Moving to Australia means applying for a visa- for whichever reason and for whatever period of time. On first glance there does seem to be countless visa options out there, but the good news is that it’s very likely there’s one to suit you and your situation.

Immigration to Australia has been the country’s largest contributor to population growth ever since European settlers arrived in the late eighteenth century, especially those emigrating to Australia from the UK.

Details on the main Australian visas are outlined below, and you can download all the application forms you need from the Australian Government’s dedicated immigration website.

Not sure which visa fits your situation? Let us break some of those visas down for you.

Family Visas for Australia

Australia grants a large number of visas to individuals with family ties in Australia. Some family member visas include:

  • Partner Visas – these include the subclass 820 for new partners of Australian citizens which can lead to a permanent subclass 801 after two years. To apply you need to lodge an application with a Partner Processing Centre in the relevant state or territory.
  • Parent Visas – these are for individuals who are of Australian pension age and have children living in Australia. They include subclass 804, the quicker but more expensive subclass 864 and the temporary subclass 884 which lasts for two years. To apply you need to lodge an application with the Parent Visa Centre in Perth

New Zealand Family Relationship Visa

This visa (subclass 461) is intended for non-New Zealand citizens who belong to a New Zealander family, most commonly by marriage. Visa holders of this type can then work and study in Australia – on and off if desired – for up to five years. This visa can then be renewed or rolled over.

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Non- New Zealanders with a close family member on a NZ passport£325 GBPCan only be applied for offshore or after the expiry of another visa, not on arrival

Partner Migration

A visa enabling those married to or in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or resident, or engaged to marry one, to live in Australia with them. This is essentially a partner visa, where you could apply for different visas depending on your situation.

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
For those married or intending to marry, said marriage must be recognised by Australian law£6,885 GBP, though if you hold a dependent child visa (subclass 445) the fee can be dropped.You must be outside Australia when you apply and until the Partner visa (subclass 309) is awarded.

Child Migration

This visa enables children to migrate to Australia with their Australian permanent resident parent or parents. This visa also applies to adoptive children, stepchildren, and orphan relatives (the lower fee applies to the latter).

There are two types of this visa: one for children who currently live outside of Australia (subclass 101) and for children who currently live in Australia (subclass 802).

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Dependents of Australian permanent residents£1,450 GBP – £2,370 GBPSiblings now need to apply separately for their child migration visas, paying a separate fee
If any siblings have dependants of their own, these should be included on their application

Working Visas for Australia

Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa

This type of visa is for people wanting to enter Australia in order to carry out highly specialised but not necessarily ongoing work. There are currently 11 different types of temporary work visas, with the most common on being the Temporary work subclass 457; the rest fall into four subcategories with different permissions and fees: short stay, long stay, training and research, and international relations.

Long stay visas are for exchange workers, sports workers, religious workers, and domestic workers for senior foreign executives. With this visa you can stay in Australia for the duration of your position, up to four years maximum. You must continue to do the work specified in your application, and you can bring dependents with you.

This can lead to a permanent visa after two years if the employer wants to make the position permanent, leading to a subclass 186 or subclass 187 visa.

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Passport holders from over 30 countries that include all European Union nationals.£175 GBP for short stays to £3,800 GBP for those in sport or the entertainment industryLong stay candidates and those travelling for research and training need to be sponsored and nominated by an Australian organisation prior to applying

Business Innovation Visas

Other working visas which can lead to permanent resident status are the Business Innovation and Investment Visas subclass 188 and SkillSelect program. As an applicant you first have to submit an Expression of Interest in moving to Australia, outlining your qualifications, skills, experience and English language proficiency.

All interested parties are then available for employers, states and territories to sponsor if they meet their requirements. Any individual who finds a sponsor, or who fulfills the general requirements for skilled immigration to Australia, will be invited to apply for the relevant visa.

Individuals with certain professions, like doctors, nurses and teachers, are much more in demand by the Australian government and states/territories and are more likely to be invited to apply.

