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A Guide to Visa Types and Work Permits in Australia

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  • Serhat Ahmed

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If you are a worker looking to apply for an Australian visa, the Commonwealth country offers a variety of visa types for professionals. Some of these visas can even lead to temporary or permanent residency for both you and eligible family members.

You could also obtain a visa through Australia’s immigration point system. You will find the specifics of this covered in this section along with Australia’s visa application and process for each type of permit. Plus, all the information you need on visa requirements and visa fees for Australia.

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Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

Australia offers work permits and employment-based visas for different types of expert workers moving to Australia for job-related purposes. Some of the work visas for skilled professionals include the following list.

Types of Work Permits for Australia

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa – allows skilled workers nominated by their employer to live and work in the country permanently.
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa – allows skilled workers nominated by their employer in regional Australia to live and work in the country permanently.
  • Skilled independent visa – for invited workers and New Zealand citizens with skills Australia needs to live and work permanently anywhere in Australia
  • Skilled Nominated visa – lets nominated skilled workers live and work in Australia as permanent residents.
  • Temporary Skill Shortage visa – temporary visa that enables an employer to sponsor a suitable skilled worker when an Australian is not available
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa – temporary visa for skilled workers who want to live and work in regional Australia.
  • Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa – temporary visa that lets you do short-term, highly-specialized work in the country.
  • Temporary Work (International Relations) visa – temporary visa to work in particular circumstances that improve Australia’s international relations
  • Distinguished Talent visa (subclass 858 for applying within Australia or 124 for applying outside of Australia) – permanent visa for people who have an internationally recognized record of outstanding achievement in a profession, sport, the arts, or academia and research.

In addition to these visas, Australia also has a Business Talent (Permanent) visa, which is specifically for establishing or developing a new or existing business in Australia. Read more about this type of visa in the Self-Employment Visas section below.

Work visas exist for the following professions:

  • skilled workers
  • people participating in specific activities
  • highly specialized workers
  • trainees, short-term
  • experienced businesspeople
  • investors

Australian Work Visa Requirements

The requirements for depend on your circumstances and the type of visa you apply for.

The different requirements per category are as follows:

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (Direct Entry Stream)

For the ENS Visa, you must:

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa (Direct Entry Stream)

For the RSMS Visa you must:

Skilled Independent Visa 

For invited workers, who must:

For New Zealand citizens who must:

  • hold a New Zealand Special Category visa (subclass 444).
  • have lived in Australia for at least five years.
  • have started living in Australia on or before February 19, 2016.
  • meet health and character requirements.
  • read or have been explained the Life in Australia booklet, and sign the Australian Values Statement.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

For this type of visa, you must:

Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa

For the invited pathway, you must:

  • be nominated by an Australian state, territory government agency, or sponsored by an eligible relative and invited to apply by submitting an expression of interest (EOI).
  • be under 45 years of age.
  • have a suitable skills assessment
  • satisfy a points test with 65 points or more (learn more about Australia’s immigration point system below).
  • have at least Competent English.
  • be on the relevant list of eligible skilled occupations.
  • meet health and character requirements.
  • read or have been explained the Life in Australia booklet, and sign the Australian Values Statement.

If you apply via the extended stay pathway, you will have to previously hold the Skilled Regional Sponsored visa (subclass 475), Skilled Regional Sponsored visa (subclass 487), Skilled Independent Regional visa (subclass 495), or the Skilled Designated Area Sponsored Provisional visa (subclass 496) at the time of application. There is no age limit when you apply via this pathway.

Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) Visa

For this type of visa, you must:

  • have highly specialized skills, knowledge, or experience to support Australian business and do on-going work (six months or less).
  • have adequate funds to support yourself.
  • meet health and character requirements.

Temporary Work (International Relations) Visa

For this visa, you must:

  • provide a letter of support:
    • stating that you are engaged in a bilateral agreement between Australia / Australian state or territory government, and another country (for those applying via the Government Agreement stream);
    • from the foreign government agency, ministry, mission, international organization, or Australian school or relevant state or territory education authority (for foreign language teachers) for those applying via the Foreign Government Agency stream;
    • or from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs Trade (DFAT) for those applying via the Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream.
  • have adequate funds to support yourself.
  • hold a temporary substantive visa if applying within Australia.
  • meet health and character requirements.
  • have adequate health insurance.

