Australian Visas

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

  1. Working Holiday visas (subclass 417 and 462)
  2. Employer Sponsored Worker visas (subclasses 457, 418, 121/856 and 119/857)
  3. The Professionals and other Skilled Migrants programme (subclasses 175, 176 and 475)
  4. Business visas (subclasses 956, 977, 651, 456, 459, 160, 163, 161, 164, 162, 165 and 405)
  5. Specialist entry visas (subclasses 124, 858, 426, 427, 411, 420, 415, 423, 428, 416, 421 and 419)
  6. Doctors and nurses visas (457 and 422)
  7. Student visas
  8. Asylum & Refugee Status

1. Working Holiday visas (subclass 417, subclass 462)

  • 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 employer.
  • People who work in a “specified industry in regional Australia” for a minimum of 88 days are eligible to apply for a second Working Holiday visa.
  • 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

2. Employer Sponsored Worker visas (subclass 457, 418, 121/856 and 119/857)

  • 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) with them.
  • The 418 Educational visa is another temporary residency visa for educational workers who must be sponsored by an Australian education body.
  • 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 310.

3. The Professionals and other Skilled Migrants programme (subclasses 175, 176 and 475)

  • 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 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 AUD$5,030.
  • 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.

4. Business visas

  • 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.

5. Specialist Entry (124, 858, 426, 427, 411, 420, 415, 423, 428, 416, 421 and 419)

  • 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.

6. Doctors and nurses visas (457 and 422)

  • 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, or the nurse regulatory body in the State or Territory in which you want to work. The 457 visa is the most common option.

7. Student visas

  • 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, Visa details do change regularly so check the website for updates,