Three pathways.

If you’ve decided you want to migrate to Australia, there are three mechanisms, which are seen as of economic benefit to Australia. You could find an employer and be sponsored for migration, you could simply apply under general skilled migration if you meet the points test, or you could apply for business migration, if you meet the business migration requirements. It’s important to note the key differences between each scheme, and if you’re just starting out, here’s a primer:

Employer Nomination Scheme

You need to be skilled (http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists ) and you may need a pre-application skills assessment (PASA). Only rarely can an applicant be over 50. Your employer needs to meet some criteria before you apply, so it’s a good idea to get the employer to apply for a nomination first.

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) has been developed for Australian employers to recruit permanent, highly-skilled staff from overseas or from people temporarily in Australia, when the employers have been unable to fill a vacancy from within the Australian labour market or through their own training programs.
The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) is designed to help employers in regional or low population growth areas of Australia, who are unable to fill skilled vacancies from the Australian labour market.
Labour Agreements (LA) enable Australian employers to recruit (either permanently or temporarily) a specified number of workers from overseas in response to identified or emerging labour market (or skill) shortages in the Australian labour market.

General Skilled Migration

You need to be skilled (http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists ) and you will almost certainly need a pre-application skills assessment (PASA). You must also be under 50 and speak good English and, as these applications are mainly points tested, an English test is a common requirement even for native English speakers.

All these visas typically require a skills assessment prior to application and we maintain a table showing which occupations are available here: Download Amalgamated Occupation List

Either the SOL or CSOL columns will apply to you. Skills assessment is never a minor exercise, and you need to consider this carefully before getting started. If English is not your native language you should also be prepared to test your English at the beginning, there are now five different English tests available.
Within this heading, there are the following principal types of visas:
1. Independent – subclass 189 – for those who meet the basic requirements and can meet the points test without sponsorship by a family member or a State or Territory government.
2. Sponsored – subclass 190 – for those who need to be sponsored by a state government (either because that’s the only pathway for their occupation or because they need the extra points)
3. Temporary graduate – subclass 485 – to allow onshore students to qualify for permanent visas through further employment or training in Australia.

Business Migration Program

You need to be a successful business owner or business manager, or able to make a substantial investment in bonds or other investments here.

From 1 March 2003, Australian immigration law was amended to introduce a two-stage visa processing for business skills migrants. Under these arrangements, almost all business migrants are granted a provisional visa for four years.
After establishing a business with the requisite level of business activity, or maintaining the requisite level of investment in Australia, provisional visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residence.
A direct permanent residence category is available for high calibre business migrants sponsored by state/territory governments. This is known as the Business Talent visa.
There are also Significant Investor Visa (SIV) options available through nomination by Austrade and state governments.

Costs

A long time ago, visas for Australia were cheap and the costing transparent. Today there are many obvious and not so obvious costs, you can start by looking at http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Fees. Watch out for significant “second visa application charges”, “further application onshore” costs and the Department’s credit card surcharge.