A Guide to Getting a Work Visa in Australia

A Guide to Getting a Work Visa in Australia

Guide to Australia Work Visa: Requirements and Application

Australia is a popular destination for skilled workers who want to explore new opportunities and challenges in their careers. With its diverse and dynamic economy, high standard of living, and multicultural society, Australia offers many benefits and attractions for those who wish to work there.

However, before you can start your Australian work journey, you will need to obtain a valid work visa that suits your situation and goals. Applying for an Australian work visa can be a daunting and complicated task, especially if you are not aware of the visa options, requirements and processes involved. In this article, I will give you a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the different types of work visas available, the general and specific criteria you need to fulfil, and the steps you need to follow to successfully lodge your visa application.

A Guide to Getting a Work Visa in Australia

Types of Australia Work Visas

Australia offers a range of work visas for skilled workers, depending on the duration, location and nature of the work they intend to do. Some of the most common work visas are:

Temporary Work Visas

Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa

This visa allows skilled workers to work in Australia for an approved employer for up to four years, if their occupation is on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) or the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), or up to two years, if their occupation is on the Regional Occupation List (ROL). This visa also allows the visa holder to bring their family members to Australia.

To be eligible for this visa, you must:

  • be nominated by an approved employer for a position that cannot be filled by an Australian worker
  • have the required skills, qualifications and work experience for the nominated occupation
  • have a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority, unless exempt
  • meet the minimum English language requirement, unless exempt
  • meet the health and character requirements

To apply for this visa, you must:

  • submit an online application through ImmiAccount within 90 days of being nominated by your employer
  • pay the visa application fee and the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy
  • provide evidence of your identity, skills, qualifications, work experience, health insurance, English language ability, nomination and any other relevant documents

The duration and conditions of this visa depend on the stream you apply for, which can be either the Short-term stream, the Medium-term stream or the Labour Agreement stream. The Short-term stream is for occupations on the STSOL and allows you to stay for up to two years, with a possibility of one renewal. The Medium-term stream is for occupations on the MLTSSL or the ROL and allows you to stay for up to four years, with a pathway to permanent residence after three years.

The Labour Agreement stream is for occupations that are not on the STSOL, the MLTSSL or the ROL, but are covered by a labour agreement between an employer and the Australian government. The duration and conditions of this stream vary depending on the terms of the labour agreement.

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Subclass 457 (Temporary Work) visa (phased out but relevant for historical context)

This visa was the previous version of the Subclass 482 visa, which allowed skilled workers to work in Australia for an approved employer for up to four years. This visa was abolished on 18 March 2018 and replaced by the Subclass 482 visa. However, some existing Subclass 457 visa holders and applicants may still be affected by the transition arrangements.

Transition to Subclass 482

If you held or had applied for a Subclass 457 visa on or before 18 April 2017, you may be eligible to apply for a permanent Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme) visa or a Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) visa under the Temporary Residence Transition stream, subject to meeting certain criteria. These criteria include:

  • having worked for the same employer for at least two years in the same occupation
  • having a valid Subclass 457 visa or a related bridging visa
  • being under 50 years of age, unless exempt
  • meeting the minimum English language requirement, unless exempt
  • being nominated by your employer for a permanent position
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If you applied for a Subclass 457 visa after 18 April 2017, you will be processed under the Subclass 482 visa framework, subject to meeting the new requirements.

Permanent Work Visas

Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme) visa

This visa allows skilled workers to work and live permanently in Australia, if they are nominated by an approved employer. This visa also allows the visa holder to include their family members in their application, apply for Australian citizenship, and sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence.

