Visas to Work in Australia

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. All information is taken from the Australian Government website. For the individual consultation on work visas and immigration, please, contact a registered migration agent. 

For those who want to work in Australia, many visa options are available. In the article Immigration to Australia for Work, we considered different pathways for professional immigration. Here, we will discuss each work visa in detail, look at the conditions and requirements.

Residence visas

These visas give the right to live and work in Australia indefinitely. They have a direct entry option. It means that if an applicant meets certain criteria, they can apply for one of these visas directly, without getting any temporary visas, even from outside Australia. 

1. Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189)

This visa allows its holders to live and work anywhere in Australia. To be eligible for this visa, a candidate must:

  • Be under 45 years old. 
  • Have a qualification that is on the relevant Skilled Occupation List (SOL). In general, there are mostly engineers, IT specialists, scientists and some trades workers.
  • Have a suitable skills assessment for the occupation. Assessment is conducted by special organisations that check the applicant’s qualifications according to the Australian standards. For different occupations, there are different authorities. For example, Engineers Australia is for engineering qualifications, ACS for IT specialists, Medical Board for healthcare workers, VETASSESS and Trades Recognition Australia for tradespeople, AITSL for teachers, etc.
  • Satisfy the points test. The Skilled Independent visa is point-based. It means that a candidate should have enough points (at least 65) to be invited to apply for this visa. Points are credited for age, proficiency level in English, work experience (both in Australia and overseas), education (including received in Australia), studying in regional Australia, partner skills, etc. Look up the points calculator for the details.
  • Meet some health and character requirements. In general, an applicant must not have any crimes or offences committed in the past or serious diseases that require expensive treatment.

If a candidate meets all the criteria, they can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the SkillSelect system and wait for the invitation to apply. After the invitation is received, an applicant can apply for the visa online, submitting all the necessary documents. The process can take 6 to 12 months. 

2. Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)

The conditions of this visa are very similar to the Skilled Independent visa described above. Here the applicant also needs to:

  • Be under 45 years old. 
  • Have a qualification from the relevant SOL.
  • Have a suitable skills assessment for the occupation. 
  • Score of at least 65 points.
  • Meet some health and character requirements.
  • Have at least Competent English (IELTS 6.0 for each of the four components).

The main difference is that the candidate must be nominated for this visa by an Australian state or territory government agency. When an applicant submits their EOI, state and territory government agencies can see it and might nominate them for the visa.

Each state has its own lists of in-demand occupations that it wants to attract for regional development. Also, states can set their requirements for candidates in terms of work experience, English level, etc. Being granted a Skilled Nominated visa, an immigrant has to work and live in the state that nominated them for a certain period (usually at least two years).

3. Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

If an immigrant already has a job offer from an Australian employer or a labour contract, they can apply for this kind of visa. The criteria for this visa are the following:

  • A nomination by the employer;
  • Age – under 45 (some exceptions may apply);
  • Occupation from the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List; 
  • At least 3 years of relevant work experience;
  • A positive skills assessment;
  • At least a competent level of English (IELTS 6.0 for each of the 4 components).


Temporary and Provisional Work Visas

If your qualification is not on the relevant Skilled Occupation List to apply for the residence visas right away, check if you are eligible to apply for a temporary or provisional work visa. As a rule, skilled occupation lists for such visas are broader, but you will be able to apply for residence only after three to four years of work in your speciality.

1. Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482)

There are three streams for this kind of visa:

  • Short-term stream – For qualifications from Short-term skilled occupations list
  • Medium-term stream – For qualifications from Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) or the Regional Occupation List (ROL)
  • Labour agreement stream – For those who have a labour agreement with the Australian government.

This visa is issued for skilled workers for a period from two to four years. To receive it, a candidate must:

  • Find an employer who will sponsor them;
  • Meet the qualification and work experience requirements;
  • Meet the English language requirements (IELTS 5.0 or equivalent);
  • Work only for the employer who sponsors this application. 

After three years of working for the same employer, there is an opportunity to apply for residence under the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186), or under Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Visa (subclass 187) if your employment is in regional Australia.

2. Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (Subclass 491)

This visa is for skilled workers who want to live and work in regional Australia. It is issued for five years, and after three years of living and working in regional Australia, you can apply for permanent residence through a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) (starts from 16 November 2022).

It is also a point-based visa. It is necessary to score 65 points or more. For that, a candidate must meet certain criteria on occupation, skills and English language (IELTS 6.0 for each of the 4 components). However, the applicant can be nominated for this visa not only by an Australian state or territory but is already a citizen or a permanent resident of Australia and lives in a designated area.

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

According to the requirements for this visa, the applicant is nominated by the employer who sponsors the worker, having previously proved that they did not find a local worker in the labour market. Here you do not need to gain points, but it is vital to find an employer who needs you and is ready to prove it in front of an immigration officer. Also, the employer must:

  • have the right to employ foreigners, 
  • be from a designated regional area, i.e. not from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and
  • must pay a certain annual salary – the Annual Market Salary Rate (AMSR).

Work Visas for Partners

For most work visas, there is an opportunity to include the spouse or de facto partner in your application or use the subsequent entrant stream when the partner of a worker applies for the same type of visa and also gets the right to work and live in Australia with the main applicant.

However, to include a partner in your application or to apply for the subsequent entrant stream, you should prove that your relationship is genuine. As evidence, you can provide a marriage certificate, joint bank accounts, rental agreements, proof of trips and holidays together, etc. 

Partners of student visa holders (Subclass 500) also get student visas, so they have the same work rights as the primary student and can work for no more than 40 hours a fortnight. The exception is only for partners of students who study masters or a doctorate degree. They can work unrestricted hours once the primary student has started their course. The student’s partner also has a right to obtain the 485 graduate work visa.

Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485)

This visa is issued to graduates of Australian universities who have studied in the country for two or more years. The duration of the work visa depends on the program the student graduated from:

  • Diploma or trade qualification – 18 months
  • Bachelor’s degree (including honours) – 2 years
  • Master’s by coursework – 2 years
  • Master’s by research – 3 years
  • Doctoral degree – 4 years
  • Hong Kong passport holders – 5 years (irrespective of degree)

It is an open visa — it is not tied to any employer or region. It allows you to look for a job throughout Australia while already in the country, which is much easier than looking for an employer remotely. Therefore, this type of visa is often the most reliable option to find a job and stay in the country.

From January  2021, 485 visa holders who studied and lived in regional Australia may apply for a second 485 visa, which allows them to live and work in regional Australia for another 1-2 years.

Read more about Temporary Graduate Visa here

Read more about immigration to Australia through education


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