With its laid-back lifestyle, warm climate, high quality of life and excellent job opportunities, it’s easy to understand why so many UK expats choose to call Australia home. In fact, as of June 2019, almost 1.2 million people born in the United Kingdom were living in Australia, making it the country’s largest migrant community and equivalent to 4.7% of the total population.

As a UK citizen, there are various options for moving to Australia temporarily or permanently. This article outlines how Australian visas work and what to consider if you’re thinking about emigrating to Australia.

What are the types of Australian visas?

If you’re planning a move to Australia, there are three main types of visas you can apply for to be able to live and work in the country:

Australian work visas

Work visas are designed to allow non-residents to work while living in the country. There are several types of working visas designed to suit different circumstances. Some visas require you to be sponsored by an employer, while others can be applied for even if you don’t have a job lined up before you arrive.

Some of the most common Australian work visas for UK citizens include:

  • Working Holiday visa (subclass 417): Lets UK citizens aged 18 to 30 years old live and work in Australia for up to 12 months. You don’t need to be skilled in any particular occupation or have confirmed employment before you arrive in Australia.
  • Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462): Lets UK citizens aged 18 to 30 years old live and work in Australia for up to three years. Unlike the 417 visa, the 462 visa has education eligibility requirements.
  • Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186): A permanent work visa designed for skilled workers who have employer sponsorship. To be eligible for this visa, you need to have relevant qualifications and work experience in a specific skilled occupation.
  • Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482): Entitles skilled UK workers to work in Australia for up to four years if sponsored by an Australian employer. You must have professional skills or work experience in a specified industry where there is a current skills shortage in Australia.
  • Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189): Lets UK citizens with in-demand skills live and work permanently anywhere in Australia. You don’t need to be sponsored by an employer to get a 189 visa, but you need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and be invited by the Australian government to apply for this visa. 

Case study: A career move from the UK to Australia

Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300)

The Prospective Marriage visa, often called the Fiancé Visa, is a way to move to Australia if you plan to marry either an Australian citizen, a permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen.

With this type of visa, you can ​​live and work in Australia on the condition that you marry your partner within nine months of the date of the visa grant.

Permanent residency visas

The main option for moving to Australia indefinitely is through a permanent residency visa. Although it can be challenging to get permanent residency in Australia, you may be eligible if you are:

  • The partner, child, parent or dependent relative of an Australian citizen, permanent resident of Australia or eligible New Zealand citizen
  • Being sponsored by an Australian employer and/or have relevant qualifications and work experience in a specific skilled occupation
  • An entrepreneur, investors or business owner looking to establish or develop a business in Australia

What are the eligibility requirements for Australian visas?

The eligibility requirements for Australian visas based on the type of visa you’re applying for. Some shorter-term visas, such as the Working Holiday Visa, have relatively minimal eligibility criteria while longer-term and permanent visas tend to have stricter requirements.

Some of the most common eligibility factors include:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Skills and work experience
  • Your occupation
  • Whether you are related to an Australian citizen, permanent resident of Australia or eligible New Zealand citizen

How much does it cost to get an Australian visa?

The cost to apply for an Australian visa ranges from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $7,000, depending on the type of visa you’re applying for. If you plan to bring family members with you, you’ll need to pay additional fees for their visas as well.

You can find the full list of Australian visa fees here.

How long does it take to get an Australian visa?

The wait time for visas in Australia varies based on the type of visa you’re applying for and the volume of applicants at the time you apply. 

The vast majority of shorter-term visas such as the Working Holiday Visa are processed within three months, while longer-term working and permanent residency visas can take up to two years to be processed.

You can find a list of current Australian visa processing times here.

For more guidance on Australian visas, visit the Department of Home Affairs website or see the UK government’s guide to living in Australia.


Are you a UK citizen applying for an Australian visa? Find out more about global opportunities with Michael Page.

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