Australia’s breath-taking landscapes, quality of life, thriving economy and diverse population make it a popular place to live in or visit. Australia offers so many visa types that finding the right one for your circumstances can be overwhelming. If you’re unsure of which route to take, this article is for you. Below we unpack the different Australian visa routes in detail.

Australia made out of graphic elements

Australian visa categories we cover in this article:

Australian family visas

The Australian Partner visa

This is one of the most popular routes for people who wish to move to Down Under. You may qualify for this visa if you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. Your visa class will depend on where the application is made and whether you are granted temporary or permanent residence.

If you secure a temporary Partner visa, you will hold it for two years. Your relationship will be evaluated throughout this time to confirm that you intend to stay with your partner. If your relationship satisfies the requirements, you will then be granted a permanent Partner visa. These applications can take over a year to process.

If you are granted a permanent Partner visa, it will be valid for five years after which you will be able to apply for citizenship if you satisfy the residency requirements.

The general residence requirement is based on the amount of time you've lived in Australia. You will need to meet all of the following requirements:

  • You have lived in Australia on a valid Australian visa for four years immediately before applying
  • You have been a permanent resident for the 12 months immediately before you apply
  • You haven't been absent from Australia for more than one year in total, during the four-year period, including no more than 90 days in the year before applying

To become an Australian citizen, you need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • You are a permanent resident at both the time of application and decision
  • You meet the general residence requirement
  • You are of good character
  • You have basic knowledge of English(applicants under 60 years of age)
  • You have adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship (applicants under 60 years of age)
  • You intend to reside or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia

The Australian Partner visa consists of the following routes:

1. Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309 visa) and Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100 visa)

If you are applying for these visa subclasses, you will need to submit your application outside of Australia. You can enter the country while your application is in process, however, you will need to leave Australia in order to have your visa granted.

2. Partner visa (subclasses 820 visa and 801 visa)

These visa subclasses cover both the temporary and permanent partner visas. You will be able to apply while in Australia.

You must hold a valid Australian visa (excluding a Bridging, Criminal Justice or Enforcement visa) or be entitled to a waiver to be considered for subclasses 820 and 801. You may not possess a visa with condition 8503 as this stops you from making additional applications in Australia. 

3. Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300 visa)

The Prospective Marriage visa is often called the "fiancé visa" as it exists for unmarried people who can't show that they've shared a space for a full year. It allows unmarried partners of Australian citizens to enter Australia to get married.

This visa has unlimited work rights. The person in possession of this visa must marry their partner and apply for the Australian Partner visa before the expiration date.

This is a temporary visa and is valid for nine months. You will have to apply for and be granted the visa outside Australia.

4. New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) visa (subclass 461 visa)

If you are a family member of a New Zealand citizen who is living and working in Australia, you may qualify for this visa.

The New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa is valid for five years. You will be allowed to live, work and study in Australia, as well as travel to and from Australia.

This is a provisional visa that won't grant you permanent residency in Australia but can be extended from within the country.

The Australian Parent visa

If you are a parent of an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible for this visa. Your child must've lived in the country for a minimum of two years to qualify as a sponsor.

1. Contributory Parent visa (subclass 143 visa)

If you wish to apply for this visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You are the parent of a child (natural, adopted or stepchild) who is a settled Australian citizen, settled permanent resident or settled eligible New Zealand citizen
  • At least half of your children are permanently living in Australia
  • More of your children permanently live in Australia than any other country

If your application is successful, you, your spouse and dependent family members will be granted the following rights to:

  • Live as permanent residents in Australia indefinitely
  • Work and study in Australia
  • Sponsor other applicants for permanent residency
  • Apply for citizenship
  • Get funded healthcare through Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Travel to and from Australia for five years from the date your visa is approved

You will need an assuror of support which, in most cases, will be your child. This person must show that they can support you, your spouse and dependents financially to ensure you won't depend government funding for at least 10 years.

Your assuror will also need to refund any retrievable social security payments made to you, your spouse or dependants in the first 10 years of living in the country.

Lastly, your assurer will need to pay a fee of AUD 10,000 for you, and a further AU $4,000 for each additional adult family member. This amount will likely be reimbursed after ten years.

Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 173 visa)

This visa is valid for two years and may not be extended. You will need to apply for a Contributory Parent visa (subclass 143 visa) within this two-year period. This visa will allow you, your spouse and dependent family members to:
  • Live in Australia as temporary residents for two years
  • Work and study in Australia
  • Gain admission to Medicare, Australia's medical expenses and hospital care assistance scheme

You will need a sponsor to provide written proof that they'll support you, your spouse and dependants in relation to finances and accommodation.

Australian employer sponsored visas

Temporary Skilled Shortage visa (subclass 482 visa)

The Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa replaced the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) in 2018. This visa contains both short- and medium-term streams. The list your occupation falls on will determine which stream you may apply for.

If your occupation is on the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL), you may qualify for a visa on the short-term stream which can be valid for two years. You may extend this visa for a further two years.

If your profession is on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), you are eligible for a visa on the medium-term stream that may be in effect for up to four years. If your employer supports your permanent application, you may apply for permanent residency after three years.

Standard Business Sponsorship

Any business planning to employ workers from outside Australia must acquire a Standard Business Sponsorship (SBS) to sponsor foreign employees on TSS visa streams. These Australian companies will need to prove that they are legally conducting business in Australia.