If you apply via the Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream, an interview and employment contract may be required.

Distinguished Talent Visa

For this type of Australian visa, you must:

  • be nominated.
  • contribute in a way that benefits the Australian community economically, socially, or culturally, or raise Australia’s academic, artistic, or sports standing internationally.
  • have the ability to establish yourself in the country either through work in your field or by becoming independently established.
  • be internationally recognized with a record of achievement in a profession, sport, the arts, or academia and research.
  • have at least functional English.
  • meet health and character requirements.
  • read or have been explained the Life in Australia booklet, and sign the Australian Values Statement.

Australia Work Visa Costs

The work visas mentioned above all have a cost of 4,045 AUD (2,955 USD) with the exception of the following:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage visa – 1,265 AUD (925 USD) for short-term stream or 2,645 AUD (1,925 USD) for medium-term stream
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (extended stay pathway) – 360 AUD (265 USD)
  • Temporary Work visas – 310 AUD (225 USD) except in limited circumstances
  • Distinguished Talent visa – 4,110 AUD (3,000 USD)

Work Permit Visa Application Form for Australia

You can apply for most visas online on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website via ImmiAccount. If your visa requires an official invitation to apply, you can submit an EOI on SkillSelect.

Family Visa

All the visas we discussed, will allow you to bring eligible family members with you by sponsoring or applying for a subsequent entrant visa for them, except for the Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream of the Temporary Work (International Relations) visa.

Australia’s Medical Exam for Your Visa

If your visa requires you to meet Australia’s health standards, you may be subject to a health examination. This could include a medical exam, TB Screening test, chest x-ray, HIV test, hepatitis B and C test, and syphilis test, depending on the visa you are applying for.

To arrange your health examination if in Australia, you can do so with Bupa Medical Visa Services.

If you are outside of the country, you can book your medical exam with one of the Department’s approved panel physicians or clinics. For information on this, you can contact an immigration office near you.

Australia’s Immigration Point System

If you are invited to apply for a visa that requires a points test, this is an overview of the points system:


  • At least 18 but less than 25 years old—25 points
  • At least 25 but less than 33 years old—30 points
  • At least 33 but less than 40 years old—25 points
  • At least 40 but less than 45 years old—15 points

English Language Skills

  • Competent English—0 points
  • Proficient English—10 points
  • Superior English—20 points

Overseas Skilled Employment

  • Less than three years—0 points
  • At least three but less than five years—5 points
  • At least five but less than eight years—10 points
  • At least eight years—15 points

Australian Skilled Employment

  • Less than a year—0 points
  • At least one but less than three years—5 points
  • At least three but less than five years—10 points
  • At least five but less than eight years—15 points
  • At least eight years—20 points

Educational Qualifications

  • Doctorate from an Australian educational institution or another educational institution of recognized standard—20 points
  • Bachelor degree from an Australian educational institution or at least a bachelor qualification from another educational institution of recognized standard—15 points
  • Diploma or trade qualification from an Australian educational institution—10 points
  • Attained a qualification or award recognized by the relevant assessing authority for your nominated skilled occupation as being suitable for that occupation—10 points

Specialist Education Qualification

  • Masters degree by research or a doctorate from an Australian educational institution that included at least two academic years’ study in a relevant field—5 points

Australian Study Requirement

  • Must meet the Australian study requirement—5 points

Professional Year in Australia

  • Completion of a professional year in the country—5 points

Community Language Credential

  • Hold a recognized qualification in a credentialled community language—5 points

Study in Regional Australia

  • At least one degree, diploma, or trade certificate from an Australian educational institution that satisfies the Australian study requirement obtained while living and studying in an eligible area of regional Australia—5 points

Partner Skills

  • Spouse or de facto partner must also be an applicant for a visa and meet age, English, and skill criteria—5 points

Nomination or Sponsorship

  • Invited to apply for a Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa because you were nominated, or are being sponsored for a Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa by a family member that has been accepted by the Minister—10 points

Self-Employment Visas for Australia

There are two streams for Australia’s self-employment visa or  Business Talent (Permanent) visa for applicants:

  • Significant Business History
  • Venture Capital Entrepreneur.

