The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) has been the most sought-after specialist visa for immigrants for many years. This is a permanent residence and work permit for Australia without any conditions.
Applicants with a profession or qualification needed in Australia can apply for this visa by submitting a so-called expression of interest (EOI). Whether they receive an invitation to apply, however, depends on their performance in the points test for general skilled migration. In this test, applicants are awarded points in the categories of age, English proficiency, education and work experience. The higher the scores in the points test, the greater the chances of receiving an invitation to submit a visa application. This test is a means of ranking and prioritising visa applications.
Australian migration law currently requires a minimum score of 60 points. However, since July 2017, it has been observed that the actual points required for a successful invitation to submit a visa application have increased significantly. According to the Department of Home Affairs, which regularly publishes the results of the invitation rounds, the score required for an invitation has been consistently higher than 60 points since July 2017.
This means that access to the Skilled Independent visa is currently difficult, and applicants should take this into account when planning their immigration. It may be worth considering a different visa class in some cases. Above all, a professional visa sponsored by an Australian state or territory government can be an interesting alternative here, because state sponsorship gives additional points, which can be crucial for receiving an invitation to submit a visa application. Furthermore, all Australian states and territories also have their own demand lists, which often contain additional occupations that are missing on the nationwide demand list. However, such a Skilled Nominated visa is subject to the condition of settling for at least two years in the respective state or territory. In addition, other requirements may exist, such as proof of sufficient financial resources.
Even though a Skilled Independent visa is currently harder to obtain than usual, there are other ways for applicants to gain additional points in the points test for general skilled migration. It is therefore worth thinking about state sponsorship.