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Which Visas can I work on in Australia?

Any visa will have certain conditions that you will be required to follow otherwise your visa maybe cancelled or future visas may be refused. In this blog we will have a look at various visas and what the general working conditions are for those visas. If you are in doubt of your rights or your obligations, contact our office to clarify. Better safe than sorry.

Different visas

Visitor visas

Visitor visas (Subclass 600) or an ETA e-visitor visa (if you are from certain countries) usually do not allow for any work. This includes visiting on a tourist stream, to visit family, or even as a business visitor. A business visitor visa is only for those who are coming for a short business trip for example to make a general business or employment enquiry, for negotiations or to participate in a conference. This visa will not allow you to work in Australia. If you wish to work, please consider one of the working visas discussed below.

Working Holiday visas

A Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) or a Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 461) allow 18-31 year olds from participating countries to come to Australia to work and have a holiday. However, even though this visa will allow you to work, you will have a restriction to work for each employer for a maximum of 6 months only then you will have to change employers.

Student visas

If you come to Australia on a student visa (Subclass 500), you may have limited working conditions. Generally you and your family members on your student visas will be able to work for only 40 hours per fortnight when your semester starts. Outside of terms and during course breaks, you and any secondary applicant will have unlimited restrictions on the hours of work. If you are completing a Masters’ degree by research or a doctoral degree (PhD), you and your family members won’t have work restrictions.

There will be no conditions on who you work for, what work you do and how much you get paid. Make sure you get paid according to the law and that you know your rights when working in Australia. You can visit the Fair Ombudsman website for more details.

If you come as a student guardian on a Subclass 590, i.e. to look after a minor student, you will not be able to work in Australia.

Temporary Graduate Visa

If you studies a Bachelor course or higher in Australia and you meet certain criteria, you may apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) under either the graduate or post-graduate stream. Under a Subclass 485, you will have no work restrictions.

Family Stream visas

Most visas under a family stream have no work restrictions. For example, if you hold a Partner visa (Subclass 820/801 or 309/100) you will not have work restrictions. Also Aged and Contributory Parent visas (Subclass 804, 143, 864, 884) will give you full permission to work.

Other family streams such as carer visa may have restrictions. Please contact our office to check the conditions on your visa.

Work visas

If you wish to travel to Australia for the purpose of working, you can apply for a work visa. However, this may also have conditions on your working ability in Australia.

Temporary Work Visas

If you apply or you are the holder of a Subclass 457 work visa, you will have strict conditions that you will have to meet. The condition on your visa will restrict you to work full time only for your sponsor in your nominated occupation only earning your nominated salary. You cannot become unemployed, leave your position to do work or an activity for someone else, or work for someone else in a second job). If you stop working for your employer for any reason, they will need to let the Department know and you will have to find another sponsor within 60 days. You should not work for anybody or in a different occupation, even with the same employer, without an approved nomination first.

Similar Conditions may apply for other temporary work visas. If you want to work for an Australian employer full time in a skilled occupation or in the sports, research, religious or entertainment industry, contact our office to discuss your eligibilities and your rights and obligations under this visa.

Employer Sponsored Visas

Under employed sponsorship permanent visas (Subclass 186 and Subclass 187), you generally won’t have a certain condition on your visa that will restrict you to work for your sponsoring employer only. Nonetheless, given that these visas require an Australian employer to sponsor you, you will be promising before apply for the visa to work for them for at least two years. If for any reason things do not work out between you and the sponsor, you may be able to leave your employer with no immediate repercussions on your visa status. However, if the Department of Immigration establishes that wrong information was provided to obtain the visa, your visa may be cancelled.

General Skilled Migration

Even though you apply to Australia to come as a skilled migrant in a certain occupation, once you have a Skilled Independent visa Subclass 189, a Skilled Nominated visa Subclass 190 or a Skilled Regional Sponsored Subclass 489 under the general skilled migration program, you will generally have full work rights with no restrictions on who you work for or in what occupation. You may be restricted in the location where you work, for example a certain state or territory or a regional area.

Business Skill Migration

If you migrate to Australia as a business owner or investor, you may have restrictions on how to run a business, what is the minimum turnover amount you can generate and the minimum amount you can invest. As a business owner for some of these visas, you may or may not have the liberty to work outside of your business. If you are a business owner, please contact our office to discuss your options in details.

Useful tips

  • Always check your visa to know your working conditions.
  • Australian visas are more complex than what you may think. We recommend you seek legal advice before applying for a visa application. Please contact us for more information.
  • If you are holding a bridging visa, it will generally have the same conditions as per your previous substantive visas. Some bridging visas will not have permission to work however, this can be reversed based on financial hardship or an approved nomination for a work visa.

About the authors

This article was written by Marial Daniel, a solicitor and a registered migration agent (MARN: 1575322) of Teleo Immigration Specialists. Teleo has successfully represented thousands of applicants over the past 10 years, including complex matters, visa cancellations and review applications. The director of Teleo Immigration Specialists, Dr Etienne Hugo (MARN: 0004435) has over 17 years of Australian immigration experience and is one of only 35 accredited specialists immigration lawyers in New South Wales. Etienne is admitted as a lawyer in NSW and also the High Court of Australia. He was awarded both his BLC and LLB degrees with distinction and subsequently completed a LLD (Doctor of Law degree) from the University of Pretoria. He obtained his Immigration Law certification from UTS with distinction. Dr Hugo is a Fellow of the Migration Institute of Australia and regularly presents papers on Immigration Law. He has also taught at ANU in the graduate diploma for Immigration since 2006. If you wish to seek advice or apply for an Australian visa, please contact us on

DISCLAIMER: Immigration law is complex and is subject to constant regulatory and policy change by the Department of Immigration.  The information provided here may therefore be out-dated and no longer accurate.  The information provided above is a general guide only – it is not tailored for your specific circumstances or immigration purposes and you must under no circumstances rely on this information for immigration planning or the lodgement of an application with the Australian government or related bodies.  In order to ensure your eligibility is accurately assessed and to allow for tactical decision making that would best suit your desired immigration outcome, it is essential that you consult with a capable immigration advisor registered with the relevant Law Society and/or OMARA.  We direct new client enquiries to schedule an initial consultation with our office – email: During an initial consultation we have the opportunity to obtain a complete set of facts that will allow us to explore all the available options.  Another reason we engage clients within the context of an initial consultation is to protect our firm from potential professional liability which may flow from providing a brief, unconsidered opinion.  As a paying client you/ us have the benefit of professional indemnity insurance. Liability limited by a scheme approved under the Professional Standards Legislation.

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