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Working in Australia

Most people migrating to work in Australia will either be sponsored by an employer, or will apply independently for permanent residency through the General Skilled Migration Program. Alternatively if you are considering going travelling for a year and are aged 18 – 30 then you might consider applying for a working holiday visa.

Australian Visas & immigration explained

If you want to live and work, study or start a business in Australia the first thing you need to do is find and apply for the right visa. This is often easier said then done! We have summarised below the visa process to help you with understanding which visa is most suitable for you.

Employer sponsored visas

The most commonly used employer sponsored visa is the "457". Named after its subclass number, this temporary visa is used by Australian employers to fill positions when they can’t find anyone in the local labour market.

To be granted this visa you need to secure a job with an Australian employer. The employer will handle the application process with Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) where they’ll need to prove that your skills can’t be sourced from within Australia.

There are a number of other requirements worth bearing in mind, including: that your skills, qualifications, experience and employment history match those required for the position; that you have English language ability; you are eligible for any relevant licences or registration required for the role; and that you have private health insurance.

You can work in Australia for a period of between one day and four years on this visa and you can bring any eligible secondary applicants with you to Australia (secondary applicants can work and study).

Your right to stay and work in Australia depends on your employer continuing to sponsor you. If you want to change jobs, your new employer must apply to DIBP and be accepted to sponsor you.

Other employer sponsored visas

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) is for employers looking to sponsor highly skilled workers to fill skilled vacancies in their business. This is a permanent resident visa.

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) is designed to encourage migration to regional areas within Australia. This visa enables employers in regional areas to nominate highly skilled workers to fill skilled vacancies in their business. This is also a permanent resident visa.

Skilled independent visas

There is a range of independent visa options under the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program for skilled workers who want to live in Australia and who don’t have an employer to sponsor them. These include options for skilled people applying as an independent migrant as well as those nominated by a state or territory government.

As from 1 January 2013, if you are interested in GSM you will need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and receive an invitation from them to lodge a visa application through SkillSelect.

The general requirements for a Skilled Independent Visa are that:

  • You must be invited to apply (see above)
  • You must be younger than 50 years old when you’re invited to apply
  • You must nominate an occupation that matches your skills and qualifications, and is on the relevant skilled occupation list
  • You must have your skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority for your nominated occupation
  • You must be competent in English
  • And you must meet the health and character requirements 

To speed up the visa application process many candidates first apply for state or territory nomination. That’s where you apply to a state or territory where your skill is in demand (you should visit all state and territory websites to find out if your occupation is in demand) before submitting an expression of interest. If you are successful, you will be invited to apply for a Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa through the SkillSelect system outlined above. DIBP give priority to these visas and assess them more quickly than Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visas.

The main point to keep in mind with the Skilled Nominated visa is that you are making a commitment to live and work in your nominated state or territory for the first two years of your new life in Australia. After that, you can move somewhere else if you want to.

A key advantage to securing a skilled independent visa is that you immediately receive permanent residency and all of the rights associated with it, such as free access to Medicare and other social services.

Other visas

The Skilled - Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory or sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated area in Australia.

Working holiday visa

If you are aged 18–30 it might be worth considering an Australian Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417). It’s a great visa for young people to check Australia out and get an idea of whether you would like to move back more permanently in the future. With this visa you can work in Australia for up to 12 months (you can only work for up to six months with one employer).

If you hold a second Working Holiday visa, which you can get by working in a designated regional or rural area, you may return to work for a further six months for an employer with whom you worked on your first Working Holiday visa.

Australian citizenship

Australian Citizenship is the final goal for most long term migrants. Most migrants seeking citizenship must meet certain requirements before applying. These requirements include:

You have been a permanent resident of Australia for a specified amount of time

Being of good character (as determined by DIBP) 

Registered migration agents

A migration agent is a professional person who can advice on immigration matters, and can help you to prepare and lodge an application. They will also deal with DIBP on your behalf, this is all usually done for a fee.

At 1st Recruitment Group we are in partnership with Concept Australia, an industry recognised and registered migration agency (Registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) and can recommend them to assist you with regards to your migration or working holiday visa application.

For further information call Concept Australia on 020 8468 1076 or visit their website

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