A Guide on Getting your Permanent Residency (PR) for International Students in Australia

Date: Aug 03, 2009
Document Type: Newsletter

Many international students studying in Australia aspire to become a permanent resident and stay in Australia for good. The most common route to permanent residence is for students to apply for general skilled migration after completing their studies.

If permanent migration is your goal, it is important to keep up to date on changes to the migration program. The Commonwealth Government has not made changes to the student visa program, but it has made changes to the general skilled migration program and is considering even more changes in the future. Significantly, the Commonwealth Government has reduced the number of places available in the skilled migration stream and has changed how permanent applications will be given priority.

  • First priority will be given to employer sponsored migration applications.
  • Secondary priority will be given to applicants nominated by state and territory governments seeking to meet a critical skills shortage in their jurisdiction.
  • Third preference will be given to applicants in occupations identified on the Critical Skills List (CSL).
  • Fourth preference will be given to occupations on the Migration Occupations in Demand List.
  • Applications not falling in any of the above categories will be given the lowest processing priority.

At present, the pathway from a student visa to a general skilled migration visa continues to remain in place. If you are an international student interested in applying for general skilled migration, there are a few things you should keep in mind to improve your prospects for migration.

Consider ways in which you can enhance your application for permanent residence and build more points.

  • Review your educational background. You must have studied for a minimum of 16 calendar months within Australia in a course registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students and you must have completed two academic years of study. If you have exemptions or academic credits from overseas studies, this can impact whether you have sufficient Australian study to lodge an application.
  • Review the state published lists of occupations in demand. If you are able to get a state nomination, you do not need as many points to qualify for migration and your application is processed at a high priority level.
  • If you are thinking about choosing a course, think about choosing a course which would allow you to pass skills assessment in a CSL occupation.
  • Obtaining relevant work experience can earn you extra points. Be aware that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship reviews work experience carefully to ensure that it meets requirements regarding skill level, salary and hours per week.
  • The 18-month Graduate Skilled visa (subclass 485) is a helpful way to obtain more points.
  • Consider engaging in further studies. Completing a completed an Australian degree, diploma or trade qualification earns only five points. Completing an honours year or a masters degree earns 15 points, while an Australian doctorate degree earns 25 points.
  • If you are studying in IT, accounting or engineering, consider completing a professional year. In addition to earning extra points, your application may be processed more quickly.
  • If English is your second language, develop your English language skills. Most international students will need to do the IELTS test of English language ability. The Commonwealth Government recently increased the minimum language skill requirements for some trade occupations. Because test results are valid for a two year period, the test can be completed well in advance of your application.
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