A Student Visa can often be a good starting point in the pathway to achieving permanent residency in Australia. It allows you to not only gain a highly regarded education and qualification/s, gain new skills and/or further your knowledge to help improve your employment prospects, but it also allows you to start working on the elements which you will need to qualify for a skilled visa in the future.

A potential skilled visa option for you to consider as you plan your pathway is a points-based visa. To qualify, you will need to achieve a prescribed minimum points score. Gaining a higher points score can also help to increase your chances of a successful application result.

Some points-tested visas are State Sponsored, meaning that you will first need to apply for, and receive nomination approval, before you can proceed with lodging your application for the relevant skilled visa.

Another skilled via class which you might consider applying for is an employer sponsorship. To qualify, you will need to first locate an employer who is willing to sponsor you. There are also a number of requirements which both you and your proposed sponsoring employer will need to meet before you can apply.

For some skilled visas, you will need to have completed a certain minimum period of work experience in South Australia. There are various search tools which you can use to help you to find a job that is right for you, and to enable you to meet relevant requirements (e.g. for State Sponsorship approval or for visa grant).

English language requirements apply to several visa classes as part of valid visa application and/or grant criteria. These will differ for each visa class, as do any exemptions which apply (e.g. passport holders for certain countries is one exemption category). There are also several English language tests which can be completed to meet relevant requirements, one of which is the IELTS.

In this article, we outline a roadmap to permanent residency in Australia for international students. We also discuss how points are calculated and ways to get more points for a skilled points-based visa, whether you can get a State Sponsorship for a skilled visa from a State other than South Australia, and what is required to get an employer sponsorship.  We then discuss ways in which you can find a job in South Australia, for the purposes of meeting eligibility criteria for a skilled visa. We conclude with a discussion on IELTS tips, to help you to meet the English language requirement.

How can an international student graduate qualify for permanent residence in Australia?

Once you have completed your course, as a student visa holder, you may then qualify for a Graduate visa. The subclass 485 visa can be a great option to include in your plan as it allows you to continue to build on and accumulate the necessary elements to later apply for a skilled visa. You can gain skilled employment experience and/or additional qualifications as a graduate visa holder, (without restrictions), which can be very important attributes to qualify for, or improve your chances of, a successful application for a skilled visa. The graduate visa is only available to international student graduates.

Following on from this stage, you may then be eligible to apply for a skilled visa, of which there are several possibilities (depending on your personal situation). You might qualify for a Skilled (Independent) subclass 189, or Skilled (Nominated) subclass 190 visa. These are points-based visas which grant automatic permanent residence in Australia. Another points-based skilled visa option is the Skilled (Regional) subclass 489 Visa. This is a temporary visa which provides a pathway to permanent residence via the Skilled (Regional) subclass 887 Visa, provided you meet specified requirements following 2 years.  The subclass 190 and 489/887 visas are State Sponsoredmigration programmes, requiring you to receive nomination approval from your selected State or Territory (including South Australia) before you can apply for the visa.

Can you get State Sponsorship in another State?

South Australian State Sponsorshipis just one potential option under the subclass 190 and 489/887 migration programmes for you to consider – other States and Territories in Australia also offer to sponsorpotential applicants, provided that you satisfy specified requirements. Be aware that each jurisdiction has its own criteria for approving a nomination, and thus you will need to ensure that you are informed about what these are and that you satisfy them before applying.

If you receive nomination approval from a State or Territory, you may also be subject to several additional obligations to your nominating jurisdiction for a certain period, as a condition of granting the nomination approval. These obligations can include residing in your nominating State or Territory, and providing information to the relevant authority, as required.

How are points calculated and how can you achieve more points?

Each of these points-based skilled visas operatesby way of an Expression of Interest (EOI) and invitation system. A summary of the latest invitation round results from 11thSeptember 2018 can be accessed here.

