10 steps: How to apply for Australia visa 189 (Updated 2020)

visa 189 australia

Application for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) can get complex. The Visa 189 includes a permanent residency privilege in Australia.

Before diving in, make sure to create a personal plan and read about the steps to take so you can apply.

The information we present in this blog post is accurate as of posting. It is based only on our family’s experience in applying for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189), a visa that has Permanent Residence (PR) privilege. Other conditions apply for other Australia immigration visas.

UPDATED APRIL 2020: This post has been updated to reflect current fees, include a few eligibility guidelines, and replace hyperlinks. Though lengthy, this post is not a complete and exhaustive reference for visa 189 application. Please refer to the Home Affairs website for the master reference. 

In a nutshell, here are the steps we took to apply for Visa 189:

  • Step 1: Research about point system, nominated skill, and Visa 189
  • Step 2: Get assessed by an assessing authority
  • Step 3: Take the IELTS exam
  • Step 4: Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in
  • Step 5: Wait for the reply of your EOI, which is the Invitation to Apply
  • Step 6: Apply for the visa
  • Step 7: Take a medical examination
  • Step 8: Wait for the result of your visa application
  • Step 9: Receive the Visa Grant Letter
  • Step 10: Make your initial entry to Australia before IED
visa 189 application for  permanent immigration to australia

Immigration to Australia: How to apply for Australia visa 189?

Step 1: Research about point system, nominated skill, and Australia Visa 189

Visa applications are complex and requires various actions in different stages. It is crucial to research, create a personal plan, and keep tabs on the Home Affairs website.

What is Australia Visa 189?

In general, Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) are for those who:

  • has a skill that is on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL)*
  • has obtained at least 65 60 points based on the points test
  • are applying independently e.g. no need sponsorship from an employer, relative, or state
  • below 50 45 years old
  • wants to work and live in AU permanently
  • wants to include dependents

* If your skill is not eligible for Visa 189, try for Visa 190, a visa that can give you additional points simply by choosing an Australian state or territory government for residency. For more info, click here.

What is nominated skill?

This corresponds to your skills as a software engineer, architect, secondary teacher, etc.  All throughout the visa application process, the term skill is officially used to refer to your job/profession/work/skill. To apply for Visa 189, make sure your skill is listed in the Skilled Occupations List. 

What is the point system?

The minimum number of points to qualify for Visa 189 application is sixty (60) sixty-five (65) points.

You can use this points calculator to simply fill out a form and your probable score is automatically calculated. 

Step 2: Get your skill assessed by an assessing authority

Cost:  Depends on your assessing authority. Estimate AU$500 (if assessing authority is ACS)
Timeline: 2-3 months
You must get your nominated skill assessed by an assessing authority. The purpose is to know if your education and work experience are within professional standards in Australia. As a result of the skill assessment, you will have a clear and definite idea on how many points correspond to your skilled employment.
For those in IT industry, you can get assessed by ACS (Australian Computer Society). You can submit requirements online thru the ACS website. Then you will receive the result of your assessment via email.
There are other assessing bodies according to your profession such as the following:

  • IEA – Institution of Engineers, Australia
  • Teaching Australia – Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership
  • VETASSESS – Vocational Education and Training Assessment Services

For a complete list of assessing authorities, see here

Step 3: Take the IELTS exam

Cost: Depends on your country of exam. In Singapore, S$320.
Timeline: Results come out after 2 weeks
You can take the IELTS exam in any affiliated exam areas. It comprises of speaking, writing, listening, and reading tests. The required minimum score is 7, overall.  You must score at least 6 in each test. That corresponds to a Competent English level.

Step 4: Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)

Cost: Free
Create an account in SkillSelect, and then submit your Expression of Interest (EOI).
The primary requirements of EOI are:

  • the result of the assessment of your nominated skill 
  • the result of your IELTS exam must be at least 7
  • at this point, your overall points must be at least 60 points

Step 5: Wait for the reply of your EOI

Timeline: Depends on AU immigration’s schedule of invitation rounds, which happens twice once a month. Priority is given to those who have higher points.
You can know the AU immigration department’s response to your EOI via email or your account in SkillSelect.
Important things to know:

  • Invitation Rounds

You can know the current invitation round thru this link. For example, if you submitted your EOI in January, then you can watch out for your result in the next invitation rounds which is next month, February.

  • Occupation ceilings

Every July of the year, the AU issues a specific count of invitations that will be issued for each occupation listed in the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). The count is reset annually, still in the month of July.

Why is this important for you to know? Well, if your skill category has a high number of applicants, you will want to be included in the invitees before the count reaches the maximum!

Step 6: How to apply for Australia’s visa 189

Cost: AU$3600 4045 for the main applicant, AU$1800 2020 for dependents over 18 years old, and AU$900 1015 for dependents under 18 years old
Congrats! The AU immigration office’s response to your EOI is positive i.e. the invitation to apply for the visa. Make sure to apply within 60 days from the date of the invite.

You can lodge your visa application at SkillSelect, using the link provided in the Invitation to Apply letter. The required documents is a handful thus it is better to start preparing them at the time before you submit the EOI.

