The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is an important component of Australia’s skilled migration programme, as it sets out the occupations that are experiencing skills shortages in the Australia labour market that need to be filled. These identified skills shortages determine the occupations which may qualify for a Skilled Visa to Australia. Therefore, in order to be eligible for a Skilled Visa, your occupation must be included in the relevant SOL for the visa subclass for which you are applying. This applies to employer sponsored, independent, state sponsored and temporary training visas.

Due to changing market conditions, labour needs vary over time. The SOL is therefore regularly reviewed, and updated as required, to respond to skills shortages at various points in time. The National Skills Commission (NSC) is tasked with providing advice to the Australian Government on the skilled migration occupation lists, to ensure they are responsive to skilled workforce needs across Australia.

Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the last update to the skilled migration occupation lists, which had been due to occur in March 2020, has been put aside. No timeframe for the next review of these lists has yet been provided.

As a result, occupations that are eligible for a skilled visa may also change over time. This means that an occupation that may be eligible today may not qualify at a later point in time. It is therefore very important to keep abreast of any such changes if you are seeking to apply for a skilled visa in the future, and to be flexible and adaptable to any changes that may be made. Due to the uncertainty which this may pose, it would be recommended that you apply for a skilled visa as soon as you are eligible, rather than delay and therefore risk losing the opportunity to qualify for a skilled visa if the SOL does in fact change in the future.

Not only can the SOL change, but also the skilled visa requirements can too, again to respond to changing circumstances and labour market conditions. It is therefore vital to keep up to date on the latest developments if a skilled visa forms a part of your visa pathway to Australia.

What Are The Current Skilled Occupation Lists?

There are currently three skilled occupation lists, as listed below:

  • Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL);
  • Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL); and
  • Regional Occupation List (ROL).

There is also a Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) ROL List, which is a  separate list of occupations that applies to the RSMS visa only (see further below).

Each skilled visa subclass specifies which SOL applies.

The following visa subclasses are based on a SOL, which determines which eligible occupations apply:

Skilled visa program Visa subclass
Skilled independent visa

 

  • Subclass 189 Skilled Independent visa (Points-tested stream)
  • Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
Skilled nominated visa

 

  • Subclass 190 Skilled Nominated visa
  • Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
Employer sponsored visa

 

  • Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa
  • Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa
  • Subclass 187 ​Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa*
Other temporary visas
  • Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa (Graduate Work stream)
  • Subclass 407 ​Training visa

*Note this visa was replaced by the Subclass 494 visa on 16 November 2019. Transitional arrangements apply to certain TSS visa and Subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders) to enable them to continue to apply for permanent residence under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRTS) on 16 November 2019 and thereafter.

What Are The Features Of The Skilled Occupation List?

The SOL is characterised by a number of important features, including:

  • each skilled occupation is identified with an Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) code. The ANZSCO provides information on the skill level, and qualifications and/or experience required to work in each relevant occupation;
  • certain occupations are excluded from being eligible for a skilled visa through a caveat in certain circumstances (this applies to ENS and TSS visas only). For example, the occupation of a hotel or motel manager (ANZSCO code 141311), which is included in the STSOL for the TSS visa, is not eligible for sponsorship under the program if the position predominantly involves responsibility for low‑skilled tasks, such as rostering, maintaining records, reception duties and allocating duties to housekeepers, porters or doorpersons;
  • An assessing authority is also prescribed where a skills assessment is required.

What Happens If An Occupation Is Removed From The SOL?

Where an occupation is removed from the SOL, any nomination or visa application which has already been lodged will not be affected by the removal.

The same applies to existing holders of a skilled visa; they will not be impacted by the removal of an occupation from the SOL, except if there are changes in the visa holder’s circumstances which require the lodgement of a new nomination application. In such a case, the visa holder may be affected if there is a change to their occupation or employer, and their occupation is no longer included in the SOL.

Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

A new Priority Migration Skilled Occupations List (PMSOL), which was introduced on 2 September 2020, allows small numbers of sponsored skilled workers in selected occupations to enter Australia in order to fill critical skills needs to aid in Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list is compiled based on labour market analysis and advice provided by the NSC, as well as in consultation with Commonwealth departments.

The following employer sponsored nomination and visa applications with an occupation on the PMSOL will be given priority processing by the Department of Home Affairs (the Department):

  • Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa;
  • Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa;
  • Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa; and
  • Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa.

All other skilled occupation lists remain in place, however the PMSOL occupations now take priority.

The PMSOL is temporary, and priority occupations may change as Australia recovers from the pandemic. The impacts of COVID-19 on the Australian labour market will continue to be monitored on an ongoing basis by the Government and NSC, to assess Australia’s skills needs as they change and new data emerges.

There are currently 18 occupations identified in the PMSOL, as outlined below:

ANZSCO code Skilled Occupation
111111 Chief Executive or Managing Director
133111 Construction Project Manager
233512 Mechanical Engineer
253111 General Practitioner
253112 Resident Medical Officer
253411 Psychiatrist
253999 Medical Practitioner nec
254111 Midwife
254412 Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
254415 Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
254418 Registered Nurse (Medical)
254422 Registered Nurse (Mental Health)
254423 Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
254499 Registered Nurses nec
261312 Developer Programmer
261313 Software Engineer
272511 Social Worker*
312911 Maintenance Planner

*The occupation of Social Worker (272511) was added to the PMSOL on 27 November 2020 based on advice from the NSC.

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You can read about the various types of skilled visas available, the key aspects related to skilled migration and links to further information if you are considering applying for a skilled visa in our article on the Australian Skilled Migration Visa List.

Sources/Links:

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Working in Australia – Skilled occupation list

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/working-in-australia/skill-occupation-list

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Employing or sponsoring workers – Sponsoring workers – Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/employing-and-sponsoring-someone/sponsoring-workers/pmsol

Australian Government – National Skills Commission – Consultation – Closed – Skilled Migration Occupation Lists

https://www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au/consultation/closed/skilled-migration-occupation-lists

Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Skilled migration program – What we do – Legislative instruments

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/what-we-do/skilled-migration-program/what-we-do/legislative-instruments