How To Understand The Australia Visa Process

Confused about what Australian visas you need to apply for when moving to Australia? If you want to gain permanent residency in Australia but not sure what you need to do, fear not.

Thanks to AUREC Migration & Mobility in Sydney, they’ve been able to lend us a hand at creating this up to date blog post for anyone wanting to move to Australia permanently or just wondering what Australia visa you need to apply for.

There are various routes to take when applying for permanent residency in Australia so we’re going to break them down into bite size chunks so hopefully you won’t find it too confusing with the many Australia visa types available.

In this post, we talk about the most popular Australian visas with the option of how to stay in Australia permanently and even having a chance of getting Australian citizenship in the long run.

Australian Visas Map


We’ve created this map to help you with understand what the visas mean that we talk about in this post. It’s taken me a long time to get my head around so I’m glad I’ve had AUREC to help us with this post for you.

Contents Page

There’s 7 main pathways to come into Australia. Click to which visa fits your description below.

1. Visitor Visa

2. Working Holiday Visa (for under 31 years, 35 if from Ireland, Canada or France)

3. Defacto Partner Visa (in a relationship with an Aussie)

4. Student Visa

5. Sponsorship visa (via work)

6. Points System

7. Employer Nominee Visa

If you have any other questions, please contact AUREC Migration & Mobility as they are the experts with everything to do with moving to Australia.

For a full list of the visas you can obtain to come into Australia, check out the government website here.

What if I come into Australia on a tourist visa and want to stay permanently?

Visitor Visas ($365)


I’m sure we’ve all been there. We’ve visited a country, fallen in love with it and have decided we want to stay permanently. There are actual ways you can do this whilst you’re still on that tourist visa in Australia.

So, lets break it down into the three different tourist visas you can apply for.

600 – Visitor Visa

  • You can apply for 3 / 6/ 12 months on this tourist visa.
  • You actually need to include written documentation outlining what your plans are for your stay and prove you’re a genuine tourist at that time of application.

Tip – don’t apply for this visa whilst you’re on a Working Holiday Visa as it most likely will get denied. 

601 – Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) and 651 – eVisitor Visa

  • The 601 and 651 are electronic tourist visas where you can come and go as many times as you like over the course of 12 months.
  • Be aware – you can only stay in the country up to 3 months at a time.
  • These visas get processed pretty fast (can be literally minutes!) but up to 30 days.

What’s the difference between 601 and 651 visa?

How to stay permanently on a Tourist Visa

You can apply for many other visas onshore while on your tourist Visa, it depends on the visa type and any conditions you have on your tourist Visa, but you can apply for Partner visa, Sponsored visa, General Skilled (aka the points visa) so you do have options!

Under 31 years of age and want to work in Australia?

Working Holiday Visa (WHV) 417/462 ($485)


Working Holiday Visa (WHV) 417/462

  • Similar to the above, 417 and 462 are the same working visa Australia but you just need to check which visa your country falls into.
  • The WHV entitles you to 12 months stay to work and travel around Australia
  • You must be between 18-30 years old (up until before your 31st birthday).
  • If you’re Irish, Canadian or French, you get to come over on this visa up until you’re 35!
  • You can study on this visa for up to 4 months

How to get a second Working Holiday Visa

  • If you do the dreaded 88 days of farm work in regional Australia you can get a second year.
  • You don’t need to do the second year straight away and can come back into Australia before you turn 31 to complete it. For example, I did the farm work when I first came into Australia when I was 23 years old, then came back when I was 29 and used my Second Working Holiday Visa.
  • You can complete your 88 days at various farms and you don’t need to be at one place for the entire time. Check here for a list of jobs going.

TIPS – don’t work with heavy fruits or vegetables (no one wants to be carrying watermelons all day). And if you have a slight fear of spiders, stay away from banana picking!

I remember how everyone wanted to drive the tractor, think outside of the box with farm work and it could be fun. Try and work indoors as it’s super hot working outside in regional Australia. 

There’s a third working holiday visa?

  • So if you decide you really like farm work and complete six months whilst on your second Working Holiday Visa, you can apply for another year to stay in Australia and you can say Bye Bye to farm work forever!

Want to stay permanently? 

  • One way for to stay permanently when you’re on the working holiday visa is for your employer to sponsor you.
  • If you’re in a relationship with an Australian during you’re time in Australia and have been together for a year, you can apply for defacto partner visa.
  • If your in a skilled occupation you can apply for the Points System straight away which is a permanent residency visa!
  • Otherwise we suggest going down the study route if you can’t apply for the points visa and build up your work experience that way to open up other pathways.

