How to Apply for a Visa to Work in Australia

Views of Syndey, Australia
Views of Syndey, Australia (Image: sydney image by Charlotte Hudson from

Whether you are working in Australia for a few months or a few years, you will need a visa. The length of your stay will affect which one you apply for. Popular work visas include the one-year Working Holiday visas, for people aged between 18 and 30 and the Skilled Worker visas, which have different categories for those who already have an Australian employer and those who don't.

Decide whether to apply for your visa directly through the Australian Embassy or through an agency. An agency will usually charge fees, but may offer helpful advice.

Ensure your employer in Australia has nominated you to a Centre of Excellence, if you are applying for a Skilled Workers visa. If you do not have an employer in Australia and are applying under the General Skilled Migration program, have your skills assessed by the relevant assessing authority for your occupation. Find this on Australia's Skilled Occupation List.

Get a visa application form as soon as the nomination process starts. This should tell you what paperwork to get in order, such as birth certificates, proof of qualifications and police checks. The Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship website has lists of everything you need. You may also need a health examination. There will often be a fee for these services, so build them into your budget.

Submit your application and your visa payment no later than six months after your employer nominates you. Send it to the same Centre of Excellence to avoid delays. Charges vary, but as of April 2010, started at 260 Australian dollars ($241) for temporary Skilled Workers visas and AU$1,705 for permanent. If you are applying for the General Skilled Migration program, fees were from AU$2,525. Those applications should be sent to the Adelaide Skilled Processing Centre.

Check with the center you sent your application to as to how long you should leave it before contacting them again. While skilled visa applications can take between nine and 18 months, applications can often be checked online with a reference number.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are aged between 18 and 30, you may be eligible for a working holiday visa.
  • If you are bringing dependents to Australia, make sure they have the correct paperwork.
  • When working out the cost, bear in mind Australian visa application charges may change on July 1 each year.
  • Beware of scams run by visa companies. Do your research to ensure the company is legitimate.
  • Extra fees may apply to permanent visas if your English is below par.
  • Check whether there are limitations on your travel in and out of Australia.

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