Australia’s skilled migration programme enables suitably skilled overseas workers in selected occupations to qualify for a temporary or permanent residence visa to Australia. In certain cases, a temporary skilled visa may provide a pathway to permanent residence at a future date. The programme is principally designed to address skilled labour shortages in the local employment market. It achieves this with a highly targeted approach whereby specific areas of need are identified and appropriately addressed. A key element in this regard are the identified skilled occupations which are experiencing labour market pressures across Australia. A series of Skilled Occupation Lists (SOL) have been compiled based on current market conditions, each setting out the skilled occupations which may be nominated for each skilled visa subclass. As demand and supply pressures for these occupations change over time, these lists are reviewed and modified in response to these market conditions.

Certain skilled visa options go one step further by targeting skills shortages in certain geographical areas (including in regional Australia). Employers can also sponsor or nominate suitably skilled applicants to fill vacancies in individual businesses, thereby addressing an employer-specific need.

There are several skilled visa options available, with each one designed to meet a specific purpose, as outlined above. These comprise independent, state sponsored, regional sponsored, employer sponsored and nominated skilled visas and training and temporary graduate skilled visas. Each skilled visa subclass is subject to a prescribed set of visa lodgement and grant requirements, a key part of which is the relevant SOL which prescribes the selected skilled occupations which may be nominated for that visa subclass. 

To be ‘suitably qualified’ for a nominated occupation under the skilled visa programme, applicants are required to demonstrate that they possess a minimum level of skills, qualifications and/or employment experience as prescribed by the migration provisions for the relevant skilled visa class which is being applied for. This may include the requirement that an applicant obtains a positive skills assessment in their nominated occupation (to be completed by a specified skills assessing body). It must also be within the accepted validity date (which is normally either 3 years from the date of issue, or on a date earlier if specified in the skills assessment).

English language criteria also apply, which may require applicants to complete prescribed English language test and achieve a specified minimum test score (there are exemptions in certain cases). Be aware that English test results are valid for a limited period (depending on the class of visa being applied for the level of English competency required).

What are the possible skilled visa options?

The range of skilled visas options that may be available to specific occupations comprise of a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa, which is an employer sponsored temporary visa that may be granted for up to 4 years. It consists of 3 visa streams, namely, a Short-term, Medium-term and Labour Agreement stream (new opportunities for nomination under the labour agreement stream in South Australia have recently been announced). A subclass 482 visa may provide a pathway to permanent residence with an employer nominated visa after 3 years (transitional arrangements are available to certain subclass 457 visa holders, the predecessor to the current TSS visa). 

Applicants seeking an employer nominated permanent residence visa who are prepared to commit to remaining with their nominating employer for at least 2 years from visa grant may consider one of the following two visa subclasses:

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) subclass 186 visa; or
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa (to be replaced by a Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa from 16th November 2019). Eligible subclass 494 visa holders may qualify for a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) subclass 191 visa (to be introduced on 16 November 2022) after 3 years).

The subclass 186 and 187 employer nominated visas each comprise a Direct Entry, Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) and Labour Agreement stream. The TRT option provides a pathway to permanent residence for eligible TSS subclass 482 visa holders (and for holders of its predecessor, the Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 visa) after 3 years. This pathway is also available under the labour agreement stream in certain cases. The Direct Entry stream is for eligible applicants who automatically qualify for permanent residence.

The General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa programme offers the following 3 skilled visa options (all of which are points-based):

  • Skilled (Independent) subclass 189 visa (a permanent residence visa);
  • Skilled (State Sponsored) subclass 190 visa (a permanent residence visa that requires State Sponsorship approval); and
  • Skilled (Regional) subclass 489 visa (a temporary residence visa comprising of State Sponsored and Family Sponsored visa streams. A pathway to permanent residence may be available after 2 years. New opportunities for nomination in South Australia have also recently been announced). For further information on the subclass 489 visa, please refer to our detailed guides on Regional state sponsorship and 489 Visa SA (South Australia).

