Direct Entry Stream Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) 187 Visa

1 July 2017 caused a lot of upheaval in the world of immigration in Australia. Thankfully the direct entry stream Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) 187 visa  has remained largely untouched, for now.

Read: Applying for direct entry stream Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) 187 visa


The application:

  1. Regional Certifying Body application
  2. Nomination application
  3. 187 visa application


You will need:

  • To be under 45 years of age (Applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017 – previously 50 years of age)
  • Nominate an occupation on the RSMS occupation list
  • To have competent level English language ability*
  • Your employment to be in a regional area
  • Skills assessment (for certain occupations)
  • To hold any licences/registrations required to perform the role

* Effective 1 July 2017, the high income English exemption (applicants earning in the maximum taxable income bracket) has been removed. This affects applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017.

Find: RSMS Occupation List  

Read: English proficiency tests


Occupations that require a skills assessment

Specific occupations are required to obtain a positive skills assessment for their 187 visa application. These occupations are listed in a legislative instrument, which may be subject to change.

Find: Occupations and assessing authorities 

If your nominated occupation is on this list, you still may be exempt if you have achieved the ‘relevant’ Australian qualifications (course must have been taken in Australia). See section on “relevant Australian qualifications” below.


Skills assessment

The requirements for obtaining a positive skills assessment varies depending on the assessing body as well as the nominated occupation. It is necessary for the applicant to visit the assessing body’s official website to retrieve the most updated and accurate information regarding applying for their skills assessment.

Find: Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) website

Find: VETASSESS website

It is important that the skills assessment that you get is a full assessment, and not a ‘provisional’  assessment sometimes obtained for the purposes for applying for the temporary graduate 485 visa.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will only accept a skills assessment that has been obtained within three years of the time of application. Some skills assessment wills have a different expiry date listed on the results. If an expired skills assessment (according to the assessing authority) is submitted even though it is within 3 years of the lodgement of the 187 application, it will be invalid. Vice versa a skills assessment result may show to expire in four years, but the DIBP will not accept it as a valid skills assessment once it is more than 3 years before the time of application.


Obtaining a skills assessment overseas

If the applicant is overseas, they may still obtain a skill assessment if their nominated occupation is covered by the TRA operated Offshore Skills Assessment Program (OSAP). Under the OSAP, skills assessments are conducted by registered training organisations (RTOs).

To find out where OSAP operates, which occupations are assessed and which RTO is under the OSAP program, visit the TRA’s Offshore Skills Assessment Program Applicant Guidelines.

Only skills assessments conducted by a TRA-approved RTO under the OSAP are considered to be valid.


Relevant Australian Qualifications

If you nominated occupation is one that is specified to require a skills assessment in the above legislative instrument, you may still be exempt if you have achieved the ‘relevant’ Australian qualifications. How do you find out what the relevant Australian qualifications are? Search for your nominated occupation under the ANZSCO directory and refer to “indicative skill level in Australia”.

Here is the ANZSCO description for cooks:



You would not be required to do a skills assessment if you are a cook [351411] and you obtained from an Australian institute, in Australia:

  • An AQF Certificate III, including at least 2 years of on-the-job training, or
  • An AQF Certificate III, with at least 2 years of post qualification work experience*, or
  • An AQF Certificate IV in Australia
  • 3 years of relevant experience

* Whilst ANZSCO has not listed that AFQ Certificate III with 2 years post qualification work experience as meeting the skill level, the DIBP considers it to be equivalent to the AFQ Certificate III with 2 years of on-the-job training.


Other occupations

If the applicant’s nominated occupation is not on the list on the above legislative instrument and is otherwise not exempt, they are not required to provide a positive skills assessment but must still submit documentation that demonstrates that they are at the required skill level in their nominated occupation. This is assessed through evidence of qualifications and work experience.

Qualifications will need to meet that which has been defined under the indicative skill level for your nominated occupation under the ANZSCO framework. If qualifications have been obtained overseas, the DIBP will assess them against Australian standards. This is to ensure that the quality of the course, as opposed to the title of qualifications, are at Australian standards.

If the applicant has qualifications that are higher than the indicated skill level under ANZSCO, for example having a Diploma, the Diploma needs to be assessed to being relevant to the nominated occupation. In other words the applicant’s qualifications are assessed not based on highest qualification but on which qualification is relevant to the nominated occupation.


