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How to Work in Australia Legally


Australia is the place where many people want to work, but how do you work in Australia legally?

If you are not a citizen of Australia you must have the correct visa to enter and stay in Australia. You must comply with visa conditions and be alert of the date that your visa expires. You will need to leave the country or apply for a new visa before your current visa expires or else you will become an unlawful non-citizen of Australia.  It is a must for unlawful non-citizens to contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection immediately as people who voluntarily approach them may be referred to the Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS).

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection have to be extremely strict in order to protect Australia and to make sure that all travelers to Australia have Australia’s best interests in mind.  They aim to make sure that all non-citizens comply with the immigration rules whilst they are in Australia. A large amount of travelers to Australia do comply with the Immigration laws and Australian visa requirements, but those who do not comply may be penalised through a variety of measures such as detention and removal of the unlawful non-citizens from Australia, or the enforcement of penalties and litigation, where deemed necessary.

Non-citizens who hold an Australia visa need to understand the conditions of their visa and if they are legally allowed to work in Australia.  It is extremely important that you have permission to work in Australia and to understand that visa holders who are caught working in Australia illegally can face their visas being cancelled, be detained and then removed from Australia, you may also be fined up to $10,000.00.  The best option would be to get advice before applying for a visa from a Migration Agent in order to understand the rules of working in Australia.  Working holiday and Student visas have restrictions on the amount of hours you may be allowed to work or the length of time that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will allow you to work for, whilst some other visas do not allow you to work at all whilst in Australia.

Work in Australia

Here are some different types of visas and their working restrictions

Visitor visa

Working on a Visitor visa is strictly prohibited.

Student visa

If you have a Student visa and a work permit you may be allowed to work up to 20 hours a week whilst you are studying.

Working holiday visa

You will be allowed to work but you will not be allowed to work for the same employer for more than 3 months.

There are several types of Working visas

  • Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (457)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme visa (186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa(187)

Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (457)

Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) is a very popular visa which allows Australian employers to sponsor overseas workers if they have the skills that are needed, once you have this visa there is no limit to the amount of times you can enter or leave the country during your visa time frame.  Employers are allowed to sponsor skilled workers under this visa type for up to four years. If you have family members also migrating with you to Australia they will be allowed to work or study during their stay in Australia.

In order to apply for this visa you and your employer will have requirements that will need to be met.

Employee Requirements of the Working visa 457:

  • You must be sponsored by an employer who is  eligible to sponsor skilled workers

  • You will be required to have taken an English language proficiency (IELTS) and have a score of 5 for all four test components)

  • You will need to meet the health requirements and health insurance

  • You will need to have the necessary skills, qualifications that the position requires

  • You must be eligible for any relevant licenses associated with the position

Employer Requirements for the working visa 457:

  • You must be approved to sponsor non-citizen skilled workers

  • You must be an Australian business who operates in Australia or an overseas company who will be employing overseas workers with the intention of setting up a business in Australia

  • You will also need to commit to employing local workers and undertake non-discriminatory employment practices.

Employer Nomination Scheme visa 186

The Employer Nomination visa is for those who wish to work in Australia as a skilled worker permanently. You will be able to apply for this visa onshore or offshore and is a permanent residency visa, if you are in Australia you must hold a substantive visa or a bridging visa A, B or C.

There are three streams within the Employer Nomination Scheme:

  1. Temporary Residence – Transition Scheme

If you have been working in Australia for two years with the same employer on a 457 working visa and your employer wants to offer you as a 457 visa holder a permanent position, this stream would be for you.

  1. Direct Entry Stream

You can apply for this type of visa if you are outside of Australia and this stream is for those who have not worked in Australia before. You will need to be nominated by your employer under Direct Entry stream.

  1. Agreement Stream

If you are sponsored by an employer through the labour agreement, this visa is for you and you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • You will need to be under 50 years of age (unless you are exempt)

  • You will need to meet the requirements of the stream which you are applying under

  • You will need to have the qualifications and the skills for your nominated position and  the appropriate English Language skills

  • Make sure you are nominated by an eligible employer

Benefits of the Employer Nomination Scheme:

  • You will be allowed to sponsor your relatives, as long as they are eligible

  • Have permanent residence in Australia and can then apply for Australian Citizenship

  • You can register for Medicare

  • You will be allowed to work and study in Australia

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme

This visa allows employers of Australia to employ skilled non-citizen workers and the ability to be able to work in Australia full time. You will only be granted this visa if your employer can prove that they cannot find local labourers to fill the position.

There are three Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) streams – (Each of these streams has different eligibility criteria, requirements and application processes:

  1. Temporary Residence Transition stream

  2. Agreement stream

  3. Direct Entry stream

Each visa has different conditions and it is important that you find out all the visa details before applying for a visa and working in Australia, which is why we would recommend going through a Migration Agent.

There is a free government service to check the different types of visas in more detail online: http://www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/vevo.htm

When it comes to employing non-citizen workers, you have to be extremely careful because the process is a lot more complicated.  You will need to make sure that your employees are legally allowed to work in Australia, if you are caught employing illegal workers you may face the complications of being charged with a criminal offence as well as being fined up to $10,000.00.

If you need more information about employing legal workers you can check the below link for details:


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