Sunday, 2 June 2013

Migration Chapter 1: Do you Qualify?

If you have not read our overview on migration, please visit it here.

In order to enroll into University, you have to meet the entry requirements. In order to pass a job interview, you got to have the basic prerequisites required for the job at hand.

Migration is no different. If you want to migrate, one of the first things you need to check is whether you fulfill the eligibility criteria.

Do you qualify?

Australia offers different types of visas for different migrants and purposes. My subsequent posts in the blog series will cover only 2 of the subclasses offered for Permanent Residency in Australia - Subclass 189 (Skilled Independent) and Subclass 190 (Skilled Nominated). Yes, I'm only covering them because I will only be applying for these 2 subclasses. They also happen to be the most popular/common visa subclasses, with Australian Immigration offering up to 2000 'places' every month for 189 and no limits for 190.

1. The Basic Eligibility Criteria

The basic and compulsory requirements to apply for Subclass 189 are as follows:

  • You must be younger than 50 years of age at the point of application
  • You must offer a skill /occupation that Australia needs (and is listed on their Skilled Occupation List)
  • Your skills in the offered occupation must be recognized by a relevant assessing authority from Australia
  • You must be at least competent in English, according to the standards of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • You must score at least 60 points in the points test (covered below in point 3)
  • You must pass the medical requirement by Australia (will be covered in later stages of the application)
  • You must pass the Police Checks in your country (will be covered in the later stages of the application)

At this point in time, you only need to look at the first 2 criteria (age and SOL) as they collectively form the first round of elimination, rendering a good majority of Singaporeans ineligible for migration via Subclass 189.

The majority of Singaporeans are not eligible to migrate to Australia

If you are above 50 years of age (or approaching that soon) and you intend to migrate, you have 2 other options. One, send one of your children (assuming you have any) over to Australia and get them to apply the parent visa for you. Two, be a millionaire and agree to invest millions in Australia through the Investor Visa. If both options do not apply, learn to find happiness in Singapore... or consider another country.

If your offered occupation is not on the SOL, all hope is not lost (for now). Australia reviews its SOL every year on 1st July so you can visit the link every July and apply when your offered occupation appears on the list. Alternatively, you can look at the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL) and visit the websites of each of the Australian States to check if your offered occupation is on their state nomination list. This link is the list for the State of Victoria - you may notice that the occupation 'Baker' is listed on the Victoria State Nomination List but not on the main SOL. As an example, this means that if you are a baker by trade, you are eligible for Subclass 190 (via Victoria state nomination) and not 189. 

If your offered occupation is not on any SOL or CSOL, state or otherwise, the last option you have is to monitor the manpower situation in Australia closely and change your occupation to one that Australia needs badly. Yes, this is a risky move because there is no guarantee that  Australia will continue to lack manpower in a certain occupation - and to make matters 'worse', in order to claim points in your occupation you must have worked in that occupation for at least 3 years. I will cover the points system in more detail below.

The eligibility criteria for Subclass 190 can be found here. They are almost exactly the same as Subclass 189, except that one can be eligible for nomination of occupations not in the main SOL but on the nominating State's list, as mentioned above. Another plus for Subclass 190 is that if the state accepts /nominates you, then your invitation for PR is guaranteed.

Alright! Assuming you pass both the age and occupation criteria (Congrats!), we can move on. As I've mentioned in the introductory post, migration is not rocket science. However, unless you are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a top migration agent or lawyer to do the paperwork for you, you cannot be lazy or passive about the process... which brings me to my next point.

2. Knowledge is Power!

If you are still reading at this point, it is a good sign! However, reading this entire blog series is not enough. In order to have a holistic idea about what to expect in the entire migration process, IMHO the minimum reading required is as follows:

  • The entire website on Subclass 189 and 190, including all the links and sublinks. Click on all the relevant tabs. In fact, bookmark these 2 pages. These pages alone will take more than a week of reading to cover completely.
  • Blogs on migration, as many good ones as you can find (like this one!)
  • Migration forums such as and Read as many relevant topics as you can. Some forumers' questions and comments can make you vomit blood, but you will also find genuine sound advice from those who have struggled / are struggling through the process. You can even register as a member and participate in the discussions.
  • Life in Australia e-book. No I'm not kidding. This is required reading from Australia Immigration for all migrants.
  • Changes to immigration rules.
  • Do some preliminary research on and to have an idea on the jobs available and housing/rental prices.

