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Working Visas in Australia

The law relating to working visas and the ability to work in Australia for those who are not Australian citizens is outlined in the Migration Act (Cth) and the Migration Regulations (Cth). There are many visas available for persons who would like to work in Australia and what is the appropriate visa for you depends on your level of skill, the type of work that you do and your residency status. Applications for working visas are submitted online at the Department of Home Affairs website.

If you want to bring your family with you, you could include them on your working visa application, or they could apply for a family or a visitor visa. Each visa has specific requirements as to the work that you can and cannot do. If you do not have an appropriate valid visa, you cannot work in Australia.


Temporary Skills Shortage Visas

You may be able to apply for a Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa if you have skills that are currently needed in Australia. Before you can apply for a TSS Visa, an employer must successfully nominate you for a position.

You will also need to meet all of the requirements of the working visas subclass that you are interested in and have a valid skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority for your occupation. When you apply you must choose an occupation that is on the skilled occupation list. You must also complete an approved English language test no more than 3 years before the invitation to apply for a visa. You can withdraw your visa application at any time during processing.

Sponsored or Nominated Work Visas

An employer can sponsor you to work in Australia on a permanent basis through the Employer Nomination Scheme. State Migration Plans let individual states and territories sponsor people to fill skills shortages within their local workforce. You may be eligible if you are nominated or sponsored by an approved business or employer or a government agency or authority.

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa allows workers to remain in Australia on a permanent basis and work in a regional area.

Employers can sponsor or nominate workers to stay and work in Australia temporarily between 1 day and four years. For you to be eligible for the Temporary Skills Shortage 482 visa your employer must be approved as a sponsor and nominate your position before a working visa is granted.

Working in Offshore Oil & Gas

You need to have an appropriate visa to work in Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry. This includes work on resource installations and in offshore resource activities on vessels, including those that can be moved as well as those attached to the seabed. You require either a 482 Temporary Skills Shortage Visa or a 400 Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa for highly specialised and non-ongoing work to work there.

Business and Investment Visas

You may apply for a Business Innovation and Investment visa if you wish to own and manage a new or existing business in Australia or to continue a business or investment activity in Australia. You must also be nominated by a state or territory government agency and be invited to apply by the Minister. If you meet the investment criteria you may be eligible for a permanent resident investment visa (891 visa). There are also business talent and state sponsored investor visas for persons who meet certain criteria to establish new or develop existing businesses.

Working Holiday and Temporary Graduate Visas

You could apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (485) if you have recently graduated from an Australian education institution and want to work in Australia. This visa is short term visa which allows you to live, work and study in Australia after graduation.

You can also apply for a Working Holiday visa if you are aged between 18 and 30 and want to work and holiday in Australia for up to one year.  This visa will allow you to live in Australia for up to 12 months and work 6 months with each employer.  You are also entitled to undertake study for no longer than 4 months and you may enter and exit Australia as many times as you wish during the year.

Other Specialist Temporary Visas

There are various temporary short-stay and long-stay visas for persons who do highly specialised, short term work in Australia such as;

  • high level sports competitors
  • exchange arrangements
  • religious work
  • household domestic work for certain senior foreign executives
  • certain workers in the entertainment industry.

To be granted these visas, you will need an approved sponsor or employer.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

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