Migration Book

How to be Australian

A permanent residency guide

Revision History:

1st Draft: 30/8/2016

Who should read this:

If you’re interested in becoming a permanent resident in Australia and would like to see a detailed explanation of each of the steps involved, this guide is for you! 

About the author

My name is David and I successfully migrated to Australia via a Skilled Worker Visa(189). I did not have the money to pay for a migration agent so I had to do all the paperwork myself and I thought I would share my experience to help others in the same boat(pun intended). 

Legal Stuff

I’m not a migration agent. The contents of this guide are intended for informational use only and do not constitute legal advice. 


  1. Timeline of my immigration process

  2. Eligibility criteria

  3. Preparing the paperwork

  4. Submission process

  5. Frequently asked Questions

  6. References

Timeline of my immigration process

  • April 2016

    • Gather documents

    • Begin writing Competency Demonstration Report

  • May 2016

    • Complete writing Competency Demonstration Report for Skill Assessment. 

    • 25/5 – Skill Assessment application submitted 

  • June 

    • 15/6 – Skill Assessment approved

    • 16/6 – Expression of Interest lodged

  • July 

    • 6/7   – Invitation to apply for a visa and application lodged

    • 26/7 – Receive list of requested supplemental documents

  • August

    • 8/8  – Supplemental documents uploaded

    • 18/8 – Visa granted

Do I Qualify? 

There are multiple ways to gain permanent residency in Australia. This guide will focus on the Skilled Independent Visa, also known as the 189 Visa. To qualify, you have to fulfill a few key requirements:

  • Score at least a 60 on the points test

    • The other requirements are incorporated in this score. 

    • Apply for the regional 190 visa to get an extra 5 points. If you apply for the 190, you’ll be morally obligated to work in the nominated territory but you are not legally obligated to do so.

  • Prove you’re skilled in one of the categories of the Skilled Occupation List(SOL)

    • The SOL is a list of occupations that are deemed skilled work and in demand in Australia.

    • Each occupation is evaluated by its own trade group e.g. programming jobs are evaluated by the Australian Computer Society.

  • Have a working level of English

    • Higher score will give you extra points. 

  • Be under 50

    • Being at a certain age bracket will get you more points.

  • Money: This is not a stated requirement, but you’ll need at least $5K AUD for the entire process. The visa application itself currently costs $3.6K, the medical exam costs $300 and the skills assessment cost $500-$1K. If you have a partner or dependents, the cost rises as well. Note that it is better to apply with your dependents because the costs will rise even further if you attempt to apply for a spouse visa afterwards(~7K).

Preparing the Paperwork

There will be a number of documents that you will be required to upload to Australian immigration. Since submission is mostly electronic, these should be color scanned ahead of time to prevent delays in application processing. 

Accredited translations will be required for non-english documents.

You do not need to have documents certified unless you are scanning a copy of the original. 

Documents required for the visa application: 

  • Identification

    • Passport

    • Birth Certificate

    • Police certificates for each country each person has lived in for a cumulative period of 12 months or more, over the last 10 years, since turning 16 years of age. For American residents, this means you’ll need one from the local state government as well as an FBI report. Best option is to get it via a 3rd party instead of directly through the FBI which takes 12-16 weeks.

    • Military service record or discharge papers for each person who is/has served in the armed forces of any country. Police certificates are also required for the countries of service.

    • If you have an alternate spelling of your name or changed your name, you’ll need official proof or sign a statutory declaration(and get it notarized).

    • Form 80, a comprehensive background check form that will be emailed to you after your initial application. It will ask for information such as your previous residential addresses, previous travel history and employment history. 

  • Medical records

    • You’ll also be required to visit a migration clinic to be medically examined. Do not book this until you have received a referral letter since you’ll need the HAP ID provided as well as the list of required tests.

  • Skill Assessment

Skill Assessment

You’ll need the following documents for a skill assessment: 

  • Transcripts and diploma certificates

  • Letters from previous employers on official letterhead to confirm your previous position, working hours, period of employment and roles in the position. These are required if you are claiming relevant work experience. 

  • For engineer occupations, if your degree is not recognized as equivalent to an Australian degree, you’ll need to prepare a competency demonstration report. Note that while a school may be accredited, the degree program may not be. Check accredittation here: http://main.abet.org/aps/Accreditedprogramsearch.aspx

Submission Process

The first step is to submit an “Expression of Interest”(EOI) via SkillSelect. This is a preliminary application to assess your eligibility and to confirm your points score. 

If you score 60 points, you will join the queue. If you score higher, you’ll be in a priority queue. 

Twice each month, a number of candidates(limited by monthly quotas per occupation) will be picked to continue with their visa application. Note that each occupation has a monthly and an annual quota. The annual quota restarts each June. 

If you are picked, you’ll be sent a request for more information–usually requires filling out Form 80 and getting a medical exam. If you have any questions at this time, you may call the Department of Border Protection(DIBP) for assistance. The best time to call is in the morning at 8:30 when they open. If you call at 12pm, the phones queues will already be filled for the rest of the day. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are my options if I don’t qualify for a 189/190?

    • You may enter the country via a working holiday visa or if you’re a recent engineering graduate, a 476 visa. This will allow you to meet some potential employers who might be willing to sponsor you on a 457 visa.

    • Sponsorship is not a cheap process and there is some paperwork involved before a company can nominate you. Your best bet is to find a mid-sized company who has previously nominated employees before. Smaller companies may not have the resources to nominate.

  • What happens if my current visa is expiring before my 189 is approved?

    • You’ll be issued a bridge visa to bridge the gap between your two statuses.

  • What kind of benefits do I get with permanent residency?

    • Government healthcare/welfare

    • Freedom of entry to both AUS and NZ

    • No work restrictions

    • You can sponsor your relatives to live here as well

Resources and References

Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection – 




Engineers Australia 


Skilled Occupation List


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