Yes, there's lots of reading to do!

In short, the more homework you do during this phase, the better. It will also help to strengthen your resolve to migrate and weed out those who are not actually serious about the decision.

3. The Points Test

If you decide to consult a migration agent, one of the first things they will do is ask you a number of questions to ascertain if you have the minimum number of points required for migration. I read that agents will only take you as a client if they determine you have a good chance of succeeding in your application. If you decide not to use an agent (like me), there are also several online points assessment tests you can take to gauge your preliminary score.

Here are the components of the points system in a nutshell:

18 to 24 years old

25 to 32 years old

33 to 39 years old

40 to 44 years old

45 to 50 years old




English Language Ability
Competent Level, with minimum score of 6 in each component of IELTS

Proficient Level, with minimum score of 7 in each component of IELTS

Superior Level, with minimum score of 8 in each component of IELTS


Overseas Employment
Employed outside Australia in your skilled occupation for at least 3 years

Employed outside Australia in your skilled occupation for at least 5 years

Employed outside Australia in your skilled occupation for at least 8 years


Australian Employment
Employed in Australia in your skilled occupation for at least 1 year

Employed in Australia in your skilled occupation for at least 3 years

Employed in Australia in your skilled occupation for at least 5 years

Employed in Australia in your skilled occupation for at least 8 years



Professional Year
Completed a professional year in Australia for your nominated occupation for at least 1 year within the 4 years before you apply
Educational Qualifications
Doctorate (PhD) awarded in Australia or overseas equivalent

Bachelor degree awarded in Australia or overseas equivalent

Diploma or trade qualification awarded in Australia only

Other overseas qualifications or awards recognized by Australia



Australian Study*
Completed one or more degrees, diplomas or trade certifications awarded by an Australian educational institute
(Other T & Cs apply)
Credentialled Community Language
Accredited at a paraprofessional level or above for interpreting or translating by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI)
Studying or living in Regional Australia
Meet Australian Study* requirement and
Throughout that period have lived and studied in an area/campus where the postcode is listed as being in a regional or low population growth
Partner Skills
Your partner who is included in your application also fulfill the basic age requirement, English Language ability requirement and obtained suitable skills assessment. Does not apply if Partner is Australian Citizen or PR.
State Nomination for Subclass 190
Applied for Visa Subclass 190 and nominated by the State or Territory for visa application
State Nomination for Subclass 489
Applied for Visa Subclass 489 and nominated by the State or Territory for visa application
Designated Area Sponsorship for Subclass 489
Applied for Visa Subclass 489 and sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated area

The minimum number of points you need is 60.

You will notice that Australia gives the highest priority to young migrants with relevant work experience and who are strong in the English Language. This accounts for the majority of the points and one can easily hit the minimum of 60 points based on these 3 criteria alone. They also give priority to those who have studied in Australia or worked in Australia.

Note for Point 8: In order to claim points you need to be officially accredited by NAATI. If you studied a second language in school and scored Distinction for the exams, that is not good enough for you to be considered a translator or interpreter.

Note for Point 10: If your partner is also skilled, only one of you need to apply as the other can be included in the same application, to save costs. Only go for these 5 points if you really need it to make the 60 points, as Skills Assessment and IELTS exams are pretty costly and will already be compulsory costs for the primary applicant. Will cover more on IELTS and Skills Assessment in later posts.

4. Alright! I qualify! What next?

Good for you! Let's take a look at Chapter 2: It's all in the Mind.

