Common Pathways to Australian Permanent Residence in 2023

30 Sep

Australian Permanent Residence remains very desirable!

Achieving Australian Permanent Residence remains a dream for many temporary Australian visa holders and those overseas wanting to migrate to Australia.

We know – most of our team were once aspirational permanent residence seekers, and we all still get a thrill thinking back to the day we were granted PR (and subsequently Australian citizenship!).

We believe that Australia is the best country to live in, and it provides endless opportunities for those willing to put in the effort and embrace the Aussie lifestyle.

Geographically, there are so many fantastic areas to choose from in Australia once you’re here.

Want to live in a tropical area? Choose Queensland, northern Western Australia or the Northern Territory “top end”.

Prefer a more temperate region? Have a look at Tasmania or Melbourne.

Fabulous fishing? Perth, South Australia and Darwin.

Great bridge, beaches and opera house – Sydney!

Fabulous food and wine? Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart.

Want to do diving and snorkelling? – anywhere along the coast, especially the Great Barrier Reef (Queensland) and Ningaloo Reef (Western Australia).

Whether you choose to live in one of our sprawling cities or a regional area, Australia offers endless possibilities for a happy and satisfying life.


There are plenty of pathways to Australian Permanent Residence in 2023


If you want to live in Australia permanently, there are still plenty of pathways to realise your dream!

Here is the definitive guide to the most common pathways to PR in Australia in 2023…..


I. Find an Australian Partner or Australian Permanent Resident Partner/spouse.

This pathway to permanent residence requires evidence that you are married to or in a de facto relationship with an Australian Citizen or Australian Permanent Resident.

People holding New Zealand citizenship and living in Australia are now considered to be Australian permanent residents, which means that if you are living in Australia with a partner who holds a New Zealand passport, you can lodge a partner Visa application with your New Zealand partner as your sponsor (provided of course, that you meet all of the partner visa criteria).


The relevant Partner Visa subclasses are:


There are two stages to Australian Partner Visas (Subclass 820/801 and Subclass 309/100)

First, the so-called Provisional (temporary) Partner Visa is granted (i.e. the Subclass 820 Onshore or the Subclass 309 Offshore is granted). Then, the Subclass 801 and/or Subclass 100 Permanent Partner visas are given if you can show you have remained in a committed relationship with your partner.

Applications for the Permanent Partner visa are accepted two years from the date of the application for your Provisional Visa. On many occasions, we have successfully requested an immediate grant of a Permanent Partner Visa when the applicants have a long-term relationship (over three years), have children in the relationship, or there are compassionate reasons for an immediate permanent residence grant.

The processing time for the Provisional or first stage of the Partner Visa journey is around 24 months.

If you’re able to apply for the Onshore Partner (Subclass 820) Visa, and you hold another visa at the time of application (not a bridging visa), you will be granted a Bridging Visa whilst you await processing of your Partner Visa, plus you will have full work rights and access to Medicare.


What if I am unlawful? Can I still apply for a Partner Visa?

If you’re unlawful or do not have a “Substantive Visa” (i.e. you hold a bridging visa), you may not be granted work rights when you apply for a Partner Visa. You may have to cross some significant hurdles to have your visa granted whilst remaining in Australia.  Whilst it is not impossible to have a Partner Visa granted if you have been unlawful at the time of application, we strongly advise you to seek advice from an experienced Registered Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer if you find yourself in this situation. Alternatively, you should leave Australia and apply for the Subclass 309 Visa outside Australia.


What about the Prospective Marriage Visa option?

Yes, this type of Partner Visa is also an option for those couples who still need to meet the requirements for a Partner Visa.

The Prospective Marriage Visa allows the fiancé of an Australian Citizen or Australian Permanent Resident to travel to Australia to marry their partner and then lodge a Subclass 820 Onshore Partner Visa once they have married. Once granted a Prospective Marriage Visa, you have nine months to get married. If you get married after applying for the Prospective Marriage Visa, but before the Visa is granted, the Department of Home Affairs converts your application into a Partner Visa application.

Once you have your Subclass 820 Onshore Provisional Partner Visa, you are heading to PR! Please look above for the steps to move forward to the Subclass 801 Permanent Partner Visa.


Even if your relationship breaks down, you may still be able to progress to PR if certain circumstances apply to your situation, such as having Australian children of the relationship, or you have suffered domestic violence.

There is also a provision in the Regulations in the unfortunate event of your partner dying before your Partner. Visa is granted, which allows the Visa applicant to progress to Permanent Residence.

Read our latest blog about relationship breakdowns and situations where you may still be granted a Permanent Partner Visa.


