Australian Working Visas

Three ways to get a visa so you can work in Australia without any worries

In this handy guide, we summarise the most common types. Read through all of them as some visas have big advantages over others.

First it is helpful to know how you can actually get one:

Top Three ways to get a Visa:  

Most common types of Visas:

For working travellers (backpackers) - including how to get your Second Holiday Work Visa.

Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)

This is the most common work visa in Australia for backpackers and the perfect option for young travellers ready to embark on an extended adventure in Australia. The main purpose of the working holiday visa in Australia is to enable you to holiday and travel.

Who: people between the ages of 18 and 30, who have no dependents and are citizens of countries who have working holiday agreements with Australia, see below for eligible countries.

What: you can do any kind of temporary or casual employment, and you can work for each employer for up to six months. This visa can also lead to a second year on your working holiday visa provided you do some regional work.

How long: 12 months from the date you arrive in Australia.

How to apply: Apply online at the Australian immigration website or download a paper application form.  It is a pretty straight forward process - just remember to get travel insurance before you fill out the form. 

Before You Apply: You will need travel insurance for a working holiday visa. If you are from a counrty where the native language is not English you might also need to do an IELTS Test.

Question 33 for a Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) asks, "Do you hold health insurance to cover your stay in Australia?". Bookmark the link above (or come back to this page).

Cost: AUD$280

Countries currently eligible for the working holiday visa program in Australia are: The United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland, Cyprus, Belgium, Italy, France, Taiwan and Estonia.

Second working holiday visa in Australia

You can apply for a working holiday visa only once in your life, unless you take advantage of new Australian immigration policies introduced in 2005 which allow you to apply for a second working holiday visa. 

Need to know everything on getting a second working holiday visa? We have it all covered on this page.

Basically to qualify for a second working holiday visa in Australia you must complete three months of work in regional Australia.

Worried about getting a job? Check out our "Tips from Backpackers Living and Working in Oz" PDF!

You can only apply for your first working holiday visa from outside Australia, but for your second work visa for Australia you can be within or outside the country.

To be eligible you must complete the three months of seasonal work in regional Australia, which includes anywhere in Australia except Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, the NSW Central Coast, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne or the ACT. Seasonal work is defined as picking crops or general maintenance crop work, or any other work associated with packing or processing the harvest.

You may also be eligible if you complete certain work in the fishing, pearling, shearing, butchery or forestry industries.

If you want to apply for a second working holiday visa make sure you are working in a job and region recognised under the scheme, and obtain an employment verification form. Make sure you also keep evidence of your employment. 

Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462)

This Australian visa is different to the working holiday visa. It is for tertiary educated people from certain countries where no Working Holiday Visa agreement exists. It is for people between the ages of 18 and 30 who would like to take an extended holiday of up to 12 months in Australia.

Most countries under this work visa for Australia have an annual limit of 100 Work and Holiday visas per year.


On 31 October 2007, the Australian Work and Holiday visa was made available to citizens of the United States of America. To be eligible you must fulfil the criteria below and you must be enrolled, or be enrolled and deferred, as a post-secondary student or be a graduate from a post-secondary institution.

Find out more information about the new Australian Work and Holiday visa for US citizens.

Who: tertiary-educated people between the ages of 18 and 30, from the USA, Thailand, Chile and Turkey (note: Australia has signed a Work and Holiday visa agreement with Bangladesh but it is not yet in effect)

What: you can do any kind of temporary or casual employment to supplement your extended holiday, and you can work for each employer for up to six months

How long: 12 months from the date you arrive in Australia

How to apply: on the internet or by mail

Before you apply: You will need travel insurance as part of your application

Cost: AUD$280

Professional visas requiring sponsorship (temporary work visa for Australia - up to four years)

If you are not eligible for the Working Holiday Visa or the Work and Holiday Visa, and you wish to come to Australia to work temporarily, then you should consider an employer-sponsored work visa.

These visas allow you to live and work in Australia for up to four years. They are available across a number of professions and occupations.

Who: workers with the necessary skills and experiences required by an approved employer in Australia who is willing to sponsor them

What: the position must be full-time and a skilled position approved by the visa program and must meet the minimum salary

Note: regional employers may be exempt from the minimum salary and minimum skill requirements if the position is in a regional or low population area of Australia

How long: from between three months to four years

Cost: The actual charge for these visas is AUD$180. The Sponsorship charge for the employer is AUD$265 and the nomination fee for the employer is AUD$55 per nominated position.