- A


  1. The all time favourite occupation which is constantly in shortage is nurse. Take up a nursing course and work a few years in S'pore as a nurse, your migration journey to Australia will be smooth sailing.

    Never mind what PAP had said about nursing is a low skilled job.

    The fastest and easiest way to be an AUS PR is to marry an AUS PR or citizen via partner/spouse visa.

  2. Hi Anon,

    Nurses indeed have the highest occupation ceiling at the moment. Statistically the safest bet if one were to change jobs in order to migrate to Aussieland! However, there is no sure way to know they will continue to lack nurses I think.

    Did PAP say nursing was a 'low skilled job'? Well, PM thinks that teaching is a 'consolation prize'. Go figure.

    I won't say the 'fastest' or 'easiest' way is the marry an Australian though. I have a cousin who has married an Australian citizen for more than a year and is still waiting for her PR. Meanwhile skilled workers who are applying via 189 are getting their PRs in 3 months or less... :)

    - A

  3. I got my 176 visa (now known as 190 visa) less than 1.5 months (5 weeks to be exact), from the day I lodged my PR application to the day my visa was granted.

    If I didn't delay my medical and police check, I could have received my PR visa in 4 weeks time.

  4. Hi,

    am a recent graduate and would like to seek opinion from unsure of whether i should seek assistance from NTRUST Pte Ltd which helps singaporeans migrating to assuie or just do all the paperwork by myself..but i do know that seeking jobs, housing, and applying for visa is not easy..and im alone, afraid of a lot of things..

    1. Hi Anon.

      I am damn pissed with my smartphone/iPad which ate up my long reply to your comment some time back. After that I was so pissed that I decided to focus on the diving and our Divemaster course. Actually I cannot remember why I typed such a long reply. Maybe it was a typical "Neurotic Rambling".

      Apologies for taking so long to finally sit down and do another reply to you. I hope you haven't actually sought their help.

      Do read this post from A Singaporean Son before taking further action.

      Unfortunately I have no recommendations for agent for you as we did not use an agent.

      Now I remember why my reply was so long... I feel that you are simply not ready to migrate. Nevertheless, at least you have taken the first few baby steps. You will eventually find out that the Paperwork (visa only) is all that an Agent can help you with. Nobody is going to help you with the jobs, housing, making the move etc. Unless of course you have a base of support there like friends or family.

      Do digest our migration posts fully to grasp the process, and for an idea of what it is like on the other side, I think Singaporean Son has said it much better than we can at this point.

      And if you want a primer on living overseas, I think there are other great ways to ease the transition, like getting an overseas posting or working overseas first. You could try work and travel in Oz, for e.g?

      If you want to migrate, then teaching in SG is one good option that I foresee will land you a PR ticket at least in Oz. But fresh grad? I think kind of hard.

    2. Hi I would be grateful if you could enlighten me on the following queries that I have.
      1) About requiring our skills in the offered occupation to be recognized by the relevant assessing authority, how does this go about? Must we send them an email with the required docs enabling them to assess our skills or?
      2) Assuming that I have a particular skill with me eg. Welder.
      I assume I will have to submit a letter from my employer to certify that I have worked as a welder for the company for a certain period of time. (Will this be verified by OZ by them calling and verifying it with the employer for its authenticity or is it just a letter from the employer that they require of?

    3. Hi Sara,

      U will need to do a lot of reading on skills assessment and the blog post of how I did it with AITSL. First u need to identify which skill you have that is on Australia's SOL, then check the respective authorities' requirement for assessment.

      Secondly, if u have work experience in the field then yes you will need to submit evidence of that experience. This can be in the form of an official letter from your employer. You will have to assume that the assessing authorities may phone your employer to test the authenticity of your employment. In response to your 2nd comment posted on 27 nov on essentially fabricating evidence, I strongly advise against this. Why take the risk/ be dishonest if you are truly qualified/skilled? Any shred of false evidence is grounds for visa cancellation and termination.


