Our travel blog to Australia for informed travel.
Work in Australia
Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents of Australia can work in Australia without any further permits, but others will require a work visa. It is illegal for foreigners to work in Australia on a tourist visa. Foreigners in Australia on a student visa are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week during term time, and full-time during the school holidays. Working illegally in Australia runs a very real risk of arrest, imprisonment, deportation and being permanently banned from re-entering Australia. All visitors who do not hold Australian permanent residency or citizenship (including New Zealand citizens who aren't also Australian permanent residents or citizens) are not allowed to access Australian social security arrangements for the unemployed, and will have limited, or more usually, no access to the Australian government's health care payment arrangements.
Payment and taxes
Most Australian employers pay via direct deposit to Australian bank accounts and therefore you should open a bank account as soon as possible. Some banks allow you to open account from abroad, for example Commonwealth Bank and HSBC.
You should also apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) as soon as possible. You can apply on-line for free at the Australian Tax Office website, though you can generally get it quicker if you just go to one of their offices. You can start working without one, but you are advised to get one as soon as possible as your employer would have to withhold 45% of your salary as tax should you not provide one. Register your TFN number with your bank as soon as possible, otherwise any interest you accrue will be taxed at the highest rate. The Australian financial year runs from 1st July to 30th June, and tax returns for each financial year are due on 30th October, four months after the accounting period ends. Check with Australian tax agents about Australian tax liability and filing an Australian tax return.
Australian employers will make compulsory payments out of your earnings to an Australian superannuation (retirement savings) fund on your behalf. Visitors on temporary working visas who are not citizens of Australia or New Zealand should claim this money when they leave Australia. This payment is known as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) and you can apply online. New Zealand citizens can transfer their superannuation money to their New Zealand KiwiSaver account; contact your provider to arrange this.
Working holidaymaker scheme
Australia has a working holidaymaker program for citizens of certain countries between 18 and 30 years of age. It allows you to stay in Australia for 12 months from the time you first enter. You may work during that time, but only for 6 months at any one employer. The idea is for you to take a holiday subsidised by casual or short-term jobs. If you're interested in a working holiday, some useful skills and experience might be: office skills to be used for temp work; or hospitality skills to be used for bar or restaurant work. An alternative is seasonal work like fruit-picking, although much seasonal work will require that you work outside the major cities. Working for 3 months in seasonal work will allow you to apply for a second 12 month visa.
You can apply online for a working holiday visa, but you must not be in Australia at the time. It takes just a few hours to process usually and it costs about $360 (as of April 2013). On arriving in Australia ask for the working holiday visa to be "evidenced", so you can show your future employer.
Work visas in Australia change frequently and sometimes with out any notice, so always check with your local Australian High Commission, Consulate or Embassy and the Immigration Department's website.
The most straightforward way to get a work visa (subclass 457, 186 & 187) is to find an Australian employer who will sponsor you. Your employer will need to demonstrate that they cannot hire anyone with your skills in Australia. Locally advertised jobs are usually explicit in requiring a valid work visa before your application can be considered. Getting the visa might take a couple of months from the beginning of the application process and you will need a medical examination by a doctor approved by the immigration officials before it can be granted (among other things, you will need a chest x-ray to show that you do not have tuberculosis). An employer with a good background and efficient immigration lawyers could get your 457 approved within a week. Note that your work visa will only be valid for the employer who sponsored you and you will have to leave within 30 days of your employment ending.
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187) is the easiest employer nominated visa to acquire, although you will have to live and work in a designated 'regional' area. These areas are mostly rural and far removed from the larger cities, although Adelaide does count in this scheme.
Skilled independent visas (subclass 189, 190, 489) may be pursued if you have a valuable specialised skill and don't want to be tied to a specific employer.
There is also a temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) which allows graduates of Australian universities to stay on and work in Australia, and is usually valid anywhere from 18 months to 4 years depending on your level of education, and your major field of study. Your major must be from a list of skilled occupations for which there is a labour shortage in Australia. This list is updated every year, and whether or not you qualify for this visa is dependent on the list at the time of your graduation, not at the time you begin your studies.
You can apply to immigrate as a skilled person or business person, but this process will take longer than receiving a work visa. You can also apply for permanent residency as the holder of a work or study visa, but your application will not be automatically accepted. If you have a lot of money, there are several investor's visas available which allow you to live in Australia with a view of obtaining permanent residency. After four years of legal residency which must include one year as a permanent resident, you are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.
There are several volunteer opportunities in Australia. Many worldwide organisations offer extended travel for those wanting to volunteer their time to work with locals on projects such as habitat restoration, wildlife sanctuary maintenance & development, scientific research, & education programs such as Australian Volunteers, World Wildlife Fund, International Student Volunteers Australia, Youth Challenge Australia, Gap 360 and Xtreme Gap Year.
(Thanks to WikiVoyage.org)