How to find a route to sponsorship as a working holiday maker in Australia.
All good things must come to an end, the saying goes, and the end of yourAustralian Working Holiday Maker Visa will arrive after 12, 24 or 36 months, depending on the visa you hold and the extensions you secure.
But what if you’d like to extend your Australian stay, perhaps even permanently?
As a country with strict immigration policies, the best way to get into Australia is to have something that the country wants. The skills priority list will be your bible, as it catalogues the skills that Australia is in desperate need of. But even if you have said skills, the road to securing a skilled visa can be a long and rocky one, taking years and with no guarantee of success.
But there is a faster and more secure option: finding an employer to sponsor you.
What is an employer sponsored visa?
In order to be eligible for this visa, you need:
- At least three years of relevant experience in an occupation found on the skilled occupation list, including any relevant licenses, registrations or memberships.
- To pass health requirements, character requirements, an English competency test and a skills assessment.
- An eligible employer who is willing to sponsor you.
- To meet age requirements.
If successful, you’ll secure a permanent visa that allows you to stay in Australia indefinitely, and includes access to, Medicare, Australia’s public healthcare scheme. You can even include family members in your application, and apply for Australian citizenship after five years!
As of April 2023, the cost of this visa is AU$4240. While the sponsor employer is not compelled to, they will often bear this cost. The visa holder is obliged to work for the employer for at least two years, beginning within six months of arrival into Australia or the visa grant date.
Which industries/ companies tend to sponsor backpackers?
If you’re considering your sponsored visa options, the first thing to check is whether you meet the criteria. You’ll need to find your occupation on the skilled occupation list.
While this is a list of skills that Australia is short of – i.e. that are rare in the country – some occupations can be surprisingly common. As of April 2023, the following jobs were included on the list:
- General accountant
- Dancer/ choreographer
- Instrumental musician
- Social worker
- Software engineer/developer
- Teacher (early childhood, secondary, special needs)
- Tennis coach
As you can see from the small snapshot above, some Australian industries are experiencing a greater skills shortfall than others, and are therefore more likely to offer the right worker sponsorship. Education and the trades stand out, but other industries, such as hospitality and the arts, may be more accessible, as the eligibility criteria can be less demanding.
How to make your case for sponsorship
Step one in obtaining a visa through the employer nomination scheme is to find a suitable job on the skilled occupation list (be sure to select the 186 visa from the drop-down menu). If you believe you meet the criteria for one of the listed roles, the following steps can help you secure that all-important sponsorship:
- Focus on multinational companies: In search of a sponsor, look at multinational organisations that have a presence in both Australia and your home country. If you manage to secure a job in your home country, you may be able to negotiate a transfer. Larger companies are also better equipped to deal with the cost and red tape associated with sponsorship.
- Create and maintain a spreadsheet of possible sponsors: Search job boards to find Australian companies looking for your skills. Create a spreadsheet of potential sponsor employers, then methodically work through it, applying to each role while mentioning the need for sponsorship. Always ask whether a company plans to keep your resume on file.
- Consult your personal network: A sponsor employer is far more likely to take a chance on a known entity than an unknown entity. Get in touch with well connected friends or put a post on social media explaining your desire to work and live in Australia, and see whether anyone can connect you with an employer.
- Get your feet on the (Australian) ground: If you’re still in Australia on your Working Holiday Visa, make the most of that fact by speaking to potential sponsors face-to-face, and potentially offering to volunteer or work pro bono to prove your worth. If you’ve already left the country, consider making a trip back, mixing the business of finding a sponsor with the pleasure of enjoying Oz again!
- Take the study route: If you’re beginning to doubt whether you’ll be successful in your search for a sponsor employer, consider applying for a student visa, as this will allow you to stay in the country and ensure you have the exact skills and training Australian businesses are looking for.