To be eligible for this visa, you must:

  • be nominated by an approved employer for a position that is on the relevant occupation list and has a market salary rate
  • have the required skills, qualifications and work experience for the nominated occupation
  • have a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority, unless exempt
  • meet the minimum English language requirement, unless exempt
  • meet the health and character requirements
  • be under 45 years of age, unless exempt

To apply for this visa, you must:

  • submit an online application through ImmiAccount within six months of being nominated by your employer
  • pay the visa application fee and the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy
  • provide evidence of your identity, skills, qualifications, work experience, nomination, English language ability and any other relevant documents

The benefits and obligations of this visa depend on the stream you apply for, which can be either the Direct Entry stream, the Temporary Residence Transition stream or the Labour Agreement stream. The Direct Entry stream is for applicants who have not held a Subclass 457 or a Subclass 482 visa for at least two years with the same employer, or who are applying from outside Australia.

The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for applicants who have held a Subclass 457 or a Subclass 482 visa for at least two years with the same employer, and who are nominated by that employer for a permanent position. The Labour Agreement stream is for applicants who are nominated by an employer who has a labour agreement with the Australian government.

Subclass 189 (Skilled Independent) visa

This visa allows skilled workers to work and live permanently in Australia, if they are invited to apply through the SkillSelect system. This visa does not require sponsorship by an employer, a state or territory, or a family member. This visa also allows the visa holder to include their family members in their application, apply for Australian citizenship, and sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence.

To be eligible for this visa, you must:

  • have an occupation that is on the relevant skilled occupation list
  • have a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority
  • meet the minimum English language requirement, unless exempt
  • meet the health and character requirements
  • be under 45 years of age, unless exempt
  • score at least 65 points on the points-based system

To apply for this visa, you must:

  • submit an expression of interest (EOI) through SkillSelect, indicating your occupation, skills, qualifications, work experience, English language ability and other relevant factors
  • receive an invitation from the Department of Home Affairs to apply for the visa
  • submit an online application through ImmiAccount within 60 days of receiving the invitation
  • pay the visa application fee
  • provide evidence of your identity, skills, qualifications, work experience, English language ability and any other relevant documents

The points-based system is a way of ranking and selecting applicants based on their skills and attributes. The points are awarded for factors such as age, education, work experience, English language ability, partner skills, state or territory nomination, and regional study. You can find more information about the points system on the Department of Home Affairs website.

General Work Visa Requirements

In addition to the specific requirements for each visa type, there are some general requirements that apply to most work visa applicants. These include:

Health and Character Checks

You must meet certain health and character standards to be granted a work visa in Australia. This means that you must:

  • undergo medical examinations and tests as required by the Department of Home Affairs
  • provide police certificates from every country where you have lived for 12 months or more in the last 10 years
  • not have a substantial criminal record or a history of involvement in criminal or terrorist activities
  • not pose a risk to the Australian community or national security
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Proof of Employment

You must provide evidence of your employment or potential employment in Australia, depending on the visa type you are applying for. This means that you must:

  • have a job offer or a nomination by an approved employer for a position that matches your skills and qualifications
  • provide a copy of your employment contract or a letter from your employer detailing the terms and conditions of your employment, such as the salary, hours, duties, location and duration
  • provide evidence of your employer’s business registration and financial status, if required

Skill Assessment

You must provide evidence of your skills and qualifications for the occupation you are applying for, unless exempt. This means that you must:

  • obtain a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority for your occupation
  • provide copies of your academic transcripts, certificates, diplomas, degrees and other relevant documents
  • provide evidence of your work experience, such as references, payslips, tax returns and contracts
  • provide evidence of your professional registration or licensing, if required

Application Process

Once you have met the eligibility criteria and gathered the required documents, you can proceed to lodge your visa application. The application process varies depending on the visa type you are applying for, but generally involves the following steps:

Lodging the Visa Application

You must lodge your visa application online through ImmiAccount, which is a secure online platform that allows you to manage your visa application and communicate with the Department of Home Affairs.

To lodge your visa application, you must:

  • create an ImmiAccount or log in to your existing account
  • select the visa type you are applying for and fill in the online application form
  • upload the scanned copies of your documents and attach them to your application
  • pay the visa application fee and any other charges using a valid credit card or PayPal account
  • submit your application and receive a confirmation email with your transaction reference number (TRN)

Processing Times

The processing times for your visa application depend on the visa type you are applying for, the complexity of your case, the completeness of your application and the number of applications received by the Department of Home Affairs. You can check the average processing times for different visa types on the Department of Home Affairs website. However, these are only indicative and may vary depending on your individual circumstances.

