Immigration Law

Immigration law regulates the arrival of people who intend to take up permanent or semi-permanent residence in Australia and provides pathways allowing eligible people to migrate. Identifying the most appropriate pathway and visa type is a critical step in preparing a visa application. Getting the right information and advice from the outset can avoid costly mistakes and delays in processing your visa application.

Applying for a Visa

Each pathway to Australian residency involves different visas, application procedures, and extensive documentation. Applying for a visa requires consideration of the most suitable type for your circumstances and meeting the eligibility criteria. This varies between the different visa categories but will generally include an assessment of your qualifications, skills and English literacy and consideration of your personal circumstances such as your age, health, family, and character.

Skilled Visa

The Australian economy needs a mix of workers across all sectors. When there is a skills shortage within the Australian population, the federal government expands the number of visas available to overseas workers who have the desired skills or education. Employer sponsored visas assist employers to address genuine skills shortages in the Australian labour market. Eligible employers may bring skilled workers into Australia, through sponsorship, if they are unable to source the workers they need locally.

In addition to short-term working visas, individuals who have in-demand skills are more likely to be granted permanent residency. A prospective migrant may apply for permanent residency if they are qualified for employment in one of the in-demand occupations.  

Skilled visas can be temporary or permanent visas. Australian skilled visas include: 

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187)
  • Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) – Points-tested stream
  • Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
  • Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191)
  • Training visa (subclass 407)
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)
  • Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) – Graduate Work
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489)
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (provisional) visa (subclass 494) 

Student Visa 

One of Australia’s most important export industries is education. All sectors of the government work together to encourage suitable overseas students to travel to Australia to study an approved course. A student can obtain a visa to study a course at an Australian high school, university, technical college, or other professional training course.

The Student Visa (subclass 500) is a temporary visa that allows a student to live and study in Australia for the duration of their course of education. In addition, prospective students who are under 18, or otherwise need care and support, can have a relative apply to travel and stay with them as a guardian (subclass 590).

After graduation

When an international student completes their course of study in Australia, they can choose to apply for a subclass 485 Visa to continue to live, study and work in this country.

Partner Visas

If you are the partner of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, you may be able to apply for an Australian Partner visa. Partner Visa Application can be separated into two pathways depending on whether the visa process was initiated onshore or offshore.

  • Onshore Partner Visa (subclass 820/801) : a permanent visa for people who are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This visa allows you to live and work permanently in Australia with your partner.
  • Offshore Partner Visa (subclass 309/100): a permanent residence visa for people who are married to or in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, who lives outside Australia. 

Family Visas

There are many types of visas that allow family members to be brought to Australia temporarily or permanently. Some family visa options may include: 

  • Child visa (subclass 101 or 802) (for offshore and onshore options)
  • Aged Parent visa (subclass 804)
  • Contributory Parent visa (subclass 143)
  • New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa (subclass 461)
  • Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 870) 

Tourist Visas 

The main types of tourist visas available are:

  • Visitor visa – Subclass 600: this visa has several streams under which you could apply, and there are options to apply from outside or inside Australia. Streams include the tourist stream, sponsored family stream, business visitor stream, and the approved destination status and frequent traveller streams available for citizens of China in some circumstances.
  • Electronic Travel Authority – subclass 601: this is a travel authority available for citizens from a specific list of countries that allows the holder to travel to Australia as many times as they want within a 12 month period, for maximum 3 months at a time.
  • eVisitor visa – subclass 651: a visa available to citizens of a specified list of countries.
  • Working Holiday visa – Subclass 417: A visa available for 18 to 30-year-old citizens of specified nationalities allowing you to work and holiday in Australia.
  • Work and Holiday visa – Subclass 462 

Australian Citizenship

You can become a citizen of Australia in different ways. Conferral and descent are the most common ways to apply. 


The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is generally the first point of contact for reviewing decisions made by the Department of Home Affairs. Reviewable decisions include the refusal to grant a visa, the cancellation of a visa, and determinations regarding skilled migration, business sponsorship and nominations. 

The Tribunal takes an inquisitorial approach to its investigations and the appointed member will decide whether the decision was correctly made. Strict time limits apply to have a decision reviewed by the Tribunal.

Australia’s migration laws and policies are constantly evolving and getting the right information and advice from the outset can avoid costly mistakes and delays in processing your visa application.

If you need assistance, contact our Immigration Lawyer, Raisa Wickramasinghe on [email protected] or call 03 5747 8251 for expert legal advice.