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Migrating to Australia

Many international students who study in Australia choose to apply for permanent residency after they finish their studies. As an overseas student on a student visa you can apply for permanent residency under Australia’s General Skilled Migration (GSM) program.

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Skilled – Independent (Residence) visa (885)

There are many different types of permanent residency visas but this article focuses on skilled migration for students who have graduated from Australian study and are not being sponsored by either an eligible relative or employer, or nominated by an Australian state or territory.

Who can apply?

International students over 18 and under 45 years of age who have completed at least two years of approved full-time study in Australia can apply for permanent residency under the ‘Skilled — Independent visa (885)’.

In order to qualify for the GSM program, you must satisfy a number of eligibility requirements relating to:

  • Your eligibility for the visa: you must satisfy all requirements of the relevant visa subclass.
  • Your study undertaken in Australia: you must have completed either a single qualification (degree, diploma or trade qualification at an Australian institution in Australia, in English, at a provider registered with CRICOS) that required two years of full-time study, or more than one qualification resulting in a total of at least two years full-time study in Australia. You must apply for your visa within six months of meeting these requirements and your qualification must be closely related to the occupation you nominate on your GSM visa application, in terms of both the subject matter and the level of the qualification attained.
  • Your location: you and all secondary applicants must be in Australia when you lodge your visa application and at the time a decision is made on your application.
  • Your skills and qualifications: your Australian qualifications must meet the Australian requirements of your nominated occupation, which must appear on Australia’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL).
  • Your health: you must undergo a medical examination and meet minimum health requirements.
  • Your character: you must be able to prove that you are of ‘good character’. You may be asked to provide certified copies of police checks and other relevant documents, such as military discharge papers. 
The points test

Applicants score points according to different criteria relating to:

  • age
  • nominated skilled occupation
  • English language ability
  • specific work experience
  • occupation in demand/job offer
  • Australian qualifications
  • partner’s skills (relating to basic requirements of age, English language ability, qualifications, etc.).
How much will the visa cost?

The ‘Skilled — Independent (Residence) visa (885)’ requires a payment of AUD$2575, which must be paid at the time of application. A second payment of AUD$3575 must be paid before the visa is granted if your visa application includes any dependents aged 18 years or over with less than functional English language skills.

How to apply

Though processing times do vary depending on your country of origin, most ‘onshore’ GSM visas will be processed within six months. If your visa is approved you will receive a grant notification letter which will confirm your visa approval, visa grant number and any conditions attached to your visa. If your visa is not approved you will receive a letter advising if you may ask for a review of your application.

Further information


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