With our experience and expert knowledge of the system, we meticulously plan, prepare and lodge comprehensive and structured submissions on behalf of our clients. Our full end-to-end service includes handling all aspects of the visa application process, including skills assessments, sponsorships and nominations. We also liaise with the Department of Immigration, State and Territory Governments, employers and any other involved parties to ensure efficient processing.
Here is an overview of the most common visa categories:
Depending on the exact purpose of your visit and your nationality, there are visa options allowing stays for up to three, six or twelve months. Visitor visas are suitable for people:
- visiting family in Australia;
- travelling as a tourist;
- engaging in business activities such as negotiations, participating in conferences or seminars; and
- attending job interviews or investigating future employment opportunities while travelling.
Apart from the possibility to engage in genuine unpaid voluntary work, it is important to remember that a Visitor Visa does not allow you to work, provide services or sell goods in Australia. Visitor Visas may in some cases be used for short-term study for up to 3 months, which can be a convenient way to attend a short-term English course.
As with most visas, there is a base application charge for Visitor Visas, however, passport holders from certain countries (most European countries) may be eligible for the free eVisitor visa.
Employer Sponsored Visas
On 19 April 2017 substantive changes to the employer sponsorsed visa program have been announced. These changes will be implemented step by step until March 2018.
Australia is a country with a wealth of employment opportunities. In order to satisfy skilled labour market shortages, there are a number of visa pathways that will allow you to live and work as a temporary or permanent resident.
Applicants for Temporary and Permanent Employer Sponsored visas need to fulfil certain English and qualification criteria, need a suitable occupation that is in demand in Australia and an employer who is willing to sponsor them for a visa. The most important sources for finding eligible occupations are the
Permanent visas (ENS - RSMS)
There are two main schemes to consider when applying for an employer sponsored visa. The first is the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS), which allows employers anywhere in Australia to sponsor eligible employees for permanent residency. The second is the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), which allows employers based in regional Australia to sponsor employees who meet all necessary criteria. This RSMS is aimed at skilled workers wanting to work in regional Australia, which is any area apart from the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong or Melbourne.
While both ENS and RSMS have a range of streams and similar requirements, it should be pointed out that there are no formal skills assessments or work experience required under the RSMS. This, along with the fact that there are more occupations included in this scheme, means it can be easier to satisfy the criteria, making it an attractive option for permanent residency.
If you are a successful applicant under ENS or RSMS you will become a permanent resident of Australia, which entitles you to live, work and study in Australia on a permanent basis. This status will also give you additional benefits such as access to certain social security benefits, government-subsidised healthcare (Medicare) and the ability to apply for Australian citizenship.
If you are an employer looking to sponsor an overseas worker see Sponsoring Overseas Workers.
Temporary visa (457 Visa)
The 457 visa program is designed for Australian employers to quickly fill skill shortages in their businesses. It is the most commonly used visa program for sponsoring overseas workers and can be a pathway to permanent residency. Compared to permanent sponsored visas, processing times are shorter and the English language requirements lower, making it attractive for employers and applicants.
The 457 visa process has three main stages:
The employer must register to become an approved sponsor and needs to comply with a range of obligations.
- See Sponsoring Overseas Workers for further details
The employer nominates the applicants position. Employers may only nominate positions that relate to skilled occupations that have been approved by the Australian Government on the above mentioned lists.
After the Nomination is lodged you can apply for the visa. You must be able to show you have the required skills and qualifications that match the nominated position. In some cases this may require a formal Skills Assessment.
A 457 visa is valid for four years and can be renewed. Immediate family members can be included in the application and they will be free to study, work or in the case of children, attend school.
457 visas involve a number of steps and parties, have strict requirements and the legislative requirements are often subject to change by the Australian Government. For these reasons, seeking professional advice is highly recommended.
Business and Investor Visas
Australia's political stability and economic resilience makes it an extremely attractive choice for foreigners looking to engage in business activities in Australia. The government is committed to providing residency for overseas business professionals and foreign investors looking to migrate to Australia. Proof of this is the Government's Business Innovation and Investment Programme which aims to attract people with a successful record of investment or business activity. There are a number of streams available under Business Innovation and Investment visas for people wanting to manage their own business or invest in Australia. The four streams are:
- Business Innovation stream
- Investor stream
- Significant Investor stream
- Premium Investor stream
All visa streams can be pathways to permenent residency. You may be eligible if:
- you are a business owner or part owner;
- a senior executive or;
- you have a significant business or investor history.
The Business Innovation Stream is aimed at skilled business people wishing to develop, manage or establish a new or existing business in Australia. All investor streams, on the other hand, are for people who would like to make a designated/significant investment in Australia. The investment amount varies for the different investor streams, as do the nomination requirements. All visa applicants must demonstrate their intent to maintain their business and investment activity in Australia.
Applicants for all streams need:
- to be nominated by an Australian state or territory government or by Austrade (Australian Trade Commission) in the case of Significant or Premium Investor visas;
- to lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI); and
- to be invited to apply for a visa by the Australian Government.
For the Business Innovation stream and the Investor stream a points test needs to be passed with a minimum of 65 points. Points are awarded for the following:
- English language ability
- experience in business or investment
- net personal and business assets
- business turnover
Business Migration is a complex matter and often requires an understanding of overseas and Australian corporate structures. It is essential to have the right immigration strategy from the outset to achieve your business goals. We are experienced, in particular, with European corporate structures and business law and offer a full end-to-end service which handles all aspects of the visa application process.