The subclass 489 visa programme will be replaced with a Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa commencing from 16th November 2019. Eligible subclass 491 visa holders may qualify for a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) subclass 191 visa (to be introduced on 16 November 2022) after 3 years).

The GSM programme operates under an invitation-based system, whereby applicants must first lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) with the Department. Only upon receipt of an invitation can applicants then proceed to apply for the visa itself. Each month, we publish a summary of the results for invitations issued in the most recent invitation round (which takes places monthly, normally on or close to the 11th day of the month). We refer you to the latest round results as well as a more detailed outline on how the EOI process operates.

A Training subclass 407 visa is an occupational training temporary residence visa which may be granted for a period of up to 2 years. It requires sponsorship by either an Australian organisation or government agency (including a foreign government). A nomination may also be required, depending on the type of sponsoring entity.

Recent international student visa graduates may consider a Temporary Graduate subclass 485 visa, which enables eligible applicants to reside temporarily in Australia for between 18 months and 4 years (depending on the visa stream selected, being either the Graduate Work or Post-Study Work stream). We have produced a series of guides on the subclass 485 which provide further detailed information on important aspects that potential applicants should be aware of before applying.

Our article on Qualification criteria for Temporary Graduate subclass 485 visa takes a closer look at the graduate work stream and the steps that may be taken by those who currently do not qualify for a graduate visa. 

To be eligible for a subclass 485 visa under the graduate work stream, applicants will need to nominate an occupation on the relevant Skilled Occupation List for this visa class. Our guide on Occupation lists – what are they and how do they apply to graduates explains this further.

Our guide on Australian Graduate Visa FAQs discusses some of the more common mistakes that international student graduates make when lodging their graduate visa applications, the types of matters to watch out for to avoid an invalid application or visa refusal and the potential implications of an unfavourable decision.

How graduates can get state sponsorship in South Australia provides an overview of the South Australian state sponsorship options which may be available to international graduates.

We also refer readers to the Top 5 Graduate Visa Tips AND How to spend your time on a graduate visa wisely and the Most common refusal reasons for graduate visas for further information.

The government has also recently announced the introduction of a new Temporary Graduate Subclass 485 visa which will provide international students who are studying at regional universities with access to an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa. Please refer to our article New Temporary Graduate Visa for international graduates in regional Australia

Which visa options are available for each skilled occupation?

In our new article series, we take a closer look at the Australian visa options for a selected range of occupations, focusing on those which may provide good opportunities for migration to Australia, as well as the most popular occupations which typically attract the most interest from prospective skilled visa applicants. Each article in this series will explore in more detail how each selected occupation is classified and defined in Australia for migration purposes and the potential skilled visa options which may be available in these selected nominated occupations.

The first instalment in this series focuses the spotlight on nursing, which presents a range of skilled visa options for eligible applicants. Many nursing specialisations are on the Skilled Occupations Lists for selected skilled visa subclasses, as well as a more general Registered Nurses NEC (Not Elsewhere Classified). Senior level occupations such as Nursing Clinical Director, Educator, Manager and Researcher are also eligible for nomination, as are Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses who work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Midwife.

Nursing Support and Personal Care roles such as a Hospital Orderly, Nursing Support Worker, Personal Care Assistant and Therapy Aide cannot currently be nominated for a skilled visa to Australia (although this may change based on adjusting labour market conditions in the future).

To work as a nurse in Australia, applicants must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). Applications for registration must be lodged with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). To register, applicants must meet requirements covering qualifications, criminal history, English language skills, recency of practice and professional indemnity insurance.

Which nursing occupations may qualify for an Australia skilled visa?

For migration law purposes, each nominated occupation is defined based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), which is a system used to classify all occupations in the Australian labour market. The ANZSCO data provides a general description of each occupation, the skill level (which specifies minimum qualifications and/or work experience requirements), registration and/or licensing requirements (where applicable) and a list of tasks and duties that may be required to be performed as part of each occupation.

