What are critical skills visas and who can access a skilled migration program? Firstly, what do an Australian barber, a South African winemaker, and Scottish geologist have in common? They are all in professions with critical skills that are in demand in their countries.
Many people think it is impossible to get a visa to live and work in another country. Some don’t realise that many countries welcome immigrants with specific skills. They offer visa and residency to fill a specific demand. They’re to source critical skills and experience that may be in short supply.
COMMON SKILLED MIGRATION PATHS TO RESIDENCY VISAS
Countries offer two main paths to critical skills visas and skilled migration programs. Firstly, and the most common, is for a local company to sponsor the applicant in the form of a job offer. This means you need to have found a vacancy. Additionally, you’ll need to have applied for the role and been offered the position. The offering company will also have to offer visa sponsorship. Secondly is the visa type is where you do not need to have a job offer. Once you have the visa, you can live and work permanently anywhere in that country. An example of this is the Australian Skilled Independent Visa.
So let’s run through some of the visa offers. Also, check out some key links to “skills in demand lists” for popular countries for immigration. Here you can assess some of the skilled visa opportunities from around the world.
How can you get residency in a country you want to live in? Indeed, one of the first steps should be to educate yourself in the skilled migration program. For instance, check out the critical skills that are in demand for your destination of choice.
1. AUSTRALIAN SKILLED MIGRATION VISAS
Australia has one of the largest immigration programs in the world. Specifically, of the 190,000 places kept each year for permanent residents 70% of those for skilled migration. To illustrate, there are over 400 occupations on their skilled occupations list. Indeed, you may be surprised at the skills that are on there. It is not all finance and IT as you would think. Occupations such as chefs, theatre managers, dog handlers and dressmakers also feature on the list of critical skills visa occupations.
In 2018 the highest demand for skilled migration visas in Australia was for nurses. Other in-demand skills were electricians, teachers (especially secondary school), motor mechanics, joiners, carpenters and metal fitters and turners.
SBS recently reported that there were jobs in the critical skills occupations list where there was not one successful applicant in 2017-2018. For example, there were wall and floor tilers, automotive electricians, electrical distribution trade workers, boat builders and shipwrights, precision metal trade workers and livestock farmers. That is, you stand a great chance of getting into Australia on a critical skilled migration visa if you are skilled in these professions.
What steps can you take for a critical skills visa in Australia?
- The Australian government updates the skilled migration lists every 6 months. Therefore, look to see whether your profession is on the list. Also, check back often if your profession is not on there.
- If your critical skills are on the list, you will need to be assessed by authorities in your field. This will be done before you qualify for a skilled migration visa.
- Have a look at which skilled migration employment scheme you are eligible for. To this end, you need to understand your rights and obligations under the scheme. Additionally, below we outline the four most common schemes.
The Temporary Skill Shortage visa (TSS) (Subclass 482)
There are 3 options under this sub-class:
- You can get a 2-year short term skilled migration visa If your vocation is on the Short-Term Skilled occupation list. This visa can only be renewed once and is not a path to permanent residency.
- If your occupation is on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), you can work in Australia for up to 4 years as part of the skilled migration program. This does provide a path to permanent residency.
- The Labour category is for exceptional circumstances which are not covered in any other class. Your prospective employer has to make a good case for the government to offer a skilled migration visa.
You also need to meet:
– Minimum English language requirements
– Minimum salary requirements
– Minimum work experience requirements of at least two years in the same/similar field
Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)
This program offers permanent residence for critical skilled worker migration. Firstly, you need to be nominated by an employer. Secondly, you need to be under 45 or 50 years old depending on the stream. Thirdly, you need to meet the skills, experience and English requirements of the role.
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
This is permanent residency for those who will be working in Regional Australia. This includes areas outside of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Newcastle, Gold Coast or Wollongong. Again, you need to be nominated by an employer located in regional Australia. You also need to be under the age of 45 or 50 depending on the critical skill eligible for skilled migration.
Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189)
You need to be invited to apply for the much-prized Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189). However, once you have the visa you can live and work permanently anywhere in Australia.
You’ll need to make sure that your skills are on the list for this skilled migration visa. After that, you then submit an expression of interest to the government. Once you have that approval you will receive your invitation to apply for the visa. You need to be under the age of 45 to apply for this critical skills visa. You also need English proficiency, need to pass the critical skills assessment and pass a points-based system.
2. NEW ZEALAND SKILLED MIGRATION VISAS
The New Zealand Government really make it easy for you to find out what critical skills are in demand in their country for their skilled migration program. Visit their Skills Shortage List Checker to see if your skills are listed. There are three separate lists as follows:
- The Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) covers occupations that have long term shortages of qualified people both globally and in New Zealand. If you can find a job in an occupation that meets the LTSSL requirements you may be eligible for a Work to Residence Visa. Importantly, this allows you to apply for residency after two years as part of the New Zealand Skilled Migration program. At the same time, you’ll need to meet some standard requirements like medical and police checks. The job needs to have a base salary of at least NZD$45,000.
