How do you get a skilled visa after studying in Australia?

One of the most frequent questions students completing their studies in Australia ask is if work experience is really necessary when applying for a skilled visa.

The answer is: well, it depends on which visa category you’re applying for. But, having work experience under your belt is always, always a big plus.

However, there are some visas, like the employer-sponsored and nominated visas, that do have some minimum work experience requirements.

How important is work experience?

Even though certain visa categories may not strictly require work experience, it still is an important factor when it comes to assessing your eligibility.

This is especially true for the Skilled (Independent), Skilled (Nominated) and Skilled (Regional) visas, which are points based and require you to pass a points test.

Employment experience is a key component of this test, where you are awarded points for Australian and overseas skilled experience in your nominated occupation. In this way, employment experience raises your points score and can help you attain the pass mark, which increases your chances of receiving an invitation to apply for the visa.

Bear in mind that you may also need to meet specific work experience requirements if you apply for a State Sponsored skilled visa, depending on the State or Territory you apply to. Every jurisdiction has its own sponsorship approval criteria, so it is worth doing your research into the rules that apply to your specific situation.

A quick overview of work experience requirements

Before we proceed, let’s take a quick look at the skilled visa work experience requirements and the way points are allocated. We’ll also have a short discussion about how to gain work experience before you apply.

Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) Visa

The subclass 482 visa is an employer sponsored temporary visa that requires a minimum of 2 years skilled employment experience in your nominated occupation.

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (Subclass 186) Visa & Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (Subclass 187 Visa)

The subclass 186 and 187 visas are employer nominated permanent residence visas, each requiring 3 years of skilled employment experience in your nominated occupation.

These employer options would be best suited for graduates who already have some career experience in their chosen profession and are in Australia to upgrade their qualifications (for example, a mature student with several years of skilled employment history).
If you are a younger graduate at an earlier stage in your career, a points-based skilled visa is likely to be a better option for you.

Points-based Skilled Visas

If you’re interested in the points-based skilled visas, you will need to achieve a minimum score of 65 points in a points test.
There are three kinds of skilled visas:
Skilled (Independent) Subclass 189 Visa
Skilled (Nominated Visa) Subclass 190 Visa

Skilled (Regional) Subclass 489 Visa

To apply, you must first lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI), and if you receive an invitation to apply, you can then lodge a visa application (provided you meet all other visa lodgement and grant requirements, of course).

How does work experience help my visa application?

As we discussed, there is no requirement to have work experience to apply for the points-based skilled visas (except for the State Sponsored Visa, in certain cases), but it may boost your points score, as follows:
  • Australian skilled employment experience of 1-10 years will score 5-20 points
  • Overseas skilled employment experience of 3-10 years will score 5-15 points

Keep in mind that achieving the pass mark of 65 points does not guarantee that you will get an invitation. The invitations go to the highest scoring applicants first and are sent out to the others afterwards.

You should try to score as many points above the minimum as you can to get the best chance of receiving an invitation. Work experience can help you boost your points score, which is why it is such an important component of your points test.

How can I gain work experience?

You may want to think about applying for another visa (before you apply for the skilled visa), to gain work experience and increase your points that way. One possible option is the Graduate Visa, which would let you work in Australia for between 18 months to 4 years, depending on your situation.

When should I seek expert advice?

As always, everyone’s situation is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s always best to consult an expert before taking the leap and applying because there are just so many factors to consider (and so many things that can go wrong).

A visa application process is very complex and nuanced, and the rules keep changing all the time. Even the slightest misstep can mean huge costs in both time and money if your visa application gets delayed, or in a worst-case scenario, rejected.

Constantine Paxinos
Constantine Paxinos
Over an 18 year professional career, Constantine has consulted to some of the largest corporations in Australia, including Government enterprise in various advisory roles, including designing business processes to comply with legal obligations, legal analysis and advice and representation of clients at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
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