State Migration Plans (SMP's) are formal agreements made each year between Australia's state and territory governments and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
Each state or territory plan specifies the types of occupations and number of places available to each state or territory for skilled visa applicants under the General Skilled Migration (GSM) Program. This helps governments identify, target and sponsor for those skills in demand in a particular Australian state or territory.
Under their respective Plans, each State and Territory Government is able to sponsor skilled visa applicants who have:
- an occupation on the State Migration Plan Occupation List
- skills and experience relevant to the sponsoring state or territory
- demonstrated a commitment to living and working in the sponsoring state.
State Governments are able to nominate Australian skilled migrants under SkillSelect in the following visa categories:
Applying for a Skilled Visa
If your nominated occupation is included on a State Migration Plan eligibility list you may apply for State Sponsorship.
If your occupation is not on a Plan, you should still check with each State or Territory government to see if they are willing to consider Off-List Nominations – they may have a separate list for Off-List Nominations.
Once you have determined which State Migration Plans include your nominated occupation, you will then need to carefully consider the particular requirements of each State and Territory government before lodging your skills visa application.
- work experience requirements
- IELTS test requirements
- particular specialisation within an occupation
- amount of money required to settle in the State
- job offer for particular sponsorships
- additional criteria where you are already in Australia
For example, there is no minimum work experience requirement for a State Sponsored visa, but under some Plans, you will be required to demonstrate a number of years of work experience.
This is also the case with respect to the IELTS test scores – some State Sponsorship Plans require English-speaking nationals to complete an IELTS test for particular occupations.
Skilled visa applicants should also carefully review financial requirements which impose additional criteria.
State Sponsorship Requirements to Live in An Australian State or Territory
The Commonwealth of Australia is a Federation of states and territories.There are six states ans two mainland territories each with its own State Sponsorship List of Occupations required and available for State Sponsorship.
While each State and Territory has different criteria for offering sponsorship, common to all States and Territories is a requirement that you have a "genuine intention" to live and work in the sponsoring State or Territory for 2 years after migration to Australia.
To demonstrate your genuine intention, each State and Territory requires you to submit details of your research.
So, in determining whether or not a State Sponsorship application is the best option, you should first research each of the Australian States and Territories to find out what they are like to live and work in, and the types of opportunities and lifestyle available to prospective residents.
Below is a brief overview of each of Australia's States and Territories taken from the Department of Immigration's Resource Booklet.
For a more detailed consideration, simply click your preferred State or Territory link.
New South Wales (NSW)
New South Wales was the first colony established by the British. Sydney is the capital city of New South Wales and is the nation’s largest city. Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House are national icons.
Victoria is the smallest of the mainland states. Many fine buildings in Victoria were built from the wealth created by the gold rush of the 1850s. Victoria’s capital city is Melbourne.
Queensland is the second largest state. It has the Torres Strait Islands in the north, tropical rainforests, temperate coastal areas and an often dry inland. The world famous Great Barrier Reef runs along its eastern coast. Queensland’s capital city is Brisbane.
Western Australia (WA)
Western Australia is the largest state. The east of the state is mostly desert, while the south-west is a rich agricultural and wine-growing area. The state is home to many large mining projects. About three-quarters of the state’s population lives in Perth, the capital city.
South Australia (SA)
South Australia has a rugged coastline and many famous wine regions. Adelaide, the capital city, has many examples of fine colonial architecture.
Tasmania is the smallest state, separated from the mainland by Bass Strait. Much of the island has unspoilt wilderness landscapes. Tasmania’s capital city is Hobart.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
The Australian Capital Territory is situated between Sydney and Melbourne. It is the site of the nation’s capital city, Canberra. Canberra is home to important national institutions, such as Parliament House and the High Court of Australia.
The Northern Territory (NT)
The Northern Territory has the tropics in the north and red desert soil in the south. Most of its small population live in the capital city, Darwin, and along the main highway between Darwin and Alice Springs, which is the main town near the centre of Australia.
State Sponsorship Requirements Compared
State Sponsorship to Western Australia
The Western Australian State Sponsorship program provides a great pathway to permanent residence for a skilled visa applicant (subclass 190 visa) moving to Australia from overseas. However, if you are located in Australia and looking for sponsorship from Western Australia, there are additional criteria to satisfy depending on your circumstances.