    4. I was browsing through different websites, forums and discussions pertaining to Australia migration, then I suddenly bumped to this page. I am also contemplating of applying for an Australian Visa. I am based in Singapore. I have some friends who did the application on their own.. a few was lucky, but some ended up seeking help from registered migration agents. I myself also is not confident to do the process on my own. Don't have so much time to do the research and all the documentations. That is why I am also planning to go to an agent for my application. Also, my case is not that straight forward. Finished a degree that is not really related to what I have been doing for the past years. Anyway, I will do some reading first, and if I really find it difficult for me to the application myself, I will seek advise from the experts. Been hearing NTRUST to some of my friends. Might check out their company. Any one here who has experience with NTRUST?

  5. If OZ just require a letter from our employer and they won't be verifying the authenticity of our employment with the employer, won't it be easy for us just to get a letter from the friends whom we know and whom owns a company to draft out the letter for us and thereafter submit it to OZ?

    1. Yes that does possible. Just think about what other evidence you might be asked to provide to substantiate and if you are able to provide all that, then I suppose it could work.

      Having said that, the usual disclaimer from DIAC applies. If any discrepancies (not in good faith) are found out, you can kiss your application and any future attempts goodbye. Unless you have alternate identities...

      And having said all that, we would advise everyone to do everything above board. But what anyone does is beyond our control.


  6. If we intend to migrate as a family, the total cost adds up to >S$4000. Any way to minimize this?

  7. Hi Daddee. The best way is to not migrate at all. Migration comes with a high price, and the application fee upfront is probably the least of it. There are many other non-monetary costs along the way as well, which will be unique to each person's circumstance.

    To 'answer' you question: DIY, without migration agent, and when you get over there, be thrifty. You can get a decent family car for under 3k if you don't mind something older. And be very, very thorough with your entire application so that you don't mess things up and incur extra costs.

    My medical resulted in follow up and some extra costs, though that was in the tens of dollars.

    If you balk at $4k (which is quite impossible now, think about $7k without agent), then I would suggest liquidating your current home if the value is not too badly-affected by rising prices. This keeps you from looking back, and gives you a good base from which to start anew.

    Interestingly, A's aunt (migrated here for 20+ years now) commented that the biggest reason for migrants returning to their home countries is that they did not burn their bridges. You don't have to do a "100%" job but I do think it makes sense.

    - S

  8. My wife has the intention to burn the old bridge by selling off our EC but to build a new bridge later by buying a new HDB flat after a minimum waiting period of 2.5 years.
    Last time only required 2 years to be a new AUS citizen, now 4 years, bad news to me that we still holding to our CPF money after 2.5 years.

  9. If you want to have a "new bridge", I think you are reading the wrong blog :p

    Five years of being locked in to HDB. Either you are confused, or there's some interesting things going on that may be better left unsaid in this space. ;)

    Property here isn't cheap at all, but I think you get a lot more for your dollar here. Check out Then focus on getting your CPF monies out, because you can't have that, AND your new HDB.

    - S

  10. Could you tell me more on the partner visa?

  11. Hi Lixian,

    Could you tell us more about what you are trying to achieve? I.e. are you migrating together? or is one of you already a PR/citizen of Oz?

    Then we can answer your question in greater detail.


  12. Hi S,

    Thank you very much for creating such a useful blog with tons of information. I really enjoy reading it.
    My husband and I have been planning to migrate to Australia for a while now and we would like to ask you a couple of questions, hope you could help us answer

    Both of us meet the requirements for subclass 189 with me scoring 70 points and my husband scoring 60 points (mainly due to the fact that he just started working for 3 yrs cause he took a PhD and recently graduated). Based on the Partner skill you mentioned above, it seems that we should just apply in one application to save costs. Our questions will be:

    - If my husband applies as the secondary applicant in my application, will his visa (if successfully approved) grant him the same PR status as me (or will be dependent visa, etc)? Will he be allowed to work in Australia as a PR holder? Can he bring his parents to Australia in the future?