The migration provisions prescribe the minimum points score which you will need to achieve to qualify for each of the above skilled visas. They also specify a points table, listing each attribute and the number of points that you will score. Examples of attributes for which you can achieve points include skilled employment, qualifications and English languagecompetency. You can work on building your points score whilst you hold Student and Graduate visas, which helps to make them such attractive options to incorporate in your plan.

Apart from the points-based skilled visas, what other types of skilled visa options may be available?

You may also have options under the employer sponsored and nominated visa programmes. The Temporary Skill Shortage subclass 482 Visa is a temporary employer sponsorship visa which may provide a pathway to permanent residency after 3 years.

The employer nomination visa programmes comprise of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) subclass 186 and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visas, which require an employer to nominate you for permanent residence in Australia.

To qualify for both the employer sponsored and nominated visas, a key component of visa grant requirements is the need to have a specified number of years of skilled employment experience in your nominated occupation. The graduate visa will enable you to gain skilled employment experience, which you will need for this purpose (but be aware that there are two graduate visa streams, and the one you qualify for will determine your graduate visa term, which will be important as you need to ensure you will have enough time to gain this experience – this again demonstrates how crucial it is to know all the information up-front so that you can formulate a plan that will ultimately lead to you qualifying for a skilled visa in the future).

How can you get an employer sponsorship?

Before embarking on an employer sponsorship, you will need to have established a relationship with an employer and they must be willing to sponsor you for a position in their business. One of the benefits of having a Student Visa and/or Graduate Visa is the opportunity which these provide for you to locate potential employers and perform work for them to demonstrate that you are a good candidate for an employer sponsorship in the future. As you gain knowledge and skills whilst completing your qualification (as a Student Visa holder), and later, build on those skills and gain further experience once you are qualified in your nominated occupation (as a Graduate Visa holder), a potential sponsoring employer will be able to determine whether you would be a valuable addition to their business, and can decide whether to sponsor you.

The work experience which you gain whilst on your graduate visa may also qualify as skilled experience for the purposes of meeting eligibility requirements for a subclass 482 visa. This again illustrates the importance of planning your permanent residence visa pathway with the right information, so that you can spend the time on your student and graduate visas building these elements to later qualify for a skilled visa. This would also include being aware of which graduate visa stream you would need to apply for, to ensure that your graduate visa validity period will be long enough for you to gain the required work experience for a future skilled visa application. And even before you get to this stage, you must ensure that your qualification awarded whilst you hold a student visa will allow you to apply for the required graduate visa stream. Therefore, planning from the beginning of this process is crucial to help ensure that you achieve your desired long-term goals.

The application process for an employer sponsorship comprises of 3 stages, which all need to be approved for a successful outcome. The Sponsorship and Nomination applications must be lodged by your proposed sponsoring employer, whilst you need to lodge a separate visa application on your own behalf. All 3 applications can be lodged at the same time. Be aware also that a sponsorship application will not be required in all cases, as your proposed sponsoring employer may already have an approved sponsorship.

How can you find a job in South Australia?

Sourcing employment in South Australia may be required to qualify for several skilled visa options. For example, the South Australian State Sponsorship criteriafor a subclass 190 or 489 visa may require that you have a specified minimum period of skilled employment experience as part of the eligibility requirements.

Employment experience may also add to your points score for a skilled visa, and thereby help you to qualify for a skilled visa or increase your chances of a successful outcome on your application.

Finding an employer will be required if you are planning to apply for an employer sponsored or nominated visa (as discussed above). The nominated position may need to be located in a specific region of Australia (for example, in South Australia) to qualify for a Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) subclass 187 visa.

You will need to conduct research to locate an employer in South Australia. We would recommend commencing your research via the internet, where you can easily search for vacant positions in all industries and for all employer types. This is the most widely-used method for employers to advertise positions, and for applicants to search for them. To find employment in South Australia, you can narrow your search by selecting the State/City and/or more specific postcode/suburb when entering your search criteria.