I’m in a relationship with an Australian

Defacto Partner Visa 820 / 801 visa ($7,715)

  • After I used up my Working Holiday Visa, Steve and I went off to travel the world. When we returned to Australia, I came in on a tourist visa, then applied for the Defacto Partner Visa,  which is also known as the spouse visa Australia which I wrote all about here.
  • You have to be able to provide documentation (like images etc) that you’re in a genuine relationship with an Australian for at least a year.
  • If you apply from another country, it can be faster, the fees are the same now, but the beauty about applying for it in Australia is that as soon as you apply, you’ll go onto a Bridging Visa which gives you full working rights in Australia when your current visa naturally expires. Read all about the Bridging Visa here.
  • Visa wait time is between 12-18 months and it’s an expensive visa.
  • Self-Lodgements now have a high refusal rate

Want to stay permanently?

  • After two years, you’ll need to apply for the 801 visa which will give you permanent residency. After you’ve had permanent residency in Australia for 2 years and you’ve been in the country for 4 consecutive years, you can finally apply for citizenship.

Study in Australia

Student Visa Australia: 500 visa ($620)

  • Study something on the long-term list in Australia which could be the easiest option for you to stay in Australia 500 – Student Visa
  • Some courses are eligible for a graduate visa after completion which can range from 18 months to 4 years in length depending on the course studied.
  • This can give you time to work up you work experience in Australia to either get sponsored or work towards residency.
  • If you are interested in the study route, you can look up courses which have a CRICOS code meaning that they are eligible for international students (anyone studying in Australia who is not an Australian permanent resident or citizen). The courses need to be 2 years in length and have the minimum amount of 92 weeks of tuition to be eligible for a 485 graduate visa.

Want to stay permanently?

Studying for 2 years in Australia can also give you an additional 5 points in the points test. If the qualification obtained was a diploma or trade, this can also give you an extra 10 points in the points test. This means you could potentially have an extra 15 points to count towards the current minimum 65 points required for skilled permanent residency.

Temporary Graduate Visa 485 ($1650)

Graduate Work Stream

  • This visa is for international students who have recently graduated with skills and qualifications that are relevant to specific occupations in Australia needs. It lets you live, study and work in Australia temporarily.
  • You can usually stay up to 18 months with full work rights

Post Study Work Stream 

  • This visa is for international students who have recently graduated with a degree from an Australian institution
  • You can work in Australia
  • You can bring your family with you
  • You need a recent degree a CRICOS-registered course
  • Usually between 2 and 4 years, depending on your qualification.

Processing Time

  • 75% of applications: 78 days
  • 90% of applications: 4 months

Want to stay in Australia permanently?

  • Having the 485 means you can build your Australian work experience at the skill level and can then help to gain your permanent residency Australia through either points or start your pathway through the employer sponsored options.

Get sponsored by your employer

Sponsorship Visa 482 (the new 457) from $1265

  • After the government scrapped the 457 visa a few years back, say hello to the 482 visa.
  • It’s a temporary work visa valid up to 4 years depending on your occupation.
  • You’ll need to be sponsored by an employer for the duration of the visa.
  • There’s no age limit AND you can add your spouse and kids onto this visa.
  • You can renew this visa whilst in Australia so you can stay up to 8 years (occupation dependent) .

Ever wondered why most recruiters in Australia seem to be English?

You may have come across a number of recruiters during your time down under and wondered why they are mostly likely from England.

Recruitment is a popular industry to get sponsored and most agencies are already pre approved to sponsor people and very open to using the system. So if you fancy yourself as a recruitment consultant then this can be a great avenue for you. Just warning you – I’ve not met anyone who’s gone down this route and enjoyed it.

Want to stay in Australia permanently?

  • Check the occupation list because the short-term list (STSOL) offer 2 years with no pathway to residency whilst the medium / long term list (MLTSSL) offer 4 years with the pathway to residency.
  • You might be able to renew the MLTSSL visa so you can stay up to 8 years if for some reason you don’t want to get residency.

What if I hate my sponsored job in Australia, can I change employer? 

Luckily you can change employers and transfer your current sponsorship to another company which is a fast and simple process. You can even change occupations if you meet the criteria for another one which will give you better chances with your permanent residency Australia future.

What if I get fired from my sponsored job in Australia?

You have 60 days to find another sponsor, or move to another visa or leave the country. That does give you nearly two months to sort yourself out.

The Points System visa for Australia

General Skilled Migration Visa – 189 or 190 (aka points system visa) $4045

  • If studying, working holiday visas or sponsorship is out of the question, then you might want to look at the points system to gain entry into Australia.
  • The main issue is you need to be under 45 to get this visa and you can do it directly from offshore

An example of how to get points

  • Age
  • Qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Trades, medical, IT, childcare and engineering occupations are in high demand in Australia and so these are the most sought-after careers that people get residency through.
  • The occupation list is split into 2 sections STSOL and MLTSSL (higher in demand jobs)  as mentioned above.

