How to Migrate without an Employer

Written by Julie Williams | MARN 9903637 | Published 22 January 2024

Applying for an Australian Permanent Skilled Migration Visa

Australia’s state and territory-nominated visa options to migrate without an employer sponsor have become more competitive due to the government significantly reducing its 2023-24 allocations for these visas.

Many make the mistake of assuming that because they work in a skilled occupation that is on one of the many skilled occupation lists, they will have an automatic pathway to Australian permanent residency.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Permanent skilled migration places are divided between employer-sponsored visa options and the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program.

Here’s what you should know:

How Do You Migrate To Australia Without An Employer Sponsoring You?

The GSM program is comprised of independent visas (such as the Subclass 189 Visa) and state and territory nominated visas (including the Subclass 190 State/Territory Nominated Visa and the Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) State/Territory Nominated Visa).

Applying for a state or territory-nominated visa involves the following steps:

  1. Have a Positive Skills Assessment
  2. Meet English Language Requirement
  3. Satisfying a Points Test
  4. A nomination by a State/Territory Government.
  5. An invitation from the Federal Government.
  6. Lodge a Visa Application

Applicants may be in Australia or overseas at the time they apply. The 190 Visa provides direct Permanent Residence (PR), whereas the 491 Regional Visa provides the option to apply for permanent residency after three (3) years of living and working in a regional area.

How the Reduction in State/Territory Nominations Impacts Skilled Visa Applicants

State and Territory nomination allocations have been substantially reduced across Australia for both the 190 and 491 State/Territory Nominated Visas.

No state or territory allocations were issued with places for the 188 Business Innovation and Investment Visa in 2023-2024 as the Department of Home Affairs noted it had enough applications on hand from previous years to fulfil planning levels.

As part of its Migration Strategy Outline, the government identified a need to reform the points test to ensure it focuses on factors that maximise Australia’s productivity and address ageing population challenges.

A reduction in state and territory nominations for 2023–2024 has resulted in greater competition for nominations.

Applicants need to be aware that the points-based system requires a person to compete with other intending migrants who have submitted an Expression of Interest under the same occupation and state or territory.

Invitations are usually provided to applicants who score the highest for their occupation group; therefore, in many cases, a person may need to score much higher than the pass mark.

Many state and territory programs target specific industry sectors, such as health, education and construction.

What Other Options Are There?

Employer-sponsored visas are an alternative to GSM visas if your skills and experience are in demand in the Australian economy.

You will require an employer willing to sponsor you; we cannot assist you in locating a suitable employer.

Depending on your eligibility, there are three different options for employer-sponsored visas:

If you are exploring skilled visa options to migrate to Australia, you may benefit from booking a consultation to gain an understanding on which states and territories may require your skills or if you have an employer willing to sponsor you.

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Before any immigration advice can be provided, we must hold an initial consultation which will attract a fee of $385.

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