Close search

Search the handbook

  • 13 Community and Environment
  • Immigration and Citizenship
  • Work Visas
handbook symbol Tasmanian Legal

In this chapter Expand current chapter list below

Work Visas


This section doesn’t cover the categories ‘Air and Sea Crew’ or ‘Specialist Entry’. Specialist Entry is covered under Temporary visas. This section is a general overview of the visa categories open to people seeking work in Australia. Almost invariably there is a requirement that the applicant be skilled, that these skills be in shortage, or their work be of a specific nature, such as with the Seasonal Workers Scheme. The visa categories include:

  • Employer sponsored workers – Temporary
  • SkillSelect – Skilled Migrant Selection Register
  • Doctors and Nurses
  • Regional Employment
  • Skills Australia Needs Events
  • Seasonal Workers Scheme

Recent changes have seen the introduction of ‘SkillSelect’, which is a new management scheme for skilled migration. This program began on 1 July 2012. Applications that were submitted before this date will be assessed according to the previous rules.

DIBP provides a number of useful internet tools for people looking to work in Australia, such as the Visa Options Comparison Charts.

Employer sponsored workers: Temporary

DIBP provides a comprehensive website for temporary skilled workers.

SkillSelect – Skilled Migrant Selection Register

DIBP has introduced a new skilled migration management scheme called ‘SkillSelect’, a points based assessment system for skilled migrants. This affects independent and family sponsored skilled migrants, state and territory sponsored visas, business innovation and investment visas, and employer sponsored visa programs.

SkillSelect has closed many previous categories of the general Skilled Migration (GSM) stream and introduced a system that utilises Expression of Interests (EOI) to generate a points based assessment of potential migrants who, if selected, can apply for a visa. It is a more restrictive process than the GSM system, and gives more control to the government over who can apply for a visa.

Offshore visa applications in previous categories closed from 1 July 2012, and all new potential applicants will be assessed via SkillSelect. Onshore visa applications close from 1 January 2013 to give time for onshore applicants holding current working visas to apply under the SkillSelect system for reassessment. Transitional arrangements are available for certain subclasses.

For people in Australia who do not have eligibility under the transitional arrangements, while they can submit an EOI from within Australia, the EOI will not grant a bridging visa as the EOI is not a visa application. An invitation to lodge a visa application and meeting the requirements of that visa application will lead to a bridging visa. Bridging visas preserve your rights under the previous visa while your new visa application is processed.

An Expression of Interest (EOI) by an interested person is not a visa application, nor does it cost anything to lodge an EOI. Skilled workers who would like to be considered for a visa record their details for consideration for an invitation to apply for a skilled visa. From there it is a matter of either being invited to apply for a visa by a state or territory government, or being nominated by an approved Australian employer.

Details required for an EOI are:

  • Basic personal information (name, country of origin, age, sex, etc)
  • Qualifications
  • Relevant work experience
  • English language test results
  • Skills Assessment outcome – assessing authorities’ details are available from DIAC

Points are awarded on the basis of this information and DIBP will periodically invite the highest point scoring applicants in each Skilled Occupation to lodge a visa application. There is a fee attached to making a visa application. Skilled Occupation Lists are provided by DIBP. These determine what categories of skilled people can lodge an EOI. DIBP provides some relevant information in the Reports section of SkillSelect on ‘Occupation Ceilings’. Occupation ceilings are quotas for each occupation group, and once a quota is met, no new applications will be considered for that program year. For example, in the 2012-2013 year, engineering managers have an occupation ceiling of 960, middle school teachers have an occupation ceiling of 60, and structural steel and welding trades workers have an occupation ceiling of 4860.

SkillSelect has introduced two notable changed – the first is an age limit. Only persons under the age of 50 years can be invited to lodge a visa. The second is a significant change concerning review rights. As an EOI is not a visa application there is no right to a review of your EOI before the Migration Review Tribunal. A person who has moved beyond the EOI process and been invited to apply for a visa may access review rights as visa applications attract those rights.

Professionals and other skilled migrants as a visa class is now governed by SkillSelect. This does not include doctors and nurses or the Seasonal Workers Scheme. From 1 July 2012 the following visas are closed to new applications:

  • Skilled – Independent (Migrant) Visa (Subclass 175)
  • Skilled – Sponsored (Migrant) Visa (Subclass 176)
  • Skilled – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 475)

Further visas – subclasses 886, 885 and 487 will be closed to new applications from 1 January 2013, as these are the onshore visa categories.

The new visa categories introduced by SkillSelect are:

  • Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa
  • Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190) visa
  • Skilled – Nominated or Sponsored (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa
  • Subclass 475 visa
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
  • Business Talent (Migrant) (subclass 132)
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (subclass 188) visa
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Residence) (subclass 888) visa

Please see the SkillSelect information page for more detail.

Doctors and Nurses

Visa options for doctors are either temporary or permanent. They require sponsorship from a hospital or practice, or settlement in a regional area. Temporary visa options are either long stay or shorter stay.

For registered nurses, there is requirement to be registered by State or Territory nurse regulatory bodies. Visa options are plentiful, as currently nurses are in high demand in Australia.

Nurses require sponsorship to come to Australia, or to settle in a regional area. It is also possible to come on a working holiday. See the DIAC website for visa categories open to registered nurses  There are also places for nurses undertaking supervised, workplace-based training in Australia under the Occupational Trainee Visa.

Regional Employment

There are several opportunities for regional employment under the regional initiative. These include: employer sponsored workers, family sponsored workers, state or territory nominated skilled workers, government approved skilled workers establishing businesses in regional or rural areas, and general skilled migration. Information on all these areas can be found on the DIBP website. This is a brief summary of the available visas.

Seasonal Workers Scheme

Citizens from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu can work in Australia under the Seasonal Worker Scheme. To make a visa application will cost $300+, under the Special Program visa (subclass 416) visa charge. The visa allows a 4-6 months period for work in Australia. Visa holders can enter and leave multiple times during that period. There is no right to apply for another visa whilst in Australia, however, if the visa requirements were complied with, there is the opportunity to return on the same class of visa. Other conditions of this visa include: must maintain private health insurance, can only work for Approved Employers, must pay for own living expenses and incidentals, and cannot bring dependents with them. See the Department of Employment for more information.

Page last updated 14/12/2017

Next Section WARNING