Foreign organisations that wish grow their business or have contracts to fulfil in Australia may apply for an overseas business SBS. If their application is successful, they will be allowed to make use of the TSS visa on the basis that they are unable to source adequate employees from the Australian workforce.

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186 visa)


Nominated positions must meet certain requirements with regards to salary and skill level. Your future employer must pick a position that needs to be filled from a set list of skilled occupations. Immigration authorities will then assess whether the nominated position satisfies their conditions.

Your application will be evaluated based on various personal factors:

  • Age
  • English language ability
  • Health
  • Character
  • Market salary rates

The Subclass 186 visa is comprised of the following streams:

1. Temporary Residence Transition

This will apply to you if you have worked for your employer for a minimum of three years and are presently in Australia on a medium-term stream visa (or 457 visa). Your employer will have to sponsor your application for permanent residence.

2. Direct Entry

If you live outside Australia and have never, or only briefly, worked in Australia, this might be the best fit for you. You will have to complete a positive skills assessment to be considered for this visa.


This stream will be the route to take if you are sponsored by an employer via a labour or regional migration agreement.

Australian skilled visas

There are a range of visa options dedicated to skilled workers who wish to gain permanent residence in Australia. These visas are points-based and depend on various factors that differ according to the job you apply for, where you plan to live, and your personal skills and circumstances.

How the points-based system works

Applicants will be awarded points based on their qualification, age, English language skills and experience. The demand level of your occupation will determine which visa options are open to you – the higher the demand, the greater your visa options. Both the regional and national skills lists are often updated.

The following routes fall under the skilled visa umbrella:

1. Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189 visa)

This visa is among the most desirable as it is a permanent residence visa and allows the holder to live and work in any part Australia.

You will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You are below the age of 45
  • You score a minimum of 65 points on the immigration points test
  • Your occupation is on the MLTSSL

2. Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190 visa)

Each state government evaluates its own labour market and needs to compile lists of in-demand occupations. This permanent residence visa is only approved for applicants nominated by a state or territory government.

If your occupation is situated on one of these lists, you will have to meet the following requirements to be nominated:

  • You are below the age of 45
  • You score a minimum of 65 points on the immigration points test
  • Your occupation is on the STSOL or MLTSSL

Please note: State nomination contributes an extra five points to your score – this will help you in meeting the 65-point requirement.

3. Skilled Recognised Graduate visa (subclass 476 visa)

Directed at engineering graduates below the age of 31, this visa allows 18 months of skilled work experience in Australia.

You will need to have graduated with an engineering degree at an accredited university. In addition to this, you will need to have majored or specialised in one of the following:

  • Civil engineering
  • Structural engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Electrical and electronics engineering
  • Mechanical, production and plan engineering
  • Mining and material engineering

4. Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491 visa)

To apply for the Skilled Work Regional visa, you will need to either be sponsored by an eligible family member or be nominated by a state or territory government. This visa permits you to live and work in certain regional areas across Australia for five years. After three of these years, you'll be eligible to apply for a permanent residence visa.

You'll need to meet the following criteria to be considered:

  • You score a minimum of 65 points on the immigration points test
  • You are below the age of 45
  • Your occupation is on the authorised list

The designated regional areas are:

  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Western Australia
  • Australian Capital Territory
  • Victoria (except the Melbourne metropolitan)
  • Queensland (except the greater Brisbane area)
  • Northern Territory
  • New South Wales (except Sydney)

Australian Business Innovation visas

Business Innovation visa (subclass 188a visa)

This visa is available to applicants with a successful business or investment career who are below the age of 55 intending to start or buy into a business in Australia. It permits holders and their families to live, work and study in the country for four years and three months.

The application process for the Business Innovation visa is complex and requires precise navigation of the requirements. If you plan to apply for the Business Innovation visa, we recommend you contact a MARA-registered Australian immigration advisor.

To qualify, you'll need to satisfy the following prerequisites:

  • You are below the age of 55 (a territory or state can waiver this if your proposed business will be of exceptional economic value to it)
  • You score a minimum of 65 points on the immigration points test
  • You have had ownership of at least one successful business for two out of the four fiscal years immediately prior to applying, each producing a turnover of AUD 500,000 each of those years

Business Innovation visa (subclass 888 visa)

Once you've lived in Australia for two years on the Business Innovation visa (subclass 188a visa), you can apply to transition to the Business Innovation visa (subclass 888 visa). Successful applicants, along with their families, will be granted permanent residence.

If you plan to transition, your business will have to fulfil the necessary standpoints:

  • Business criteria (minimum of two must be met)
    • The applicant (and partner) have held a minimum of AUD 200,000 net main business assets for 12 months prior
    • The applicant's primary business has employed a minimum of two Australian workers for 12 months prior
    • The applicant (and partner) have held a minimum of AUD 600,000 net business and personal assets for 12 months prior
  • Business turnover
    • The applicant (and partner's) primary business produced turnover of at least AUD 300,000 in the 12 months prior
  • Time spent in Australia
    • The applicant must've spent one of the two years prior to the application living in the country
  • Duration of ownership of primary business
    • The applicant must've maintained ownership of the primary business

We can help you choose the best route to gain permanent residency in Australia. We’ll ensure you get your application right the first time to give you the greatest chance of success. Fill out our contact form, send us an email at or call us on +61 (0) 386 514 500 to get in touch.

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