions about the 189 visa, I highly recommend contacting a registered migration agent as application policies change frequently and a migration agent is up-to-date on these changes whereas I am not.

For Qualified, Skilled Workers Only

The Skilled Migration Independent Visa (subclass 189) is a permanent residency visa that you can apply for if you are a qualified, skilled worker.

Australia has created this visa because they have a need for skilled workers in fields such as construction, healthcare, engineering, teaching, and programming. If you have always wanted to move to Australia and have the proper qualifications, the 189 visa may be the perfect opportunity for you.

What the 189 Visa Enables You To Do

With an 189 visa, you will be able to move permanently to Australia, and you will be able to live, work, and study in Australia indefinitely.

You will also be able to enroll in Australia's Medicare system and, after four years living in Australia as a permanent resident, you can apply for citizenship.

Within the first five years, after you move, you can travel in and out of Australia as often as you like. After five years, you’ll need to apply either for another visa, or citizenship, if you want to travel to and from the country.

Who is the 189 Visa For?

The 189 visa is for skilled workers who are not sponsored by an employer, the Australian government, or a family member living in Australia.

When you apply, you must express your intent to work within a particular skilled occupation.

The Australian government has listed a of eligible occupations, many of which require post-secondary education or specialized technical training.

Eligible occupations include positions such as nurses, engineers, construction managers, architects, foresters, physicians, teachers, dentists, programmers, social workers, mechanics, welders, carpenters, electricians, and more. You can view a full list of possible occupations here.

There are a couple of other limitations for this visa; you must be under 50 and be at least competent in speaking English. Also, you will need to complete a skills points test, more on that below.

Applying for a Skilled Migration Independent Visa (subclass 189)

The application process involves submitting a detailed expression of interest, being invited to apply by the Australian government, and then submitting your full application with supporting documents.

The Points Test System

To obtain an 189 visa, you’ll need to score at least 60 points on Australia’s points test. The points test is not so much an actual test as a list of qualifications, each weighted with points.

You will be awarded points for but not limited to:

  • Age – You must be under 50 when applying.
  • English language ability – a score of at least 6 in speaking, reading, listening and writing on the IELTS test. There are other English language testing systems accepted. Be sure to ask your migration agency what they are and the scoring system.
  • Overseas or/and Australian skilled employment – If for example, you have been in skilled employment for 5-8 years, you’ll receive 10 points while if you have 8-10 years of qualified employment, you’ll receive 15 points.
  • Professional Qualifications – Most occupations need some post-secondary education as a Bachelor's degree or a particular trade qualification, and your skills must be assessed by the relevant assessing authority usually one based in Australia.
  • Australian Study – If you studied in Australia be sure to include this info on your application for points.
  • Partner skills – Your spouse or de facto partner professional experience will count towards your points if their occupation is also on the skilled occupation list.
  • Fluency in one of Australia's Community language (other than English) – Are you bilingual? If so be sure to mention it on your visa application.

What documents do you need when applying?


You will need to provide:

  1. Your visa application filled out correctly.
  2. Your visa fee.
  3. Birth certificate or other evidence of age not just for yourself but for everyone on your visa application;
  4. Originals or certified copies of qualification documents;
  5. Evidence of work experience;
  6. Proof of English language ability for everyone on your visa application;
  7. A copy of your resume;
  8. Employment references;
  9. Police certificates to prove whether you are of good character.

Employment References

Your employment references need to be on official letterhead of the company providing the reference and must clearly state:

  1. Contact details of the company such as: telephone, fax, email and website.
  2. Name and position of the person authorized to sign the employment reference should be signed and stamped below the person's signature;
  3. Contact info of the person writing the reference should be included in the letter;
  4. List how long you worked there, what positions you held, the primary duties and the salary earned. Job descriptions should include the tasks undertaken. Avoid generic titles.
  5. Include a paycheck from your current employer.

Who Can You Include on Your Application as a Dependent?

A dependent is a member of your family such as your spouse or de facto partner, any dependent children (under 18 years old) or some other dependent relative such as a parent.

Dependents may also include other relatives if they are wholly or substantially reliant on you for financial support for their basic needs (food, shelter and clothing) and they have been reliant on you for that support for a substantial period.

For more info on dependents, please refer to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection website here.

How Much Does an 189 Visa Cost?

It's difficult to say for sure how much an 189 visa will cost you because the price is dependent on several factors. There is, of course, a fee for the visa application alone but don't forget about all the other documents you will need for your visa application and the cost of these.

Factors that affect visa cost:

  • Where you are applying from
  • Your nationality
  • Your nominated occupation
  • Getting your qualifications and experience assessed, usually by a government body.
  • Immigration fees
  • Your police records for your character requirement.
  • Your medical bills for your health requirement.


The list above is not all-inclusive.

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Hi, I’m Lauren.

Lauren Owner of Sydney Moving GuideAnd I’ve helped thousands of people from all over the world move to Australia since starting my blog back in 2009. You can read more about me here, but Sydney Moving Guide isn’t about me. IT’S ABOUT YOU. So, I have one question for you. How can I help you with your move to Australia? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to grab my moving checklist before you go.