The first is for experienced business owners to operate a new or existing business in Australia. The latter is for those who have sourced venture capital from funding from a member of the Australian Investment Council (AIC), and are seeking to operate a new or existing business.

Requirements for a Self-Employment Visa in Australia

For the Significant Business History stream, applicants will need

  • a net value of at least 1.5 million AUD (around 1 million USD);
  • an annual business turnover of at least 3 million AUD (more than 2.1 million USD) for at least two of the four fiscal years immediately before being invited to apply;
  • total net assets of at least 400,000 AUD (290,000 USD) as the ownership interest in one or more qualifying businesses for at least two of the four fiscal years immediately before being invited to apply;
  • to be younger than 55 years of age, although this can be waived if your proposed business will be of exceptional economic benefit to the region where it will operate.

For the Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream, applicants will need to have secured at least 1 million AUD (730,000 USD) in funding for a high-value business idea.

Both streams require you to:

The cost of this Australian visa is 7,855 AUD (5,750 USD).

How to Apply for an Australian Self-Employment Visa and Where to Find the Application Forms

Step 1—Submit an EOI

Submit an EOI on SkillSelect, and afterward, you will be nominated by an Australian state or territory government agency and be invited to apply.

Step 2—Collect your Documents

Gather the appropriate identity documents and prepare your evidence of venture capital funding, assets, business intentions and activities, as applicable.

Step 3—Apply for your Visa

You can find the application form on ImmiAccount. Your official invitation letter will come with detailed instructions on how to submit your application.

Step 4—Wait

Once you have successfully submitted your visa application, you will get confirmation that your application and documents were received. Your application can be tracked and managed online via ImmiAccount.

Step 5—Receive your Result

You will receive the official decision on your visa application request in writing. If approved, you will receive your visa grant number, start date of your visa, and visa conditions, if applicable. If refused, you will get a reason why and whether you have a right to a review of the decision. Keep in mind that your visa application fee will not be refunded if your visa application is rejected.

Residence Permits: Temporary and Permanent

How to Become an Australian Permanent Resident? You can obtain permanent residency in Australia if you apply for and are granted a permanent visa that allows you to remain in the country indefinitely. Options include skilled work visas, business / investor-stream permanent visas, or family visas for accompanying/joining family members. The following are permanent visas, which lead to permanent residency:

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa
  • Skilled independent visa
  • Skilled Nominated visa
  • Distinguished Talent visa
  • Business Talent (Permanent) visa

For information on Australia’s permanent resident application, please refer to the section above, which outlines Australia’s permanent resident visa requirements, and permanent resident fees, for each particular visa.

Permanent Resident Benefits

Australian permanent residents can

  • remain in the country indefinitely;
  • work and study in Australia;
  • enroll in the country’s national health scheme, Medicare;
  • apply for bank loans to buy property;
  • sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence;
  • apply for citizenship, if eligible;
  • work in New Zealand;
  • travel to and from Australia for as long as your travel facility permits;
  • attend free English language classes provided by the Adult Migrant English Program.

How to Apply for a Temporary Residence Permit

The application for a temporary resident permit is the same as applying for one of the many temporary residence visas for professionals, outlined in the section above, along with requirements and fees. For workers, those can include:

Family Visa: Spouse/Fiancé Visa Process for Australia

With Australia’s Prospective Marriage visa (temporary residency permit), you can come to the country to marry your partner and later apply for a Partner visa (permanent residency permit). The fiancé visa process is outlined in great detail on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website. It offers a step-by-step guide on what you need to do before applying, every document you require, how to apply for the visa online, and even information on things to do after you have sent in your application.

Requirements for Australian Temporary Residence for Partners

Spouses of an Australian permanent resident visa holder can apply for Australia’s Partner visa (either in Australia or overseas). You will be granted a temporary residency permit first, which will then lead to a permanent residency permit for partners known as the Partner visa.

If you are joining a spouse in Australia, who is in the country on a temporary residence visa permit, you too can join them in the country temporarily with a subsequent entrant application. You can find the application form on ImmiAccount.

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