Last updated 20 May 2020

Temporary residence allows for entry to Australia for a specified period to engage in employment or other pursuits in Australia.

The procedures generally involve sponsorship by the interested party in Australia (although no sponsorship is required for working holiday makers or student visas). Health and character requirements must also be met.

People approved for entry under temporary residence categories may be able to be accompanied by their dependants (e.g. spouse, partner, children). Dependants of temporary residents may usually undertake employment or studies in Australia, depending on the particular temporary residence class.

Adequate means to support

Most temporary visas will require that applicants establish that they have adequate means to support themselves while in Australia. Evidence of funds for some visitor and temporary visa classes should be in the form of passbooks, account statements and letters from banks or other financial institutions. Letters should be on letterhead, dated and signed.

Adequate funds to cover the initial period of stay could vary depending on the:

  • proposed length of stay and the extent of travel proposed
  • extent to which accommodation and other assistance will be available from relatives and friends in the initial period after arrival.

Temporary residence visas

Temporary resident visas cover the following major groups:

  • Student Visa (subclass 500)
  • temporary skilled and work visas
  • temporary family visas
  • temporary business visas.

Student Visa

There are a number of temporary visas that may be available for those who wish to study in Australia. These are found in class TU. The Student Visa (subclass 500) is the relevant visa for vocational education and training, higher education and postgraduate research where specific criteria are met. Costs associated with student visas are high. The law in this area can be quite complex and is subject to frequent change. Migration advice is recommended.

Post study options

On graduation, students may meet criteria for temporary or permanent skilled visas. Some visa categories are specifically tailored towards students on graduation. In particular, the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) may allow overseas students who do not meet the points test for a permanent visa to remain in Australia for some time. An application must be lodged within six months of completing studies. This visa has a Graduate Work Stream and a Post-study Work Stream.

Graduate Work Stream

This stream is for graduate international students. A visa in this stream is granted for 18 months for students to gain skilled work experience or improve their English language skills, which might then allow them to secure sufficient points for a general skilled migration visa or gain sponsorship by an Australian employer. Holders of this visa may lodge an expression of interest for a permanent visa at any time if they are able to meet the pass mark on the general skilled migration points test. The pass mark changes from time to time. They are then invited to apply under the SkillSelect system. This visa requires that overseas students:

  • are under 50 years of age
  • have, in the last six months, completed an eligible qualification(s) as a result of at least two years of study in Australia and
  • have the skills and qualifications that meet the Australian standard for an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List.
Post-study Work Stream

An applicant can apply for a visa in this stream if they applied, and were granted, their first student visa to Australia on or after 5 November 2011. For the purposes of applying for a subclass 485 visa under the Post-study Work Stream, only study that results in the conferral of an eligible degree-level qualification will be considered (e.g. Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral degree). To apply for this visa, the applicant must have met the two-year Australian study requirement in the past six months. The visa duration may be up to four years.

The subclass 476 Skilled-recognised Graduate Visa may provide a further temporary visa option to certain engineering graduates (for more information see the Department of Human Affairs (DHA) website).

Temporary skilled and work visas

Key temporary work visas include:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482)
  • Skilled Regional (provisional) Visa (subclass 489)
  • Skilled Work Regional (provisional) Visa (subclass 491)
  • Training Visa (subclass 407)
  • Temporary Activity Visa (subclass 408)
  • Temporary Work (short-stay activity) Visa (subclass 400)
  • Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417)
  • Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462)
  • Temporary Work (international relations) Visa (subclass 403).

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

This visa has three streams:

  • Short-term Stream
  • Medium-term Stream
  • Labour Agreement.

Australian or overseas businesses that are unable to meet their skill needs from the Australian labour market can sponsor skilled overseas workers under the standard business sponsorship arrangement, which is the most common route to sponsor overseas workers.

There are three stages to the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa application:

  • sponsorship—the employer applies to be approved as a standard business sponsor
  • nomination—the employer nominates an occupation for a prospective or existing temporary work visa holder
  • visa application—the worker nominated to work in the occupation applies for the visa.

