If you want to find the clearest and most direct way to apply for permanent residency in Australia, you do not need to go much further than the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). This visa sits under the Points Based System for Australian PR, of which other visa pathways are available to skilled professionals, entrepreneurs and investors, and regional workers. This particular visa is a direct option for Australian PR; open to skilled workers until the age of 45 years, partners and singles alike. The process unfolds in three phases, however, strong applications are a must as applicants need to be invited to apply for this visa. Read on to understand the system under which this visa sits, its eligibility requirements and lodgment process.

Points Based System for Australian PR

One avenue for skilled migrants to gain permanent residency in Australia is through its General Skilled Migration (GSM) points based system. Under the GSM system, the Australian government assigns points to various attributes and skills, such as age, relationship status, education level, language skills and work experience.

The system favours skilled migrants from certain professional backgrounds as needed to fill labour gaps or boost the Australian economy. For this reason, from year to year, the Australian government will allocate different caps on visa applications from various professions to correlate with market demand for certain skills and professionals.

GSM visas

Currently, the GSM points based system feeds into 4 different Australian visa types, one of which is the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). Successful applicants of this visa automatically gain permanent residency in Australia. This means they can freely look for work in their fields while living in Australia, and do not require prior sponsorship from an employer.

The 3 other Australian visas that interact with the GSM points based system are:

  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188)
  • Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)

The above visas either requires a nomination by an Australian State or Territory government or sponsorship from family or an employer. These visas lead to permanent residence pathways.

Eligibility and Process for GSM

To work out if you are eligible for one or more of GSM visas, you should:

1. Identify if your occupation is on the Skilled Occupations List
2. Use the Points Calculator to calculate whether your point

If your occupation is in demand and you have at least the minimum points required for the relevant visa, the process continues for you:

3. Submit an Expression of Interest on SkillSelect
4. Wait for an Invitation to Apply for a relevant Australian visa
5. Gather your documents
6. Apply for a visa within 60 days of receiving your invitation

Points table for Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189)

A minimum of 65 points is the cut in point for applying for the GSM points based system. In reality, invitations may only go out to people with significantly higher points (80-90). One way to look into whether you have enough points is to consider whether you are within 5 points of the last invited score for your occupation. This happens each month, when the Australian Department of Home Affairs issues invitations for each occupation approved on the Skilled Occupations List, subject to occupation ceilings.

Last updated on the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website in March 2021, maximum points awarded for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) are as follows:




Skilled work experience in and outside Australia

Educational qualifications

Australian Study  Requirement

Study in Regional Australia

Specialist education qualification

Professional Year

Community language qualification



What is valued most

Highest points for those age 25-32 years. Can apply up to 45 years old

Superior level of English is most valued

At least 8 years for highest points. More experience is better.

Points are awarded for your highest qualification only. Higher degrees score better. Up to PhD level. Must have qualifications recognised as equivalent to Australian ones.

5 points for every degree, diploma or trade qualification completed over 2 years or more in Australia. Single-year courses meet this requirement once you have done more than 2 courses over 2 or more years.

Having completed a degree or qualification from a university or higher education institute from areas of regional Australia outside Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and resided there during that time

A Master’s degree by research or a Doctorate degree from an Australian educational institution that included at least 2 academic years study in specified areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics or information and communication technology (ICT) fields.

Completion of a Professional Year in Accounting, ICT/Computing or Engineering

Hold a recognised qualification in a credentialled community language enabling you to interpret and translate languages.

Spouses or de facto partners must also apply for this visa and meet age, English and skill criteria

Maximum Points



15 – 20








5 – 10

Increasing your points

If you are applying with a partner, the primary applicant should be the person who achieves higher points according to the Points Calculator.

Should your English levels hold you back, you could consider retaking a high-stakes exam such as IELTS or PTE. Both tests have ample online materials available to assist with preparation, and there are also local and online tutors available who can help you hone your particular skills. The tests have completely different formats. Generally, professionals find the PTE test easier than IELTS, as they can cope well with the online testing environment and do not have to rely on essay writing skills or speaking in long-turns to get through the writing and speaking modules of the IELTS test.

Points for work experience hit a ceiling of 20 points for work done in Australia, 15 points for work completed overseas or 20 for work done in Australia or abroad. You should ensure that you select employment experiences related to the selected professional field (denoted by an ANZSCO code in SkillSelect and the Skilled Occupations List).

EOI to visa application

While obtaining 65 points or more allows you to enter the first stage, your EOI will sit in a pool for up to a period of 2 years, awaiting an invitation to apply for a visa from the Australian government.

You want to ensure that your EOI is strong and reads well for various stakeholders in your field, to increase your chance of selection. Fortunately for you, VEVS Global has long-term experience guiding applicants through the entire process, including with the EOI. VEVS can also help applicants to claim additional points after the EOI is lodged. This is possible whenever the Australian government award higher points across any of the recognised categories relevant to you, while your awaiting an invitation.

Contact VEVS Global

VEVS Global can help you work through the relative advantages and disadvantages of working through a GSM points based visa against alternative pathways for permanent residency in Australia.

There are a vast number of applicants for each of the GSM visas, and by far, the most popular is the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). Given the complexity and length of the Australian PR application process, along with the frequent changes in Australian legislation and rulings, it’s definitely a good idea to seek the advice of a Registered Migration Agent who is up to speed with the GSM points based system along with other changes to permanent visa pathways.