The Australian skilled migration system generally operates to give priority to migrants who have studied in Australia or are already lawfully present within the country. This is especially true of State and Territory nominated visas such as 190 visa or 491 visa, where living in the nominating jurisdiction is often a requirement.
Nevertheless, some States and Territories have begun to offer Subclass 190 and 491 nominations to people living outside of Australia, although often with stricter eligibility requirements.
The following States and Territories currently nominate offshore applicants, as of 12 January 2022:
- Australian Capital Territory (Canberra)
- New South Wales
- South Australia
The other jurisdictions of the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia do not currently issue nominations to people applying from outside of Australia.
We now investigate the criteria by which offshore applicants may qualify for nomination for Subclass 190 and 491.
The Australian Capital Territory, or ACT, offers nominations to offshore applicants for both Subclasses 190 and 491. The requirements for each visa subclass differs significantly, with its criteria for Subclass 190 being particularly unique, largely mirroring Australia;s Subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage visa.
Regardless of the visa sought, all applicants must meet the following basic requirements:
- Applicants must fall within an occupation appearing on the ACT Critical Skills List.
- Where an occupation requires licencing or registration in the ACT, applicants must hold that registration or licencing.
- Applicants must be able to demonstrate “proficient” or “superior” English, unless they are a citizen of the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand or Ireland.
- If migrating with dependents, all dependents must be living overseas for at least the preceding year and must not hold an Australian visa, other than a visitor visa, unless they are enrolled in school within the ACT.
- Applications attract an AUD$300 service fee.
Applicants must also conduct research into the Canberran lifestyle and provide a statement outlining their commitment to the ACT. A declaration must also be signed, committing to 2 years of living and working within the ACT.
Finally, the ACT uses an ACT-specific points test to prioritise candidates for nomination. Under this scheme, the partner of a candidate can sometimes provide additional points under this test depending on their English proficiency and their occupation. For offshore applicants, only a spouse or registered de facto partner can offer candidates points, as the ACT does not recognise unregistered de facto relationships for this purpose.
Subclass 190 ACT
ACT nomination of offshore applicants for the Subclass 190 is heavily dependent on securing a job offer in the territory. To qualify for Subclass 190, prospective nominees must satisfy the following criteria:
- Be working full-time in one’s nominated occupation.
- Receive an offer of employment in the ACT with a minimum duration of 2 years.
Additionally, the employer making the job offer must meet particular requirements, largely mirroring those of many employer sponsored visas. These employer requirements are as follows:
- Have at least 50 employees.
- Be actively trading in Canberra.
- Not be trading from a home, online or serviced office.
- Have a genuine need to employ an overseas skilled worker.
- Be looking to fill a position that is relevant to the business.
- Show that the position cannot be filled through the domestic labour market.
- Provide a statutory declaration addressing all the aforementioned criteria.
These requirements impose a significant obligation on applicants and employers to both prove the genuineness of the position on offer and conduct some degree of labour market testing. Should suitable candidates already be available within the domestic labour market, the nomination would appear to be unavailable.
Subclass 491 ACT
Canberra may also nominate offshore applicants under the regional Subclass 491 visa. This criteria does not necessitate a job offer, which is often difficult to obtain for those outside of Australia.
To qualify, applicants must satisfy the following:
- Have three (3) years of full-time employment experience in your nominated occupation. This must be after obtaining an appropriate formal qualification.
- If the skills assessor for your occupation provides a points advice service, you must have said assessor assess your work experience as relevant.
- Your experience must be “relevant to the ACT economy,” though little additional guidance is given on this point.
- Provide results of your research regarding your employability in Canberra.
Most critical in this instance is securing a positive assessment of one’s prior work experience and demonstrating one’s employment prospects in the ACT. Both require provision of substantial evidence to the assessing authority and the ACT respectively.
For both Subclass 190 and 491 nomination, South Australia requires the following from prospective offshore applicants:
- The nominated occupation must be one for which offshore applicants may be eligible for nomination. South Australian maintains a list of occupations specifying whether offshore applicants may migrate under each one.
- A minimum of 3 years work experience in one’s nominated occupation may be required for certain occupations falling within specified ANZSCO unit groups.
- The applicant must have resided outside Australia for at least 3 months prior to their nomination application.
South Australia imposes a range of variable requirements, depending on the nature of or relative demand for particular occupations within their state. It is important to understand the specific requirements of one’s occupation before proceeding with an offshore South Australian nomination application.
The final available offshore nomination is that of New South Wales. Much like the ACT, the requirements vary between the Subclass 190 and 491 nominations.
In both cases, applicants must nominate an occupation for which New South Wales accepts offshore applicants.For certain occupations, at least three years of professional experience may be required. Finally, offshore applicants must have resided offshore for the three months immediately preceding their application.
No further additional requirements apply to the Subclass 190 nomination.
In addition to all New South Welsh general requirements, the Subclass 491 nomination criteria operate on a region-based system for occupation eligibility. Various regions throughout regional New South Wales maintain unique occupation lists for their locale. Applicants must possess an occupation appearing on a so-called “Stream 3” occupation list for a specified region.