The following nursing occupations may qualify for an Australian skilled visa:

ENROLLED AND MOTHERCRAFT NURSES

There are two occupations included in the enrolled and mothercraft nurses ANZSCO group, with the following common elements:

ANZSCO General Description: provide nursing care to patients in hospitals, aged care and other health care facilities and in the community and assist parents in providing care to newborn infants under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Midwife.

ANZSCO Skill level: AQF Associate Degree, Advanced Diploma or Diploma (ANZSCO Skill Level 2)

A description of each occupation in the enrolled and mothercraft nurses ANZSCO group is listed below. Note that the SOL and skilled visa options are not the same for these two occupations.

ANZSCO Occupation

ANZSCO code

ANZSCO Description

Skilled Occupation List

Skilled Visa options

Enrolled Nurse

411411

Provides nursing care to patients in a variety of health, aged care, welfare and community settings under the supervision of Registered Nurses. Registration or licensing is required.

STSOL

RSMS, ROL

Skilled (State Sponsored) subclass 190 visa

Skilled (Regional) subclass 489 visa (State Sponsored)

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa

Training subclass 407 visa

Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa (Short Term Stream)

Mothercraft Nurse

411412

Provides care to newborn infant and provides advice and training on infant care to parents of newborn infants. Registration or licensing is required.

RSMS, ROL

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa

HEALTH AND WELFARE SERVICES MANAGERS

There is one occupation included in the Health and Welfare Services Managers ANZSCO group, with the following elements:

ANZSCO General Description: plan, organise, direct, control and coordinate the professional and administrative aspects of health and welfare programs and services.

ANZSCO Skill level: Most occupations in this unit group have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification and at least five years of relevant experience. In some instances, relevant experience may substitute for the formal qualification (ANZSCO Skill Level 1). Registration or licensing may be required.

Skilled Occupation List: Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)

Skilled Visa options:

  • Skilled (Independent) subclass 189 visa
  • Skilled (State Sponsored) subclass 190 visa
  • Skilled (Regional) subclass 489 visa (State or Family Sponsored)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) subclass 186 visa
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa (MLTSSL)
  • Training subclass 407 visa
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa (Medium Term Stream)
  • Temporary Graduate subclass 485 visa (Graduate Work Stream) *

* Potential applicants may also qualify under the Post-Study Work Stream, which does not apply a Skilled Occupation List.

A description of the occupation in the Health and Welfare Services Managers ANZSCO group is listed below.

ANZSCO Occupation

ANZSCO code

ANZSCO Description

Nursing Clinical Director

134212

Plans, organises, directs, controls and coordinates nursing programs and clinical services in a hospital, aged care or other health service facility, maintains standards of nursing care, provides leadership to ensure an appropriately skilled nursing and midwifery workforce, and contributes to health service planning. Registration or licensing may be required.

NURSE EDUCATORS AND RESEARCHERS

There are two occupations included in the nurse educators and researchers ANZSCO group, with the following common elements:

ANZSCO General Description: provide clinical and theoretical education to and promote professional development of nurses and midwives, and conduct research into nursing practice.

ANZSCO Skill level: Occupations in this unit group have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification and at least five years relevant experience (ANZSCO Skill Level 1).

Skilled Occupation List: Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), ROL

Skilled Visa options:

  • Skilled (State Sponsored) subclass 190 visa
  • Skilled (Regional) subclass 489 visa (State Sponsored)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa (ROL)
  • Training subclass 407 visa
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa (Short Term Stream)

A description of each occupation in the nurse educators and researchers ANZSCO group is listed below.

ANZSCO Occupation

ANZSCO code

ANZSCO Description

Nurse Educator

254211

Designs, plans, implements and evaluates the delivery of nursing education and staff development programs, and manages educational resources.