    - Do you think he should have his skills assessment as well? He already took IELTS cause initially we thought both of us have to lodge our application separately in order to be able to work there. Will getting a positive assessment together with IELTS for him increase our chance of being approved even more? I find this part a bit strange, it seems that Aus Gov does not even care if the secondary applicant has the sufficient skill to be able to work there?? Wouldn't this cause a huge number of "unemployed" if these secondary applicants can't find a job in Aus?

    Thank you very much for your help and big Hello from Singapore.


    1. Your first question has been answered in the blog more than once, but I'm lazy to dig up. In short, yes he will be PR. Parent PR visa is another potential quagmire though. Long term social visit is reasonably easy to get based on what I've heard. But parent visa cost a lot for the shorter way, and takes a long time for the normal way. This is based on hearsay and I have little interest as both our parents rather stay in SG.

      Question 2, his skills assessment... It won't make a difference to your application for both of you. But you might want to do it as a backup in case your application is unsuccessful. Skills assessment can take 3 months. So if he has it in pocket, he can apply immediately if ur application fails.

      Do note that if he takes skills assessment and his PhD is part of the educational qualification assessed, he has no chance to get subsidised education in Oz. See my other post on this. But if he has no plans for taking other certificates in Oz, then sure, go for it.

      Cost vs time is another factor. Do you want to save the few hundred bucks? I really can't recommend either way.

      Your chances of success btw, are not really based on points, IMHO. It is more dependent on the skill you offer vs the competition you face. I think A mentioned this (you can verify independently), that there are few teacher PR applicants. So my medical was the only stumbling block that we saw, and even then there was almost no delay due to it.

      Btw A is the one you should thank. She asked me to start the blog and THEN did the migration posts. For the record, she gets way more page views than I do, but neither of us mind at all. It's a team effort, and not a competition :)

      I wish you and hubby all the best in the application process and hope to see you in Oz soon.


  13. Hi S,

    I've just came across your blog last night. It was very fresh for me and enlighten me for applying to migrate to Oz. I've wanted to migrate from SG (I'm not sporean btw) and thinking to get an agency to help with the procedure. But reading your blog make me think twice as agency fee is also not cheap (about 10K).

    I'd like to know if your application for both subclass were approved or only 1 of them is successful? Does that mean you have to pay double for both applications?

    If I calculate the point, it was just nice 60 points. Do you think I have a chance to get the approval? I do not have any family who can help to sponsor. Only some friends that are PR and stay in Oz already.

    Regarding the savings, do you think if you work in Oz you can save money better than when you were in SG?

    Thanks for reading my queries.


    1. Hi Rez, thanks for reading and for your questions.

      Actually your first question is answered here:

      We also had 60 points on the dot. It depends on your occupation. How many others are you competing with? Check the figures on DIAC website. A is a teacher, she had very little competition. Good luck if you are an engineer.

      Savings wise. Hmmmmmmm. We could probably do a ten-part series on this, but in short, it depends on lifestyle.

      For us? I don't think we have an easy answer for now. But sure as hell we ain't worrying.

      SG was a bloody good deal for us because we got our HDB dirt cheap. $85k. Savings wasn't a problem then even with a nice Subaru WRX STI (bought it five years old, used, and those things depreciate like a brick at first, so not an issue for me) and dive trips.

      But that's with Double Income No Kids and pretty much no cash outlay to pay for our mortgage, "thanks" to CPF.

      Here we will have to pay cash for mortgage/rent. If we need to take a housing loan. I haven't landed a job yet so if you ask me this question again in two years I might have a more direct answer.

      In any case we never really did the math in such detail in SG to know how much we are saving. Selling the flat bagged us much of what we brought over to Oz. :)


  14. Hi S,

    I need some clarity on Overseas Employment point criteria. I have been working as an Engineer in Telecommunication industry for 11 years now (since 2003). Technically I'm eligible for 15 points based on the number of years of working experience. In 2009, I graduated with Bachelor Degree which was relevant to my current job. My question is does the authority count the number years of working experience based on the date I got my bachelor degree or based on the date I first started work in a telco company? If they counted based on the date which I attained my bachelor degree, I only have 5 years of working experience. Appreciate if you can advise on this.


