Australia at a Glance
Visa Requirements for Australia
A traditional immigration country, Australia offers a variety of visa types. While it would be impossible to deal with all of them here, we will provide a short overview of the three main categories relevant to expats and people planning to work in Australia.
To begin with, there is a list of basic requirements which all applicants, no matter the category, should meet. These conditions include:
- English language proficiency: everyone whose native language is not English must achieve a certain score specified for their visa category and/or sign up for English classes in Australia before arrival.
- Skills, qualifications and/or work experience relevant either to an occupation nominated on Australia’s Skilled Occupations List, or to the employer who sponsors you.
- Health: all permanent visa applicants and some temporary visa applicants (depending on their profession) must meet certain health requirements. These will be specified in your visa application form. If you are asked to attend a health examination before coming to Australia, consult the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate for a list of government-approved doctors.
- Character: visa applicants are assessed according to the character requirement and may have to provide a penal clearance certificate.
- Australian Values Statement: by signing the Australian Value Statement, you signal that you are willing to accept the Australian way of life and obey the local laws.
Visa for People with Job Offers
If you already have a job offer in Australia, you will apply for an Employer Sponsored Migration visa. Your prospective employer will probably apply for this visa on your behalf. Types in this category include temporary and permanent visas.
The most common temporary visa is the Business (Long Stay) Visa: employers use it to sponsor an overseas skilled worker for a maximum period of four years. This visa is tied to the employer who acts as a sponsor and to your general occupation, but not to one particular position within the company.
One type of permanent visa in this category is the Employer Nomination Scheme. It is used by companies to fill skilled vacancies with highly skilled professionals from overseas or who are in Australia on a temporary visa.
Visa without Job Offer
The Skill Select program is for people who want to move to Australia in order to seek employment. They do not need a sponsor, but they have to prove that they have the skills and qualifications necessary to work in an occupation on the Australian Skilled Occupations List.
If you possess skills currently in demand on the Australian labor market, you also need to pass a test by scoring a minimum number of points. Points are awarded based on the level of English language skills, specific work experience, or skills that your partner might bring to the country.
It used to be the case that a good point score automatically qualified you to apply for a permanent immigrant visa on a national or regional level. However, this is no longer the case. For information on the new application scheme, please read the paragraph below carefully.
The New Skilled Migration Program
If you are interested in a Skilled Migration Visa, you should know that the Australian government has changed its General Skilled Migration program to the Skill Select scheme mentioned above. As of July 1, 2012, every potential immigrant must follow these steps:
- They need to have their professional qualifications recognized.
- They must pass an English test.
- Their data have to be entered into the Skill Select immigration database.
According to immigration quota for various occupations, the Australian government then invites the candidates with the highest number of points to lodge a visa application. If you are not selected immediately, your entry will remain in the database for two years, and you may receive an invitation at a later point. The Skill Select database is also accessible to state governments and individual employers, who can support you as a potential visa candidate as well.
The young and adventurous might want to consider the popular Working Holiday (or Work and Holiday) visa. This is for people aged between 18 and 30 who would like to support themselves while travelling in Australia by taking on temporary jobs. The visa is valid for a maximum period of twelve months, but you cannot work for the same employer for more than six months. If your primary reason for going to Australia is to take up employment, this might not be the best option.
More detailed information on living and working in Australia, plus a very useful “visa wizard” that helps you find the right type of visa for your purposes, can be found on the website of the Australian Government Department for Immigration and Citizenship.