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How to get a work permit in Sydney

Working in Sydney, Australia

Having made the decision to emigrate to Sydney you’re now confronted with a vast array of further choices and decisions to make. Not least among them is how to arrange your immigration into New South Wales to optimise your chances of being able to work legally in your desired profession.

Australian visas and work permits are granted by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship who provide a large number of different visa types according to an immigrants skills, political status and family ties.

The surest way to attain legal residency and working status when you move to Australia is to obtain a visa which is sponsored by an employer or the state or territory to which you would like to move.

Employer sponsored visas

Companies in New South Wales, once they have been approved as sponsors, can bring foreign skilled worked into the country to carry out jobs for which there are no suitable Australian candidates.

This can be done on a permanent or temporary basis.

Permanent skilled worker visa

Permanent skilled worker visas (subclass 186 or 187) allow the visa holder to bring their families with them, access social security schemes and the Medicare program and can lead to citizenship after four years.

Temporary working visa

Temporary skilled worker visas (subclass 457) allow the visa holder to live and work in Australia, for the sponsoring business only, for four years. Visa holders’ families are also entitled to live and work in Australia and can travel in and out of the country as often as they like. If, after at least two years, the employer wants to make the employment permanent the visa can be upgraded to a permanent residency visa.

Working in Sydney via SkillSelect

It is also possible to obtain a visa to live and work in Australia by applying to the SkillSelect scheme. Each state, including New South Wales, has set criteria for who they will accept as a skilled worker migrant in order to best meet the state’s economic and developmental demands.

When you apply via SkillSelect your application will be assessed on a points based scoring system which apportions points for your qualifications, work experience, English language ability, being sponsored by a current permanent resident etc.

Applying for SkillSelect

The first step in applying is submitting an expression of interest (EOI) to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

If your nominated profession, qualifications and experience meet the criteria for New South Wales then you will be invited to submit a full application.

You may of course have your application sponsored by a different state or territory, or more than one. You will have the opportunity to choose which state(s) you would like to live or work in. On such a visa you’ll have to live and work in the sponsoring state for at least two years and keep the state informed of your address.

New South Wales occupation shortage list

If your particular skills are in demand by NSW in general, you might even be invited to apply for a skilled nomination migration visa (subclass 190) which allows you to live and work anywhere in the state. These are priority skilled occupations and should be looked at first to see if your career experience matches up with a work opportunity in Sydney.

You may also apply for a skilled regional nominated migration visa (subclass 489) which is valid for four years and restricts you to living and working in only one specific region within NSW.

Applying from Inside Australia

You can apply for some visas from inside Australia, such as a permanent or temporary skilled worker visa, but only if your current visa does not have a ‘no further stay’ condition. Also, you can only stay in the country for as long as that visa is valid.

Since visa applications normally take several months you may find that you have to return home while you await a decision.

For more information on the different types of working visas that you could be eligible for, take a look at our guide to work permits in Australia.