Australia Visas and Work Permits

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Australia Visas and Work Permits Specialists 

Australia is an exciting and desirable nation for global expansion. It has been ‘recession free’ for the past 30 years and has a high level of disposable income which means money in peoples’ pockets - a great environment for businesses. Companies or individuals planning to move to this thriving economy need the correct documentation to enter, work and live within its borders which are stringently guarded.

International companies targeting Australia for international expansion face unraveling the complexities of work permit, visa, and immigration laws if they intend to move existing staff into the country.

Few companies have these resources, or the time. At Bradford Jacobs, we want to eliminate this complicated part. By using our PEO-service we can arrange all needed visas and permits including the entire application process without your physical presence.

Our team is trained to research the latest information on Australian visas and work permits and therefore, we created a guide to introduce you to the rules and requirements. This guide highlights the complexities of obtaining the necessary documentation.

What types of Visas and Work Permits for Australia are there?

Visiting, working, or expanding your business in a foreign country means exploring all the visa options and there are many for Australia. Everyone needs a visa before entering the country, unless Australian, or New Zealand citizens who can apply for a visa on entry. Plus, there is a Special Category Visa (SCV) which allows them to visit, study, stay and work - also applied for on arrival.

All other nationalities require visas which need to be applied for from outside Australia. For visitors or businesspeople, there are online e-Visas / Electronic visa services (for some nationalities free of charge) However, these do not cover paid work.

First it is important to know which visa is required as they can prove expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Individuals and companies must also be aware of eligibility; employers are expected to familiarize themselves with immigration laws and workers’ rights. Another area that Bradford Jacobs specializes in.

Categories of Visa

This government site provides a tool to check on the right category for each individual’s needs.

Visitors and Tourists: For holidays (working or for pleasure) and unpaid business activities. Travelers must apply for:

  1. An Electronic Travel Authority, which has 12-months’ validity when people can visit Australia for three months at a time as a tourist, visiting family or as a business visitor, at a cost of AU$20 (€12.80, US$14.40). Applicants must check eligibility and apply online.
  2. Tourist Stream Visa for three, six or 12 month stays to visit friends, cruise passengers or for a holiday. It comes with a fee of AU$145 (€93.13, US$104.30), and must be applied for from outside Australia.

Other types of visas (besides work) that can be applied for include:

  • Study: For studying or training
  • Permanent residence: To live in Australia
  • Family Visas: To join visa holders who are partners or family
  • Humanitarian: For example, refugees

Work Visas: There are several routes which depend on age, experience, skill set, qualifications and English language skills. Some visas can limit the type of work allowed or the hours permitted:

  1. Regional Migration Visas: are designed to attract workers/migrants to improve regional areas 
  2. Temporary/Provisional Visas: for limited projects or contracts, usually attached to specific employers which can lead to a permanent visa. Some may need sponsorship.
  3. Short Stay Visas: Young persons on a working holiday, seasonal workers, or those on the Pacific Labor Scheme.
  4. Permanent Work Visas: Regional, skilled, business investment, sponsored, exceptionally talented people.
  5. Skilled Occupation Visas: People to train or work in a skilled eligible occupation.
  6. SkillSelect: This route can be used when seeking sponsorship from a potential employer and so increase the possibilities of obtaining a visa. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). There is no fee for this service.

Main Work Permit and Employment-Based Visas

The following allow skilled and professional foreign workers, who have been either invited, nominated, or sponsored, to live and work in the country on a permanent or temporary basis:

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (subclass 186) permanent residency
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa (subclass 187)
  • Skilled Nominated Visa
  • Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482)
  • Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) Visa
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 489) sponsored via government or a relative.
  • Also, through the General Skilled Migration (GSM) program and SkillSelect.

Employers will need to understand the minimum salary that is required to be paid to foreign workers in particular subclasses e.g., 482, 186 187, with regards to the Annual Market Salary Rate (AMSR). This is necessary so as not to undermine the Australian labor market. For instance, the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) at the end of 2020 was AU$53,900 (€34,620, US$38,780). Also, employers may need to advertise the position in order to test the labor market by offering the position to an Australian citizen.

