Last updated 25 August 2016

Key temporary work visas include:

  • Temporary Work (skilled) visa (subclass 457)
  • Skilled Regional (provisional) visa (subclass 489)
  • Training and Research visa (subclass 402)
  • Temporary Work (short-stay activity) visa (subclass 400)
  • Temporary Work (long-stay activity) visa (subclass 401)
  • Temporary Work (entertainment) visa (subclass 420)
  • Special Program visa (subclass 416)
  • Working Holiday visa (subclass 417)
  • Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462).

Temporary Work (skilled) visa

This is by far the largest group of temporary residents in Australia. This visa allows Australian businesses to employ overseas workers for up to four years in skilled occupations.

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 Work (skilled) 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, and the tasks must be listed on the combined list of eligible skilled occupations. 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.

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 Occupation List. The applicant must be invited to apply for the visa after registering an expression of interest with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. This visa also allows holders of visa subclasses 495, 496, 475 and 487 to stay in Australia for an additional period.

Training and Research visa

The Training and Research visa is for people who want to come to Australia to undertake occupational training, conduct or observe research as a visiting academic or participate in a professional development program. The Training and Research visa has three streams:

  • Occupational Trainee stream
  • Research stream
  • Professional Development stream.

Occupational Trainee stream

This is for people who require structured training to enhance their skills in their current occupation, area of tertiary study or field of expertise. The training program should be a minimum of 30 hours per week and at least 70% of this training must be workplace based. The visa is valid for the period of the training or up to two years.

Research stream

This is for international professional academics or researchers to visit Australia on a temporary basis to observe or participate in an Australian research project. An applicant for this visa has to show a significant record of achievement in their field. The visa is valid for the period of the research or up to 12 months. A subclass 402 visa holder under the research stream cannot receive remuneration other than a contribution towards travel and living expenses.

Professional Development stream

The Professional Development stream is for professionals, managers or government officials to undertake a professional development training program in Australia. The visa applicant must have an overseas employer and the position must be arranged by that overseas employer. The sponsor must be satisfied that the applicant’s English language proficiency is sufficient for the purposes of undertaking the professional development program mentioned in the visa application. The subclass 402 visa under this stream is valid for the period of the position or up to 18 months.

Temporary Work (short-stay activity) visa

This visa allows for up to six weeks of 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.

Temporary Work (long-stay activity) visa

This visa is for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis two years after the date the visa is granted or a lesser period if specified by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. This visa can be issued for a period of up to two years and has four streams:

  • Exchange stream
  • Sport Stream
  • Religious Worker stream
  • Domestic Worker (executive) stream.

Exchange stream

This visa is for a skilled person. The applicant must be nominated by a long-stay activity sponsor who is a party to an exchange agreement or an exchange sponsor. The exchange agreement must be in place, allow a named Australian citizen or permanent resident to undertake a reciprocal exchange, and must be of benefit to both parties.

Sport stream

The Sport stream is for professional sportspeople and other person related to sports (e.g. coaches and judges or adjudicators) who want to come to Australia to participate in a sporting competition. The applicant or sportsperson needs to be nominated by a long-stay activity sponsor who is a sporting organisation or a sport sponsor.

Religious Worker stream

An applicant willing to be a full-time religious worker and serving the religious objectives of a religious organisation in Australia can apply for this visa. Work to be engaged in could include providing spiritual leadership, conducting worship, teaching or guidance in religion. The applicant’s nomination needs to be related to an activity that directly serves the religious objectives of the long-stay activity sponsor, who is a religious institution, or the religious worker sponsor.

Domestic Worker (executive) stream

Domestic servants may be brought to Australia for temporary stay and work full time in the household of certain senior foreign executives. The applicant needs to be sponsored by an approved long-stay activity sponsor such as the sponsor of a subclass 403 (Temporary Work (international relations)) or subclass 457 (Temporary Work (skilled)) visa. The sponsor must show that they could not find local labour to work as a domestic servant or that there are compelling reasons for employing the visa applicant. The applicant must be over 18 years of age and must have relevant experience of working as a domestic worker. The applicant is to be employed in Australia in accordance with the standards for wages and working conditions of relevant Australian legislation and awards.

Temporary Work (entertainment) visa

People in this category may be considered for temporary entry for a maximum of two years if they are nominated by an approved organisation, government or foreign government agency, or by an eligible individual as sponsor. Broadly, the applicant must be sponsored to work as performer or in a support or production role in relation to an entertainment project.

Special Program visa

This visa is for people who would like to participate in approved programs for cultural enrichment and community benefit that can help to strengthen international relations. Applicants for this visa must be under 31 years of age and need to show a genuine intention to stay temporarily in Australia to undertake the approved special program. Approved programs include the School to School Interchange Program, the School Language Assistant Program and the Seasonal Workers Program. Also, applicants for this visa need to demonstrate that they have adequate means of support to cover all expenses associated with their stay in Australia. This visa is generally granted for three to twelve months.

Working Holiday visa

The aim of the Working Holiday Maker Scheme 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 (subclass 417, sch 2 Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth)):

  • be over 18 years and have not yet turned 31 years old
  • 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 Minister for Immigration and Border Protection that:
    • they have sufficient funds for a return fare and to support themselves in Australia for the initial part of the proposed holiday period
    • 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 makers may apply for a second 12-month Working Holiday visa if they can show that they have worked at least three months in particular primary industries (e.g. fishing, pearling, butchering, forestry or seasonal harvest, or building construction work in regional Australia).

Work and Holiday visa

This visa 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 Work and Holiday visa allows applicants to supplement the cost of their holiday through periods of temporary or casual employment.