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How to Get a Work Visa in Australia

Want to live Down Under? Dream of working with kangaroos each and every day? Of course you do. Beautiful beaches, outback adventures, adorable animals (try not to fixate on the poisonous and predatory ones that could kill you), surfing in December, friendly and gregarious people, world-class cities, mountains, deserts, lakes, moderate climate, ocean, and rainforests. It’s safe to say that Australia has a little bit of everything.

You could visit as a tourist. You could go as a student. But if you really want to experience the country and everything it has to offer, you need to spend as much time there as possible, and unless you’re independently wealthy, that means you’re going to need a job. There are many hoops to jump through, a few challenges to face, and a lot of different visas to consider. That said, virtually everything can be done online, and the websites are very user-friendly and helpful.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection

The DIBP will be your first port-of-call, as they process any application for a visa. A temporary work visa, good for up to four years, generally requires sponsorship by your Australian employer. There’s a wide variety of work visas available, including short-term, long-term, seasonal worker, working holiday, and maritime crew. Check out the details to see which one best fits your situation.

Alternatively, you could apply for a permanent work visa. These include distinguished talent, business talent, skilled independent, business owner, and investor categories. Again, the DIBP website is fantastic for reading up on and deciding which one is for you...and what you need to do to procure one if you qualify.

Sponsored Jobs

Finding a sponsored job in Australia can prove difficult and frustrating. If you are not eligible to work without one, it could be your undoing. But all hope is not lost. There are a number of websites and services that provide assistance and help in this area. One that comes very highly recommended is Find Sponsored Jobs in Australia. This paid program - written and designed by a woman with over ten years in the Australian sponsored jobs market - claims to lay bare the market and successful strategies.

The Expression of Interest

Another possibility is to file an expression of interest (EOI). This free service creates an online profile (think of it like online dating) with your desired visa type, work experience, language proficiency, and answers to a few related questions. It calculates whether you meet the requirements for a visa, and is available to employers and government agencies that may be looking to sponsor or nominate a foreign employee. Seeing as it costs you nothing to complete, this should be done sooner rather than later. It might not amount to anything (it is not a visa application), but you never know. Someone may see your profile and get the ball rolling for you.

The Skilled Occupations List

If you’re applying for a work visa as an independent skilled worker, you need to check the skilled occupations list. Here, you can confirm that your occupation is on the approved list. If it is, you’re that much closer to getting your visa. Most positions also have a certain number of “points” that you need in order to qualify (depending on your age, education, work experience, and language proficiency). If your occupation is on the list, and you meet the points requirement, you’d be approved to apply for the corresponding visa.

Australian Skills Recognition Information

The ASRI website provides information on how to get your credentials and experience officially recognized in Australia. Simply enter your occupation, and it will point you in the right direction. This step is not directly related to a visa application, but it does smooth out the process.


SkillSelect helps to connect individuals hoping to migrate to Australia for work, and employers looking to fill a specific need. It’s essentially a two-step process, involving the creation of an expression of interest (as outlined above), and then officially applying for a specific visa. The following five visas must be applied for via SkillSelect: Business Talent, Business Innovation & Investment, Skilled Independent, Skilled - Nominated, and Skilled - Nominated or Sponsored. If and when an employer or government agency expresses interest in your EOI and extends an invitation to you, SkillSelect can be used to apply for these three additional visas: temporary work (skilled), Employer Nomination Scheme, and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

One More Useful Site

Bob in Oz is a private blog on all this related to moving to and living in Australia. It offers some fabulous advice on visas and finding a job from someone who has gone through it all. A must-read if you’re seriously considering the move.

The whole visa situation can be rather daunting, but it need not be. The DIBP website has all the answers, with links to external services and departments when applicable. Check out the various visas, decide which one best fits your experience and situation, then follow the steps. Don’t let it get any more complicated than that.



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