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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

Foreign workers are required to have the proper visas and work permits in Australia, as established by immigration laws.  To secure a visa for an employee a company will generally first need to apply to be an approved sponsor company through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The types of documents required for this process can be a problem for companies just entering the Australian market.  If you have yet to complete the incorporation process you can use an outsourced management company or GEO Employer of Record to sponsor the employee for the necessary permits.

The most common skilled visa used within Australia is the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa. This visa allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved Australian business for up to four years. Workers who have been on the 457 visas for 2 years or more have increased access to applying for permanent residence visas (described in the table below).

There are some streamline processing arrangements in place to help executives, managers and specialists who are coming to Australia as part of an intra-company transfer. These are especially targeted to assisting in transfers between Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation (APEC) economies.

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The process for obtaining a 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) can take from 2 weeks to 3 months. It is highly recommended to utilise an Australian Immigration specialist to assist with the application and processing. If an employer is already authorised to employ overseas workers the waiting period is significantly reduced.

The process for obtaining the 457 visa is as follows:

(1) Sponsorship

Employer applies to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to become an approved standard business sponsor. This application is valid for 5 years unless the business has been trading within Australia for less than 12 months (in which case it lasts 18 months). Businesses operating within Australia will have to lodge an attestation confirming a strong record of employing local labour. This sponsorship application costs $420.

Possible documentation required (Employer):

  • attestation affirming a strong record of or commitment to the employment of local labour
  • a detailed business plan
  • contract of sale relating to the purchase of the business
  • lease agreement relating to business premises
  • contracts to provide services
  • evidence of employment of staff
  • Business Activity Statements (BAS) for each complete quarter from commencement of operations to date of lodgement
  • business bank statements covering the period of operation

(2) Nomination

Once a business is an approved (or in the process of becoming approved) sponsor they can nominate a position to be filled by an overseas skilled worker. An employer will be required to certify in writing things such as the tasks for the position, that the qualifications and experience of the nominee are commensurate with ANZSCO specifications. Nomination for this visa costs $330.

Possible documentation required (Employer):

  • Identity of the person who will work in the nominated occupation
  • ANZSCO code for the nominated occupation
  • Location or locations where the nominated occupation is to be carried out
  • Relevant certification

(3) Visa Application

Once the application is supported by an approved sponsor and an approved nomination, the visa application can be made. This application costs $1060.

Documentation required (Employee):

  • certified copy of your passport biodata page, passport size photograph
  • certified copy of your birth certificate
  • certified copy of your family register document if applicable
  • certified copy of your identity card if applicable
  • certified copy of any official document which details any name change (for example, a marriage certificate) if applicable
  • details of your residential address
  • filled out 1066 internet form
  • employment references
  • curriculum vitae
  • proof of English language proficiency (unless exempted)

Documentation required (Employer):

  • Evidence that the business is (or is in the process of becoming) a standard business sponsor

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

The main work visa for Australia is called the 457 visa. To obtain a 457 the employer must show their job title and duties are eligible under Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the 457 visa program. A job description, job title and CV is necessary to make this assessment.

After eligibility is confirmed, the employees personal documents which generally include professional and educational qualifications, passport copy, identity documents are collected. Depending on the employee’s nationality and circumstances, they may need to show they meet the minimum English language requirements. An application is lodged with the 1066 application form. The employee needs to obtain private medical insurance in Australia (available online).

After approval the employee can enter Australia. The actual visa is issued and recorded electronically (it can be checked using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online or VEVO service) which means that on arrival in Australia the migration officials already have a record that the employee has an approved 457 work permit.

Total processing time is around 4 weeks.

Types of visas in Australia

Category Description of Visa
Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (Subclass 457) The most common skilled visa used within Australia is the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa. This visa allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved Australian business for up to four years. Workers who have been on the 457 visas for 2 years or more have increased access to applying for permanent residence visas.
Processing for this application generally takes 1-3 months and costs $1000-$2000+.
Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189) This is a points-tested, permanent residence visa for skilled workers who are not sponsored by an employer or family member or nominated by a state or territory government. To receive an invitation to apply, an expression of interest must be submitted through SkillSelect.
Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) This permanent residence visa is for skilled workers. Application can be made through the temporary residence transition stream (for 457 visa holders), the direct entry stream or the agreement stream.
This is an employer sponsored permanent residence visa for working in regional Australia. Application can be made through the temporary residence transition stream (for 457 visa holders), the direct entry stream or the agreement stream.
Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 188) A visa for those who want to own and manage a new or existing business in Australia, or want to invest in the country. Applications can be made through the business innovation stream, investor stream, significant investor stream or premium investor stream.
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