Doctors & Nurses Visas

There are several visa options available for doctors and nurses wishing to migrate to or remain in Australia. 

Visa options for Medical Practitioners (Doctors)

You can apply for a temporary or permanent visa if you have the necessary qualifications and registration to practice medicine in Australia. To qualify for a visa you must be registered with a relevant Medical Board in Australia. We can assist with the detailed requirements.

Temporary Visas

Doctors who have obtained Australian registration to practice medicine may be able to apply for:

  • a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) to work in Australia for a hospital or medical practice; or
  • a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400) to undertake a period of highly specialised work for up to three years.

For information on applying for a subclass 457 or 400 visa, please refer to our section on Employer Sponsored Visas.

Permanent Visas

Doctors who have obtained Australian registration may be able to apply for a permanent visa, including employer nominated visas, or obtain a visa through general skilled migration independently.

Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189)

Applicants under this Subclass are not sponsored by any entity. They may be invited to apply for the visa after lodging an Expression of Interest (EOI) with the Department. 

Applicants must meet several criteria before they are invited by the Department to apply for a permanent visa. This visa provides permanent residency to applicants who:

  • have been assessed by a relevant assessing authority as having skills suitable for their nominated skilled occupation;
  • nominate an occupation listed on the appropriate Skilled Occupation List;
  • meet the minimum points requirement in their skilled points test; and
  • meet requirements relating to their age, health, English skills and character.

Issues may arise for foreign-trained doctors seeking to have their qualifications recognised in Australia. Contact us to find out how to obtain skills assessment and registration and about other criteria that apply.

Employer Nomination Scheme (“ENS”) (Subclass 186) visa

This is a permanent residence visa for applicants seeking to move to Australia permanently and who have been offered a permanent role in an occupation prescribed in the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List. There are two streams for this visa:

  • the Transition Stream, for applicants who have been employed in Australia with the same employer and in the same occupation for at least two years; and
  • the Direct Stream, for applicants who are in Australia or outside of Australia who have not been employed by the sponsoring employer for two years but who meet the relevant criteria for this stream.

To be able to apply for an Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) Visa through the direct stream, applicants must:

  • subject to exceptions, be under 50 years of age and meet English language requirements
  • have obtained a positive skills assessment by the relevant skills assessing authority.
  • possess the necessary skills, qualifications and experience to be suitable for the position nominated.
Other criteria apply. Contact us for assistance. 

Visa options for Nurses

Both temporary and permanent visa options exist for nurses who wish to migrate to or remain in Australia. 

Temporary Visa Options

Temporary visa options for nurses generally involve employer sponsorship. Please refer to our section on Employer Sponsored Visas

For nurses who are under 30 years and able to obtain the Australian registration requirements, the Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) and the Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) may also be an option if the applicant holds a passport of an eligible country. Please see our section on Working Holiday Visas.         

For nurses who do not hold qualifications that permit them to work as a nurse in Australia, there may be ways for them to improve their skills. This may include applying for the following visas provided that the applicants are able to meet certain criteria for each visa:

  • the Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) and Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) Visas - allow up to four months of study in Australia, which may enable you to obtain the necessary registration to obtain employment in Australia.
  • the Higher Education Sector visa (subclass 573) and Vocational Education and Training Sector visa (subclass 572) visas may enable you to either study and/or obtain your Australian registrations and qualifications.
Both these visas carry specific requirements. Please contact us for assistance. 

Permanent Visa Options

Eligible nurses with a skills assessment from the Australia Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council may be able to apply for one of the permanent visas under the Skilled Migration Program. This includes independent and employer sponsored options. See our sections on Employer Sponsored Visas and our Skilled Visa page for more information. 

Working in a regional area

Applicants interested in employment in a regional area can apply for a visa to Australia much faster and may not have to meet some criteria required by other visas. However, they must comply with the obligation stated on their visa for the period of their stay.  

‘Regional areas’ are outside the major metropolitan centres of Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Wollongong, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (“RSMS”) (Subclass 187) visa

The RSMS pathway is a permanent residence visa. It is available only if the employee has been or will be working in a regional area of Australia, and where the application is supported by the relevant regional authority. The RSMS visa has three streams:

  • the ‘Temporary Residence Transition’ stream, for Subclass 457 visa holders who have worked for their employer for at least the last 2 years, and whose employer wishes to offer them a permanent position in the same occupation
  • the ‘Direct Entry’ stream, for those applying for an RSMS visa from outside Australia (or who, despite applying from within Australia, are not eligible for the ‘Temporary Residence Transition’ stream); and
  • the ‘Agreement’ stream, for those sponsored by an employer through a labour agreement or regional migration agreement.

The government has removed some of the criteria that apply to Employer Nomination Scheme (“ENS”) (Subclass 186) visa for Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (“RSMS”) (Subclass 187) visa applicants to encourage the placement of skilled workers in regional areas. Some of the restrictive rules placed on ENS applicants that are not imposed on RSMS applicants include the following:

  • the sponsoring employer may not be required to satisfy the training requirements;
  • the nominated position needs to be only available for two years full time;
  • depending on the occupations and subject to exemptions, the nominated employee may not be required to demonstrate the same level of skills that is required for the ENS visa; and
  • the required English language skills for the employee are lower than the ENS program.

 The above exemptions may not necessarily be applicable to every application. Some applications need to meet further criteria depending on the occupation of the applicant, the applicant’s country of origin and the rules of the state or territory.

Please note that this page states the law as at 12 July 2014. Australian immigration law changes frequently. The law in relation to permanent and temporary visas may have been changed since we prepared this page. Contact us for information on your options based on your particular circumstances.

SkillSelect and Expressions of Interest – visa applications based on employment or business skills
Date: Aug 21, 2014

If you want to migrate to Australia based on your employment or business skills, SkillSelect is an on-line system that assists with the process.

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