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The Skilled Stream is made up of the following categories:

  • Business Innovation and Investment Migration
  • Employer Sponsored Migration
  • General Skilled Migration
  • Special Migration (for former residents and people with global talent)

Business Innovation and Investment Program

From 1 July 2012, Business Skills Migration was replaced by the Business Innovation and Investment Program. New visa subclasses were introduced which have higher asset and business turnover requirements, which require all applicants to apply via the SkillSelect system, and be sponsored by State or Territory governments.

The Business Innovation and Investment Program is for business owners and investors and is generally a 2-stage process. The first stage is to obtain a 4-year provisional Business visa. Once business operations or investment have been established in Australia, provisional visa holders can obtain a permanent visa providing they meet residence and business criteria.

The only exception to the 2-stage process is for very high net worth individuals who apply for a Business Talent (Subclass 132) visa. This visa generally requires the visa applicant to make a significant investment in an Australian business.


From 1 July 2012, the Business Innovation and Investment Program will be part of the SkillSelect system which requires applicants to first lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI). The Department of Immigration will then assess the EOIs and invite the best applicants to make a visa application.

State/Territory Nomination

State/Territory Nomination will be required for all of the new Business visas. State and Territory governments will have a limit on the number of business migrants they can nominate under this program as part of their State Migration Plans.

New Visa Subclasses

The new program will be made up of three (3) visa subclasses:

  • Business Talent (Permanent) (Subclass 132) visa – for high level business people
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) visa – 4-year provisional
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (Subclass 888) visa – permanent stage

Employer Sponsored Migration

There are a number of permanent visa options available for skilled people who are sponsored by an Australian business. The following 3 categories enable Australian businesses to employ highly skilled foreign workers (from either overseas or temporary residents currently in Australia) where they have been unable to fill their recruitment needs from the Australian labour market.

Employer Nomination Scheme

Lawfully operating Australian businesses can employ foreign workers on permanent visas, to fill full-time highly skilled positions which cannot be filled from the Australian labour market.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme

Businesses in regional Australia can employ skilled foreign workers in positions unable to be filled from the local labour market.

Labour Agreements

Labour Agreements are formal arrangements for an Australian industry group or business to employ a number of skilled foreign workers. Both temporary and permanent visas can be granted under the agreement. Agreements are generally effective for 2 to 3 years.

General Skilled Migration

There is a range of visa options under the General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program for skilled persons who want to live in Australia and who do not have an employer sponsoring them. These include options for skilled people applying as an independent migrant, those sponsored by a relative, or nominated by a State or Territory government and those who do not meet the criteria for a permanent GSM visa but are willing to reside in regional Australia on a temporary GSM visa.

From 1 July 2012, the GSM Program includes the following permanent visas:

  • Skilled – Independent (Subclass 189) visa
  • Skilled – Nominated (Subclass 190) visa

Eligibility Requirements

From 1 July 2012, applicants for a GSM visa must first lodge an Expression of Interest application with SkillSelect and must satisfy the following basic eligibility requirements:

  • Invitation – have been invited to apply and apply within the time limit
  • Age – must be under 50 years of age at the time of the invitation to apply
  • English Language – must demonstrate at least ‘competent’ English
  • Nominate Skilled Occupation – nominate occupation on relevant skilled occupation list
  • Skills Assessment – obtained suitable Skills Assessment for the nominated occupation
  • Points Test – achieved the score specified in the invitation letter

Visa applicants lodging a GSM visa application on or after 1 July 2012, will need to lodge an Expression of Interest application first and then wait for an invitation to apply from the Department of Immigration. If you would like to remain in Australia whilst awaiting your invitation to apply, you must ensure that you hold a substantive visa as there is no bridging visa with an Expression of Interest application.

New Skilled Regional Provisional Visas

There are 2 new skilled regional provisional visas open for applications from 16 November 2019:

  • Skilled Work Regional (Subclass 491) visa – for people nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Subclass 494) visa – for people sponsored by a regional employer

To be eligible for permanent residence, holders of the new skilled regional provisional visas will need to show they have lived and worked in regional Australia while holding one of these visas.  They can then apply for the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) (Subclass 191) visa from 16 November 2022.

Regional Australia

The ‘regional Australia’ definition is comprised of the following 3 categories:

  • Category 1 – ‘Major Cities’ of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane do not receive any regional incentives
  • Category 2 – ‘Cities and Major Regional Centres’ of Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart
  • Category 3 – ‘Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas’

The regional definition offers regional incentives for skilled migrants who migrate to locations classified as Category 2 ‘Cities and Major Regional Centres’ or Category 3 ‘Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas’.

If you would like more information in relation to the new Skilled Regional Provisional visas, please contact Lisa Vorbach today on 0416 084 889 or at

Special Migration

For former residents and people with distinguished talent.

Former Resident

For former Australian permanent residents and persons who served in the Australian Armed Forces before 1981, to return to Australia permanently.

Global Talent

A permanent visa for people who have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in a profession, the arts, sport, research or academia; or who have provided specialised assistance to the Australian Government in matters of security.