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The contents of this article are correct as at 18 April 2016.

An alternative pathway to independent skilled migration is for applicants to find a State or Territory Government to nominate them.  State and Territory Governments are able to nominate an applicant for a permanent 190 visa, or a temporary 489 regional area visa which leads to permanent residency, if certain additional requirements are satisfied after grant of the visa.  This article provides information about applying for a visa via this pathway, with information about the benefits and the pitfalls involved.

Why seek to be nominated by a State or Territory Government for a visa?

State and Territory nominated visas are an attractive option for people seeking to migrate to Australia, where they are not eligible to obtain a skills assessment in one of the occupations on the more limited Skilled Occupation List (Schedule 1; SOL) but who are able to obtain a skills assessment in an occupation on the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (Schedule 2; CSOL).

State and Territory Governments have their own skilled occupations lists, which indicate the occupations they prefer to nominate based on skills shortages in their jurisdiction.  Their lists of occupations generally contain occupations which are not found on SOL. In addition, while State and Territory Governments tend to have their own skilled occupation lists, they also have the flexibility to offer off-list nominations to applicants in any occupation on the CSOL. 

Other attractive features of State and Territory Nomination include: 

  • Additional points awarded under the points test for being nominated by a State or Territory Government (sc190: 5 points; sc489: 10 points)
  • Priority issuance of an invitation to apply for a visa through Skills Select once nominated
  • Priority processing once the visa application has been lodged, with 1-3 month processing times
  • No occupational ceilings limiting the number of invitations which can be issued in a particular occupation
  • No limit to the number of sc489 visas which can be granted
  • Special consideration for PhD students and other international student graduates who have studied in the State or Territory where they seeking Nomination.

What to be aware of when seeking nomination by a State or Territory Government

Despite the advantages of the scheme, applicants need to be aware that:

  • There is no guarantee that a State or Territory Government will nominate a person, even if they appear to satisfy all the criteria for Nomination;
  • Off-list nominations are generally only given to applicants who can achieve a high points score;
  • Applicants may have to incur considerable costs to become eligible to be nominated, including English language testing, skills assessment and translation costs, with no guarantee of a positive outcome;
  • State and Territory Governments may have additional requirements for applicants, including a job offer or residence in their jurisdiction, access to funds to cover the cost of re-settlement, and work experience and/or English language requirements for particular occupations;
  • Some State or Territory Governments take a number of months to process Nomination applications, which can have implications for award of points in time-sensitive cases;
  • If applying for a sc489 regional area visa, applicants need to show that they have job offer in their occupation, or a close relative living in, the regional area of the State or Territory Government they seek Nomination from; and

Each State and Territory has its own procedures for processing nomination applications and the process is often not transparent. There is no external appeal right if the application is refused.

Most importantly, for all visa holders who apply for a General Skilled Migration visa under Skills Select, whether nominated or not, visa applicants must be able to substantiate all their claims. Where a claim cannot be substantiated the application will be refused. 

If you are interested in applying for a permanent visa via State or Territory Nomination, or would like to know if this is an option for you, please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.

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