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New Points Test for General Skilled Migration Announced

The contents of this article are correct as at 30 November 2010.

A new points test for General Skilled Migration (GSM) was announced by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship on 11 November 2010.

When will the new points test come into effect?

The new points test is intended to take effect on 1 July 2011 (provided that the changes are passed by Parliament). This means that changes would apply to anyone lodging an application on or after 1 July 2011.

There will be some limited applicants who will be eligible for transitional arrangements, allowing them to lodge an application using the current points tests after 1 July 2011. This applies to people who, on 8 February 2010, held or had applied for a Temporary Skilled Graduate visa (subclass 485) as long as their permanent skilled visa application is lodged before the end of 2012.

It should also be noted that people who held an eligible Student visa on 8 February 2010 still have until the end of 2012 to apply for a Temporary Skilled Graduate visa, subclass 485, which is not points tested.

Which visa subclasses are affected?

These changes will only apply to the following visas:

  • Subclasss 885 Skilled Independent
  • Subclass 886 Skilled Sponsored
  • Subclass 175 Skilled Independent
  • Subclass 487 Skilled Regional Sponsored
  • Subclass 176 Skilled Sponsored
  • Subclass 475 Skilled Regional Sponsored

What is different about the new points test?

The new points test will continue to award points for study in Australia, including regional study, community languages, partner skills and completing an approved Professional Year.

The allocation of different points for different nominated skilled occupations has been abolished. Nevertheless, all applicants must still nominate an occupation on the applicable Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

Age points have been adjusted to reflect productive working years rather than youth. The age bracket receiving the highest amount of age points is 25-32 years old. In addition, the maximum age threshold for applicants will be raised from 45 to 49 (although no age points will be allocated for the 45-49 age bracket).

English language points will no longer be awarded for Competent English (minimum score of 6 in each of the IELTS components), although this remains the minimum requirement. Points will be awarded for higher levels of English language proficiency, that is Proficient English (IELTS 7) or Superior English (IELTS 8).

Three categories of study points are available for applicants:

  1. Qualifications – An applicant has undertaken and completed a qualification in Australia or a recognised qualification completed overseas. Overseas qualification or apprenticeship must be recognised as being of a standard comparable to that awarded by an Australian education institution.
  2. 2. Points for recognition of Australian study – An applicant has completed a minimum of 2 academic years of study in Australia.
  3. Points for Australian regional study - An applicant has completed a qualification of at least Diploma level at an Australian regional educational institution over a minimum of 2 academic years

It is possible for an applicant to be awarded points for each of these study categories.

A further change is that no additional education qualification points are awarded for completing a Masters degree after the completion of a Bachelor degree in Australia.

Work experience in the nominated skilled occupation or closely related skilled occupation will be awarded points. There are separate points awarded for Australian experience and overseas experience, with more points awarded for more years of work experience.

Points for completion of a recognized Professional Year program in Australia will be awarded in addition to work experience points. However note that the year of work conducted as part of the Professional Year cannot be counted as a year of work experience.

It appears that family sponsored applicants will no longer be eligible to apply for a permanent Skilled-Sponsored visa (subclasses 176 or 886) as there will no longer be a permanent family sponsored skilled migration visa. However eligible family members can still sponsor relatives under the provisional sponsored skilled migration visa (see below) to later move on to the Skilled Regional (Residence) visa (subclass 887) after meeting certain eligibility criteria.

State or Territory sponsorship points will continue to be awarded for those nominated under a state or territory migration plan.

The new points test will continue to award points to applicants for a subclass 475 or subclass 487 who are sponsored to a regional area by an eligible family member or a state or territory government under a state migration plan.

Partner skills points will be available where the applicant’s partner is less than 50 years old (instead of 45) and only if they are included on the same visa application as the primary applicant.

What will the new pass mark be?

It is expected that the points pass mark will be set at 65 points. At present, there is no indication of difference between independent GSM and sponsored GSM pass marks.






25 points


30 points


25 points


15 points


0 points

English language

Competent English - IELTS 6

0 points

Proficient English - IELTS 7

10 points

Superior English - IELTS 8

20 points

Australian work experience in nominated occupation or a closely related occupation

One year Australian (of past two years)

5 points

Three years Australian (of past five years)

10 points

Five years Australian (of past seven years)

15 points

Overseas work experience in nominated occupation or a closely related occupation

Three years overseas (of past five years)

5 points

Five years overseas (of past seven years)

10 points

Eight years overseas (of past 10 years)

15 points


(Australian or recognised overseas)


Offshore recognised apprenticeship

AQFIII/IV completed in Australia

Diploma completed in Australia


10 points

Bachelor degree (including a Bachelor degree with Honours or Masters)

15 points


20 points

Recognition of Australian Study

Minimum two years fulltime (Australian study requirement)

5 points

Designated language

Meet requirements to claim points for community language.

5 points

Partner skills

Applicant’s partner:

  • is included on the same visa application as the primary applicant
  • is not be an Australian permanent resident or citizen
  • is less than 50 years old
  • is successfully assessed in an occupation on the skilled occupation list
  • has competent English
  • has been employed in a skilled occupation for at least 12 months in the last 24 months.

5 points

Professional Year

Completion of an approved Professional Year in nominated occupation or a closely related skilled occupation.

5 points

Sponsorship by state or territory government

Nomination by a state or territory government under a state migration plan, for the purposes of a subclass 176 or 886 application.

5 points

Sponsorship by family or state or territory government to regional Australia

Nomination by a state or territory government under a state migration plan, or sponsorship by an eligible relative, to a regional area for the purposes of a subclass 487 or subclass 475 Skilled – Regional Sponsored application.

10 points

Study in a regional area

Satisfaction of the Australia study requirement while studying in regional Australia will continue to be awarded an additional five points.

5 points

If you have any questions concerning this article, please contact us at Visa Lawyers Australia.