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How to Become an Australian Permanent Resident

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Australia is consistently voted one of the top three most liveable countries in the world. Most people who migrate to Australia aim to settle long-term and start a new life in Australia. A common question is if Permanent Residency (PR) is an option through the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (TSS visa), luckily it is.

There are a number of other pathways to becoming a permanent resident. The following article will mainly concentrate on Employer-Sponsored and General Skilled Visas. This will include how you can transition from a TSS visa (formerly the 457 visa) to PR.

What is the difference between PR and Australian citizenship?

It is important to understand that these two things are different and have different privileges, rights, and responsibilities.

An Australian citizen has all the same rights and privileges as those born in Australia. They are able to apply for an Australian passport, travel abroad freely, and return to Australia without issue. As a citizen you will also have access to certain student loans and be able to vote in Australian government elections.

A permanent resident is someone who holds a permanent visa but is not a citizen. As a permanent resident you have the right to live in Australia indefinitely however your initial PR visa will have a five-year travel facility. This means once expired you will need to meet the visa requirements if you wish to renew. Unlike citizens, permanent residents are not immune to deportation and are not able to vote in Government elections. Permanent residents are able to live, work, and study without restriction.

Benefits of becoming a permanent resident

The main benefits are:

  • Stay indefinitely – Unlike most visas for Australia, there is no limit to how long you can stay in the country
  • Full work rights – You have unrestricted work rights. This means you are not restricted to work for a specific employer or in a specific industry or occupation.
  • Healthcare – Unlike other visas, you no longer require private health cover. You now get access to Australia’s government-run Medicare health insurance scheme. This means you can access free or subsidised treatment in Government hospitals and subsidised medicines.
  • Education – Your children will be able to attend public primary and high schools anywhere in Australia. They can also get tertiary education at the same cost as Australians and access to certain education loans.
  • Social security benefits – After two years you are entitled to receive social security benefits through Centrelink. These include unemployment, sickness, disability, childcare allowances, and student benefits.
  • Pathway to citizenship – Once you have lived in Australia for four years with at least 12 months as a permanent resident you can apply for citizenship.
  • Citizenship for newborns – If you have a child who is born in Australia, they will be deemed an Australian citizen by birth.
  • Sponsoring relatives – You may be able to sponsor relatives, helping them obtain their own permanent residency (subject to conditions).
  • Access to New Zealand – Permanent residents have the right to travel, live, work, and study in New Zealand.

What are the pathways to PR?

There are a number of different pathways that allow you to live and work in Australia permanently. The four most common are:

  • Employer-Sponsored – Temporary Transition Stream (ENS 186/RSMS 187)
  • Employer-Sponsored – Direct Entry Stream (ENS 186/RSMS 187)
  • General Skilled Migration (189/190/489)
  • Partner Migration (820/801)

We are only going to look in detail at Employer-Sponsored and General Skilled Migration visas. For more information about other pathways or other PR options please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

Employer Sponsored visas

Two of the most common PR visas, especially for workers who are on the TSS or 457 visas, are:

  • Employer Nominated Scheme visa (ENS) subclass 186
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (RSMS) subclass 187

The 186 and 187 visas are both employer nominated which means if you want to apply for either visa you must have an Australian employer who is willing to nominate you in a specific occupation.

The 187 visa is a regional sponsored visa which means you can only work for an employer in a regional area and not a metropolitan area. Employers located anywhere in Australia can nominate for a 186 visa, however only for specific occupations.

How can I apply for either visa?

Both visas have two streams for application:

  • Temporary Residence Transitional stream (TRT) – TRT is for employees who have been employed by the nominating employer on a TSS or 457 Visa for at least three years.
  • Direct Entry stream – For employees or candidates who do not meet the TRT requirements.

The TRT stream is the most common stream for both visas. This is because you will initially be sponsored to work for the employer on a TSS visa. Then once you have worked for that same employer for three years you have the option to apply for the PR visa, as long as the employer is willing to support the application.

Processing times for these visas are usually quicker, with 186 visas currently taking 9 to 14 months and 187 visas taking under 90 days. TRT is generally more appealing to employers for two reasons:

  1. They will be able to see your capability in the role and how you work whilst you are on a TSS visa
  2. Your TSS visa should be granted much quicker than a PR visa. Therefore you can start working for the employer sooner. Once they are willing to support your PR application you will be able to continue working for the same employer until your new PR visa is granted as you will already have work rights.

It is less likely an Australian employer will support a Direct Entry visa application, unless you have an existing Australian visa with work rights. This is because the employer will have to wait until the new visa has been approved before you are legally allowed to start working for them.

Currently the average processing time for a Direct Entry visa is between 11-16 months for a 186 visa and 20-22 months for a 187 visa. As you can imagine, most employers won’t want to spend thousands of dollars supporting an application and then have to wait this long before employment can begin.

Occupations eligible for the 186 and 187 visa

Occupations for work visas fall into one of the following lists:

If your occupation is on the STSOL then you are only able to apply for a 187 visa. You will not be eligible to apply for a 186 visa.

