If you are looking to move to Australia in 2021, it may still be possible. The Australian government has released a list of occupations that fill critical skills needed to support the country’s pandemic recovery. These occupations are automatically exempt from the inward Covid travel restrictions.

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Australia’s international borders are only set to reopen in mid-2022. However, migrants with some in-demand skills are still being welcomed into the country.

These skills, which are needed to curb the virus and get the economy back on track, can be found on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).

The initial PMSOL list included these 17 occupations:

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director (111111)
  • Construction Project Manager (133111)
  • Mechanical Engineer (233512)
  • General Practitioner (253111)
  • Resident Medical Officer (253112)
  • Psychiatrist (253411)
  • Medical Practitioner nec (253999)
  • Midwife (254111)
  • Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (254412)
  • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) (254415)
  • Registered Nurse (Medical) (254418)
  • Registered Nurse (Mental Health) (254422)
  • Registered Nurse (Perioperative) (254423)
  • Registered Nurses nec (254499)
  • Developer Programmer (261312)
  • Software Engineer (261313)
  • Maintenance Planner (312911)

Added in November 2020:

  • Social Worker (272511)

Added in May 2021:

  • Veterinarian (234711)

If your occupation is on the PMSOL list, you can apply for an employer sponsored visa. These are the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186), Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482) and Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494). Should your application be successful, you may apply for an exemption from Australia’s inward travel restrictions to travel to the country to start your new job.

The Australian employer sponsored visas vs the skilled visa

You need to be offered a job in Australia before you can apply for an employer sponsored visa, unlike with the standard skilled visas. In addition, you need to pass a skills test, health assessment, English language requirements and have relevant work experience. These applications are complex and can usually take months. However, due to the demand for the skills on the PMSOL list, the applicants will be given priority processing, making this the ideal time to apply.

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186)

This is a permanent residency visa that allows you to stay in Australia indefinitely from the day the visa is granted. Permanent residency means you can work and study in Australia and even access public healthcare. It’s a direct route to Australian citizenship and you can include your spouse and children.

You must generally be under 45 years of age when you apply (although there are a few exemptions) and have at least three years of experience in your occupation. 

Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)

This visa allows you to stay in Australia for up to four years and there is no age requirement. When you reach the end of your nominated period, your employer may choose to sponsor you to stay for longer by submitting a new nomination for a permanent residence visa, such as the 186, or you may switch to a skilled work visa.

This visa allows you to bring your family to Australia, including your spouse and children under 23 years who are single and dependent on you.

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494)

In general, immigrants flock to Australia’s biggest cities, which means there’s a greater demand for skills in some regional areas, making it easier to find an employer to sponsor you there.

If you have at least three years of relevant work experience, this is an excellent option for moving to Australia with your family as it leads to permanent residence. However, you need to be under 45 years of age to apply, unless you meet specific exemptions, and you will need to live and work in a particular region.

Planning levels – how many visas will Australia grant?

In the Federal Budget delivered on 11 May, the government announced immigration planning levels for 2021-2022 would remain unchanged for skilled visas. This would mean that there are 22,000 Employer Sponsored visas available, just under 14% of the year’s total visas.

If you’re thinking of applying, it’s worth looking at your options sooner rather than later as once that cap is reached, you will need to wait another year before applying. The PMSOL list is only temporary and occupations may be removed at any time.


Should you need more information on whether or not you qualify for an Australian visa, take our free Australian visa assessment.

If you’re in a qualifying PMSOL occupation and would like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at migration@sableinternational.com or by calling +27 (0) 21 657 1526. Our registered migration agents can offer you expert advice and representation for moving to and gaining permanent residency in Australia.

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