Is COVID-19 The End of The Working Visa Australia?

Rumors are rife regarding the future of Australia’s working visas, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis. There has been plenty of speculation about the borders closing to immigrants and permanent work visas drying up. If true, many people would need to give up on their ambition to live and work in Australia. But don’t worry – the fears are completely unfounded! Allow us to explain…

How Has COVID-19 Affected Migration?

Like most countries, Australia has been forced to tighten border control in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. At the moment, there are far fewer flights into the country and even if you can make it, you must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

But even though the government is cutting back on tourism, they view migration as a key part of the country’s economic recovery after COVID-19. Australia has a long and healthy relationship with migrant workers. They have imported people from around the globe to strengthen the country for hundreds of years, often in times of difficulty. Over three million immigrants moved down under after the Second World War and COVID-19 is undoubtedly the biggest crisis since that time.

So, don’t despair – your chances of gaining a working visa Australia are still pretty good! The Australian Border Force are currently granting travel exemptions to certain types of immigrants, where it is clearly in the country’s national interest to do so. Examples include:

  • People invited by the Australian Government, or a state or territory government authority, in order to help with the COVID-19 response

  • People sponsored by their employer to work in Australia, in an occupation listed on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)

  • Those delivering services in sectors necessary for Australia’s economic recovery (where no Australian worker is available). These include fintech, manufacturing and film, media and television production

  • Those with skills needed to maintain the supply of essential goods and services. These include medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, aged care, agriculture and food production

  • Critical or specialist medical services, such as air ambulance, medical evacuations and the delivery of medical supplies

  • Critical skills in religious or theology related fields

The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

On September 2nd 2020, the government released an updated Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). The list contains 18 key occupations, primarily in the fields of medicine, construction and IT, which Australia needs to fuel its post-pandemic economic recovery. So, if you have the right experience and professional skills, then Australia’s borders remain very much open to you!

The PMSOL does not replace any other critical skilled occupation lists, but if you want to apply for permanent work visas in any of the occupations on the PMSOL, you can be fast-tracked. The Australian government continues to monitor the situation, so the PMSOL is a temporary list and is subject to change. With that in mind, be sure to stay on top of the latest news and don’t miss your chance in the event of any changes! Remember, you can always contact the experienced visa professionals at UIS Australia if you require any assistance.

The 18 occupations on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List are:

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director

  • Construction Project Manager

  • Mechanical Engineer

  • Resident Medical Officer

  • Psychiatrist

  • Registered Nurse (Aged Care)

  • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)

  • Midwife

  • Registered Nurse (Medical)

  • Registered Nurse (Mental Health)

  • General Practitioner

  • Registered Nurse (Perioperative)

  • Registered Nurses elsewhere classifiable

  • Medical Practitioners not elsewhere classifiable

  • Developer Programmer

  • Software Engineer

  • Social Worker

  • Maintenance Planner

PMSOL Visa Subclasses

The priority processing of visa applications for the above listed PMSOL occupations applies to the following employer sponsored visa subclasses:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)

  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494)

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186)

  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187)

Travel Exemption Requirements

Anyone may submit a request to the Australian government for a travel exemption. But if you are not sure where to start, please reach out to UIS Australia. Our team of certified consultants will walk you through the whole application process, making it as swift as possible from beginning to end.

You should apply for the exemption at least 14 days ahead of the proposed travel date, but not more than two months prior. Your request must include the following:

  • Personal Details – Your name, date of birth, passport number, visa type and number, address in Australia and telephone number in Australia

  • Reason for travel – Why you need to go to Australia and require the exemption

  • Supporting statement – A statement to explain why you think you are worthy of a travel exemption, along with supporting evidence. An example of evidence might be a letter from a state government authority explaining why your travel should be considered critical

To apply for a travel exemption, you do not need to hold a valid visa. But you must acquire the travel exemption, as well as a valid visa, before you attempt to travel!

Getting A Working Visa In Australia

So how do you go about getting a working visa Australia? The most common way is via the General Skilled Migration Program. Under this program, anyone wishing to work in Australia must first be assessed by the immigration authorities. They will give you a score based on your education, career history and other criteria, including your age, medical history, and character.

An online tool called SkillSelect is used to rank all working visa Australia applicants. Using this tool, you must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and fill in your personal data. After receiving an EOI ID number, you can log in and complete the survey. Each of your various life and career experiences earns you points and if you gain a sufficient number, you will be eligible to apply. So, your chances of becoming an Australia permanent resident increase greatly.

Available Visa Types

The General Skilled Migration Program offers four types of visa. One of these is a temporary visa, but all can result in you becoming a permanent resident in Australia:

The Skilled Independent Visa – Subclass 189

You must be under 45 years old to apply for a Skilled Independent Work Visa. This long term working visa Australia offers all the benefits of being an Australia permanent resident.

Skilled Nominated Visa – Subclass 190

The Skilled Nominated Visa is also a long term visa that provides the benefits of being an Australia permanent resident. You must be a skilled worker, nominated by a State or Territory to apply.

The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) – Subclass 491

The Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) is a temporary working visa for those skilled workers wishing to reside in regional Australia. For example South Australia, the Northern Territory or Queensland.

The Skilled Regional – Subclass 887 Visa

The Skilled Regional Visa is only for workers who held other types of working visa previously. It is a permanent residency visa.

Occupation Ceilings

The government places restrictions on the number of EOIs issued. These occupation ceilings exist to ensure a good spread of different occupations in the country. So even if you are eligible to apply for a working visa Australia via the General Skilled Migration Program, you’ll need to keep this in mind.

Don’t be too concerned though. Experts had predicted that the government would lower the ceilings due to COVID-19 restrictions, but this fear has proven to be unfounded. No such decrease in numbers has emerged and in fact, the opposite is true. The number of educational places has increased, with spaces for child workers (44%) special school teachers (54%) and university lecturers (47%) all on the up. Similarly, places for construction managers (43%) and engineering managers (47%) have also risen.

Once an occupation group hits its ceiling, the government will no longer issue invitations. So, it’s important to fill out your application correctly, in order to avoid missing out on your dream move down under. The experts at UIS Australia can greatly enhance your chances of landing a working visa Australia. With our proven track record, successfully processing thousands of applications, you will be in safe and experienced hands.


Rumors that the Australian government would reduce immigration numbers due to COVID-19 have proven to be false. The forecast drop in places for economic migrants seeking to work in Australia has not materialized. And in the case of certain critical occupations, the government is now seeking to recruit in greater numbers than before! Immigration is going to play a crucial part in the country’s recovery from COVID-19, both in terms of economy and healthcare.

So it’s fair to say that your dream of a new life in Australia is still a very real possibility! You just need to know your options. And the immigration professionals at Universal Immigration Services (UIS) Australia can help you to achieve it. Our immigration consultants will help you to take the hassle out of the application process and increase your chances of success. At every step of the way, we’ll make the journey as smooth as we possible. Get in touch today.

Ron Ford

Ron Ford immigrated with his family to Australia in 2005 to work as a social worker. Following their difficult immigration process, he slowly turned to blogging and creating content about immigration: "…As a family of 5, we struggled to make ends meet. I was working around the clock and Clarissa was working in housekeeping any time she could spare. The move to Australia completely changed our lives, but it cost us a lot of money, time, and tears. Ever since I've wanted to help others on their journeys the way I wished someone had helped us".

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