The skilled independent visa- subclass 189, is a visa program that has two streams available for overseas workers and New Zealand citizens. You can apply for this visa if you are a highly skilled individual and meet the points requirements (for the points tested stream).

This visa will allow you to work, study, and live in Australia for as long as you want- if you follow the visa conditions and Australian laws.

What Is a 189 Visa?

Visa 189- skilled independent visa, is a work visa that lets you live in Australia indefinitely. To get a 189 visa, you must be invited to apply and to get invited you must meet the score points criteria for this visa.

Visa 189 is also suitable for New Zealand citizens who have worked and lived in Australia for several years.

Skilled Independent Australia -Visa Streams

There are two main streams within the skilled independent visa category:

  1. Points Tested Stream. For this stream, you don’t need a sponsor or to be nominated. However, you must be invited to apply. You will be invited if you pass the threshold points required for a visa 189. Generally speaking, for a points tested stream visa you must have at least 65 points.
  2. New Zealand Stream. You can apply for this stream if you are a New Zealand citizen that has lived in Australia for at least five years and you held a special visa 444. In order for the residence period to count towards your eligibility criteria, you must have been living in Australia since or before February 19 of 2016.

189 Visa Document Checklist

You need to provide the documents listed here for a visa 189 application:

  • You need to provide a copy of your passport pages with your personal details.
  • An identification document. If you have a national identity card, then please submit a copy of your card.
  • Expression of interest. You are required to submit an expression of interest for your points tested stream visa 189.
  • Character documents. For the points tested stream you may also be required to submit form 80 with the rest of the character documents.
  • Proof of English language proficiency. English proficiency is not required for the New Zealand stream.
  • Skill assessment documents. You may also be required to undergo a skill assessment in order to get a points tested stream visa.
  • Documents proving your name change.
  • Form 956.
  • Form 956a.
  • For your New Zealand stream visa you must provide:
    • Residence documents
    • Income documentation
  • For your partner or spouse:
    • Their identity documents
    • Character documents
    • Marriage certificate
    • Divorce documents (if applicable)
    • Evidence of registered relationship (if applicable)
    • Functional level of the English language documents
  • For your dependent children under 18:
    • Identity documents
    • Copies of birth certificates
    • Family book with parents’ names (alternative to the birth certificate).
    • Parental consent form 1229
    • Statutory declaration
  • For your dependent children over 18:
    • Proof of dependency.
    • Dependency form 47a
    • Proof of functional English proficiency (only for the points tested stream)

Skilled Independent Visa Australia Eligibility Criteria

You meet the eligibility criteria for the points tested stream if:

  • You have an invitation to apply for the visa.
  • You are under 45 years of age.
  • You possess a positive skill evaluation.
  • You have at least 65 points on the score table.

You meet the eligibility for the New Zealand stream if:

  • You have a special visa subclass 444.
  • You’ve lived in Australia for at least five years.
  • You’ve earned at least as much as the income threshold.

189 Visa Points

A skilled independent 189 visa (points stream), is granted to you if you meet the required number of points in terms of your skills. For example, having a superior level of English will give you more points than having a functional level. In order to receive an invitation for this visa 189 stream, you must have at least 65 points. You can get an approximate point calculation here.

189 Visa Application Process

Follow these steps when you want to apply for a 189 visa:

  1. Submit an expression of interest. If you are applying for the points tested stream, you must submit an expression of interest via SkillSelect before you can apply for the visa.
  2. Meet the points requirement. When you fill in your personal information for your EOI, at the end there will be an automatic calculation of the points you’ve reached based on your qualification and skills- if you’ve reached at least 65 points SkillSelect will issue you an automatic invitation to apply for the visa.
  3. Get a visa invitation. Once you’ve finished submitting your EOI, you have to wait for an invitation to apply for the visa.
  4. Apply for the visa. After your invitation, you can submit your application via ImmiAccount- you must first log in to your SkillSelect account and select the option “apply for the visa” which will send you directly to the ImmiAcocunt. For the New Zealand stream, steps one, two and three are not necessary, you can simply apply for the visa via your ImmiAcocunt.

189 Visa Processing Times

Here are the processing times for a 189 visa:

Visa stream Processing Times
Australia visa points tested stream- subclass 189 15-25 months
Australia visa New Zealand stream- subclass 189 14-17 months

What Are the 189 Visa Fees?

A 189 visa costs AUD4,115. However, you must pay a second instalment fee of AUD4,890 for every additional applicant that cannot prove their functional level of the English language- this is required for the points tested stream visa 189.

If you are applying for a New Zealand stream, you do not need to pay the fee for the English requirement, but the application fee must be paid in two instalments. First, you pay 20% of the amount and then before your visa is granted you pay the remaining amount.

You can find the full visa fees here.

189 Skill Occupation List

For a visa 189- points tested stream, you must have a profession that is listed in the skilled occupation list. In this list, you will find several available occupations for work visas. Alongside the occupations listed, there is also the assessing authority for each occupation. This is important to know in cases you are required to submit a skill assessment by a relevant authority.

Additionally, this list also includes the ANZSCO code for each occupation. This code is used to categorize occupations and the skills required to work in that profession- the code may be required when you fill in your expression of interest. You can find the full list here.

How Long Can I Stay With a Skilled Independent Visa 189?

You can stay indefinitely in Australia with a 189 visa since this is a permanent visa. You may apply for Australian citizenship after a few years if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Can I Bring My Family Members With a Visa 189?

You can bring your family members with you to Australia with a visa 189 if they belong to your close family unit. Close family members for visa purposes usually include your partner (spouse or registered partner), children and grandchildren.

The children you included in your visa can be either your biological or adopted children. Additionally, they can be your or your partner’s kids. In case you are bringing adult children over 18, you must provide evidence that they are dependent on you and your partner.

Can I Travel With a Skilled Independent Visa 189?

You can travel with a skilled independent visa only for five years. Once five years are over from the date your visa was granted, you must apply for a resident return visa. This visa will extend your travel component for another 5 years so you can continue and travel as you wish.

If you leave Australia after your travel facility is over, you may not be allowed to return as a permanent resident- this is why you need a resident return visa.