Some job recruitment sites which you could start with include:

https://www.careerone.com.au/

https://jobsearch.gov.au/

https://au.indeed.com/

https://www.seek.com.au/

https://au.jora.com/

https://www.simplyhired.com.au/

https://www.adzuna.com.au/

Some of these job search sites allow you to create a profile and upload your CV, so that potential employers can search for and find your details when trying to recruit potential employees.

You can also contact recruitment companies, who specialise in helping candidates to locate employment. These organisations often focus on certain industries and/or job types and will therefore likely have a more in-depth knowledge about how each industry conducts its recruitment activities and thus how best to approach your own job search. Recruitment agents also have direct relationships with these potential employers, which can be very beneficial for job applicants, by providing a ‘direct line’ to the employer.

Another method of conducting a job search might be to research employers to whom you would like to apply, and to send your CV with a cover letter explaining your personal situation and what you are looking for. Some employers do not advertise widely, and this can be a useful method to try for these types of positions. Researching your industry (which you can do online) will help you to find potential employers in this way.

Linked In searches and word-of-mouth are other methods you can use to help you find a job in South Australia.  You could also approach professional organisations for your industry (for example, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) if you are seeking employment in the accounting profession).

The best way to find employment is to search widely using several methods (some of which may be discussed above).

An important note regarding all skilled visa options

Each of the skilled visas outlined above have a prescribed set of requirements that you will need to satisfy for valid application lodgement and visa grant purposes. It is very important that you are aware of these requirements at the start of the process, as you embark on planning and formulating your visa pathway. This involves keeping up-to-date with new developments as they occur and making any required variations to your plan as applicable. With migrations laws frequently changing, this makes it even more critical to stay on top of these changes as they occur. To help you to achieve the result you are seeking, you may consider engaginga migration agent or immigration lawyer, who are trained professionals in Australia’s migration laws and who can advise you on the best course of action based on your individual circumstances.

English language requirements

Achieving a minimum English language competency is often a requirement to qualify for a range of visa classes, including for the visa subclasses discussed in this article (such as for graduate visas andskilled visas). Prescribed criteria specify what you will need to meet this requirement, including the type English language test that is accepted, the minimum score which you will need to achieve (in a single test attempt), how long the English test result will be valid for visa application purposes, and the date by which you must have completed the test/achieved the required result.

These requirements will be different across the various visa classes, and you must therefore carefully confirm the criteria that apply to your own situation before you apply.

A variety of English language tests are accepted for visa application purposes, but the most common and widely used test is the IELTS. It is an internationally recognised test which is accepted by a number of different organisations, in addition to Australian migration purposes (such as for skills assessments and as part of entrance requirements for certain education providers) and has 50 testing facilities around Australia, making it accessible to more applicants.

IELTS Tips

The number one tip for improving your IELTS test results is preparation and practice before you complete the examination. Make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time to prepare before attempting the test, including allowing for additional time in case you need to re-sit the test to achieve your desired results.

Research online to find IELTS preparation courses, including on the IELTS website, which contains practice materials such as practice tests, support tools and exam tips to help you to prepare.

You should also ensure that you confirm the minimum test score which you will need to qualify for the visa for which you intend to apply. Check this information when you start planning your visa pathway, so that you know exactly what you are working towards. Knowing this information from the beginning will give you the added benefit of time to achieve the results which you will need to meet your goals.

In conclusion, we note that the above discussion provides an outline a roadmap to permanent residency in Australia for international students. We have also discussed how points are calculated and ways to get more points for a skilled points-based visa, whether you can get a State Sponsorship for a skilled visa from a State other than South Australia, and what is required to get an employer sponsorship. We have provided some sources which you can use to find a job in South Australia, and concluded with a discussion on IELTS tips, to help you to meet the English language requirement (which is a key criterion to qualify for several visa classes).

Australia’s migrations laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice before you proceed with applying for a graduate visa, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will prevent you getting caught out when lodging your application and likely also to give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome.

Several terms mentioned in the above article are defined in the migration provisions. It is vital to have a good understanding of these terms and how they apply in practice. Detailed advice about these is beyond the scope of this article and we would therefore recommend that you seek further information in this regard.

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!