Nurse Researcher

254212

Designs, conducts and evaluates nursing and interdisciplinary research projects, and promotes the implementation of research findings into clinical nursing practice.

NURSE MANAGERS

There is one occupation included in the nurse managers ANZSCO group, with the following elements:

ANZSCO General Description: manage health service units and sub-units of hospitals, aged care and community health care facilities, supervise nursing staff and financial resources to enable the provision of safe, cost effective nursing care within specified fields or for particular units, and monitor quality, clinical standards and professional development of nurses. Directors of Nursing are excluded from this unit group.

ANZSCO Skill level: Occupations in this unit group have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification and at least five years relevant experience (ANZSCO Skill Level 1). Registration or licensing is required.

Skilled Occupation List: Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)

Skilled Visa options:

  • Skilled (State Sponsored) subclass 190 visa
  • Skilled (Regional) subclass 489 visa (State sponsored)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa (ROL)
  • Training subclass 407 visa
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa (Short Term Stream)

A description of the occupation in the nurse managers ANZSCO group is listed below.

ANZSCO Occupation

ANZSCO code

ANZSCO Description

Nurse Manager

254311

Manages a health service unit or sub-unit of a hospital, aged care or community health care facility, supervises nursing staff and financial resources to enable the provision of safe, cost effective nursing care within a specified field or for a particular unit, and monitors quality, clinical standards and professional development of nurses.

REGISTERED NURSES

The registered nurses ANZSCO group covers several occupations, all of which share the following common elements:

ANZSCO General Description: provide nursing care to patients in hospitals, aged care and other health care facilities, and in the community.

ANZSCO Skill level: Occupations in this unit group have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification. In some instances, relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be required in addition to the formal qualification (ANZSCO Skill Level 1). Registration or licensing is required.

Skilled Occupation List: Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)

Skilled Visa options:

  • Skilled (Independent) subclass 189 visa
  • Skilled (State Sponsored) subclass 190 visa
  • Skilled (Regional) subclass 489 visa (State or Family Sponsored)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) subclass 186 visa
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa (MLTSSL)
  • Training subclass 407 visa
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa (Medium Term Stream)
  • Temporary Graduate subclass 485 visa (Graduate Work Stream). (Note that potential applicants may also qualify under the Post-Study Work Stream, which does not apply a Skilled Occupation List).

A description of each occupation in the Registered nurse ANZSCO group is listed below.

ANZSCO Occupation

ANZSCO code

ANZSCO Description

Nurse Practitioner

254411

Provides advanced and extended nursing care to patients, such as ordering diagnostic tests, undertaking diagnosis and health assessments, prescribing patient care management, medicines and therapies, as authorised in relevant nursing legislation, and referring to specialist Medical Practitioners and other Health Professionals in a range of health, welfare and community settings.

Registered Nurse (Aged Care)

254412

Provides nursing care to the elderly in community settings, residential aged care facilities, retirement villages and health care facilities.

Registered Nurse (Child and Family Health)

254413

Provides nursing care to children from birth to school age and their families with an emphasis on the prevention, early detection of, and early intervention in, physical, emotional and social problems affecting children and their families such as assistance with parentcraft, immunisation and developmental milestones.

Registered Nurse (Community Health)

254414

Provides nursing care, health counselling, screening and education to individuals, families and groups in the wider community with a focus on patient independence and health promotion.

Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)

254415

Provides nursing care to critically ill patients and patients with unstable health following injury, surgery or during the acute phase of diseases, integrating new technological equipment into care in settings such as high dependency units, intensive care units, emergency departments or retrieval services.

Registered Nurse (Developmental Disability)

254416

Provides nursing care to people with intellectual and development disabilities in a range of health, welfare and community settings.

Registered Nurse (Disability and Rehabilitation)

254417

Provides nursing care to patients recovering from injury and illness and assists and facilitates patients with disabilities to live more independently.

Registered Nurse (Medical)

254418

Provides nursing care to patients with conditions, such as infections, metabolic disorders and degenerative conditions, which require medical intervention in a range of health, aged care and community settings.