How to obtain an Australian Work Visa?

There are many different categories of Work Visa. Suitability and eligibility depends on a number of factors, including length of stay, occupation and whether it is on the skill shortage list, age, experience, skill set, qualifications and command of English. Some visas may limit the type of work allowed or the hours permitted. Those of interest to companies to obtain the main work and employment visa for employees:

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (subclass 186)

  • Will require a skills assessment although there are exceptions
  • Job on the list for eligible skilled occupations
  • Except in certain circumstances, be under 45 years old
  • Read and understand the ‘Life in Australia’ booklet, then sign the ‘Australian Values Statement’
  • Need to be proposed by employer
  • Meet requisite character and health requirements
  • Be competent in the English language

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa (Subclass 187)

  • An approved employer nomination regarding employment in regional Australia
  • For this visa, the employer is based in a selected region
  • Will require a skills assessment although there are exceptions
  • Job on the list for Regional occupations list (ROL)
  • Except in certain circumstances, be under 45 years old
  • Meet requisite character and health requirements
  • Be competent in the English language
  • Read and understand the ‘Life in Australia’ booklet, then sign the ‘Australian Values Statement’
  • Relevant work history of at least three years
  • Commitment of 2 years employment with nominating employer

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482)

  • To provide skilled workers not found in the Australian population.
  • Applicant requires a job that is listed on the Consolidated Skilled Occupations list
  • Nominated by an Australian employer who has made a job offer
  • Possess relevant qualifications and skill set for the job offered
  • Two years of relevant work experience
  • Be competent in English
  • Provide proof of good character and good health

General Skilled Migration (GSM) program through SkillSelect

This is a points-based route for skilled foreign workers to obtain a Work Visa to live and work in Australia. It can use SkillSelect as a tool which facilitates matching employers to potential employees. Requirements:

  • Minimum 60 points
  • Under 45 years old
  • Proficient in English
  • Job on Occupation Skills List
  • A positive Skills Assessment
  • Proof of health and good character
  • Not previously refused a visa or had one cancelled
  • Have submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) – not required if the applicant has a job offer from an Australian company

All of the above need to be met, otherwise the application will be refused.

NOTE: Employers will need to understand the minimum salary that is required to be paid to foreign workers in particular subclasses e.g., 482, 186 187, regarding the annual market salary rate (AMSR). This is necessary so as not to undermine the Australian labor market. 

For instance, the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) end of 2020 was AU$53,900 (€34,620, US$38,780). A labor market test may be required for some visas.

How to apply for Work Visa/Work Permit in Australia

Foreign nationals who receive a job offer, will need to apply for the appropriate documentation before they leave for Australia. There are 44 visas to choose from, with various sub classes, which will allow employees to live and work in this country, but some visas require points to qualify for a position. Generally, applicants who are looking for a position will go through the SkillSelect system, and 60 points are required for a visa approval or nomination by a qualified employer.

Employer Nomination Scheme Visa (subclass 186): These are for skilled employees who have been nominated by their employers allowing them to stay and live in Australia permanently. The process: 

  • Check eligibility for subclass 186 and for either:
    - Temporary Residence Transition Stream
    - Direct Entry Stream
    - Agreement Stream
  • Gather together all of the required documents
    - For Direct Stream
    - For Labor Agreement Stream

  • Submit the application online through ImmiAccount
    - Create an ImmiAccount
    - Have all the information at hand
    - A credit card for the visa fee

  • Decision pending and may take several months
  • The visa can be received online and used to enter Australia to commence employment


By Direct Entry:

  • Employees must have skill set for employment
  • Be selected by an Australian company
  • Be healthy and of good character

Through a Labor Agreement between industries and the Australia government to recruit skilled foreign workers

  • An agreement from an employer to work in a specific job
  • Two years of experience in a job relevant to the position offered
  • If required, take a skills assessment
  • Work is only allowed for sponsored employer
  • Need to show a good standard of English

The employer must submit a nomination with the Australian Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Once approval is received, the application for the visa (subclass 186) must be completed within six months.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa Subclass 187

