Australia actively recruits skilled workers from overseas.
Generally, if you’re aged 20-45, healthy, speak English and have
something to contribute you’ll be wanted. The visa options can seem
complicated at first, simply because there are so many. They’ve been
created to fit many different needs, situations, trades and
professions, so sieve through the subclasses and chances are you’ll
find a visa with your name on it.
Who needs a visa to work in Australia?
Put simply, anyone who is not an Australian or New Zealand citizen
who wants to work legally in the land Down Under. (Including if you’re
the spouse of an Australian citizen).
Ways to work in Australia
- Working Holiday
visas (subclass 417 and 462)
- Employer Sponsored
Worker visas (subclasses 457, 418, 121/856 and 119/857)
Professionals and other Skilled Migrants programme (subclasses 175,
176 and 475)
- Business visas (subclasses 956,
977, 651, 456, 459, 160, 163, 161, 164, 162, 165 and 405)
- Specialist entry
visas (subclasses 124, 858, 426, 427, 411, 420, 415, 423, 428, 416,
421 and 419)
- Doctors and nurses
visas (457 and 422)
- Student visas
- Asylum & Refugee Status
- The popular 417 visa allows 18-30 year-olds (at time of
application) to supplement the cost of a holiday by working in
Australia for up to 12 months, though only six months for any one
- People who work in a “specified industry in regional Australia”
for a minimum of 88 days are eligible to apply for a second Working
- Many people in Australia on a 417 visa gain sponsorship/temporary
residence on 457 visas (more details below).
- The 417 visa is for citizens of 18 countries, including United
Kingdom, Ireland and Canada (but not the USA).
- The Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) is for tertiary educated
people from Chile, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and USA aged 18-30 who
want to travel and work temporarily for up to 12 months.
- Both visas cost AUD$195 and can be applied for online at
- The popular 457 is aimed at workers who have recognised
qualifications and skills/experience in occupations required in
Australia. You will need an Australia-based company to offer you a job
and “sponsor” your application.
- The 457 visa enables holders to work for up to four years and
bring any eligible secondary applicants (a de facto spouse for example)
- The 418 Educational visa is another temporary residency visa for
educational workers who must be sponsored by an Australian education
- These visas cost AUD$595 (plus medicals and police checks).
- The Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 121/856) is a permanent
visa that enables workers to fill highly skilled positions, which
cannot be filled by Australians. It usually costs AUD$2,480.
- Likewise, the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass
119/857) offers permanent visas for workers in regional Australia and,
depending on your circumstances, costs around AUD$2,000.
- If your partner (including same-sex couples) is a New Zealand or
Australian citizen or permanent resident and you’ve been in “ongoing
and committed de-facto relationship” for 12 months or more your spouse
can sponsor your temporary residence visa, which enables you to work
without limitations. Look for visas subclasses 820,801, 309, 300 and
- The visas in this programme are for 18-45-years-olds who have
good English skills and recent experience (or recently completed
eligible Australian qualifications) in occupations on Australia’s
Skilled Occupation List (SOL, see
http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/pdf/1121i.pdf). You do not need a job
offer, but you need to pass a points test.
- For those eligible, independent migration on the Skilled –
Independent (Migrant) Visa (Subclass 175) is the best of all options as
you’re not tied to any on employer and it’s permanent. It costs
- Those unable to meet the 175 pass mark may be able to get
sponsored by an eligible relative living in Australia, or by a State or
Territory government, on the Skilled – Sponsored (Migrant) Visa
(Subclass 176). It costs AUD$5,030.
- The Skilled – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) Visa (Subclass
475) is similar to the 176 but a sponsoring relative must live in a
designated area of Australia and holders must work for one year in a
Specified Regional Area.
- There are numerous business visa options, including for
establishing a business in Australia and more permanent options for
“high-calibre business people”. Temporary options include subclasses:
956, 977, 651, 456, 459, 160, 163, 161, 164, 162, 165, 405 and the APEC
Business Travel Card.
- There is a wide range of visas for people in specific
professional, cultural or social activities in Australia, such as film,
sport, the arts and more. Temporary visa subclasses include: 124, 858,
426, 427, 411, 420, 415, 423, 428, 416, 421 and 419.
- Before doctors can practise in Australia they must register with
the Medical Board in the State or Territory where they intend to
practise. Most doctors will initially work on 457 visas or a Subclass
422 – Medical Practitioner (Temporary) visa. More information is at
- Nurses are in high demand and receive priority processing at
present. But you must be assessed by either the Australian Nursing
& Midwifery Council (ANMC, www.anmc.org.au) or the nurse regulatory
body in the State or Territory in which you want to work. The 457 visa
is the most common option.
- Several student visas allow up to 20 hours work each week. The
limitations, cost and type of visa depend on your country of
citizenship and your course of study. More information at
These are more visa options, so check the Department of Immigration and
Citizenship website for further information. The website’s Visa
Wizard is the best starting point, www.immi.gov.au/visawizard. Visa
details do change regularly so check the website for updates,