If you plan to work in Australia, you’ll need to evaluate if you need a work permit, what kind of work permit to get, and then take steps to get the work permit. This article will help you with that!

Do you need an Australian Work Permit?

If you plan to live in Australia but will not need to work full or part time, will not own a business, and will not perform any activities that could be seen as income-producing, employment, or working, you may not need a work permit. Otherwise, if you want to work on a temporary basis or a long term or permanent basis, you will need the appropriate time of work permit or “skilled visa” which is issued by the Australian government.

What Kind of Work Permit do you Need?

This can be a little complex, so we’ll break it down to simple and concise terms as much as possible, but you will have to consult the appropriate Australian government office to ensure that you apply for and get approved for the right kind. Generally speaking, here are some basics on types and you can choose which of these fits you:

Skilled Nominated/Sponsored Work Visa:  If you plan to work permanently and you are qualified to work for the improvement of the Australian economy, you may qualify for a sponsored work permit. (The words nominated and sponsored will be used interchangeably here and they usually are, but check with the appropriate government office for details.) 

Skilled Independent Work Visa:  If you can demonstrate that you have the skills and qualifications required for an occupation listed on the SOL (Skilled Occupation List) you may need and want this type of permit. This one does not require an employer to sponsor an employee and since Australia has a shortage in some work categories, incentives may be provided for this. This is primarily for people who are moving to Australia and plan to stay and live. You can find more information on the list of occupations at: https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Skil

457 Visa/Permit for Temporary Business:  This is another visa that requires the sponsorship of an employer and is always limited and temporary. These can only be issued for up to four years of work. The employer also has to be qualified to apply for this type of visa.

Working Holiday Visa:  This is primarily for young people who want to go on an extended vacation in Australia but would like to work while there. These expire in a year and you will need to meet health requirements to qualify.

Other:  Some other work permits may be available if none of the above meet your needs or if you have special skills that may apply in emergency situations. Check with the Australian Government and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Australia for more information. You can find what you need to know at both: http://www.australia.gov.au and https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work

How to Apply for an Australian Work Permit

Once you have determined which type of permit you need, you can either apply for it yourself or talk to your prospective employer about how to work with them to obtain a work visa. If you already have a potential employer selected for permanent or temporary work, talk with their human resources offices or payroll department and ask what they need you to do and what they will do to ensure that you have the proper permit.

If you do not have an employer selected consider whether or not you think that you may end up working in a role that may improve the Australian economy or if you will be working on a temporary basis up to 4 years or a short-term (up to 12 months) holiday type basis. If you think this fits your situation, seek out potential employers first and discuss the visa with them. In some cases you still may apply for a work permit on your own and in other cases they will do it for you. Either way, you should talk to the employer.

If you want to work without going through an employer first, check the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and learn more about the SkillSelect program at: https://www.border.gov.au/Lega/Lega/Form/Immi-FAQs/what-is-skillselect. If it turns out you do qualify for the program, you will be able to obtain an invitation from the Australian government to apply for this type of visa. If you do not qualify for this program, reconsider going through an employer to work with a sponsored visa. If you still feel you may qualify for another program, there are some more detailed methods of finding work. You can learn more about all types of Australian work options at: http://www.australia.gov.au.


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