You can get a visa to work in Australia if you find a business to sponsor you. This is a good way to get permanent residency in Australia, either immediately, or after a period of time.

Your occupation must be listed on one of the Skilled Occupation Lists, and you need to have the skills, qualifications, and/or work experience to do the job. You will also need to satisfy certain English language requirements, and may need to do a skills assessment depending on the visa type and the job. A skills assessment is where an organisation tasked with assessing the skills of people in your occupation looks at your qualifications, CV, work references, and decides whether you are qualified for the position. For some visas you simply supply this information directly to the Department of Immigration and they decide if you are qualified.

The business is also assessed to confirm it is legitimate, that it genuinely needs a new employee to undertake the specific duties of a particular occupation, and that it will pay you properly. For some visas the business must also show they contribute to training Australians.

Employer-sponsored visas can lead to permanent residency through the following pathways:

  • You find a business to sponsor you for a 4-year Temporary work visa (457 visa), and then two years later your employer sponsors you for one of the permanent visas.  This is called the Temporary Residence Transition Stream. The two permanent employer-sponsored work visas are the Employer Nomination Scheme 186 visa, and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme 187 visa.
  • The other way is that you apply directly for one of the permanent visas. This will give you permanent residency immediately. However, the requirements can be higher, such as a higher English language level. This is called the Direct Entry StreamYou can apply from inside or outside Australia. The criteria vary with each of these visas.

Choose a visa type

457 Temporary Work Visa More

You may be able to get this visa if your occupation is listed on the Commonwealth Skilled Occupations List (CSOL), you have the qualifications and/or work experience to do the job, and you get an average score of 5 in the IELTS English exam, or its equivalent. For some trades occupations, you may have to pass a skills assessment.

The business will need to show it is legitimate, with a need for a new employee; that it intends to pay you fairly, and that it contributes to the training of Australians. Many people use the 457 visa to transition to a permanent work visa after working for their employer for 2 years.

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Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) 186 Visa More

You may be able to get this permanent work visa after working two years with your employer on a 457 temporary work visa. An advantage of this pathway is that you do not need to do a formal skills assessment, and the English requirement is lower – IELTS 5 or its equivalent.

You can also apply for this visa directly, but the bar is higher: you need to do a formal skills assessment, have three years’ work experience, and the English requirement is higher – IELST 6 or its equivalent. However, applying directly means you get permanent residence immediately.

The sponsoring business must agree to employ you for at least 2 years, show it a needs a new employee to perform the occupation it has nominated, that it intends to pay you fairly, and that it contributes towards the training of Australians.

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Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme 187 visa More

A permanent work visa that many people get after working two years with an employer in a regional area on a 457 temporary work visa. You can also apply for this visa directly if you find an employer in a regional area willing to sponsor you. A regional area is anywhere except Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong; Melbourne, and Brisbane.

Applying directly for this visa under the Direct Entry stream may be attractive to you, as the requirements are less onerous on both the applicant and the business in comparison to the ENS 186 visa. Most applicants do not need to do a skills assessment and the required skill level you must show is lower. However, the English language level required for direct entry is IELTS 6, or its equivalent. A Regional Certifying Body will assess the business to confirm that it cannot find a local to do the job; however, for this visa the business does not have to show it contributes to the training of Australians…

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Which visa can I get?

It depends on your qualifications, work experience, and English language ability. If these are sufficient to meet the requirements of a permanent employer-sponsored visa and your intention is to get permanent residency in Australia, it may be better to apply for one of these.

On the other hand, it may be that you do not have the required qualification and are relying on your work experience in the occupation to satisfy the skills requirement. It may also be that your English ability is not adequate for the permanent visa. In this case, your options may be limited to the Temporary work visa. However, the 457 Temporary work visa provides a pathway to a permanent employer-sponsored visa, as described above.

It also depends on whether the business that will sponsor you can show it genuinely needs to hire an employee in that particular occupation. The Department of Immigration will also assess the business to make sure its need is genuine, and it is not simply assisting a person to get a visa for Australia. For this reason it is important that, in addition to an assessment of your qualifications and work experience, an assessment of the business’ chances of approval as a sponsor is done before applying for the visa.

How do I apply?

The business first applies to be a sponsor and nominate the position you will fill. Then you apply to fill the position. Although we list these steps separately below, in reality the applications are prepared at the same time.

For 457 Temporary work visas there are three separate applications.

  1. Sponsorship application: The business first applies to be a sponsor. The Department of Immigration will check that the business is legitimate, is trading, and that the business contributes towards the training of Australians.
  1. Nomination application: The business then nominates a position that needs to be filled. It shows that it needs a new employee to perform this occupation in its business, and that it will pay the market salary for the job.
  1. Visa application: Finally, you apply to fill the position. You supply your qualifications, work references, and evidence that you got an average of 5 in the IELTS English exam, or its equivalent. For some occupations you also supply evidence you passed a skills assessment.

For the permanent work visas – the Employer Nominated Scheme 186 Visa, and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme 187 visa – there are two applications.

  1. Nomination application: The business nominates a position that needs to be filled. The Department of Immigration check it is a legitimate business, that it genuinely needs a new employee in this occupation and that it will pay you the market salary for the job. Depending on the visa, the business may also need to show it has contributed towards the training of Australians.
  1. Visa application: You now apply to fill the position. You supply evidence that you are sufficiently skilled to do the job. This may be evidence that you passed a skills assessment by a skills assessing organisation, or you may just need to supply your qualifications and work references. You supply evidence of getting the required score in one of the accepted English language tests, and evidence that you and any family members included in your application have passed the health and character checks.