Applicants have to prove that they are being sponsored by an approved Australian or overseas business in connection with a business activity in Australia, the occupation must be the subject of an approved nomination and the occupation must be listed on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List, the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List, the Regional Occupation List or be the subject of a Labour Agreement. The applicants will have to be paid market rates for their occupation, and this cannot be less than the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold.

The applicant must prove that they:

  • and their occupation are the subject of an approved nomination
  • have a genuine intention to perform the occupation and that the position associated with the occupation is genuine
  • have the necessary skills and experience to perform the occupation
  • meet the English language proficiency (unless exempt)
  • have the relevant licence and registration if required.

If there are special market circumstances not covered by standard business sponsorship arrangements, an employer can enter into a Labour Agreement with the Australian Government, which allows for the recruitment of overseas workers.

Short-term Stream

This is for employers who wish to source temporary overseas skilled workers in occupations included on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List for a maximum of two years (or up to four years if an international trade obligation applies).

Medium-term Stream

This is for employers who wish to source highly skilled overseas workers to fill medium-term critical skills in occupations included on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List for up to four years, with eligibility to apply for permanent residence after three years.

Labour Agreement

This is for employers who have entered into a Labour Agreement with DHA to sponsor overseas skilled workers in exceptional cases where standard visa programs are not available, and there is a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market.

Skilled Regional (provisional) Visa

This temporary, points-based visa is for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory, or sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated area in Australia. The visa is valid for four years, and a visa holder must live and work in a specified area. Certain family members can be included in the application. An applicant for this visa must nominate an occupation that matches their skills and qualifications, and is listed on the Skilled Regional Occupation List. The applicant must be invited to apply for the visa after registering an expression of interest with DHA. This visa also allows holders of visa subclasses 495, 496, 475 and 487 to stay in Australia for an additional period. These visas are granted initially for four years and can be extended for another four years.

Skilled Work Regional (provisional) Visa

This visa (subclass 491) is similar to the Skilled Regional (provisional) Visa (subclass 489), but it is an initial five-year visa, not four, and can only be applied for if the DHA invites the person.

Training Visa

The Training Visa (subclass 407) is for people who want to come to Australia to participate in a professional development program or undertake occupational training to enhance their skills in their current occupation, area of tertiary study or field of expertise. This visa covers three types of occupational training: workplace-based training required for registration; structured workplace-based training to enhance skills in an eligible occupation; and training that promotes capacity building overseas, including overseas qualification, government support and professional development. For workplace-based occupational training (not including professional development), the training program should be a minimum of 30 hours per week and no more than 30% of this training can be classroom-based. The visa is valid for the period of the training or up to two years. Visa applicants must be 18 years or older at the time of DHA making a decision. An applicant can apply for this visa onshore and offshore. However, to make an onshore application, the applicant must not hold a Temporary Work Visa (subclass 401), a Transit Visa (subclass 771) or Special Purpose Visa. The applicant must have an intention to stay in Australia temporarily and must demonstrate a functional level of English.

Temporary Activity Visa

This Temporary Activity Visa (subclass 408) is for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis to:

  • work in the entertainment industry in film, television or live productions in either a performance or behind-the-scenes role such as directing, producing and other production roles
  • participate in specific cultural or social activities at the invitation of an Australian organisation for example, conferences, sporting, religious and other community events
  • participate in or observe an Australian research project after being invited to do so, or undertake a research activity at an Australian tertiary or research institution related to the person’s field of study
  • work in a skilled position under a reciprocal staff exchange arrangement to give participants an opportunity to experience another culture, enhance international relations and broaden participants’ experience and knowledge
  • participate in high-level sports competitions or sports training programs, including by playing, coaching, instructing or adjudicating under contract to an Australian sporting club or organisation
  • participate in a special program approved by DHA that provides opportunities for youth exchange, cultural enrichment or community benefits
  • do full-time religious work, serving the religious objectives of a religious institution in Australia
  • be employed as a superyacht crew member on board a superyacht in Australia
  • do full-time domestic work in the household of certain senior foreign executives
  • participate in a government-endorsed major event.

