Onshore PR Skilled Visas


The 3 permanent residence skilled visa subclasses are the 885, Skilled Independent, the 886, Skilled Sponsored & the 887, Skilled Regional which form the Skilled (Residence) Class VB.

These are the pathways to permanent residence for students and for those holding the some of the temporary skilled visas.

In the summary the common basic requirements are being aged at least 45 at the time of applying for one of the skilled visas (temporary or permanent provided the correct pathway is chosen), English must be in place at time of application, skill assessment must be place at time of decision (at least applied for prior to application), at least a 50 point skilled occupation & having met the 2 year study rule within 6 months of applying for the relevant skilled temporary or permanent visa (or have 12 months work experience in the previous 2 years).

Mapping the strategy requires some care and planning. Here is the widest pathway. Consider this scenario. A student is close to the 6 months since completing the course but can not meet the English language requirements in time and the skill assessment will not arrive in time. The path way then is to apply for the relevant skill assessment and then apply for the subclass 485 skilled graduate visa. Applying for that visa then stops the clock as far as meeting the below 45 criteria, the English language requirement and having a positive skill assessment.

Another problem is the student’s student visa expiring (as they usually do by March) but the student has no chance of meeting the ‘raw’ time of application requirements for the skilled visas. The approach then is to apply for any other substantive visa. It can be a tourist visa, an occupational trainee visa or whatever, but at time of application for the subclass 485 visa, the student has to hold a substantive visa and must have held a student visa in the previous 6 months[1].

Previously all the skilled visas contained this Sched 1 criteria (eg para 1128CA Skilled – Independent Overseas Student (Residence) (Class DD) subparagraph (3)(h) which applied to the subclass 880 (Skilled – Independent Overseas Student) visa):

(h)Applicant must not have been an unlawful non-citizen at any time in the 6 months immediately before making the application.

This no longer applies but one has to carefully track the Sched 1 criteria. Some visas allow a recovery from being unlawful eg the subclass 442 occupational trainee visa in compelling circumstances outside the applicant’s control[2]. This is a limited recovery process but in the right circumstances could be a rescue strategy.

Finally the exemption for students regarding work experience often applies to skill assessments. For example the Australian Computer Society does not require work experience for students who have finished their course in the 6 months prior to the skill assessment application. So that 6 month window has some implications beyond the visa application process.


[1] Sched 1 paragraph 1229(4)(a)(iii)

[2] 3004(c) & (d)

Barbara Davidson