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Permission to Work in Australia

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 25 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Emigrate To Australia Australian

Australia is the most popular destination for British emigrants. Almost a quarter of us who leave Blighty to live abroad go there, no doubt attracted by the sunny weather, the many linguistic and cultural affinities and the fact that legions of Brits are already there, over 1 million in total, accounting for about 5-6% of the Australian population.

Work in Australia

Fortunately for those feeling a wanderlust, Australia is chronically short of skilled workers. The Australian government even hosts exhibitions abroad to drum up foreign interest in emigrating to the country. Of course, not all skills are in short supply, but if you have experience in IT, engineering, the medical profession or in a professional trade, you’re likely to be snapped up.

Australia operates a points system for those who want to work in the country long-term. Points are awarded for qualifications and professional work experience in a number of occupations. Skills which are most in demand are allocated more points than others. To have your skills and experience validated, though, you will usually have to approach an Australian professional body and apply for an assessment. Different associations are responsible for different classes of occupation and you will usually have to pay for the assessment. The validation process will often require you to produce letters of reference from your former employers.

If you don’t earn enough points for a work visa through your skills and experience alone, you can earn some more if you are sponsored by a relative who is already a legal permanent resident of Australia, or if you agree to live, work or study, as the case may be, in some of the less populated regions of Australia. You will need to check if the area you plan to live in falls within any of these designated areas but the major metropolitan areas such as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra are excluded. If you do end up working in Australia on one of the more limited visa types which require sponsorship from relatives or from regional or state governments, you will have the opportunity to convert your permit to the unlimited variety after a period of time.

You can include your partner or children in your application as secondary applicants. The whole application process typically takes between 6 and18 months in total. Young people are preferred to old, so most of the work-related visas require you to be under 45 years of age at the time of applying.

Health and Character Requirements for Emigration to Australia

Although the first European settlement in Australia was founded as an outlet for British criminals, they’ve pulled the ladder up behind them and now won’t let anyone with a substantial criminal record into the country. In practice, “substantial criminal record” is defined as having been sentenced to a prison term exceeding 12 months, or to a number of prison terms whose total length is greater than two years. To prove that you are of good character, you will be expected to produce penal clearance certificates for each country you have lived in for more than 12 months since the age of 16.

There is also a health requirement for entry into Australia for all but very short stays. In general, if you are intending to stay there long-term you will have to undergo a medical examination conducted by medical specialists nominated by the Australian government. Depending on your age, you may also have to get a chest X-ray done and undergo an HIV test. You will be responsible for any fees related to these medical assessments.

The health and good character requirements also apply to any partner or children you have included in your application.

Australian Citizenship

If you plan to live in Australia permanently, you may eventually want to take out Australian citizenship. Anyone living in the country lawfully for 4 years or more is eligible to apply for Australian citizenship. If you don’t want to cut your ties to Britain completely, you can opt for the dual citizenship option.


Australia will no doubt remain an attractive destination for British emigrants for a long time to come. Go and visit Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship website if you want to learn more about a possible new life in the sun.

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