This visa requires sponsorship if the applicant plans to stay in Australia for more than three months, or if the application is made in Australia. There is no nomination required. The visa lasts up to two years, except if the applicant is invited by an organisation to participate in a specific event (three months) or if the applicant is participating in Australian government activities (four months).

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the Temporary Activity Visa was changed to allow temporary visa holders whose visas are about to expire within 28 days, or expired less than 28 days ago, to remain in Australia if they have no other visa options and are unable to depart due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Visa holders are also allowed to remain in Australia if they have evidence from an employer that they assist in critical sectors including healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture that cannot be filled by an Australian citizen or permanent resident during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This visa cannot be lodged if the applicant had a visa refused or cancelled since last entering into Australia. The applicant is required to show they have funds and adequate health insurance to support them and any dependent family members.

Temporary Work (short-stay activity) Visa

This Temporary Work (short-stay activity) Visa (subclass 400) is for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis for up to three months (or six months in limited circumstances) for short-term, highly specialised, non-ongoing work or to participate in an event or events on a non-ongoing basis at the invitation of an Australian organisation.

Working Holiday Visa

The aim of the Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) is to promote international understanding by providing opportunities for young people to gain experience in other countries. The scheme makes it possible for young people, who are resourceful, self-reliant and adaptable and who wish to holiday and travel in Australia, to work to supplement their funds. To be eligible for entry or stay in Australia as a working holiday maker, a person must:

  • be over 18 years and have not yet turned 31, except for Canadian and Irish citizens who can be up to 35 years old (inclusive)
  • be a national of one of the countries with which Australia has a working holiday maker arrangement
  • not be accompanied by dependent children during their stay.

In all cases, applicants must:

  • lodge an application for a Working Holiday Visa (and pay the prescribed fee)
  • satisfy the decision maker that:
    • they have sufficient funds for a return fare and to support themselves in Australia for the initial part of the proposed holiday period
    • they will not be accompanied by dependent children at any time during their stay
    • the prime intention is to holiday in Australia and that any work performed will be incidental to that purpose and will not exceed six months with the same employer
    • they will have reasonable prospects of obtaining temporary employment to supplement holiday funds
    • they will depart Australia at the end of the temporary stay.

Working Holiday Visa holders may apply for a second 12-month Working Holiday Visa if they have not previously held more than one Working Holiday Visa and can show that they have worked at least three months in particular approved industries (e.g. plant and animal cultivation; fishing and pearling; tree farming and felling; mining; construction) in a regional area.

Work and Holiday Visa

The Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) is for tertiary educated people aged 18 to 30 who are interested in a working holiday of up to 12 months in Australia , but who do not come from one of the countries with whom Australia has a working holiday arrangement. The visa allows applicants to supplement the cost of their holiday through periods of temporary or casual employment.

Temporary Work (international relations) Visa

The Temporary Work (international relations) Visa (subclass 403) has six streams. Two of these streams focus on bringing workers to selected industries where Australian employers cannot source local labour.

The Seasonal Worker Program allows a visa for up to nine months for citizens of and residents in Timor-Leste, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu or Vanuatu who are invited by an Australian Temporary Activities sponsor.

The Pacific Labour Scheme stream allows a visa to work in rural and regional Australia for no more than three years invited by a Temporary Activities sponsor. It currently applies to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, and may be expanded to more Pacific Island Countries.

Temporary family visas

Temporary family visas include:

  • Sponsored Parent (temporary) Visa (subclass 870), which allow a parent of an Australian Citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen to visit Australia for up to three to five years
  • New Zealand Family Relationship Visa (subclass 461), which is a five-year temporary visa for a person who is not a New Zealand citizen but a member of a family unit of a New Zealand citizen and allows a stay and work in Australia for five years
  • Dependent Child Temporary Visa (subclass 445), which is for a dependent child of the Partner Visa applicant until the DHA decides the Permanent Partner Visa application of the parent of the child. Sometimes the child is not included in the parent’s Partner Visa application and later, if the parents want to bring the child to Australia, the child can be sponsored for a subclass 445 temporary visa.

Temporary business visas

There are a range of temporary and permanent business visas including business visitor visas, investor and innovation visas. These are discussed under the visitor and permanent visa sections.