Resident Return Visa

There are two sorts of Resident Return Visa (subclasses 155 and 157): one which lets Australian permanent residents (non-citizens) to leave and re-enter Australia at will for five years, and a more restricted version which only allows the holder to leave and re-enter Australia for a period of three months. You should apply to the immigration office in your state/territory before you leave Australia.

The subclass 151 visa is for people who spent 9 of their first 18 years in Australia or who served in the Australian armed forces for at least three months before 1981. It grants permanent resident status and can be applied for while inside or outside Australia via post at the Perth Office.

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Australian citizens or residents planning to emigrate and return home within five yearssubclasses 155 and 157: £360 GBPThose who haven’t spent more than 2 years out of the previous 5 in Australia may need to provide additional documentation to their application

Visitor and Temporary Visas for Australia

Visitor Visa

The Visitor Visa, or eVisitor (subclass 651), is for those planning to travel to Australia on holiday, to visit relatives, or for other short-term purposes like gap year travel. This visa is free for those with passports from the European Union, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or Vatican City, and it can be applied for online.

Travellers to Australia on this visa must not work during their stay, but can take part in volunteer programs to some extent, and can stay in Oz for up to three months in total.

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Passport holders from over 30 countries, including all European Union nationalsFREE- No working or studying
- Must be free from tuberculosis
- No criminal convictions with sentences over 12 months

Business Visitor Visa

Business visitors also apply for a free eVisitor visa (subclass 651), which permits entry for up to three months, for those travelling to Australia for business or training purposes: e.g. for a conference, a seminar, or a series of meetings or negotiations. Acting, musical performances and commercial film making are not classed as business in this case, and a Temporary Work Visa should be sought if you wish to visit Australia for these reasons.

Alternatively, if you aren’t eligible for the business visitor visa types above, you can travel to Australia on a slightly different type called a subclass 600 or a subclass 601, depending on which best suits your situation .

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Passport holders from over 30 countries that include all European Union nationals- Subclass 651: FREE
- Subclass 601: £20 GBP
- Subclass 600: £135 GBP-£340 GBP
- No working or studying, only visiting for business purposes
- Must be free from tuberculosis
- No criminal convictions with sentences over 12 months

Working Holiday Visa

These visas (subclasses 417 and 462) are for young people who want spend up to a year traveling in Australia, supplementing their travels with work and perhaps studying a little as well. You cannot legally work on your holiday to Australia without a visa like this.

With a Working Holiday visa you can leave and re-enter the country as many times as you like within the 12 month period, and undertake up to six months’ work with one employer as well as up to four months’ study.

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Passport holders from all participating nations:
- Argentina
- Bangladesh
- Belgium
- Canada
- Chile
- Cyprus
- Denmark
- Estonia
- Finland
- France
- Germany
- Hong Kong
- Indonesia
- Ireland
- Italy
- Japan
- Malaysia
- Malta
- Netherlands
- Norway
- Poland
- Portugal
- South Korea
- Spain
- Sweden
- Taiwan
- Thailand
- Turkey
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
FREE- Must be aged between 18 and 31 when applying
- Valid for 12 months from date of issue. A second visa can sometimes be applied for after 12 months
- Travel must be the primary reason for your visit, with work as a means to support the travel
- You don't have a dependent child with you at any time during your stay in Australia

Student Visa

For those moving to Australia for medium to long-term study, the student visa permits you to stay in Australia for the duration of your course. There are different visas depending on your course of education:

Who Can Apply?FeesRestrictions
Passport holders from over 190 countries. Each application is assessed individually, with countries of origin given different assessment levels depending on immigration risk and other factors.£550 GBP+Must be over 16 years of age when applying

Still not sure which Australian visa is best for your moving situation? Take a look at the Australian Government’s Visa Finder for the latest visa information.

Visa information was last updated on 18 August 2015.