If you are looking to migrate to Australia from Malaysia or Singapore (or from anywhere else in the World), what do you need to look out for?

It’s a big step for you and your family, so there are some things you need to consider before you start this journey which we’ve covered below…

Skilled Migration – What Visas Can I Apply For?

This pathway is for working professionals under the age of 45 who are looking to migrate over based on the occupation they are working in.

Although Australia has over 90 visas you can apply for, skilled migration usually involves one of these 3 visa types:

  1. Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) [permanent residency]
  2. Subclass 190 Skilled Nominated visa [permanent residency]
  3. Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) [provisional residency]

They make up the bulk of the visas granted to people in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as other parts of the world.

You can find out more about each visa through the Department of Home Affairs website – they are the government department that manages border protection and visa issuance for the Australian government.

The visa or visas you are allowed to apply for depend on your occupation – you must have an occupation on one of Australia’s 3 skilled occupation lists:

Medium and Long Term Strategic Skilled List (MLTSSL)

This list contains the occupations with the highest shortages in Australia, such as engineers, accountants, internal auditors, IT professionals and more.

Anyone on this list can apply for all 3 of the visas mentioned above

Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)

This list is for general occupations, such as marketing specialists, restaurant managers, customer service managers and more.

If your occupation is on this list, you can only apply for the subclasses 190 and 491 only.

Regional Occupation List (ROL)

As the list name suggests, the occupations on this list are meant to be used for applying for regional parts of Australian only. That is the subclass 491 specifically.

Depending on which visa type you apply for, you will either end up with permanent residency or provisional residency.

Permanent vs. Provisional Residency – What’s The Difference?

For anyone applying for a visa under the skilled migration program, they would be applying for either permanent or provisional residency for themselves and their family.

Permanent Residency

All permanent residents of Australia have the following rights (amongst many others):

  • Live and work anywhere in Australia
  • Public healthcare coverage (Medicare)
  • Buy any type of property
  • Buy private insurance
  • Children can go to public schools
  • You can start a business or buy a business
  • College and university fees are at local rates

Provisional Residency

For visas which start with provisional residency status, there are usually conditions placed on the visa.

These conditions can include:

  • Where in Australia you must live and work
  • How long you must be there for
  • Whether you get access to public healthcare
  • If you need to work full time

Once you fulfil your visa conditions, you can apply to convert the visa from provisional to permanent residency.

How Does The Migration Process Work?

The visa process involves 4 or 5 stages, depending on which visa you are applying for – each stage must be completed before the next stage can start.

If you can’t get past a certain stage, then the application stops there.

A summary of each stage can be found below.

Occupation Assessment

To prove that you work in the occupation you are using for migration purposes, you can’t just ‘self claim’ your occupation. You need to provide documentary evidence and references to prove that you actually do.

This involves collecting academic qualifications, employment proof and can also require English proficiency results and reports to be written up. Requirements vary from occupation to occupation.

Assessments take up to 3 months to complete and have different fees depending on the assessing authority.

Expression of Interest

Once you hit 65 points on the skilled points test (which is made up of your age, academic qualifications, work experience and other factors), you can legally submit an expression of interest (EOI) to the Australian government that you’d like to apply for skilled migration.

In your submission you give all the details required to prove that you have the 65 points and that your occupation is suitable for migration.

You also choose the visa types you would like to apply for at this stage.

State Application

This is only for people applying for the subclasses 190 or  491, because these two visa types require one of Australia’s states to nominate your application before it can be processed by the Australian federal government.

Due to difference in shortages of occupations from state to state, this option exists as a way for the different states to attract migrants to their state by sponsoring their application. 

States are selective of the skills and work experience required within the borders of each state. They will only place occupations that are in demand on the list (highly employable).

A comprehensive review and study would have been conducted by their assessors and industry advisors before placing a particular occupation on the skilled occupation list. 

Each state has different requirements and processes for receiving applications.