Recognised Prior Learning (RPL)

Recognised Prior Learning is where, through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), an applicant may gain credits towards a AFQ qualification without undertaking a full course, based on their previous qualifications and work experience, regardless of whether the study of work was undertaken in Australia or overseas. Sometimes an RTO will assess the applicant to have full credits and are given an AQF qualification directly. Where there are gaps in the applicant’s education and the expected standards for that nominated occupation in Australia, the RTO provides the necessary courses/assignments to bridge that gap. This is particularly helpful for applicants who do not have required Australian qualifications.

In situations where AFQ qualifications are issued by an RTO where the applicant does not appear to have a reasonable amount of experience, the DIBP may have call into question the integrity of the claimed qualifications. In such cases, the DIBP will investigate into the course content, nature and scope of completed assessment items, including any RPL based credit transfers, as well as the RTO that issued the qualification. If the DIBP remains unconvinced that the RPL qualifications are genuine, the applicant will be taken to not have demonstrated that they meet the required skill level for their nominated occupation.

On the job training

As explained above, the DIBP considered the following to be equivalent:

  • an Australian Certificate III* obtained with 2 years of on-the-job training
  • an Australian Certificate III obtained without the on-the-job training, provided the holder has 2 years of post-qualification work experience

* Or overseas qualification assessed to be equivalent

However if the Australian Certificate III course was less than 2 years and/or claims 2 years of overseas on-the-job-training, it will not meet requirements, as it is not possible for the requirement of 2 years of on-the-job training to have be met. The applicant will need to instead demonstrate 2 years of post qualification work experience in Australia.


Work experience

Whether the work experience was obtained in Australia or overseas, the DIBP will assess if it is relevant to the nominated occupation as well as performed at the relevant skill level. For instance, a cook who has worked for one year as kitchen help and a second year as a cook cannot claim the full two years of work experience.

Some occupations, under the ANZSCO framework, allow for work experience in complete replacement of formal qualifications. In the example above, cooks are able to forgo formal education if they can demonstrate 3 years of relevant work experience at the appropriate skill level. Please refer to the indicative skill level for your nominated occupation under ANZSCO to be certain of what qualifications and/or work experience is required.

For trade occupations, only Australian work experience can be counted towards the two years of post qualification work experience, or as a substitute for formal qualifications (where ANZSCO has indicated appropriate). Any overseas experience is not valid.

Work experience must also be full time, at a minimum of 35 hours per week. If the applicant has been working part time it can be pro rated so long as it accumulates to meet 2 years of 35 hours per week. For example, if the applicant requires 3 years of work experience, he will fulfil the requirement when he has worked for 6 years at half the the full time load.

Voluntary work experience

Time spent in voluntary work is unlikely to be assessed to count towards meeting requirements as it is unpaid, which makes it difficult to assess if the applicant has been performing the work at the appropriate skill level. Generally formal agreements and the lack of payslips will mean that hours worked also cannot be quantified. An applicant may attempt to get voluntary work assessed through a skills assessment to seek meeting requirements, but generally voluntary work is not deemed appropriate for in the demonstration of the applicant meeting the required skill level.


Other exemptions

High income

Effective 1 July 2017, the high income skills exemption (applicants earning in the maximum taxable income bracket) has been removed. This affects applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017.

Certain visa holders

Applicants who hold a Special Category 444 visa or a New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) 461 visa are exempt from getting a skills assessment if:

  • They are currently in Australia
  • They have been working in their nominated occupation for the nominating employer for at least two years in the three years immediately before applying
  • Work is full time (at least 35 hours a week)

Periods of work can be cumulative; the applicant does not need to have worked continuously over 2 years. Annual, paid maternity and sick leave are counted towards the two year requirement but periods of unpaid leave cannot be counted.


Certain occupations

Applicants who may be eligible for exemption hold an approved nomination under the following circumstances:

  • Researchers, scientists and technical specialists and are employed by Australian government scientific agencies. Australian government scientific agencies include state/territory government scientific agencies.
  • Academics (any level A-E) employed by a university in Australia
    • Level A – Assistant or Associate Lecturer, Research Fellow, Demonstrator
    • Level B – Lecturer, Lecturer B, Lecturer 1, Research Fellow
    • Level C – Fellow, Senior Lecturer, Senior Research Fellow
    • Level D – Associate Professor, Head of Department, Principal Lecturer, Principal Research Fellow, Reader, Senior Fellow, Senior Teaching Fellow
    • Level E – Dean, Head of School, Professor, Teaching Fellow

In the above circumstances, the applicant may be exempt from demonstrating that they meet the required skill level.