- The Intermediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL) is aimed at filling positions that have an immediate need as no New Zealand citizens or residents have taken up the position. Accordingly, these visas are rapidly processed and can lead to an Essential Skills Migration visa. Unfortunately, not all roles will lead to you being able to apply for residency.
- The Canterbury Skill Shortage List (CSSL) is directly linked to the region impacted by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. The occupations on here are on either the LTSSL or the ISSL but are needed for the Canterbury rebuild. Specifically, if you have a critical skill listed on the CSSL and a valid job offer in the region you may be offered an Essential Skills Migration visa. For this purpose your occupation is on the LTSSL you may be able to apply for residency as a part of this visa offer.
New Zealand is very particular about correct tertiary qualifications. This means you need to check the critical skills visa list eligibility requirements carefully before applying for roles through these skilled migration visa schemes.
3. UNITED KINGDOM TIER 2 SKILLED OCCUPATION LISTS
In most cases in the UK before you hire an immigrant for a skilled migration job, you need to have advertised the job to citizens of the EEA (European Economic Area). The exception is for the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List. Jobs on this critical skills list do not need to be advertised within the EEA before they are offered to a non-EEA citizen as part of the skilled visa program.
You will still need to have a job offer before you can get a Tier 2 Work Permit. Also, the company offering the role must sponsor your skilled migration visa. They also need to be offering you an appropriate salary. Finally, you need to be able to speak an appropriate level of English.
The occupation list is broken into critical skill shortages in the whole of the United Kingdom and those that only exist in Scotland which has a specific skilled migration list.
4. AUSTRIA SKILLED MIGRATION WORKER VISA
Austria has what is called a Red-White-Red Card for a Skilled Worker to work in a Shortage Occupation as part of the skilled migration visa program. This is valid for 24 months and you must pass a points-based test as well as have a job offer. You get points for things such as
- Your qualifications
- Your experience
- You age (must be under 40)
- German and English Language skills
Critical shortage occupations under the critical skills migration program are listed here.
5. SOUTH AFRICA CRITICAL SKILLS WORK PERMIT
Would you like to live in sunny South Africa, with one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa? The South African government has recognised that it needs to attract critical skills from outside the country to support its economic growth. For this reason, it has implemented a Critical Skills Work Permit as part of a skilled migration program. There is a national list of occupations and critical skills in high demand which you can view here.
The occupations tend to be those where the South African economy has shown strong employment growth. Alternatively where skills shortages are being experienced in the labour market. The list also forecasts skills to be in short supply in the future.
The critical skills visa lasts for five years and you do not need a job offer to apply for it. You do however have to find work within 12 months under the terms of the skilled migration program.
6. IRISH CRITICAL SKILLS MIGRATION EMPLOYMENT PERMIT
To apply for Ireland critical skills migration employment permit, you need a job offer that pays a minimum of EUR60,000 per annum. You also need to have the appropriate experience, skills and qualifications for the role. If your occupation is on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations list then the salary requirement is only EUR30,000. Ireland’s critical skills migration program list can be found here.
Your job offer needs to be for a minimum of 2 years to apply for the permit. After 2 years you can apply for a Stamp 4 visa which allows you to live and work permanently in Ireland. The benefits of this over a general employment permit is that the employer does not need to have the role go through a labour market needs test. The job doesn’t need to be advertised to EU citizens first.
7. JAPAN HIGHLY-SKILLED PROFESSIONALS VISA
Japan also has a critical skills migration visa scheme for Highly skilled professionals. There are three eligible categories:
- Advanced academic research activities
- Advanced specialized/technical activities
- Advanced business management activities
If you qualify you can receive preferential treatment. This can include a residency permit for 5 years and an easier route to permanent residency. Permission for your spouse to work and other privileges are also possible.
It is a point-based scheme where you get points for:
- Academic Background
- Other bonus point items
You can find a point calculation form here.
SKILLED MIGRATION CAN OFFER A PATH TO RESIDENCY, EVEN TO HARD TO ACCESS COUNTRIES.
From an auto electrician or veterinarian in New Zealand, a roofer or carpenter in Austria, a labour recruitment officer or sales manager in South Africa, a midwife or teacher in Ireland there are places to be had in a range of countries for a huge range of skills as a part of a critical skills migration program. These critical skills are constantly changing and being updated according to the changing needs of each country. As a result, if your skills are not on the list, keep checking. Importantly, if they are on the list now might be the time to act.
We have included just a few of the skilled visa options that are available through skilled migration programs around the world to whet your appetite. If you would like to find out about opportunities in other countries, then leave us a comment and we will add to this blog or leave us a comment about your experiences.