General Skilled Migration for Trades Workers

Skilled Trades
webster By Mark Webster
Thursday, 09 February 2017

Australia has a shortage of trades workers - suitably qualified and experienced trades people from overseas have always been welcomed in Australia and have great employment prospects.

There are a number of different migration pathway options available - this article goes through the main requirements for trades workers migrating through the points tested General Skilled Migration program.

Nominating a Skilled Occupation

First you would need to choose an occupation to apply for a skills assessment in.

The choice would depend mainly on your qualifications and work experience, but it is best to nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) if possible.

There are a wide range of trades on the SOL - including construction trades, automotive trades, metal workers and chefs.

Even if you do not have an occupation on the SOL, it is still possible to apply for migration by obtaining sponsorship by a state or territory government - many states and territories have trades occupations on their State Migration Plans.

Skills Assessment

The first step in applying for general skilled migration is to get your skills assessed as suitable to work in your trade in Australia.

The correct pathway can be difficult to determine - it will depend on your trade, passport country and whether you've studied in Australia. The main pathways are as follows:

1. Trade Test

If you are in certain trades and have a passport from certain countries, you must go through the trade test pathway.

The first step would involve providing evidence of your trade qualifications and work experience in your trade. Overall, you must show that you have worked and studied for at least 5 years in your occupation, or 3 years if you have an Australian trade certificate.

The second step requires either a technical interview or a practical test. The technical interview would normally be done via Skype through an approved venue and involves you explaining how you would undertake certain tasks. The practical test is required for licensed trades, and requires you to demonstrate your skills in person.

2. Paper Assessment - Migration Skills Assessment

This would be done via the TRA's "Migration Skills Assessment" pathway. This option would require you to have a formal trade qualification - either an apprenticeship or vocational qualification. You would also need to have work experience of at least 3 years, and to have worked for at least 12 months in your trade in the last 3 years.

If you do not have a formal qualification, it is possible to have a qualification issued via Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) - in this case you would need to show at least 6 years of work experience in your trade to pass skills assessment.

TRA requires applications to be "decision ready" - any mistake or omission will result in a refusal so it is important to ensure that the application is prepared carefully.

3. Job Ready Program

This option is available for international students who have completed a trade qualification in Australia - generally this would need to be at the Certificate III level or higher.

There are two main parts to the Job Ready Program (JRP) application.

Firstly, you would obtain a provisional skills assessment by showing that you have completed a relevant qualification in Australia and have worked in a relevant position for at least 360 hours. You would use the provisional skills assessment to apply for an 18-month Graduate Temporary subclass 485 visa.

Secondly, you would work full time in your trade in Australia for 1725 hours (approx. 12 months). The work must be registered with TRA by the employer, and you would need to keep a log book of your work. Towards the end of your 1725 hours, you would have a practical trade test and only then would you be issued a skills assessment you can use for a permanent visa application.

Skilled Migration Points Test

Next, you would need to obtain at least 60 points in the skilled migration points test.

You can score points for a number of different factors, including:

  • Your Age
  • Skilled Work Experience - you can score points for work experience either in Australia or overseas
  • English language ability - to score points, you would need to undertake English language testing
  • Australian Studies
  • State Nomination

SkillSelect EOI System

Once you have sufficient points, you would lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect.

It is not possible to apply directly for a General Skilled Migration visa - you must first be invited through SkillSelect.

State Nomination (Optional)

If you do not have an SOL occupation, you would apply for state nomination after lodging your EOI. States and territories have their own criteria for state nomination - this would in general require you to demonstrate your work experience, English language ability and commitment to living in the state or territory.

Visa Application

Once you have received your invitation through SkillSelect, you have 60 days lodge your visa application.

You will need to provide documentation on the points you claimed in your EOI, so it's very important that the EOI is completed accurately.

You and your family members will be asked to complete health and police checks. Once your application is granted, you would generally have 12 months from completing your health and police checks to enter Australia for the first time.


General Skilled Migration is a great pathway to Australian permanent residence for trades workers.

The application process can be complex so if you would like more information on how to apply, please book a consultation with one of our advisors.

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