Invitation to Apply

At this stage you are about 95% of the way through the process – it is when the Australian government has invited you to take your place in the skilled migration program.

At this point you need to:

  1. Pass a medical check
  2. Provide police clearances
  3. Pay for your visa fees
  4. Provide any documents as required for checking

And finally…

Visa Grant

Once you are granted provisional or permanent residency, you usually have about 12 months (after you take your medical) to make your first entry into Australia.

This doesn’t have to be your permanent relocation, it’s just a ‘step in’ to activate your visa. You can then leave back to your home country to prepare for your permanent move later on.

You have work and stay rights from the day your visa is granted and will be able to start applying for work, opening bank accounts and even buying property.

Business and Investor Migration

If you run your own business or are a seasoned investor, then the business or investor migration pathways may be more suited to you. They require you to either start a business in Australia or invest into approved funds in Australia.

Each visa has different requirements and would be too long to cover in this article, but the general requirements are summarised below.

Business Visas

  • You must have an existing business for 2 years or more
  • Own at least 30% (private listed) or 10% (public listed) of the company
  • Have at least AUD500k or equivalent in sales revenue per year for 2 years
  • Have at least AUD800k in net assets

All business visas require that you start a business in Australia once the visa is granted to you. You usually have up to 2 years to start this business and with the visa you will be allowed to live there with your family.

The higher tier business visas have higher entry requirements and investment requirements for the business you start in Australia but can come with the benefit of permanent residency from the start of the visa instead of provisional residency.

Investor Visas

To qualify for an investor visa, you don’t have to have an existing business, even employed individuals can apply.

The minimum criteria include:

  • At least AUD2.25 million in net assets held for at least 2 years
  • Managed at least AUD1.5 million in investments (property, stock, business, bonds etc.)

There are multiple tiers of investor visas, but the minimum investment would be AUD1.5 million into government bonds. The higher tier investor visas also allow you to invest into other approved funds, which include not just government bonds but other fund types as well.

Using A Migration Agent

Australian migration is a licensed industry in Australia, bound by Australian law. All migration agents are required to take courses in migration and citizenship law and to be registered with a government authority called ‘MARA’ or the Migration Agents Registration Authority.

Migration agents are bound by a code of conduct on how to handle client cases and any breach of this code can risk the agent losing their license.

Before you meet a migration agent or agency, note the following things:

1) Check their website and record down all MARA numbers displayed

  • This information must be displayed by law on their website
  • It is usually on the ‘about’, ‘certification’, ‘qualification’ pages or at the very bottom of their website in the footer

2) Go to https://www.mara.gov.au/search-the-register-of-migration-agents/ 

Put the MARA number numbers displayed on their website into the search filed labelled ‘Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN)’

If the search results from the MARA website come back with 0 results

This could mean that the MARA number provided was fake or that the agent’s license has expired and they cannot legally refer to themselves as migration agent.

Check to see if the person is listed for many different business entities (with different business names)

This could mean he is not an in-house agent, instead they could be renting their license from an external agent and may be less trained in migration law.

If you see under ‘current status’ it says ‘registered under TTMRA’

This means they are registered as a New Zealand migration agent and not necessarily trained in Australia. The Australian government recognises New Zealand migration agents but they are trained primarily in New Zealand migration law.

I hope this quick guide gave you the details you need to make an informed decision on whether migrating to Australia is the right choice for you.

As a resident of Australia myself, I can tell you it has a lot to offer but you must make the move with your eyes open and know what you are going to do even at the initial stage of applying for the visa.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!

About the author:

William is a registered Australian migration agent who works for one of Malaysia and Singapore’s largest migration agencies, Austral Migration Consultancy. They specialise in Australian migration and over the last 7 years have had more than 2000 visas approved for their clients. With multiple migration agents and immigraiton lawyers in-house, they are one of the most qualified in South East Asia.


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