Visa Information for Working in Australia
Anyone wishing to visit or to work in Australia requires a valid visa. The process of obtaining a suitable visa can be complicated, and sometimes stressful. This is because you have to supply a great deal of personal information, subject yourself to medical tests, and in some cases, an English test.
The Australian government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) have produced a really useful and info-packed website to help you. Two particularly useful documents are Booklets 5 and 6 which can be downloaded in PDF form from the government site.
Anyone emigrating to Australia must first obtain a work visa (or under special circumstances an alternative visa type – see Special Circumstances below).
Types of Visa
All Australian work visas for foreign workers emigrating to Australia are called ‘457 Visas’. This is a temporary visa but lasts up to four years. It is a pathway to a permanent work visa. There are two subclasses: Subclass 121 which is a 457 obtained offshore. The other is subclass 856 which is obtained onshore.
There are four types of work visas:
- Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (457 Subclass 856)
- Skilled Independent Visa (457 Subclass 175)
- Skilled Sponsor Visa (457 Subclass 176)
- Skilled Regional Sponsored Visa (457 Subclass 475)
Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa
These visas have been created to enhance Australia’s ability to complete in the global jobs market and to meet shortages in skilled labour. The ENS enables overseas workers and those already here on temporary work visas to apply.
Some conditions apply:
- The position must be for a minimum of 3 years.
- The position must be on the list of approved occupations (see later).
- The visa application must be lodged within 6 months of receiving an employer’s nomination.
- The visa application must be made at the same Business Centre of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship as the nomination.
- The applicant must meet the same requirements of other forms of application with regards, age, qualifications, experience, character and medical history.
Once you have officially agreed to a position, applying for a visa via the ENS is a three-stage process:
- Stage 1 – Negotiate a Labour Agreement
- Stage 2 – Employer lodges an employer nomination
- Stage 3 – Nominee (visa applicant) lodges a visa application
Go to the DIAC website for more information about the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa.
Skilled Independent Visa
To obtain this visa, an applicant (or their partner) has to achieve a minimum score of 120 points in an assessment test. You must be under 45 years of age offer skills in an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).
To qualify for a Skilled Independent Visa you must meet basic criteria relating to your skills, English language ability, qualifications, recent work experience, proof of good health and character.
Go to the DIAC website for more information about the Skilled Independent Visa.
Skilled Sponsored Visa
This is suitable if you obtain between 100 and 120 points in the assessment test. You must be under 45 years of age, have skills listed on the SOL and be able to obtain sponsorship either from an eligible relative living in Australia or nomination from a State or Territorial government.
To be sponsored by a relative, they must be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia, or an eligible citizen of New Zealand.
The applicant or their spouse must be related to the sponsor in one of the following ways:
- Parent of the sponsor
- An independent child of the sponsor
- A brother or sister
- A niece or nephew
- An uncle or aunt
Please note. In all cases this includes step and adoptive relatives.
To be sponsored by a State or Territory government, the applicant must satisfy a specific set of criteria different in each state or territory. This will include the occupation being on the skills occupation list (SOL).
Go to the DIAC website for more information about the Skilled Sponsored Visa.
Skilled Regional Sponsored Visa
The requirements for this visa include all those needed for the Skilled Sponsored Visa but with four additional conditions:
- Applicants must agree to work for at least one year and live for two years in a Specified Regional Area of Australia. These areas are:
- New South Wales except Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle, Wollongong, Northern Territory, Queensland, (except the Gold Coast and the Greater Brisbane area), Tasmania, Victoria (except the Melbourne metropolitan area), Western Australia (except Perth metropolitan area).
- The relative acting as a sponsor must live in the Specified Regional Area in which the applicant wishes to work.
- Like all 457 visas, this is valid for three years only, but it provides a pathway to permanent residence.
- The applicant must be able to demonstrate specialised skills in an area of need.
Go to the DIAC website for more information about the Skilled Regional Sponsored Visa.
Prioritising Visa Applications
Due to the great demand for labour in certain regions of Australia (especially WA) and for certain industries (especially Mining, Oil and Gas), the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has created a new prioritising scheme taking effect from on 1st July 2011. This makes applicants seeking a Skilled Regional Sponsored Visa its top priority. Following this group come those applying through the conventional ENS programme. Third priority goes to those applicants nominated by a state or territory. Those applying conventionally for positions on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) are given a slightly lower priority.
There are other less obvious ways to apply for a visa.
Australian Remaining Relative Visa
Foreign nations who have no near relative other than those living in Australia may apply to be united with their families. (Near relatives include, parents, non-dependent children or sibling, including step-relatives). The applicant must be sponsored by an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia or a citizen of New Zealand. The Sponsor is responsible for an Assurance of Support and must provide a financial bond. The applicant must also meet the usual health and character conditions which apply to other forms of visa.
Go to the DIAC website for more information on Australian Remaining Relative Visa.
Australian Prospective Marriage Visa
This is a temporary visa valid for up to nine months. The applicant must the fiancé (e) of an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia, or a citizen of New Zealand. They must marry during the 9-month period covered by the visa. To qualify, the applicant must also demonstrate they know their finance(e), have met them, that they are engaged to be married to them and intend living with their proposed spouse.
All applicants for this form of visa must be living in Australia at the time of application. They must also meet the usual health and character requirements and apply for an Australian Spouse Visa immediately after marriage.
Go to the DIAC website for more information on Australian Prospective Marriage Visa.
AMMA Migration Services
AMMA Migration Services is a registered Migration Agent and can assist businesses or individuals in the application, submission and processing of visas through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
AMMA’s migration experts understand the specific requirements of the resources sector and provide seamless, cost-effective services.
If you are applying for a visa independently you may wish to employ the services of an approved agent to help you with the complexities of the application. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship have some useful contacts with professional and approved agents.
Other useful information can be found in our Visas to Work and Live in Australia section.