twelve apostles, great ocean road, australia

How to apply for Australia Visa Subclass 189 Skilled Independent

It’s been fours years since we moved to Australia with the Visa 189 Skilled Independent. It only seems like yesterday and next month, we are going to apply for Australian citizenship. It seems perfect timing to write how we got here in the country and list all the application steps.

Application steps for Australia Visa 189 Skilled Independent

Since 2017, there have been massive amount of changes in the application requirements. If my memory cooperates with me, I will try to be detailed as much as possible with the actual steps we took for ourselves.

For an overview, here are a few important details to know:

  • Department of Home Affairs : the Australian government’s agency for immigrant applications
  • border.gov.au: official website of the Department of Home Affairs. It has a rich resource of information that if you follow closely would take you to anything you need to know about visa 189 application.

In a nutshell, here are the steps we took to apply for Visa 189:

  • Step 1: Research about point system, skill nomination, eligibility, and generally just about visa 189
  • Step 2: Go to an assessing authority depending on your work industry
  • Step 3: Pass the IELTS exam
  • Step 4: Submit Expression of Interest (EOI) to border.gov.au
  • Step 5: Wait for the reply of your EOI, which is the Invitation to Apply
  • Step 6: Officially apply for the visa 189
  • Step 7: Take a medical examination
  • Step 8: Wait for the result of your visa application
  • Step 9: Receive the Visa Grant Letter
  • Step 10: Make your initial entry to Australia before IED

There are lot of variable factors that would make your application different to ours. For example, your medical exam would take precedence over a particular step. But in general, the steps are the practically the same.

How to apply for the Australian Skilled Independent visa subclass 189?

The steps written down are based on our experience including the requirements, eligibility criteria, and just about everything about our application. Obviously, so many changes in the application process have been changed since 2017. For example, the required points for application eligibility was 60 for us. Now in 2021, it’s 65 if I remember correctly. Having said that, I still hope you’ll find our post a valuable resource and guide to your own visa applications.

Step 1: Research everything about Visa 189

In general, Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) are for those who:

  • has a skill that is on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL)*
  • has obtained at least 60 points based on the points test
  • are applying independently e.g. no need sponsorship from an employer, relative, or state
  • below 50 years old
  • wants to work and live in AU permanently
  • wants to include dependents

*If your skill is not listed in SOL, check out Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL). If your skill is listed in CSOL, then you may be eligible for Visa 190, a visa that can give you additional points simply by choosing an Australian state or territory government for residency. For more info, click here.

Other information: There are at least 120 types of Australian visas. Out of them, 33 visas include a Permanent Residency privilege. You can know which other visas may be right for you by using the Visa Finder application in the official website of the Australian immigration, www.border.gov.au.

What is nominated skill?

This corresponds to your skills as a software engineer, architect, secondary teacher, etc.  All throughout the visa application process, the term skill is officially used to refer to your job/profession/work/skill. To apply for Visa 189, make sure your skill is listed in the Skilled Occupations List (SOL).

What is the point system?

The minimum number of points to qualify for Visa 189 application is sixty (60) points.

Alternatively,  you can use this points calculator or this visa eligibility assessment to simply fill out a form and your probable score is automatically calculated.

Step 2: Get your skill assessed by an assessing authority

Cost:  Depends on your assessing authority. Estimate AU$500 (if assessing authority is ACS)

Timeline: 2-3 months

You must get your nominated skill assessed by an assessing authority. The purpose is to know if your education and work experience are within professional standards in Australia. As a result of the skill assessment, you will have a clear and definite idea on how many points correspond to your skilled employment.

For those in IT industry, you can get assessed by ACS (Australian Computer Society). You can submit requirements online thru the ACS website. Then you will receive the result of your assessment via email.

There are other assessing bodies according to your profession such as the following:

  • IEA – Institution of Engineers, Australia
  • Teaching Australia – Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership
  • VETASSESS – Vocational Education and Training Assessment Services

For a complete list of assessing authorities, see here.

Step 3: Take the IELTS exam

Cost: Depends on your country of exam. In Singapore, S$320.