II. Skilled Pathways to Australian Permanent Residence

There are many general skilled visa options, and they include the following:

* Subclass 189, Skilled Independent Visa

* Subclass 190, Skilled Nominated Visa

* Subclass 491, Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa


(By clicking on the links above, you will find all the information you require about each visa type.)


The “best” option is the Subclass 189 Visa – if you can make it!

On paper, the clear winner (I.e. the best option) is the Subclass 189, Skilled Independent Visa. 

This is because after you are granted this visa, you are not tied to an employer, and you owe no obligation to a state or territory to live/work there for at least two years.

As you will read, if you click the link above for specific information about the Subclass 189 Visa, you must be invited to apply for this visa and pass the current Points Test.


Note: In the last 18 months to 2 years, we have found that you must have incredibly high points or an occupation regarded as being in critical shortage to receive an invitation to apply.


Subclass 190 – an excellent option if your skills are on a state or territory list

If you have an occupation on one of the state occupations lists and you can meet the various criteria that each state requires (and these are becoming increasingly complex), the Subclass 190 visa can be an ideal alternative option if you have skills that a state requires.  Often, the state or territory will require the Visa holder to live and work in the state or territory for at least two years once the visa is granted. If you are successfully nominated by a State or Territory, you score an extra 5 points in the current Points Test.



The issue with Subclass 189 and 190 visas is that you must be invited to apply. If you are inside Australia and have a Visa expiry deadline, waiting to be requested to lodge this visa may be challenging. However, if you’re outside of Australia (and you made the visa criteria), you may be happy to wait for ages to be invited. Some occupations are favoured by the state nomination schemes, particularly medical occupations, including nursing. Wait times to be invited for the Subclass 189/190 visas if you have one of these occupations may be very brief. Nurses have waited less than a week to be invited for a state-nominated Subclass 190 Visa.


Subclass 491 – a tremendous regional visa option

The Subclass 491 Visa is a regional state-nominated visa. If you hold a Subclass 491 Visa for at least three years, you can progress to Permanent Residence via the Subclass 191 Visa (see below).  

Don’t be put off by the “regional” tag on these visas.  Regional areas have been broadly defined and include all of Australia except Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Have a look here for further information about the regional areas.



III. The Employer-sponsored Pathways to Australian Permanent Residence

These are the:


You can click the links above for more information about these visa options.


Subclass 482 Temporary Skills Shortage Visa

Permanent residence is only available to those with occupations on the Medium to Long-term Skills Shortage List (MLTSSL) – the government has indicated that by the end of 2023, all Subclass 482 Visa holders will be able to progress to permanent residence.

 If you have an occupation on the MLTSSL,  your Visa can be granted for up to four years.  After three years with the same employer (and there are some exemptions to this requirement), you can apply for a Subclass 186 Visa via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRT). The current government has signalled that the three-year period will be reduced to 2 years by the end of 2023.

There is currently no transition to PR for Subclass 482 Visa holders who have an occupation on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).

Suppose your occupation is “only” on the Short Term Occupation List. In that case, you may have an opportunity for permanent residence via the Subclass 494 Visa pathway (see below) or by finding an employer who may sponsor you via the Designated Area Migration Agreement Stream. (DAMA)

What’s a DAMA? You can find out here.


Labour agreements and Subclass 482 TSS Visas

When an employer requires sponsored workers whose occupations are not on any list, they may enter into a Labour Agreement with the Department of Home Affairs. Often, labour agreements have concessions for age, language, and wages. By way of an example, skilled meat workers are missing from any occupation list. However, a meat processing employer can apply for an industry-specific Meat Industry Labour Agreement (MILA). Please take a look at the information here.


Subclass 494 Visa – an exciting opportunity for those with skills not on the MLTSSL

The Subclass 494 Visa is a  regional Visa, where a person with an occupation on the relevant occupational list can, after three years of holding a Subclass 494 Visa, apply for permanent residence via the Subclass 191 visa scheme.   There are 673 occupations on the occupation list, and it is worth checking to see if your occupation is on the list.

For this Visa, you will need three years of experience in your nominated occupation, an approved skills assessment, an employer who is willing to nominate you, and “competent” English (e.g. IELTS 6) (read about the English Test Scores here)

As stated above, there is so much of Australia to choose from if you’re considering applying for a  regional Subclass 494 Visa, except for Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney (find out more about the relevant postcodes here).


Subclass 191 Visa

This Visa will allow Subclass 494 Visa holders and Subclass 491 Visa holders to transition to Permanent Residence after three years of holding these visas. This Visa is inexpensive, has no age limit or English requirement, and you do not need to be sponsored by an employer to apply for one.

Once a Subclass 191 visa is granted, there will be no further requirement to live and work in a regional area.


IV. Other pathways to PR


Parent Visas

Unless your parent is in Australia, the only viable Parent Visa option for permanent residence is the Contributory Parent Visa – the costly option (+/- AUD$50K for each applicant).