The Three categories for sponsorship are:

1. Temporary Business Visa - Standard Business Sponsorship

Standard Business Sponsorship is the most commonly used program for employers in Australia who would like to sponsor workers from overseas.

The business may have to prove that they cannot meet their recruitment needs from within Australia, the employment of a temporary resident will benefit Australia and they will advance skills through technology or training.

If you wish to pursue this type of sponsorship, we uncover how to get sponsored in Australia.

2. Educational Visa

Educational work visa allows teachers and education workers from overseas to work at an Australian education institution for three months to four years.

You must get sponsored by a registered Australian sponsoring organisation and you can get positions at a school or technical college as a teacher, or a position at an Australian tertiary education or research institution (as an academic, librarian, technician, laboratory demonstrator or researcher).

3. Medical Practitioner Visa

The standard employer sponsorship visa is the preferred temporary visa option for doctors entering Australia as it allows employers to sponsor a group of medical professionals at the same time.

The Medical Practictioner visa is an alternative option for overseas-trained doctors or overseas students who have completed their medical degree in Australia and wish to work in Australia. It requires employers to lodge a separate sponsorship application for each doctor sponsored.

This may be the preferred option if you wish to be sponsored by a small rural community or local council.

The sponsoring organisation must ensure the doctor can meet registration requirements and you must apply to the relevant state or territory Medical Board for registration to practice in Australia.

How to apply for these temporary work visas in Australia:

  1. Find an employer who wants to sponsor you, or who wants to recruit overseas workers
  2. The employer must register to be a sponsor (or be already registered)
  3. The employer must nominate the position they wish to recruit for
  4. After the sponsorship and nomination forms have been lodged, you (the employee) can apply for the visa. The applications can be lodged all at the same time, or separately.
  5. If you are sponsored by an Australian business you can apply online or at a departmental business centre in Australia. If your work visa application is sponsored by an overseas business you can apply by mail or courier at an Australian Government Overseas Office responsible for your country.

Sponsored Training Visas

Occupational Trainee Visa

The occupational trainee visa allows you to undertake a supervised, workplace-based training program in Australia.

Who: you must be at least 18 years of age and you must have been employed in your current occupation or studying for the last 12 months

What: you can take an occupational trainee program in Australia with a recognised Australian organisation that nominates you. The training must be closely related with your current skills and experience.

How long: two years from the date you arrive in Australia, plus an extra two months when the training finishes to allow you to make arrangements to leave Australia or to apply for another visa.

How to apply:There are three major steps you must follow

  1. Find an Australian nominating organisation who is willing to train you and make sure the training they provide meets your needs
  2. The organisation must lodge a nomination application on your behalf at their nearest Australian Department of Immigration office
  3. Once you have been nominated you can apply for the visa. Obtain an application form from the Department of Immigration and submit it at your nearest Australian Government Overseas Office in your home country or at your nearest Australian Department of Immigration office if you are within Australia Cost: AUD$180 for the visa (the company who nominates you will not have to pay anything)

Trade Skills Training Visa

This visa allows you to undertake an apprenticeship in regional Australia for employers who have not been able to find workers from within Australia. It also allows you to gain a nationally-recognised qualification which will enable you to apply for permanent migration to Australia.

Who: you must be at aged between 18 and 35, must be able to complete a full time apprenticeship in regional Australia and must be able to find an organisation to sponsor you

What: you can take an apprenticeship in regional Australia in a trade occupation where there is a skills shortage and where no Australian can be found to fill the position.

How to apply:

  1. You must find an organisation to sponsor you that has sponsorship approval for the trade skills training program and which has apprenticeship vacancies. You can approach an Australian employer, or they may approach you.
  2. They must complete and lodge a trade skills training program application on your behalf with the Brisbane Regional Office of the Australian Immigration Department
  3. You must complete and sign the application form

Cost:You will receive an apprentice wage but you must be able to show you are able to cover all your living costs, training costs and other associated costs while you are in Australia. The cost of the visa is $3,720 however a portion may be paid by your employer.

How do I know if my occupation is on a skills shortage list?

Check the Migrants Occupation in Demand List or the Nominated Independent Skills Shortage list which is different for each State and Territory. Alternatively, a reliable third party can verify there is a local skills shortage in your trade.

Application forms for all these visas can be obtained from the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs - Australia Work Visa Application

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