These are for skilled employees who have been nominated by their employers, who are based in a designated region, allowing them to stay and live in Australia permanently. The process:

  1. Check eligibility and stream under which employment is allowed
  2. Employer submits nomination
  3. Gather together all documentation
  4. Apply online through an ImmiAccount
  5. Decision takes a few months to approve
  6. When approved, applicants have six months to apply for the visa

Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa (subclass 482)

Allows Australian employers to sponsor skilled foreign workers to work for them when they are unable to recruit local talent. This visa replaces the defunct Temporary Work Visa. There are three streams within this visa: Short-term, Medium-term and Labor Agreement.

The stream selected will depend on the Consolidated Skilled Occupations list. Then the period of the visa will be between two to four years. With this visa there is no 45 years old age limit.

  • Check eligibility and qualifications required
  • Check on Skilled Occupations Lists
  • Employer needs to make an application for sponsorship online to the DHA to employ applicant
  • Employer needs to nominate applicant for the TSS Visa
  • Sponsorship application, nomination, and application for the TSS Visa can be completed simultaneously. The TSS visa can be applied for online through ImmiAccount
  • The DHA decision can take several months
  • Received, you can enter Australia and start working

Application for visas through the Australia General Skilled Migration (GSM) program, through the SkillSelect tool, can be followed on Immigration Direct, and help with sorting the correct visa can be found here.

How much is an Australian Work Visa?

  • The Skilled Regional Visa (subclass 489) - AU$4,115 (€2,643, US$2,960)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Visa (subclass 187) - AU$4,115 (€2,643, US$2,960)
  • Employer Nomination Visa (subclass 186) - AU$4,115 (€2,643, US$2,960)
  • Skilled Nominated Visa (subclass 190) - AU$4,115 (€2,643, US$2,960)
  • Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189) - AU$4,115 (€2,643, US$2,960)
  • TSS Short-term Stream Visa - AU$1,290 (€828, US$928)
  • TSS Medium-term Stream Visa - AU$2,690 (€828, US$928)

Working Visa / Permit for Australia

People wishing to work in Australia, unless an Australian national or New Zealander, need to apply from their home country for the appropriate work visa. They need a job offer; sponsorship from an employer to allow that company to employ foreign workers; to be nominated by an employer so the employee can then apply for the visa.

There are quite a few hoops for both employees and employers to go through to make sure they are going down the correct route with their paperwork. Visas depend on the length of the stay; age of employee; English proficiency; occupation and whether it is listed on a skills shortage or required occupations list; qualifications, education, and work experience. Some applicants may require health and good character checks.

The same goes for companies wanting to expand their business into Australia and bring in workers from their own country, existing staff or from elsewhere – sometimes the choices and information out there is overwhelming… and decisions must be right the first time. This is why Bradford Jacobs is offering its extensive services in all areas of business including work visas and permits. Twenty years of experience tells us – we know how to do it!

It is not cheap. Documentation can range from hundreds to thousands of Australian dollars and finding the right person for the job just adds to the workload … so just add recruitment to Bradford Jacobs’ list of solutions. For those going it alone, here are a few things to consider.

There are 44 visas to choose from, with various subclasses, which allow employees to live and work in Australia. The following categories of visas allow skilled and professional foreign workers, who have been either invited, nominated, or sponsored for a position based in Australia or offshore, on a permanent or temporary basis. The links provide additional information.

Australia also operates a point system in conjunction with SkillSelect to provide visas, considering age, qualifications, skills and experience, family etc.

Here are a few of the more typical visas for those employees applying from outside Australia, (and in some cases also from within):

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (subclass 186) permanent residency
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa (subclass 187)
  • Skilled Nominated Visa (subclass 190) through state or territory government
  • Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482)
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 489) sponsored via government or a relative
  • The General Skilled Migration (GSM) program 
  • SkillSelect

Business Visa Australia

Applicants must be legitimate visitors going to Australia for business purposes but not for paid work and must apply for the visa from outside Australia. This allows for short stays of up to three months to participate in trade fairs and conferences, make general business and professional employment inquiries and agree contracts.