For any occupation on the MLTSSL you are able to apply for either the 186 or the 187 visas.

If your occupation is on the ROL then you can apply for the 186 visa, but only if the employer is located in regional Australia and not a metropolitan area. You are also able to apply for the 187 visa.

It’s really important that you which list your occupation belongs to. If your occupation is on the STSOL or ROL then you must be employed in a regional area otherwise you won’t be eligible for a PR visa.

Visa requirements

The requirements for both visas are similar:

  • Age – The primary applicant must be under 45 years of age at the time the visa application is submitted.
  • English – You must have a Competent English language ability
  • Health requirements – You and anyone included in the visa application must meet the health requirements
  • Character requirements – You or anyone over the age of 16 who will be included in the visa application must meet the character requirements

Competent English – scores required

Listening 6.0 12 50 B 169
Reading 6.0 13 50 B 169
Speaking 6.0 18 50 B 169
Writing 6.0 21 50 B 169

What are the costs?

The following costs are only for the Government fees for the visa application. Other costs such as professional fees for using a Registered Migration agent, health checks and English language tests are additional.

All prices are in Australian dollars (AUD) and must be paid at the time of visa lodgement.

Primary application $3,755
Additional applicants over 18 years of age $1,875 (each)
Additional applicants under 18 years of age $940 (each)

General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas

Unlike the 186 and 187 visa these visas do not require an employer to nominate the application. This can be very handy if you’re on a TSS visa and your employer isn’t willing to support a 186 or 187 visa application.

The two most common GSM visas for TSS visa holders are:

  • Skilled Independent Subclass 189
  • Skilled Nominated Subclass 190

Both visas are points-tested. The 189 visa is independent, meaning you can live and work anywhere in Australia without conditions. Your occupation does however have to be on the MLTSSL.

The 190 visa is state-nominated. Therefore instead of an employer nominating you (like the 186 and 187 visa) a state or territory will nominate you. This means you will have to work within the nominating state or territory. Each state and territory will regularly update which occupations they require depending on what skilled shortages there are in their state or territory.

Visa requirements

Firstly you will need to make sure your proposed occupation is either on the MLTSSL (for the 189 visa) or on one of the States or Territories occupations lists (for the 190 visa). Then you will need to do the following:

  • Meet the minimum points score required (currently 65 points)
  • Have completed a Skills Assessment in your chosen occupation
  • Be under the age of 45 years of age
  • Meet the Character, Health, and English requirements

Regarding English the higher the level of English you have the higher the points you will be awarded in the points test. However you must prove you meet the minimum requirements, which is Competent English.

Competent English – scores required

Listening 6.0 12 50 B 169
Reading 6.0 13 50 B 169
Speaking 6.0 18 50 B 169
Writing 6.0 21 50 B 169

You then have to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect. The EOI is not a visa application but simply an application to lodge your points score with SkillSelect. You will then be ranked in comparison to everyone else who has submitted an EOI for your occupation.

Throughout the year occupations that are in demand will be chosen and then the highest-ranking EOI’s for that occupation will be invited to apply for the visa.

What are the costs?

The following costs are again only for the Government fees. Other costs such as professional fees for using a Registered Migration agent, health checks, English language tests, and Skills Assessments are additional.

All prices are in Australian dollars (AUD) and must be paid at the time of lodgement.

Primary application $3,755
Additional applicants over 18 years of age $1,875 (each)
Additional applicants under 18 years of age $940 (each)

For GSM visas Skills Assessments are required and can cost from AUD$1,750-$3,000 plus taxes depending on your occupation. If you get professional assistance from a Registered Migration agent then this cost will increase.


There are a number of different pathways to PR through the TSS visa. There are also a number of other PR visas that haven’t been discussed in this article that may be suitable for you.

General Skilled Migration visas may be appealing as you are not restricted to only working for a specific employer. Bear in mind though that depending on the points score you achieve it can take a long time before you are invited to apply for the visa especially if you do not have a high ranking with SkillSelect.

Employer Nominated visas also have strengths and weaknesses depending on your goals. If you go through the TRT stream visa application timeframes are much quicker and cheaper. However, some people may not like the idea of working for the same employer for three years before being able to apply.

If your aim is to migrate to Australia and start your new life as soon as possible then the TSS visa is always the best starting point. It will generally be your quickest option in getting to Australia and starting work. Then once here you can always lodge an EOI, build a relationship with your employer and see if they will support a Direct Entry application or just wait until you are eligible for TRT.

Whichever pathway is best for you its always best to get professional advice and help from a Registered Migration Agent, especially with something as complex as PR visas.




Visa Jobs is an independent company and has no association with the Australian Department of Immigration. The information in this article should not be used as legal advice. It is based on public guidelines available at The Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs’ website.

Every visa application is assessed on a case by case basis. We strongly recommend your documents and personal situation be assessed by a Registered Migration Agent who is bound by the MARA code of conduct before submitting any visa applications.

Updated on May 21, 2019

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