189 Independent skilled PR visa (the points visa)

  • You don’t need to have an Australian job offer or any Aussie experience to apply for this visa.
  • It can be lodged in or out of Australia – be careful because you could be waiting up to 2 years for it to be approved.
  • Firstly you need to submit an Expression of Interest which meets the minimum point required for your occupation (remove what’s in red as it is so variable now with a lot at 80 – 65 points). Then you’ll have to wait it out for up to 2 years. Once approved, you’ll then have to lodge the 189/190 visa. I have heard of people waiting a very long time for this visa.
  • If you lodge this visa in Australia, you’ll need to make sure you have a valid visa to cover you for up to 2 years whilst you wait it out or have a bridging Visa in place. Most people actually apply from their home countries because of this issue.

190 visa

  • The difference between the 189 and 190 is the 190 is a state nominated visa.
  • It also gives you an extra 5 points if you need them.
  • You’ll need to spend your first 2 years in that state when you come over to Australia on the 190 visa.

AUREC’S Advice on the downside to this visa

  • As mentioned above, it’s harder to get permanent residency Australia when your occupation is on the short-term list and if you are over 45 years of age.
  • We’ve seen a lot of people come to us exploring their residency options whilst on a short-term visa but you then have to look at independent options rather than the employer nominated ones.
  • Or you can look at Regional or Partner Visas.
  • The thing we tell all of our clients in this situation is they can get a 2-year sponsorship and then after these 2 years apply for another 2-year sponsorship.
  • During that time your independent options could be the way to go or the occupation lists change and it can be opened up again.

How to get permanent residency?

The visas which will grant you automatic permanent residency Australia – this has a 2 year requirement in which it can be cancelled at any time.

Employer Nomination Scheme 186/187 visa ($4045)

  • The 186 and 187 visas are both employer nominated permanent residency visas that have 2 streams: The direct entry stream and the transitional stream.
  • The difference between the two subclasses is that the 187 visa is only for those located and working in regional parts of Australia and will need to follow the guidelines outlined by the regional certifying body for their region.
  • Dependents can be added to either stream and subclass and once granted this visa allows the visa holder to travel and remain in Australia indefinitely (deleted words) .

Direct Entry Stream

  • The employer nominates the visa applicant for residency and has to declare that the position is available for the next 2 years.
  • To be eligible for direct entry, the applicant needs to have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in the occupation at the skill level and get a positive skills assessment from the relevant assessing body.
  • You can be currently working in the role for the employer who wishes to nominate you or you can have never worked in the role.

The Transitional Stream

  • Those who have worked for their employer for 3 years (2 years if grandfathering arrangements apply because the applicant holds a 457 visa).
  • The employer also needs to declare the position is available for the next two years similar to the direct entry stream, but the applicant is not required to gain a positive skills assessment.

OK so there you have our guide to what permanent residency Australia options are available. We know it’s totally confusing so we hope this has helped you in some way.

Visas get refused a lot in Australia and we ALWAYS recommend you going through AUREC who will be able to give you the best advice and chance of being able to move to Australia permanently.

If you have any questions regarding how you can stay in Australia permanently, please contact AUREC Migration & Mobility here who will be able to answer your question free of charge.

How To Work Out What Australian Visas To Apply For When Moving To Australia


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Co-Founder and Editor
  1. I want to go to australia, but im only 17yo now, can i go there to find a job??. Just me, i dont have a family. Can i find a good job and stay there? It is hard or not for me to love there?? I hope you can give me a details about there, thank you

    1. Hi there, you need to be 18 or over to get a visa to move to Australia. Check the 416 or 462 working holiday visa to see if your country is accepted, then apply when your 18 🙂

  2. Hie Iam Marshet from Zimbabwe, currently working as a banker in Zimbabwe and I’m looking forward to migrate and work in Australia, kindly advise the process and the possibilities of migrating

  3. Hi, your blog has been a LIFESAVER. My husband it’s australia citizen and my two children have now been granted citizenship, we are planning on moving to Australia soon and the clarification on me going over initially on the tourist visa has been so reassuring to read!

    I do have a question, did you get normal travel insurance to cover you for the first 3 months without the Medicare cover (before your bridging visa came into effect)?

  4. I found this really useful, thanks. I’m 35 (with two children under 7) but my husband is 41 and I’m planning on applying for a permanent residency visa ASAP. I have previously held one from 1999-2009 as I lived there with my parents before moving back to the UK. I’m hoping that my prior residency may give me more of a chance but I’m betting my husband’s age may go against us. Any hints or tips to gain extra points would be very helpful. Thanks.

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