Registered Nurse (Medical Practice)

254421

Provides clinical care to patients, undertakes clinical organisation and practice administration, and facilitates communication within a general practice environment and between the practice and outside organisations and individuals.

Registered Nurse (Mental Health)

254422

Provides nursing care to patients with mental health illness, disorder and dysfunction, and those experiencing emotional difficulties, distress and crisis in health, welfare and aged care facilities, correctional services and the community.

Registered Nurse (Perioperative)

254423

Provides nursing care to patients before, during and immediately after surgery, assesses patients’ condition, plans nursing care for surgical intervention, maintains a safe and comfortable environment, assists Surgeons and Anaesthetists during surgery, and monitors patients’ recovery from anaesthetic, prior to return to, or discharge from, ward.

Registered Nurse (Surgical)

254424

Provides nursing care to patients with injuries and illness that require surgical intervention.

Registered Nurse (Paediatrics)

254425

Provides nursing care to children of all ages, including neonates, across a range of health and community settings with an emphasis on assessing children’s acute and ongoing needs while taking into account physical, social, cultural and family circumstances.

Registered Nurses Nec

254499

This occupation group covers Registered Nurses not elsewhere classified.

Skill Assessments for nursing

The prescribed skills assessing body for the nursing profession is the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council Limited (ANMAC). There are several assessment pathways, as outlined below:

  • Modified Skills Assessment – for applicants who hold registration as a registered nurse or enrolled nurse in Australia and/or New Zealand and whose name appears on AHPRA’s online public Register of practitioners;
  • Modified PLUS Skills Assessment – for applicants who do not hold a current registration in Australia and/or New Zealand but have a ‘Notice of in principle approval of registration subject to proof of identity’ letter from AHPRA; and
  • Full Skills Assessment – for applicants who have registration as a nurse in the UK, USA, Hong Kong, Canada or Ireland and have a minimum Bachelor of Nursing qualification from that country.

The assessment criteria is based on proof of identity, English language proficiency, qualifications, employment experience and being fit to practice.

In closing, it is important to note that applying for a skilled visa to Australia can consist of a number of elements, in addition to lodging the visa application itself with the Department.  As discussed above, applicants may need to complete an English language test, apply for professional registration and/or apply for a skills assessment. GSM applicants will also need to submit an EOI and, if applying for State Sponsorship, must apply directly to the State or Territory for nomination approval. Each of these aspects are distinct and separate and prospective applicants therefore need to carefully plan their application timeline to ensure all requirements are met at the relevant times. There are also often waiting times involved, which should also be factored into the decision-making process. Also be mindful that each organisation sets its own specific requirements, meaning for example, that achieving the prescribed minimum English language test result as required for the visa application may not be sufficient to gain approval for State Sponsorship. Another instance where variances often arise between the requirements of the various organisations is in relation to work experience.  It is therefore very important that prospective applicants are aware of each requirement as it applies to their own application.

As demonstrated in this article, the visa application process is often not a simple one and requires applicants to formulate a carefully considered plan. This requires being fully informed about the various aspects which come into play and ensuring that the right timeline is planned. This includes nominating the correct occupation (in some cases, applicants may need to decide between more than one possible occupation) and formulating the most effective visa pathway based on the personal circumstances of the prospective applicant.

Australia’s migrations laws are complex, and each case is different. There are also several terms which are defined in the migration provisions (and whose meanings may differ from their ordinary usage). We recommend that you seek professional advice if you are seeking to apply for a skilled visa to Australia, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application, and thus lessen the chance that it will be refused. A migration professional can help you to do this.

For up to date advice on the Australian visa options in the nursing profession, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.

References/Links:

Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO)

https://www.abs.gov.au/ANZSCO

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)

https://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

https://www.ahpra.gov.au/

Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council Limited (ANMAC)

https://www.anmac.org.au/