The Ultimate Guide: Studying for Skilled Migration 2024

-with Skilled Point Calculator

For many students seeking to migrate to Australia, studying followed by skilled migration is the most viable method.

But which course and occupation should you choose?

Which visa is the best option for you?

This guide will give you a comprehensive look at the skilled migration options for international students in Australia:

‘Direct’ Entry options: Skilled Independent visa (189)State Nominated visa (190) – including regional areas  
New Regional visa: Skilled – Regional (Provisional) (491)
Employer Nomination: Subclass 482 (Temporary Skills Shortage)494 (new regional nominated visa)

Skilled Independent Visa (189) – Points tested stream

This is a permanent visa.


To obtain this visa, you will need an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This can be found in Part 2, Section 8 of the legislative instrument.

The MLTSSL currently contains over 200 occupations.

Examples are:

  • IT (analyst programmer, ICT business analyst, telecommunications engineer…)
  • Engineers (chemical, civil, geotechnical … etc.)
  • Teachers (Early Childhood, Secondary, Special Needs, Special education)
  • Chef
  • Registered nurse

In order to be able to select that occupation, you must also pass a skills assessment, set by the relevant authority stated in the instrument.

What does a skills assessment require?

This will differ depending on the occupation, but many of them require you to have work experience or specific skills and majors.

For example:

ACS, which assesses many IT occupations, requires at least 1 year relevant ICT work experience, for those who completed an Australian Bachelor Degree or higher.

They also require your qualification to be “closely related” to the nominated IT occupation. The major you choose can affect whether you meet this requirement.

Engineers Australia requires your qualification to be either from an accredited program, or for you to fulfil a Competency Demonstration.

AITSL, which assess teachers, requires secondary school teachers to have completed higher education as well as at least 45 days of supervised teaching practice.

ANMAC, which assesses nurses and midwives, requires the applicant has practised for three months, but not for recent graduates whose only qualification is from Australia or New Zealand.

English requirement

Many skills assessment authorities will also require a level of English language proficiency, including for:

and many other occupations

Points Test and Invitation

You will then need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect, and be invited to apply.

Your points will be assessed at the time of invitation.

You will need to be above the cut-off in each round in order to be issued an invitation. You can find further details about the latest round here.

The competition for invitations is why it can be difficult for certain occupations, especially Accountants, to migrate. Accountants are one of the groups subject to pro rata arrangements, which means there is a very high minimum score.

Keep this in mind when choosing your occupation and course.

Note that there are going to be changes to the points test, to all General Skilled Migration visas: more points for having a skilled spouse or de facto partner (10 points);more points for applicants nominated by a State or Territory government or sponsored by a family member residing in regional Australia (15 points);more points for having certain STEM qualifications (10 points);points for applicants who do not have a spouse or de facto partner (10 points); andpoints for applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who has competent English (5 points).

Skilled Nominated Visa (190)

This is a permanent visa.

What is the difference between this visa and a Subclass 189 visa?

To be granted this visa, you need to be nominated by an Australian state or territory. If you are nominated, you will be invited to apply, and receive 5 points towards the visa.

You will need to meet specific criteria for the State/Territory in order to be nominated. This may include specific occupations that the State/Territory prioritises,

For example: in South Australia, you can only access occupations on their ‘Supplementary Skilled List’ if you meet additional requirements, such as working in SA, being an international graduate of SA, having an immediate family member there, or high points.

Assuming you meet these criteria, your occupation can be one that is on the MLTSSL OR on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (Part 2, Section 9 here).

This means you can access a wider range of occupations compared to the the 189 visa.

You will still need a Skills Assessment.

What are the requirements for each State?

To compare different states’ nomination criteria and decide which one will be the most suitable for you, see our guide here.

Points Test & Invitation

You will then need to submit an Expression of Interest and receive an invitation.

You can see how many nominations were issued by each State/Territory recently, and in each program year, here under State and Territory Nominations.

New Regional Visa (491)

As it has been reported in the news lately, new Skilled Regional visas will be coming into effect.

The 491 visa, which will replace the current 489 Skilled Regional visa, will be a temporary visa permitting the holder to travel to, enter and remain in Australia for 5 years from the date of grant.

It is a points-tested visa.

You will need to be nominated by a State/Territory (or sponsored by a family member residing in a designated regional area)

A condition will be imposed requiring you to live, work and study (where relevant) in designated regional areas in any State or Territory.

Employer Nomination

I don’t have enough points and don’t want to move to a regional area or one of those States.

If an employer who can fulfil the requirements for a Standard Business Sponsor and is willing to nominate you, you could apply for a temporary visa:

Temporary Skill Shortage (482): up to 2 years (STSOL) or 4 years (MLTSSL)

You need at least 2 years’ relevant work experience and may need a skills assessment.

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (494)

You will need to be sponsored by an employer in regional Australia. This will give you access to over 450 more occupations than the closest non-regional equivalent visa.

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