The non-contributory parent visas, the Subclass 103 and the Subclass 804 parent visas have a processing time of over 30 years(!!).


Subclass 804 Onshore Permanent Partner Visa – the only viable “non-contributory” parent visa

The Subclass 804 Visa is the only viable option for a parent who does not want to nor cannot afford to pay for a  Contributory Parent Visa. This parent Visa type currently has a processing time of over 30 years. The Subclass 804 visa must be applied for in Australia,  and the applicant will be granted a Bridging Visa whilst the application is being processed (yes, even for 30 years!). There is no eligibility for Medicare, though (unless the applicant is eligible for reciprocal healthcare), and health insurance must be taken out.


Remaining Relative Visa

This type of visa also takes decades to process; therefore, the only viable option is if an applicant can apply for the Visa whilst in Australia, as they would be granted a Bridging Visa to allow them to stay in Australia while processing the Visa application.

To be a genuine remaining relative comment, an applicant must have no other relatives – that is, siblings, step-siblings, parents or stepparents, living outside Australia. In other words, the applicant must be the” last person standing” in their family outside Australia.


Business and Investment Visas

These offer a viable pathway to permanent residence. However, many require substantial investment in Australia, with experience and significant business skills. This is a highly specialised area of immigration law. Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you need more information about these Visa types.


Student Visas

Student visas allow applicants to study in Australia, from primary school to trade courses and higher degrees.

When choosing a course, the key concept to remember is to ensure that it aligns or will lead to an occupation on a list that will allow progression to permanent residence.

Unfortunately, many Education Agents direct potential student visa applicants to courses that will provide them (i.e. the education agent) with the best commission without regard for a proper progression pathway to permanent residence for the student visa holder.

It is imperative to seek professional guidance from a Registered Migration Agent (Rather than an education agent who may be conflicted by the receipt of commission) to assist with the correct selection of courses.

At AHWC, we do not seek or accept commissions from educational institutions, which means that our course advice is independent and in your best interests for subsequent PR.

Depending upon which course you choose as a student Visa holder, you may be eligible for a  Postgraduate Subclass 485 Visa, which may be granted for up to 4 years. Time on a Subclass 485 Visa may enable you to apply for permanent residence if you meet the requirements.

If you’re considering the student visa pathway to permanent residence, we would like to ask you to seek professional guidance and assistance with the steps needed and which courses offer the best pathways to PR.


Child Visas

Child visas are granted to Australian citizens or permanent residents’ dependent children. The child is defined as a dependent member of the family unit, aged up to 18 years; however, if a child remains dependent on the parents for an extended period after 18, they may still qualify for a Child Visa. If an applicant meets the requirements of the Visa, they automatically become a permanent resident of Australia.


Adoption Visas

As with the child visas, an adoption visa allows an adopted child to require permanent residence – and often an immediate transition to Australian citizenship if at least one of the adopted child’s parents is an Australian citizen.


Visitor Visas

Visitor visas are listed because a visitor visa may allow the holder to apply for other onshore visas. A classic example of this is being able to apply for a Partner Visa after arriving in Australia as the holder of a visitor Visa. However, please remember that no work rights are attached to Visitor Visas.


Working Holiday Visas

Nowadays, Working Holiday Visa holders may stay in Australia for up to 3 years if the visa holder meets the work requirements. This will often provide sufficient time to gain experience in a skilled occupation and to find a suitable employer to nominate them for an Employer Nominated Visa or to increase their points to qualify for a skilled independent visa or sufficient experience for a Subclass 491, Skilled Regional Visa, which will allow transition to permanent residence after three years via the Subclass 191 permanent residence visa.


Global Talent Visas

A Global Talent visa allows a person with genuinely exceptional Internationally recognised skills or sporting achievements to apply for permanent residence either within Australia or from outside of Australia. Where the skills relied on are sporting skills, the applicant must have competed at the national (country) level and still be competing/coaching at that level.


Protection Visas

A protection visa application by a person who has not arrived in Australia by boat may lead to permanent residence. However, we do not recommend this pathway unless there are evident and provable protection claims against the applicant’s country of origin.

Unlawful boat arrival applicants (So-called Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals – UMA) are only granted temporary protection visas, and the pathway to permanent residence is fraught with extreme difficulty, requiring the Minister for Immigration’s permission to apply for other visas once specific residence requirements are met.


Looking for guidance on obtaining a permanent residence visa? Our team of experienced Registered Migration Agents can help you out. With over 40 years of collective experience, we are well-equipped to explore all of your options and develop a personalised plan for you to achieve permanent residence. Schedule a consultation with us today to get started and aim for PR in 2023.



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