The General Skilled Migration Scheme was established by the Australian Government to cater for the shortage of skilled professionals and tradesmen in Australia.
Who can apply?
If you have skills and experience in occupations required in Australia and you are not sponsored by an employer then you could be eligible for a Skilled visa.
There are various subclasses of skilled visas: some skilled visas will grant you permanent residency while other visas will only grant you a temporary status (=provisional visas).
These provisional visas are often a pathway to permanent residency for people who do not yet meet the criteria for a permanent visa.
To be eligible for a permanent skilled visa, you need to:
1. Meet the threshold criteria and
2. Pass the points test
The points test awards points for your age, your level of English, your working experience, etc.
What can I do with a skilled visa?
If you hold a permanent skilled visa:
This gives you unrestricted working conditions and the ability to settle wherever you want in Australia (unless you have been sponsored by a State or Territory: you must then live 2 years in that State or Territory).
You will have the ability to directly enrol in the Australian public medical scheme (Medicare). But you will have a 2 year waiting period before being able to benefit from most of the social security payments (Centrelink).
After 4 years of living in Australia, you will have the ability to apply for Australian citizenship, provided all other legal requirements are met.
If you hold a provisional skilled visa:
Some of the provisional skilled visas are only valid up to 18 months and other up to 3 years. It is often a pathway to permanent residence.
Under some provisional visas (regional sponsored), you must live in the sponsoring State or Territory or in a designated regional area if sponsored by a family member.
Under a provisional visa, you will not be able to access the Australian public medical system. You therefore need a private health cover. You will not either be albe to access social security payments .
If you are subsequently granted a permanent visa, the time spent in Australia on your provisional visa will count towards the 4 years residency requirement to be eligible for citizenship.