If you are an international student graduate who has studied in Australia, you may be eligible to apply for a permanent residence skilled visa by way of a state sponsorship in South Australia. Skilled visa options that require State Sponsorship comprise the Skilled Nominated subclass 190 visa, and the Skilled Regional (Provisional) subclass 489 visas. These are points-based visas for which you must achieve a prescribed minimum points score to apply. A State Sponsorship will also grant additional points towards your points score. 

If you completed your qualification in South Australia, you may have access to a larger list of nominated occupations for state sponsorship, as well as waivers covering work experience, financial requirements and English language requirements.

If you are a ‘high performing’ graduate of a South Australian public university, namely, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University or the University of South Australia, the pathway to South Australian state sponsorship is also made easier with access to waivers for work experience and English language requirements.

If you studied outside of South Australia, you may still be eligible to apply for South Australian State sponsorship and have access to an extended list of nominated skilled occupations, depending on your work experience and where you reside at the time of lodgement of your application. If you are an international graduate, then you can attain your 12 months’ work experience offshore and access the supplementary skilled occupation list. Work experience gained interstate will not entitle you to access the supplementary skilled occupation list.

Therefore, completing your qualification outside South Australia can still allow you to apply for South Australian State Sponsorship, but it is significantly harder to qualify unless you currently work in South Australia. To meet the eligibility requirements, you must currently be working in your nominated skilled occupation in South Australia and in the 6 months immediately before lodging your State Sponsorship application.

In this article, we provide an overview of the South Australian state sponsorship options which may be available to you as an international graduate and the additional benefits that studying in South Australia can add, making it easier for you to qualify for State Sponsorship in some cases.

What are the Skilled Nominated visa options for state sponsorship?

The subclass 190 visa is a skilled nominated visa which grants automatic permanent residence in Australia. 

The subclass 489 visa is a temporary visa that may provide a pathway to permanent residence after 2 years if you meet certain requirements (via the Skilled Regional subclass 887 visa). The subclass 489 visa allows you to live and work in South Australia for up to 4 years.

If your application is successful, you will be subject to specific obligations to South Australia, which may include the following:

  • Residing in South Australia for a specified minimum period
  • Advise your address details
  • Complete surveys
  • Provide other information as requested

What are the requirements to apply for a Skilled Nominated visa?

To be eligible to apply for a subclass 190 or 489 visas, you will need to meet the following key requirements:

  • The first step is to apply to Immigration South Australia (Immigration SA) for sponsorship approval. Before you lodge your application, you should confirm with Immigration SA or with an experienced Registered Migration Agent that you meet the sponsorship requirements as they apply to you (different requirements apply to each subclass)
  • At the same time, you must also lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) with Immigration. This is not a visa application, but a way for you to express your interest in applying for the skilled visa
  • You must have a positive skills assessment for a nominated occupation which is listed in a prescribed list of skilled occupations. A skills assessment must be conducted by a specified skills assessing authority and confirms that you have the minimum qualifications and/or employment experience required to perform the skilled occupation in Australia. Different occupation lists apply to each visa subclass.
  • You must be aged under 45 years at the time of receiving an invitation to apply for the skilled visa
  • You must achieve a minimum test score of 65 in a points test
  • You must achieve a minimum Competent English language level

If your application is successful and you receive an invitation to apply for a skilled nominated visa on the basis of an approved sponsorship by Immigration SA, you will be granted the following additional points towards your points score:

  • Subclass 190 visa – 5 points
  • Subclass 489 visa – 10 points

You can then proceed with lodging an application for the relevant skilled visa with the Department.

What are the Immigration SA sponsorship requirements for international student graduates?

To apply for South Australian State Sponsorship as an international graduate, to start with, you will need to check if you satisfy the general requirements for sponsorship approval (which apply to all Immigration SA applicants). As an international graduate, you may be eligible for certain exemptions and waivers and have access to an extended skilled occupation list. Key requirements for sponsorship by Immigration SA include the following:

