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Australia > Articles


An Expat Guide To Australian Visas In 2017

Friday September 01, 2017 (10:40:37)


This has been an interesting and at times contentious year when it comes to Australia’s visa system. The government announced the decision to abolish the 457-temporary work visa, which has been the most common visa for employers to sponsor skilled workers to work temporarily in Australia.

They also announced their intention to majorly reform the entire visa system, including reducing the number of visa types available from 99 down to around 10. At the same time, they have increased transparency around visa application processing times and promised a simpler, easier to navigate system for the future.

So, looking for a visa to come to Australia? Here’s what you need to know.

Which visa could I get?

The Visa Finder is a tool that can help you find out which visas you may be eligible for, based on your individual circumstances. It includes all the most common visas, but is not a complete listing. By filling in details such as your nationality, age, intended length of stay and whether you will be sponsored or nominated, you will be given a list of options to compare.

How long does it take to get a visa?

Processing times can be anywhere from between one day for an eVisitor visa to 18 months for a Partner visa, to as long as 30 years for a certain type of Parent visa.

There are two main ways to check processing times. You can easily view processing times by visiting the information page for the specific visa you are interested in on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

You can also view the most up-to-date processing times for all different visas at a glance by visiting the general global visa and citizenship processing times page. This is updated monthly.

How much does it cost?

You can get a cost estimate for visas that you’re interested in by using the Pricing Estimator tool or by visiting the information page for the specific visa you are interested in. Some example costs are:

• eVisitor visa: free
• Partner visa: $7,000 AUD
• Parent visa: $3,945 AUD
• Student visa: $560 AUD
• Business, innovation and investment: $2,350 AUD
• Skilled - nominated or independent: $3,670 AUD

There is also a visa pricing table where you can compare the costs of different visas at a glance.

Starting from July 2017, visa application charges will be indexed annually in line with the forecast Consumer Price Index. This means that on the 1st of July every year, prices will be updated and rounded off to the nearest $5.

With almost 100 different types of visas on offer, finding the right one for you may take a bit of research. Main visa categories include visitor visas; working and skilled visas; studying visas; family and spousal visas; refugee and humanitarian visas and others.

Visitor visas

Visitor visas cover tourism and short business visits, with the length of stay ranging from three months to a year.

Citizens of many countries are eligible to come to Australia under working holiday visas if they are under the age of 31. This allows you to work, travel and study in Australia for up to 12 months. Some people are eligible to apply for a second visa if they spend three months working in hospitality or farming in certain locations.

More information

Working and skilled visas

There are currently 23 visas available in this category and you will have to spend some time considering your options. If you are hoping to get a skilled visa, your occupation will need to be on one of the lists of eligible skilled occupations.

Some permanent and longer-term options include:

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)
Permanent | Cost: from $3,670 AUD | Processing time: around 8 months

This is a permanent residence visa for skilled workers. There are three streams.

You need to:
• be nominated by an approved Australian employer
• be under 45 or 50 years of age, depending on your stream
• meet the skills, qualifications and English language requirements of the position

With this visa, you have full residence entitlements. You and any member of your family who have also been granted it can stay in Australia indefinitely; work and study; enroll in Medicare; apply for Australian citizenship; sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence; and travel to and from Australia.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
Permanent | Cost: from $3,670 AUD | Processing time: around 8 months

This is a permanent residence visa for skilled workers who want to work in regional Australia. There are three streams.

You need to:
• be nominated by an approved Australian employer for a job in regional Australia (anywhere except Brisbane, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong or Melbourne)
• be under 45 or 50 years of age, depending on your stream
• meet the skills, qualifications and English language requirements of the position

With this visa, you have full residence entitlements as listed above.

Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189)
Permanent | Cost: from $3,670 AUD | Processing time: around 11 months

This stream is for points-tested skilled workers who are not sponsored by an employer or family member or nominated by a state or territory government. It allows you to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident.

For the Skilled Independent (points-tested) stream you need to submit an expression of interest.

You need to:
• have a relevant occupation
• have a suitable skills assessment for the occupation
• meet the points test pass mark of 60 points
• be under 45 years of age at time of invitation
• have competent English
• be invited to apply.

With this visa, you have full residence entitlements as listed above.

Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa (subclass 188)
Four years and three months | Cost: from $585 AUD | Processing time: around 15 months

This visa allows you to own and manage a business in Australia (Business Innovation stream); conduct business and investment activity in Australia (Investor streams); or undertake an entrepreneurial activity in Australia (Entrepreneur stream).

You need to:
• be nominated by a state or territory government or Austrade
• be invited to apply for the visa
• have experience in owning and operating a business (Business Innovation stream) or
• have at least AUD 1.5 million to invest (Investor stream) or
• have at least AUD 5 million to invest (Significant Investor stream) or
• have at least AUD 15 million to invest (Premium Investor stream)
meet additional requirements of the relevant stream.

With this visa, you can establish a new business, develop an existing one, and/or invest in Australia. You can travel in and out of Australia, bring your family members with you, and seek permanent residence under the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa (subclass 888).

More information

Family and spousal visas

There are currently 22 visas available in this category, so again you will have to spend some time considering your options. This includes visas for adoption, aged dependent relatives, carers, children, orphans, parents, prospective marriages and remaining relatives. One of the most commonly-applied for is the partner visa.

Partner Visa (subclass 801, 820)
Provisional and Permanent | Cost: From $7,000 AUD | Processing time: around 18 months

This visa allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia. The temporary partner visa (820) is granted first and lets you stay in Australia while the permanent partner visa (801) is processed.

You need to:
• Be married or in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
• Your marriage must be valid under Australian law. This means you must have parental permission if you are 16 or 17 years of age.
• You must have been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months.

With the temporary visa you can stay in Australia until a decision is made on your permanent visa. With the permanent visa, you can have full residence entitlements.

More information

Studying visas

This includes visas for students as well as student guardians, for students younger than 18 years.

Student Visa (subclass 500)
Up to five years | Cost: from $560 AUD | Processing time: 12 days to 54 days

This visa allows you to stay in Australia to study full-time in an officially recognized educational institution.

You need to:
• be at least six years of age
• have been accepted to study at an educational institution in Australia
• have health insurance.

With this visa, you can study full-time and bring eligible family members with you. Generally, you are allowed to work 40 hours per fortnight.

More information

For a complete listing of Australian visas, visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Visa reform

This year, the Australian government announced that they would be embarking on reforms to modernize and simplify Australia’s visa system. This is likely to be a long process so it won’t impact visa applications any time in the near future, but is useful to keep in mind for medium to long-term planning.

The current visa system has not had an overhaul in about 30 years. It is recognized as being highly complex and difficult both for people to understand and for the government to administer. Some of the elements that are under review include:

• Reducing the number of visas available from the current number of 99 individual visa types down to approximately 10
• The pathways and distinctions between temporary entry and long-term or permanent residence
• The role of temporary residence as a first step to living in Australia permanently and if this should be made a requirement
• Making sure the visa system supports Australia as a tourism destination and a location of choice for temporary and permanent migrants.

If you’re hoping to make Australia home, be sure to watch this space.

Have you lived in Australia? What were your experiences with the visa system? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview.

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