Should I apply for an employer sponsored visa or an australian skilled visa?

When I get queries about Australian skilled visas I often get asked whether they should apply for an employer sponsored visa or an Australian skilled independent visa. For some, because of their occupation, they only can get a visa through a job offer. For others they can look at both.

I have touched on some of these issues in other blogs that I have written however the purpose of this blog is to look at some of the issues in a bit more detail.


Should I apply for an Employer Sponsored Visa or a General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa?

To provide a framework for the points I have raised, when discussing Employer Sponsored Visas this will include:

  • Temporary residents (Subclass 457) Work visa
  • Permanent residents (Subclass 186) Employer Nomination Scheme visa.

When referring to skilled independent visa this will include the following General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas:

  • Permanent residents Skilled Independent (Subclass 189) visa
  • Permanent residents Skilled Nominated (Subclass 190) visa
  • Temporary residents Skilled Regional (Subclass 489) visa

Visa costs

Whether applying for a skilled independent visa or an employer sponsored visa there are some costs involved. If you are applying for a skilled independent visa these costs are up to you.

When applying for a temporary employer sponsored visa, the Subclass 457 visa, the fees are usually borne by the employer. In fact employers are obligated to not pass on the visa costs to you.

However this applies only for the subclass 457 visa so if you want to obtain a permanent residents visa (which gives you the right to stay) then you generally need to look at an independent visa or a employer sponsored visa like the Subclass 186.

If you apply for the Subclass 186 visa then there are no restrictions from employers to pass the costs onto you. It is however common for employers to at least share or pay these costs. However to avoid employees leaving their employment as soon as their permanent residency is approved they usually ask the employee to sign an agreement that means costs of the visa and the migration agent/lawyer fees will be clawed back if you leave within a period of time. This is often a two year period.


Skilled independent visas and permanent employer sponsored Subclass 186 visas enable the applicants to be covered under Medicare, which gives you access to the Australian healthcare system.

On a temporary residents Subclass 457 visa you and your family are required to hold private health cover as an ongoing condition of your visa. Although the responsibility is for you to maintain this, some employers will offer support and may actually provide this to you.


For people who hold a skilled independent visa or a permanent employer sponsored visa your children will be eligible to enrol in the public school system.

If you are in Australia on a temporary employer sponsored Subclass 457 visa then you may be required to pay fees for children to attend public school. This however will be dependent upon the state that you live in. Employers may be willing to assist with paying school fees but as a starting point it is important to understand what the policy is in the the state that you intend to live and work in.

Work rights

As the holder of a skilled independent visa the main applicant is not restricted in who they can work for, or where they do it. However for the Subclass 190 visa or Subclass 489 these are granted on the basis of living in a particular state that has a need for your skills or because you have relations in that state or region. It is important that you understand the terms of your nomination or sponsorship and adhere to these.

If you have a permanent employer sponsored Subclass 186 visa then there are no restrictions as such to what you do. However as mentioned the employer may ask for fees to be repaid should you leave within a specified period of time.

If you are granted a Subclass 457 visa then the key condition is that you must remain employed with that sponsoring employer. Otherwise you are in breach of your visa and either need to leave the country or make arrangements to apply for another visa to allow you to stay.

Spouse work rights

Under all visas detailed here your partner has work rights.


Under the Subclass 457 visa you are sponsored to work in a particular role for a particular employer in a specific location. You must ensure, along with your employer, that this remains the case. Otherwise you will need to make alternate arrangements to change the conditions of your visa. The permanent employer sponsored subclass 186 visa will not restrict your location, notwithstanding the issues detailed previously.

As mentioned previously in the skilled independent visas available the Subclass 190 and 489 will restrict you to working in a particular location unlike the Subclass 189. To change location without seeking the appropriate authorisation may effect your current visa or your pathway to permanent residency if you have a Subclass 489 visa.

Social Security

In most cases, aside from Medicare coverage. social security benefits are generally available only to permanent residents who have resided in Australia for at least 2 years.

Pathways to Citizenship 

I will address this on two levels. A child will be an Australian citizen if they are born in Australia and either one of their parents is an Australian permanent residents or citizen at their time of their birth.

Otherwise, like everyone else, to become a citizen you need to hold a permanent residents visa for at least 12 months as well as having held an appropriate visa for at least 4 years (this could include a Subclass 457 visa) before you are eligible.


The timescales for all of these visa can vary greatly. To be granted a subclass 457 is usually the quickest way to obtain the right to work and live in Australia, however it is the permanent residency visa that will allow you to stay in the long term and depending on which one of the numerous pathways the you take it can be difficult to be certain of timescales.

What should you do?

If you have options then this is completely up to you. However a skilled independent visa (notably the Subclass 189 visa), as I have written about previously, is certainly the best option.

If you however any questions, or further areas you would like me to address, please let me know and I will be happy to answer them.