The additional criteria for visa holders in Australia make Western Australia a less desirable option if you are looking to move from 457 to permanent residency via a skilled visa or for working holiday visa makers looking to relocate to Western Australia. The additional criteria also operate to frustrate the Department of Immigration's initiative to abolish the distinction between offshore and onshore applications from 1 July 2012 and may be reviewed after transitional arrangements relating to old laws come to an end in December 2012 later this year.
But, if you are outside Australia and applying for the subclass 190 visa you won’t find a better State Sponsorship process than that offered by Western Australia. If your occupation is on Western Australia's list you only need to demonstrate that:
- you meet the basic criteria for a skilled visa,
- meet the pass mark of 60 (including the 5 points you get for WA State Sponsorship); and
- you have sufficient funds to settle for approximately 3 months.
State Sponsorship applications are processed quickly after you lodge your Expression of Interest (EOI). So you can expect to receive an automatic invitation to apply for the visa under SkillSelect once Western Australia agree to sponsor you for a skilled visa.
Unlike other States and Territories there is no confusing fine print regarding your IELTS score and years of work experience.
With State Sponsorship lists constantly changing, WA also provides some certainty to skilled visa applicants by publicising their list review dates as the first working day of every month so there are no surprise occupation list changes when you are planning to lodge your application.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Migration
The Australian Capital Territory also offer skilled visa applicants clear guidelines to obtaining state sponsorship without extensive additional criteria imposed from that required by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to meet the skilled visa (subclass 190) and includes a great range of occupations. However, the ACT's State Migration Plan does not include provision for the ACT Government to sponsor applicants for the subclass 489 visa (where applicants get 10 points towards the 60 point pass mark required) so the maximum points you will get for ACT sponsorship is 5 points (for the subclass 190 skilled visa).
South Australia State Sponsorship
South Australia has an extensive list of occupations but with a range of special conditions attaching to a number of occupations. If you are applying to South Australia for State Migration sponsorship there are particular requirements for various nominated occupations including in respect of IELTS, work experience and job offers.
Victoria State Sponsorship
The Victorian Government state sponsorship list is limited to mostly Schedule 1 occupations (which are those also available for Skilled Independent Migration) and generally seeks Australian skilled visa applicants with at least two years work experience. Processing times can be slow and the Victorian Government assess applications before you lodge your Expression of Interest which adds an extra step to the process once they decide to sponsor.
Northern Territory Migration Plan
The Northern Territory Migration Plan imposes job offer requirements and criteria has a particular emphasis on the applicant’s commitment to living and working in the Northern Territory.
Queensland and New South Wales State Sponsorship
Queensland and New South Wales also seek to ensure applicants are committed to residing and working in that State. Both States have chosen to limit the number of occupations available for the State Sponsored (subclass 190) visa and implemented a broader list of occupations available for sponsorship under the Skilled Regional Sponsored (Provisional)(Subclass 489) visa. Unlike the subclass 190 permanent State Sponsored visa, it is a condition of the subclass 489 State Regional Sponsored visa that the visa holder reside in the nominating State. Subclass 489 visa holders will be required to demonstrate that they have lived in the nominating State for two years and worked for 12 months before they will be eligible to apply for a permanent visa.
Tasmania State Sponsorship
The State sponsorship process for Tasmania is focused an skilled visa applicants with job offers in place but otherwise provides for a broad range of occupations.
Advantages of State Sponsorship
State sponsorship applications lodged under SkillSelect continue to receive priority processing and as at November 2012 are being reported by DIAC as being allocated within weeks of lodgment with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
With the introduction of Skill Select on 1 July 2012 the allocation dates for both Skilled Independent and State Sponsored visas have been equally fast so the other advantage of lodging with State Sponsorship is that you will automatically receive an invitation to apply. This may become more important towards the end of the program year when occupation ceilings start to affect your ability to receive an invitation to apply.
The quick processing times for applications lodged with State Sponsorship under a State or Territory Migration Plans make it important for applicants to ensure their application is well prepared and "Decision Ready" on lodgment.
If you lodge your application without sufficient documentation to prove you meet all the requirements, it will slow down your application.
If you want to migrate to Australia quickly, a State Sponsorship application is a great option.