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Want to live and work in Australia? 10 most common questions answered

Want to live and work in Australia? 10 most common questions answered

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It’s not always easy locating the information you need about how to find a job in Australia, applying for the right visa and who can help you find work once you have your legal documentation finalised.

We answer 10 common questions about working in Australia.

What do I need in order to work in Australia?

Before you travel to Australia, you need to make sure you have the right visa. If you are coming to work, it’s important to have the visa that matches the kind of work you will be doing. There are over 30 visa options for people wanting to work in Australia.

It may be possible to get a work visa if you are:

  • A skilled worker
  • A person participating in specific activities
  • A working holiday maker
  • A highly specialised worker
  • A (short term) trainee
  • A successful business person
  • An investor
  • Working in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry

Do I need a sponsor?

It’s not always necessary to have a sponsor, but sometimes having a sponsor can help your chances of getting a visa.

There are two ways of getting sponsorship – you can find a sponsor yourself or you can put in an expression of interest (EOI) using SkillSelect.

Completing an expression of interest (EOI) on SkillSelect is not the same as completing a visa application – it just means that you can be found and nominated for an Australian visa by employers. There is no fee for creating or submitting an expression of interest in SkillSelect.

How long can it take to get work in Australia?

Finding the right job can take a long time and is by no means guaranteed. It’s not uncommon for eligible job seekers to be looking for a job for several months.

When you apply for a visa, you will be told the average processing time it takes to find out if you have been successful or not.

The number of applications, seasonal peaks and complex cases all impact on processing times. If you can, lodging your application online is recommended as this is likely to streamline the processing of your visa.

What visa do I need to work in Australia?

There are many different visas available to overseas workers. The best place to start is the Australian Department of Immigration. You can use their ‘visa finder’ to explore your visa options.

The visa that you need to work in Australia depends on how long you want to stay and the kind of work you will be doing. 

It’s likely that you will need to meet particular criteria such as showing that you have a certain amount of money, that you have specific skills/qualifications and proficiency in English.

Will there be restrictions on my visa?

Particular visas can regulate the type of work you can perform and/or the number of hours that you can work.

Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand nationals holding Special Category (subclass 444) visas are the only people who have an unrestricted right to work in Australia.

It’s important to know the rules for your visa. You can check your details and conditions with Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). This will tell you your visa’s expiry date, how long you can stay and what you can and can’t do on your visa. 

Is the visa process expensive?

The visa process can be very expensive. Some visas are free, some cost a few hundred dollars and others are several thousand dollars. The cost depends on the specific visa you are applying for.

What does right to work in Australia mean?

To work legally in Australia, you need evidence of your right to work. This could be a visa, evidence of permanent resident status, an Australian or New Zealand passport, Australian birth certificate or a certificate of Australian citizenship.

How can SEEK help me find work in Australia?

SEEK is a website that houses available jobs in Australia and other helpful career-related tools, but SEEK can’t help you with information on visas or securing the right visa.

Once your visa and legal documentation has been finalised, SEEK can help you search for jobs, assist you with career advice and guidance, and help you get your SEEK Profile set up so that when you are legally able to work in Australia, you’ll be ready to go.

Once I’m working in Australia, what are my rights?

It doesn’t matter which country you come from or your visa status; everyone employed in Australia has the same rights and protections at work.

Your employer must follow workplace and immigration laws, and this includes paying you the right rate for all the hours you have worked (pay rates are set by Australian law and can’t be taken away) and making sure you have a safe place to work.

Trent Hancock, the Principal Lawyer at employment law firm McDonald Murholme says, “The most important thing for international workers to know is that ordinarily, they will have the same employment rights as everyone else in Australia. This includes, among other things, the right to receive a minimum wage, protection from unfair dismissal and freedom from workplace discrimination.”

Where can I go for more information about visas?

International workers can seek advice and assistance from the Department of Home Affairs, the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman. If you’re looking for visa advice or immigration assistance, you can get help from a migration agent. Visit the Department of Home Affairs to access the Register of Migration Agents.

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