Many nationalities can apply for the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA – subclass 601) visa online. ETA is free but a charge of AU$20 (€12.85, US$14.40) is made for online applications. Also, it is possible to have confirmation within 72 hours by paying a surcharge. The visa is multi-entry, for one year and each stay can be up to three months

The eVisitor Visa (subclass 651) is for some European countries’ citizens, to make short trips of three months during the 12-month validity of the visa which cannot be extended. Cost is free but a charge is made for online services of AU$20 (€12.85, US$14.40)

People can apply for the Business Visitor Stream Visa (subclass 600) when they are not eligible for the eVisitor or ETA visas. The cost is AU$145 (€93, US$104) and can be valid up to 12 months for short trips up to three months at a time

Australian Visa for EU citizens

All foreign nationals (except New Zealand citizens) must apply for a visa to enter Australia – whether for business activities or pleasure. However, for EU citizens the process is free when applying through the government website. No paid work should be undertaken. Applications should be made from outside the country.

For work purposes, there are 44 different visas to choose from. Use the link below to identify the correct visa required.

Some visas will require points to qualify for a position/visa. This is called the SkillSelect system, and 60 points are required for a visa to be approved (more on the points system here).

Australian Visa for US citizens

As with all countries, United States citizens need a visa to travel for tourism, business, or work. These need to be applied for from outside Australia and the applicant requires a valid passport and blank pages for a visa stamp.

For tourism and business activities (but not for paid work) an Electronic Travel Authority can be applied for online. Although the visa is free, a charge of AU$20 (€12.85, US$14.40) is made on external government sites.

For work, there are a number of visas available (around 44), and the Australian immigration website provides detailed information about eligibility, the process, the cost and how to apply.

Also, Australia does operate a points system for visa acceptance, based on experience, age, qualifications etc. This is called the SkillSelect system.

Australian Visa for Canadian citizens

Canadian citizens like all foreign nationals need a visa to enter Australia (except New Zealand citizens) whether for business, tourism or to work. For short stays e.g., holidays, for business activities or to visit family, visas are available online and for some nationalities free from the government website or AU$20 (€12.85, US$14.40) from a visa service company.

For those people looking for work, there is a comprehensive website showing all 44 visas available to potential employees. From the link provided check on the process, eligibility, and cost. It helps people find the correct visa for their needs.

Australia also operates a point system when it comes to visas and considers age, qualifications, experience, skills, and family etc.

Australian Visa for Chinese citizens

All foreign nationals require a visa to enter Australia, whether for business activities, for pleasure or as a ‘frequent traveler’. The Visitor Visa (subclass 600) is an alternative option for those not qualifying for an Electronic Travel Authority or eVisa. For Chinese citizens there are two systems for applying for a temporary visa – Tourist Stream (three years) or Business Visitor Stream.

Since 2016, there has been a 10-year trial ‘Frequent Traveler’ visa for Chinese citizens. This allows for stays of up to three months (no more than 12 months in a two-year period). An appointment will be needed to provide biometrics. Details for applying can be accessed here.

For young persons who are interested in a Working Holiday Visa (subclass 462), more information can be found here.

To work in Australia, applicants need to check their eligibility. The types of work visa available are:

  • Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) subclass 400
  • Temporary Work (International Relations) subclass 403
  • Temporary Activity – subclass 408

Information can be found here.

For rules and work rights, restrictions, and scams, more information can be found here.

Australian Visa for UK citizens

As all other foreign nationalities, UK citizen passport holders require a visa to enter Australia for business or pleasure (not paid employment) and applying online is free through the government website or AU$20 (€12.85, US$14.40) through a visa service i.e. An Electronic Travel Authority or eVisitor visa.

The UK government site has further information and details of a working holiday visa.

For paid employment, a work visa is required, and Australia offers a choice of 44 covering every option; the website is comprehensive regarding the process, the costs, how to apply and eligibility. There is also an online tool on Australia's Immigration website to find the correct visa for everyone’s needs.

Australia also has a point system called SkillSelect, a system operating when awarding a visa taking into account age, qualifications, skills, family etc.

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