Step 7: Take a medical examination

Cost: Depends on your chosen medical clinic. In Singapore, medical examination in SATA clinics cost $150.

One of the requirements of visa application is that you and your dependents meet health requirements. Make sure to have your medical exam at a clinic recognized or listed by the AU immigration department.
The clinic themselves will send the medical exam results to AU immigration department. 

Step 8: Wait for the result of your visa application

Timeline: Depends on when you can complete submitting all your required documents AND the processing within the AU immigration office
You can always check the status of your visa application in your SkillSelect account or by being informed by your case officer.

What is a case officer (CO)?
Every visa application is handled by a specific case officer who will:

  • be your direct contact all throughout your visa application
  • inform you if you are required to give additional requirements
  • need to know to be informed
    • if you cannot meet deadline dates of submission
    • if you have special cases like:
      • your wife got pregnant, what to do with her application status?
      • a certain gov’t document is taking too long to be released like NBI clearance, birth certificates
  • and so on…..and on.

Step 9: Receive the Visa Grant Letter

Cost: Cloud Nine
Timeline: Depends on how you celebrate
Congratulations! You have finally made it. After celebrating and having it all sink in, start planning for your initial entry to AU! 

Step 10: Make your initial entry to AU

Cost: A topic for another day! Depends on costs in airline, accommodation, food, transportation, etc. Check out our article about our initial entry here.
Your initial entry to AU validates your visa and activates your PR status. The Visa Grant Letter indicates the Initial Entry Date (IED) or the deadline date that you must go to AU. Failure to fulfill your initial entry can have your visa forfeited.
You can make your initial entry and stay for only a few days or you can start staying for good. You can also go to any state e.g. New South Wales (Sydney), Victoria (Melbourne).

For your accommodation, you can get $50 off on your first trip to Australia via Airbnb. Click here for more info.

A note for those coming from Philippines

For Filipino emigrants, you must attend a seminar from the Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO) and have your passport stamped by them. Also, at your travels departing from PH, you may be exempted from travel tax.

Final thoughts on Australia visa 189

The visa application can get complex. But do know, it is just the beginning. Welcome to your new life in Australia and here’s hoping you’d love it, because we do!

If you choose Melbourne as your place of residence, I’m sure you’d be looking for a rental place, make sure to read this article: What is the rental application in Melbourne.

And if your family is growing and want to navigate the pregnancy care system, you can read this article: Pregnant and new in Australia.. now what?

We do hope this post has helped you in your Visa 189 application as your path to Australia immigration. Good luck mate!

About Author

Cathy is a busy-bee homemaker who blogs on the side. Introvert, tea-lover, and rigidly frugal, she can wrap you words as long as her little tots are sleeping and not all over her just yet.

(18) Comments

  1. Hi Cathy, thank you for this post. I am in the process of applying for Visa 189 and this is really helpful!
    Can I ask when did you get contacted by a case officer? I had submitted my application and paid online. Just realized I have to go back to the immiaccount to upload some “recommended” documents. Just feel weird because there is no correspondence from anyone so far!
    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Amber, for us it was around 3 months. Every applicant is put on queue accd to your points.

  2. Robin says:

    Hi Cathy, I submitted my EOI last Dec 24. I was wondering when can I open an Immiaccount. Is it before or after receiving an invitation?

    1. Cathy says:

      Hi Robin, you can create your ImmiAccount when you receive the Invitation. The link will be provided in your SkillSelect account. Good luck!

      1. Robin says:

        Hello Cathy,
        Thank you very much for this information.

  3. Thanks for this detailed information. It is so useful.

    1. You’re welcome!

  4. Vishnu says:

    Hi, I was in Australia for one I am planning to log PR from India, so what documents to be showed as proof of stay in Australia..??

  5. George says:

    Hi, thank you for providing this information. It has been very helpful to a lot of people. I was wondering after the initial cost of the visa ($3600), and if successful, is there further payments? As $3600 is quite inexpensive for a Permanent Residency privilege.

    1. Hi George, yes that’s the only fee you pay to the AU immigration department. Other costs are personal e.g. pocket money, airfare, medical exam costs, etc.

  6. […] Australia, however, things are different. We are new to Australia, being Visa 189 holders. It took me awhile before understanding the whole process as it was very new to me and, […]

  7. Julius says:

    Hi Cathy, if my wife is the primary applicant for visa 189 and me being the dependent, am I going to be on permanent resident status also? Thanks

  8. Indrashis Powali says:

    I have a IELTS score of 7 points overall (Reading – 7.5; Writing – 7; Speaking – 6.5; Listening – 6.5). But, I took the IELTS Academic test. Shall this score be applicable for my visa application?? Please suggest…

    1. Indrashis Powali says:

      Academic means the Academic module of the IELTS test

  9. Sara says:

    Hi Cathy. Can we submit the Skills assessment before taking the IELTS test?

  10. Every institution asks for a “statement of purpose” before applying. Can you tell me how to apply for that? Any guidelines?

  11. That’s very Informative blog…
    Hey guys, If you’re planning for Australia immigration, Choose XIPHIAS Immigration, MARA registered immigration law firm, for all your visa needs.

    1. Thanks Rani.

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