    1. Hi Matt,

      I know you addressed this qn to S, but we both agree that I'm more knowledgeable in this aspect so I'll respond instead of him.

      To answer your question, you will need to (1) determine what your occupation is called according to ANZSCO definition (2) find out which is your assessing authority (3) read the fine details from the website of your assessing authority.

      Let me give you a specific example with the steps I outlined. Let's say a chemist who has worked in a highly relevant chemistry job for the last 10 years only completed his chemistry degree 5 years ago. (1) He determines he wants to nominate the ANZSCO occupation Chemist 234211 (2) his assessing authority for the nominated occupation is vetassess according to the SOL (3) according to vetassess website, for chemists only post-qualification work experience is counted. Conclusion: the chemist can only claim 5 years for his points test, even if he can supply evidence for 10 years of highly relevant work.

      Basically whether pre-qualification work experience can be counted depends on the assessing authority's assessment guidelines for your nominated occupation. Hope that helps. All the best.


    2. Hi A,

      Excellent! Thanks for sharing the info.


  15. If not mistaken, it was counted from last 8 years of relevant work experience related to the degree from the day of PR visa application. Anything beyond 8 years will still be maximum 15 points. This is however good for mid career change.

    I have a friend whom has an engineering bachelor degree but he is using his masters degree in IT to apply for his PR visa as he has at least 5 to 8 years of work experience in IT after getting his masters.

  16. Hi
    Thanks for providing the platform for this blog

    I would like to apply for Australian PR through my wife using 189 visa

    She is a trained teacher in Singapore and has been teaching for more than 10 years
    What are her chances of getting a PR. She already sat for the IELTS general training
    Does she need to sit again for the IELTS academic?
    She get about 70 points for the points assessment.


    1. Chances are pretty high. My friend's wife was also a teacher in Singapore, she was the main applicant and she got her PR visa via state govt sponsorship/nomination. If not mistaken, she needs to take academic IELTS.

  17. I am moving over to Sydney finally after getting my PR visa 2 years ago.

  18. Hello! do you have any input for partner visa or know of people who has? We're not intending to engage paid services of a migration agent so looking for someone to speak to. Should we contact the AU embassy in Sg over the counter? There's AVAC but that seems like a processing center only without enquiry services. Any ideas who we should contact? And or if you've suggestions for our situation, our ears are open. The more the merrier.

  19. Hello,

    Could you clarify some details related to the partner skill qualifications for skilled nominated visa subclass 190? I have positive skill assessment (more than 3 years work experience) from Vetassess. Also, I have IELTS (more than 6 in each band score). My partner got positive full skill assessment from Vetassess (same occupation as I am) of 2 years work experience. Is this 2 years of work experience enough for 5 points for partner skill qualification? Would the Department for Immigration and Border Protection accept two years of working experience for partner skill qualifications?. My partner also have IELTS test (more than 6 in each band score). We are both in age group 25-32.

    Factor (Points)

    Age (30)
    English (0)
    Skilled employment (5)
    Qualifications (15)
    Partner skill qualifications (5?) *Victoria state
    Nomination by state (5)

    = 60

    Thank you for your time,

  20. Hello!

    Thanks for your comprehensive notes on the requirements for a migration visa - they're really helpful!

    I'm deciding whether to take the IELS or the PTE (by pearson's). Am aiming to get certified for 'superior english' and wonder which exam is easier to achieve a score in that band?

    Appreciate that you may not have taken the PTE but do you mind sharing your score for IELS?

    Have read up extensively on the differences between the two and it appears it's more common to obtain 79 and above for each section in the Pearson's, than to obtain 8 and above in the IELS. However, a lot of the people who have provided feedback on Pearson's are native Indians. Am keen to hear from a Singaporean if getting 8 and above (ideally without retest) for all the sections in IELS is challenging?

    Thank you,