Some of the factors that may affect your processing times are:

  • whether you have submitted a complete and accurate application with all the required documents
  • whether you have responded promptly to any requests for additional information or documents
  • whether you have undergone the required health and character checks and provided the results
  • whether you have applied from within or outside Australia
  • whether your occupation is in high demand or subject to a quota
  • whether your application is subject to any security, fraud or integrity checks

You can track the status of your application online through ImmiAccount, where you can also update your personal details, attach additional documents, withdraw your application or request a refund, if eligible. You can also contact the Department of Home Affairs by phone, email or post, if you have any queries or concerns about your application.

Cost and Fees

The cost and fees for your visa application depend on the visa type you are applying for, the number of applicants included in your application and the exchange rate at the time of payment. You can check the current visa application fees for different visa types on the Department of Home Affairs website. However, these are only indicative and may change without notice.

Some of the additional costs that you may incur are:

  • health insurance, if you are applying for a temporary work visa or if you are not eligible for Medicare
  • biometrics collection, if you are required to provide your fingerprints and photograph as part of your application
  • health examinations and tests, if you are required to undergo medical checks as part of your application
  • police certificates, if you are required to provide evidence of your character as part of your application
  • skills assessment, if you are required to obtain a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority as part of your application
  • professional registration or licensing, if you are required to obtain a registration or license to work in your occupation in Australia
  • translation and certification, if you are required to provide certified translations of your documents that are not in English
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The Department of Home Affairs has a refund policy that outlines the circumstances under which you may be eligible for a refund of your visa application fee or any other charges. You can find more information about the refund policy on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Tips for a Successful Application

Applying for an Australian work visa can be a daunting and stressful process, but there are some tips that can help you increase your chances of success and avoid unnecessary delays or complications. Here are some of the tips that you should follow:

  • Thoroughly review the eligibility criteria and the document checklist for the visa type you are applying for, and make sure you meet all the requirements before you apply
  • Seek professional advice from a registered migration agent or a lawyer, if you are unsure about any aspect of your application or if you have a complex case
  • Organize and submit all the required documents accurately and in the prescribed format, and keep copies of everything you send
  • Respond to any requests for additional information or documents from the Department of Home Affairs as soon as possible, and provide clear and honest answers
  • Check the status of your application regularly through ImmiAccount, and update your personal details if they change
  • Be patient and respectful, and do not contact the Department of Home Affairs unnecessarily, as this may cause delays or confusion

Challenges and Common Mistakes

Despite your best efforts, you may encounter some challenges or make some common mistakes when applying for an Australian work visa. These may affect the outcome of your application or cause delays or difficulties. Here are some of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them:

  • Applying for the wrong visa type or stream, or applying for multiple visas at the same time, which may result in your application being refused or cancelled
  • Providing false or misleading information or documents, or omitting relevant information or documents, which may result in your application being refused or cancelled, or your visa being cancelled or revoked
  • Failing to meet the health and character requirements, or failing to disclose any health or character issues, which may result in your application being refused or cancelled, or your visa being cancelled or revoked
  • Failing to meet the English language requirement, or failing to provide evidence of your English language ability, which may result in your application being refused or delayed
  • Failing to obtain a positive skills assessment, or failing to provide evidence of your skills and qualifications, which may result in your application being refused or delayed
  • Failing to secure a job offer or a nomination by an approved employer, or failing to provide evidence of your employment or potential employment, which may result in your application being refused or delayed
  • Failing to pay the visa application fee or any other charges, or failing to provide proof of payment, which may result in your application being refused or delayed
  • Failing to lodge your visa application within the specified time frame, or failing to provide any additional information or documents within the specified time frame, which may result in your application being refused or delayed.

 

A Guide to Getting a Work Visa in Australia

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