The information on our website is to be used as a guide only. Alternatively, you can visit our office in person and we can assess your points at and it must be made by appointment.

The skilled visa categories were set up by the Australian Federal Government to encourage applicants with a high professional skill level to apply for permanent residency in Australia. An important area of focus for the incumbent Federal Government has been to target final year international students. To do this, they for instance relaxed the requirement (pre July 1999) for students to demonstrate work experience.

This change has of course brought about an increased demand on the limited number of places available. Consequently, on the 8th May 2002, the pass mark for the onshore and offshore Skilled Independent (subclass 136 and 880) visas were increased from 110 to 115.

This has had a direct impact on many students decision to study here. For instance, for those students with a 50 point skill-level, unless you have a spouse who is skilled or you have over three years work experience, you cannot meet the pass mark unless you have an Australian relative to sponsor you. Invariably, students will find it very difficult to obtain points for work experience.

On the 1st April 2004, Minister Amanda Vanstone for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, has announced changes to the pass mark for the General Skilled Migration (GKM) Program. These changes will apply to the following independent visa subclasses:


- Skilled Independent (Subclass 136)

- Skilled Independent Overseas Student (Subclass 880)

- Skilled Onshore Independent New Zealand Citizen (subclass 861)

Visa New Pass Mark New Pool Mark For Applications Lodged
on of After…
Skilled Independent
(Subclass 136)
120 70 14 April 2004
Skilled independent
Overseas Student (Subclass880)
120 120 1 April 2005
Skilled Onshore Independent
NZ Citizen(Subclass 861)
120 120 14 April 2004


However, to protect international students currently completing their studies in Australia, the new pass mark will not apply to those who apply before April 2005.


In addition, applications set out below will not be affected by these changes:


- Subclass 136, and 861 lodged before 14th April 2004;

- Subclass 880 lodged before 1st April 2005; and

- Sponsored visa subclasses


This increase had been anticipated since July 2003 when the extra points were allocated on the points program. As you will notice the applicants who have Australian relatives to sponsor them are not affected by the pass mark rise.


Independent Category
This category is designed for those who do not have an Australian relative to sponsor them, or those students who are able to reach 115 points without needing to rely on sponsorship points from their relative. This category is generally faster to process. It does not require an assurance of support and the payment of a bond.
Skilled - Independent (136 Subclass)
Under this subclass, you must satisfy the basic requirements and pass the points test (currently at 115). If you do not reach the pass mark, your application will not be rejected. It will be given a score and then placed in the pool reserve where it will stay for a maximum time of two years from the date you have been assessed (not the date of the application). If the pass mark comes down to your score level, you will then have a greater chance of being selected. In April 1999, the pass mark came down to 105 from 110. Many of our clients who had decided to take a chance in the pool reserve obtained their permanent residency. However, the level of pass mark cannot be guaranteed.
Skilled - Independent Overseas Students in Australia category (880 Subclass)
This 880 subclass is only available to eligible overseas students who have completed a Diploma (AQF Level 3 - minimum) or Trade Qualification from at least one academic year of full-time study in Australia (You are required to have at least two academic years of full-time study in Australia for applications lodge after 1st July 2003). You have to reach the current pass mark of 115 points. However, unlike the 136 subclass, there is NO pool reserve for this subclass and if you do not obtain the 115 points, your application will be rejected and you may have to leave Australia when your visa expires.

When you apply for the 880 subclass PR visa, you will automatically be granted a Bridging Visa A after your student visa expires and before a decision is made on your PR application. This Bridging Visa allows you to work full-time. Please note there is NO travel permission on a bridging visa A.
Graduate Skilled Temporary 497 Visa
This temporary visa is only valid for six months effective from the date of your course completion that is stated on the official completion letter issued by your education institution. The 497 visa can only be applied in association with the 880, 881 or 882 subclasses applications. It is not for those who are eligible to apply for the 136, 138 or 139 subclasses. This visa is designed for overseas students whose student visas are about to expire but have yet to obtain their skills assessment results and other essential documents in order to lodge a valid PR application. Essentially you must demonstrate that you have already applied to the relevant skills assessing authority for your skills assessment and have completed your course in Australia.

You must be in Australia at the time of application and at the time of grant. So you should not leave Australia until the visa is granted. However, this 497 visa has unlimited work and travel rights until it expires. Our office always lodges the 497 and 880 (or 881 and 882) applications simultaneously. This temporary visa is the best insurance policy you can have since it is not expensive. If your current visa expires while you are waiting for the 497 visa to be granted, you will automatically receive a Bridging Visa A with full work permission. This is an unusual bridging visa as the conditions are in fact different from your previous visa. It is designed to encourage students to go out and find a job after they complete their course. However, in our experience though, convincing Australian employers about this may be difficult.


Family Sponsored Categories (138, 139, 881, 882 Sub Classes)
These subclasses will award you an extra 15 points for the relationship factor. This is important for many students to reach the pass mark. The pass mark for these subclasses has remained the same at 110 points. These subclasses require a mandatory Assurance of Support and the payment of a bond (minimum of A$3,500.00 if you are single). This bond will be returned to you after two and half years.

Your sponsor must be related to you and they must be an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident. However, the Assurer does NOT have to be related to you, but he/she must be an Australian permanent resident or an Australian citizen. The Assurer will need to prove an annual income of usually not less than A$35,000.00, and be engaged in continuous employment. This can be shown by providing Income Tax Assessment Notices from the Australian Taxation Office for the last two financial years, two recent payslips from a current employer, and other supporting documents as required.
Overall, our office finds that the most difficult part of the application under these subclasses is the level of annual income that the sponsor and the assurer have to reach to prove that they can support the visa applicant. These visas are more complicated and require a substantial amount of extra work compared to the Independent categories.
Skilled - Designated Area Sponsored (139 class)
This visa is designed for applicants whose relative resides in a Designated Area.(Please refer to the list.)
The merit of this subclass is that there is NO pass mark at all! Yes, that? right, no pass mark. You only have to meet the basic requirements. However, there is no bridging visa to allow you to stay while you wait for a decision to be made on your application. You must be outside Australia to receive the visa when it is granted.

You will need to prove and demonstrate that your relative has lived in the designated area for more than twelve (12) months.
Skilled - Designated Area Sponsored Overseas Student in Australia (882)
This 882 subclass visa is like a combination of 880 and 139 subclasses. You must gain at least a 40-point score for your nominated skilled occupation, and you must be sponsored by an eligible relative. You must also meet the same criteria as set out above for the 880 subclass. There is NO pass mark for this subclass.

You will be granted a Bridging Visa A to stay here with permission to work (full-time). The 497 Graduate Visa can be lodged in conjunction with this visa.
Skilled - Australian Sponsored (138 class)
This subclass is designed for those who cannot fit into the 881 subclass visa but need to use the sponsorship points. This subclass does not provide you with a bridging visa to remain in Australia. The 497 visa cannot be used.
Skilled - Onshore Australian Sponsored Overseas Student in Australia (881 class)
This is similar to the Skilled Australian Sponsored (138) visa category except it is only available to eligible overseas students in Australia. You must pass the points test as well as satisfy the basic requirements. You must nominate at least a 50-point skilled occupation from the gazetted list and hold a satisfactory skills assessment from a relevant authority.

The requirements for the Sponsor and the Assurer apply as mentioned above. The 497 visa can be lodged in conjunction with this subclass and a bridging visa will be granted with full work permission. There is NO travel permission before a decision is made on the PR application.




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