  • You must have a genuine interest and commitment to live and work in South Australia for two years from the date of arrival or visa grant, with a view to settling in South Australia long-term;
  • If you are applying from onshore, you must have resided in South Australia for at least 6 months;
  • If you are applying from outside Australia and you have studied or worked in another Australian state or territory in the last 10 years, you may be eligible to apply for a subclass 489 visa only;
  • If in the last 10 years you have studied or worked in South Australia and in another Australian state or territory, you will only be eligible to apply for a subclass 489 visa, unless you can demonstrate that you have a greater commitment to South Australia than to any other Australian state or territory;
  • You must be under 45 years of age at the time of receipt of Sponsorship approval;
  • Your skilled occupation must be listed on a specified Skilled Occupation List (extended lists are available to international graduates in certain cases)
  • A positive skills assessment in your nominated skilled occupation is required (this is valid for 3 years only unless a shorter validity period is specified in the skills assessment). This must be in your nominated occupation and field of study completed in South Australia;
  • A minimum of 1 year of skilled employment experience in your nominated occupation in the last 3 years is required (certain occupations have a higher work experience requirement). Exemptions may apply to international graduates;
  • You must achieve a minimum English competency by completing a specified English test (e.g. IELTS) and achieve a specified minimum test score. Certain passport holders are exempt from this requirement. The minimum English competency required will depend on your skilled occupation, whether you are currently working in your skilled occupation in South Australia and the English language requirement as set by the relevant skills assessing authority. An exemption may also apply to you as an international graduate.
  • You must have sufficient funds to settle in South Australia, with minimum amounts set for cash and other assets (the minimum specified amounts applicable being dependent on your family composition and whether you are applying from onshore or from outside Australia). As an Australian international graduate, you can claim financial support from your parents.

What if you have completed your qualification in South Australia?

If you have completed a qualification in South Australia and you meet the applicable requirements, you may have access to an extended list of skilled occupations for sponsorship purposes. This includes the SA Skilled Occupation list and ‘special conditions apply’ occupations as well as a supplementary skilled occupation list.

You may also have access to a work experience waiver, financial requirement waiver and/or an English language exemption.

If you are a high performing graduate of South Australia, you will be able to access a more extensive list of occupations on either the State Nominated Occupation List or the Supplementary Skilled List. In addition, a work experience waiver and English language exemption may apply.

To be classified as a high performing graduate, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • You must be residing in South Australia at the time of lodgement of your sponsorship application;
  • You must have completed a qualification at a South Australian public university within 2 years of lodging your sponsorship application, and you must have achieved a specified Grade Point Average (GPA) in accordance with the following:
  • If you completed a PhD or Masters by Research, no minimum GPA is required
  • If you completed a Masters by Coursework degree (following completion of a Bachelor degree in South Australia), you must have achieved a minimum GPA of 6.0 or above
  • If you completed a First Class Honours in a dedicated Honours year (following completion of a Bachelor degree in South Australia), you must have achieved a minimum GPA of 6.0 or above in a Bachelor degree

What if you completed your qualification interstate?

If you completed your qualification in Australia, but in a State or Territory outside of South Australia, the following pathways and skilled occupations may be available to you:

  • If you are residing either in South Australia or offshore and you meet the general work experience requirements, you may be eligible to apply for a subclass 489 visa and have access to the State Nominated Occupation List (‘available’ or ‘low availability’ occupations)
  • If you are residing in South Australia and are working in your nominated or closely related occupation for 12 months in South Australia or 6 months in a country region of South Australia, you may be eligible to apply for a subclass 190 or 489 visa, and have access to all relevant skilled occupations lists, including the Supplementary Skilled List and special conditions.

You will be ineligible for State Sponsorship in South Australia if you completed your qualification interstate and:

  • You are residing in Australia at the time of lodgement, but outside of South Australia; or
  • You are residing in South Australia but have less than 6 months South Australian work experience.

In conclusion, as you can see from the above, there may be options to apply for SA State Sponsorship under a range of pathways, depending on your personal situation. If you are considering applying for sponsorship with South Australia, it is important that you are fully informed about these requirements and how they apply to you. The above discussion provides an overview only of the requirements, waivers and exemptions which may apply to international graduates and is therefore not an exhaustive list.

Given the complexity of these requirements, in addition to the separate requirements that apply to the EOI and visa application process (for Immigration purposes), we strongly recommend that you obtain professional advice from a registered migration agent or immigration lawyer before you apply. They will be able to provide you with individually tailored advice regarding your eligibility to apply and can prepare your application on your behalf. Making a mistake with your application and/or not providing the correct documents can result in processing delays or more serious consequences such as a refusal of your application. Such a scenario can affect your options for lodgement of a further application, especially if you are seeking to lodge whilst you remain onshore and can therefore significantly affect your goals for settlement in Australia. A visa refusal can also result in loss of funds and valuable time involved in the process. This is why it is best to get it right the first time, and to lodge a complete and correct application in the first instance, thereby improving your chances of a successful outcome. An expert in Australia’s migration laws can also advise the steps you need to take to in order to meet eligibility requirements for a Skilled Sponsored visa and formulate a visa pathway tailored to your individual circumstances to achieve your goals and needs.

For up to date advice on the graduate visa process and requirements, and how to avoid a refusal, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide, and we aren’t expensive! Just ask us!