Timeline: Results come out after 2 weeks

You can take the IELTS exam in any affiliated exam areas. It comprises of speaking, writing, listening, and reading tests. The required minimum score is 7, overall.

Step 4: Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)

Cost: Free

Create an account in SkillSelect, and then submit your Expression of Interest (EOI).

The primary requirements of EOI are:

  • the result of the assessment of your nominated skill 
  • the result of your IELTS exam must be at least 7
  • at this point, your overall points must be at least 60 points

Step 5: Wait for the reply of your EOI

Timeline: Depends on AU immigration’s schedule of invitation rounds, which happens twice a month. Priority is given to those who have higher points.

You can know the AU immigration department’s response to your EOI via email or your account in SkillSelect.

Important things to know:

  • Invitation Rounds

You can know the current invitation round thru this link. For example, if you submitted your EOI in January, then you can watch out for your result in the next invitation rounds e.g. Feb 1, Feb 20, March 1, and so on.

  • Occupation ceilings

Every July of the year, the AU issues a specific count of invitations that will be issued for each occupation listed in the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). The count is reset annually, still in the month of July.

Why is this important for you to know? Well, if your skill category has a high number of applicants, you will want to be included in the invitees before the count reaches the maximum!

Step 6: Apply for the visa

Cost: AU$3600 for the main applicant, AU$1800 for dependents over 18 years old, and AU$900 for dependents under 18 years old

Congrats! The AU immigration office’s response to your EOI is positive i.e. the invitation to apply for the visa. Make sure to apply within 60 days from the date of the invite.

You can lodge your visa application at SkillSelect, using the link provided in the Invitation to Apply letter. The required documents is a handful thus it is better to start preparing them at the time before you submit the EOI.

How to prepare for your visa application

Document checklist for Visa 189 application

Note: When wife got pregnant during this period, we applied the unborn child as a dependent . In this case, the child’s visa application costs zero and submission of his or her records (birth certificates, passport, and medical exam result) were only required after birth.

Step 7: Take a medical examination

Cost: Depends on your chosen medical clinic. In Singapore, medical examination in SATA clinics cost $150.

One of the requirements of visa application is that you and your dependents meet health requirements. Make sure to have your medical exam at a clinic recognized or listed by the AU immigration department.

The clinic themselves will send the medical exam results to AU immigration department.

Step 8: Wait for the result of your visa application

Timeline: Depends on when you can complete submitting all your required documents AND the processing within the AU immigration office

You can always check the status of your visa application in your SkillSelect account or by being informed by your case officer.

What is a case officer (CO)?

Every visa application is handled by a specific case officer who will:

  • be your direct contact all throughout your visa application
  • inform you if you are required to give additional requirements
  • need to know to be informed
    • if you cannot meet deadline dates of submission
    • if you have special cases like:
      • your wife got pregnant, what to do with her application status?
      • a certain gov’t document is taking too long to be released like NBI clearance, birth certificates
  • and so on…..and on.

Step 9: Receive the Visa Grant Letter

Cost: Cloud Nine

Timeline: Depends on how you celebrate

Congratulations! You have finally made it. After celebrating and having it all sink in, start planning for your IED!

Step 10: Make your initial entry to AU

Cost: A topic for another day! Depends on costs in airline, accommodation, food, transportation, etc. Check out our article about our initial entry here and here.

Your initial entry to AU validates your visa and activates your PR status. The Visa Grant Letter indicates the Initial Entry Date (IED) or the deadline date that you must go to AU. Failure to fulfill your initial entry can have your visa forfeited.

You can make your initial entry and stay for only a few days or you can start staying for good. You can also go to any state e.g. New South Wales (Sydney), Victoria (Melbourne). For your accommodation, you can get $50 off on your first trip to Australia via Airbnb. Click here for more info.

Final thoughts

For Filipino emigrants, you must attend a seminar from the Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO) and have your passport stamped by them. Also, at your travels departing from PH, you may be exempted from travel tax.

We do hope this post has helped you in your Visa 189 application as your path to Australia immigration. Good luck mate!