The Government's Skilled Migration program has the purpose of attracting skilled and highly employable overseas people to Australia to fill Australia's skill shortages. There are a variety of options available, the most common categories being the Skilled Independent visa and State Nominated visa. These categories are particularly attractive for overseas professionals, as they do not require sponsorship from an employer.
To begin the process, it is mandatory for applicants to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in SkillSelect. This is an online platform used by the Department of Immigration to assist with the skilled migration process. Before submitting your EOI there are a number of requirements that need to be met. Crucial criteria for skilled migration are that:
- applicants must be under 45 years of age;
- have a formal skills assessment for the nominated occupation. (There is a legislative instrument that details each occupation and its relevant assessing authority);
- have a proven level of English; and
- pass the “Points Test”, with a minimum score of 60 points.
Once an invitation to apply has been issued, no changes can be made. Therefore, points tests and EOI’s have to be carefully considered.
To achieve points the most important categories are:
- English language skills;
- Qualifications; and
- Work experience.
Skilled Independent Visa
The Skilled Independent visa is considered to be the most desirable visa as no nomination is required. If granted, the Skilled Independent visa gives you permanent residency and you can live and work anywhere in Australia. A key requirement is to have an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL).
State Nominated Visas
Every Australian state or territory nominates skilled migrants in accordance with its own state migration plan for permanent residency as well as for temporary visas. State migration plans allow each state to address skill shortages in particular industries and areas of the state. A big advantage of State Nominated visas is that extra points are awarded, which can be a crucial factor to achieve the 60 points benchmark.
Each skills assessment authority has different requirements to fulfil and each state government demand different criteria. Therefore, to achieve the best outcome, it is extremely important to establish the best strategy from the outset.
Partner / Spouse / Fiance Visa
Partner and Spouse visas may be available to you if you are in a de-facto relationship, married or engaged to:
- an Australian permanent resident;
- an Australian citizen; or
- an eligible New Zealand citizen.
The critical issue for all Partner visas is the assessment by the Department of Immigration as to the “genuineness” of the relationship. The Department will take into consideration financial and social aspects, the nature of your household and your commitment to each other.
Australian Partner visa applications are usually in two stages, the first of which is the issuing of a temporary visa. After two years from the date of application, further evidence must be submitted, showing that the relationship is on going and genuine. If all requirements are satisfied, a permanent visa will be issued.
The Fiancé or Prospective Marriage visa is for people wanting to come to Australia and marry their Australian partner. Marriage must take place within 9 months of arrival. A Partner visa can then be applied for from Australia.
Depending on how long you have been in your relationship, some applicants may be eligible immediately for permanent residency. Permanent residency will let you stay in Australia with the entitlement to work, study, and access Medicare (government subsidised healthcare) benefits, sponsor eligible relatives for visas as well as applying for Australian citizenship.
Partner visa applications have restrictions regarding your location at the time of lodgement and the time of decision. This, along with long processing times makes it extremely important to strategically plan the process so you may begin living and working in Australia at the earliest possible time.
Excellent education options combined with the attractive Australian lifestyle draws more than 500.000 international students to Australia each year. Depending on the course of study to be undertaken, there are a variety of Student visas available for:
- Higher Education
- English Language Study
- School Students
- Vocational Training
- Postgraduate Research
- Non-Award Students
To obtain a Student visa, applicants need to:
- be enrolled in a course listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students – CRICOS;
- fulfil certain English language requirements;
- have financial means to support themselves; and
- obtain overseas student health insurance cover.
The critical issue for all Student visa applications is to convince the Department of Immigration that you fulfil the "genuine temporary entry criteria". Student visas entitle international students to work for 20 hours a week during the semester and are allowed to work full-time during holidays or upon the commencement of a master by research or a doctorate course. In most cases, they will also allow you to bring dependant family members to Australia for the duration of your study.
Having Australian education qualifications can be a perfect launch pad to gaining employment in Australia and can open up a number of doors for overseas students. Student visas can be a stepping stone for a Graduate visa or may lead you to Employer Sponsored visas or further Skilled visa options.
This visa may allow parents to permanently live in Australia if their child is:
- a permanent resident;
- an Australian citizen; or
- an eligible New Zealand citizen.
To be able to apply for a Parent visa, applicants are required to pass the balance-of-family test, which measures your ties to Australia. To pass this, no more than half of your children should be living outside of Australia. As with all Australian visa applications, health and character requirements must also be met. After lodgment of a Parent visa application and when all legal visa requirements are fulfilled, an application is placed in queue. Shortly before a Parent visa is granted, an Assurance of Support (AoS) with a bond must be provided and a health charge must be paid.
Parent visas are divided into two categories, the Parent Category and the Contributory Parent Category. Depending on the visa category, the costs for the health charge, periods for the Assurance of Support and bond and the processing times until visa grant, are significantly different. In short, contributory parent visas cost significantly more but the waiting periods are significantly less.
Parent visas are in high demand and processing times can be lengthy. Therefore, strategic planning is essential to establish the best pathway and to ensure you can settle in Australia as soon as possible.