Working in Australia: which visa is right for you?

Which work visa is right for me?

If you want to work in Australia, you will need to find a visa that is right for your needs. Each visa has different work requirements and limitations.

Which visa is the right one for you?

Subclass 500 Student visa

As the main purpose of this visa is for students to study in Australia, you are only permitted to work 40 hours per fortnight while your course is in session and only when your course has started. You have unlimited work hours when your course is not in session.

If you are doing a masters degree by research or a doctorate course which has begun, your work hours are unrestricted.

Working Holiday visas

If your main purpose is to go on holiday and earn some money along the way, the subclass 417 or 462 visas offered under the Working Holiday visa program is an option. Both visas are centered on work in regional Australia.

Type of Working Holiday visa

Subclass 417 Working Holiday visa

Subclass 462 Work and Holiday visa

Who can apply?

Passport holders of Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Passport holders of Argentina, Austria, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Czech Republic, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, USA,

What age do you need to be?

18 to 30 years old

*Applicants from Ireland or Canada are eligible for this visa up to 35 years old

18 to 30 years old

Work requirements to qualify for a second visa

You must have worked for 3 months (or 88 days) at a specific regional postcode in Australia.

You must have undertaken ‘specified work’ which can be in the agriculture, mining and construction industries. Examples include:

  • picking fruits on an orchard
  • feeding and herding cattle on a farm
  • horse breeding and stud farming
  • landscaping the grounds of a construction/house site
  • painting the interior/exterior of new buildings
  • conservation and environmental reforestation work
  • zoo work involving plant or animal cultivation
  • erecting fences on a construction site and
  • scaffolding.


You must have undertaken ‘specified work’ in the agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries. Examples include:

  • Agriculture: fishing and pearling, tree farming and felling, and plant and animal cultivation
  • Tourism: tour guides, travel consultants,  outdoor adventure or activity instructors, tourist transport manager,  gallery or museum managers, curators or guides and other occupations which provide a service to tourists.
  • Hospitality: cafe or restaurant managers, baristas, bed and breakfast operators, conference and event organisers and other occupations in hotels or other accommodation facilities, cafes,  restaurants, bars and casinos. 

Work limitation

You can only work with 1 employer for a maximum of 6 months. You need the Department of Home Affairs’ permission to work for the same employer for more than 6 months.

From 1 July 2019, visa holders on their second subclass 417 and 462 visas may be eligible for a third visa if they do 6 months of specified work in regional areas. This work must be carried out on or after 1 July 2019.

Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate Visa

This visa is for graduates in Australia who wish to gain work experience after finishing their studies. You must be under 50 years old and hold or have held an eligible student visa in the 6 months before the day the application is made.

There is no work restrictions associated with this visa.

Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visa

This is an employer sponsored temporary visa that lets you work full-time in Australia for an approved sponsor in an approved occupation. This visa is valid for up to 2 or 4 years depending on which list your nominated occupation falls under.

You must comply with the visa condition, among others, that requires you to:

  • Only work for your approved employer in your approved nominated occupation. This means you cannot work for yourself or any other employer unless your occupation is exempted*.
  • Hold mandatory registration, licence or registration for you to work in your nominated occupation.

*Exempted occupations include medical practitioner related occupations, chief executive or managing directors, corporate general managers.

Permanent resident (PR) visas

You have full work rights as a PR. There are different categories of PR visas for skilled workers depending on whether your chosen occupation is on the skilled occupations list. 

General Skilled Migration visas: Subclass 189 Skilled independent visa/Subclass 189 State nominated visa/Subclass 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa

The 189 visa does not require sponsorship and allows you to live and work anywhere in Australia.

The 190 visa is a state nominated visa which imposes an obligation that you stay in the State or Territory that nominated you for the first 2 years after visa grant.

The 489 visa is a 4 year provisional visa allowing you to live and work in a specified area in Australia depending on whether you are sponsored by a relative or nominated by a State or Territory. You must live for at least 2 years and worked for at least 12 months in a designated area if you are sponsored by relatives or live for at least 2 years and worked for at least 12 months in a regional or low-population growth metropolitan area if sponsored by a State or Territory to be able to qualify for permanent residency.

Employer sponsored visas: Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme visa/ Subclass 187 Regional Sponsor Migration Scheme visa

Unlike the General Skilled Migration visas, the 186 and 187 visas are employer sponsored visas.

The 186 visa requires a person to work with the nominated employer for 2 years after the visa is granted.

The 187 visa also requires you to work for your nominated employer in regional Australia for at least 2 years. If you do not comply with this requirement, you risk getting your visa cancelled.

Your rights as an employee

As an employee in Australia, you are covered by Australian employment law. You can find out more information about your workplace rights and entitlements through the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Note: The above is for general information purposes only and should not be treated as a definitive statement of the law. You should seek personalised immigration advice before acting.