Doctor Visa Options Australia

Medical practitioners are in high demand all over the world. In Australia, the need for doctors is particularly great in rural communities.

If you’re a doctor who has received their primary medical education abroad, you may be able to apply for a temporary or permanent visa to Australia. If you’re a general practitioner or specialist who has obtained a medical degree, you may still be qualified for an Australian visa even if you are not a permanent Australian resident.

The primary requirement you need to ensure is that your medical credentials meet or are equivalent to set Australian standards. Of course, there may be other criteria you’ll need to satisfy, depending on the type of visa you’re applying for.

The skilled migration programme in Australia also provides candidates who have finished their medical study in Australia on a student visa with a number of possibilities for temporary and permanent resident visas.

Support Network Community spinner
green circle transparent background

Visa Options for Doctors in Australia Explained

There is a wide variety of medical professions that can be nominated for a doctor visa in Australia – from general practitioners to specialisations like anaesthetists, specialist doctors, and surgeons.

However, note that to be able to work in Australia and be eligible for a skilled visa, you need to have a professional registration. The Medical Board of Australia is the appropriate registration authority for medical practitioners.

In addition, under the Visas for GPs initiative, which started on 11 March 2019, specific nominated occupations must get a Health Workforce Certificate (HWC) from a Rural Workforce Agency (RWA) in order to be eligible for a skilled visa. An HWC is a letter that an RWA issues to affirm that a primary healthcare post has to be filled by a doctor at a certain location in Australia.

So, if you’re looking to obtain a visa for doctors in Australia, it’s important to know the specifics associated with the post you wish to fill and the visa requirements.

Doctors Migrating to Australia: What You Need to Know

Every year, we receive hundreds of enquiries from doctors about migrating to Australia.

Australia is a well-liked destination among medical practitioners and international medical graduates (IMGs) because of its high standard of living and robust economy. Moreover, the favourable reputation of the country’s healthcare system and above-average remuneration for doctors are two more compelling factors for IMGs’ wanting to migrate and work in Australia.

According to a survey, several of Australia’s top earners are all employed in the medical field.

In addition, the projected serious physician shortage, particularly for full-time general practitioners (GPs), is already happening especially in rural and remote areas. With a growing, ageing population, the demand for more doctors in the country is expected to increase further in the next decade.

Therefore, if you’re a GP or specialist who wants to work as a doctor in Australia, now is as good a time as any to start looking into available opportunities.

There are three general steps you’ll need to take if you plan to live work as a doctor in Australia:

  • Establish your eligibility for registration as a doctor
  • Identify a role that suits you
  • Relocate to the country

Do note, however, that overseas-trained doctors currently working in Australia are required to spend their first 10 years of employment working in an underserved rural or regional area called a DPA location.

This is an important condition you need to meet to qualify for a Medicare provider number which you need to be able to treat private patients.

How to Become a General Practitioner in Australia

Overseas-trained doctors who want to establish themselves as general practitioners in Australia may do so by taking specific steps and pathways. Below is a rough outline of those steps:

  • Pass tests on English language proficiency (depending on the language of your study program), unless you are holding a passport from an “exempt” country.
  • Get registered as a medical practitioner through one of the pathways available (e.g. Practice Eligibility Pathway, Independent Pathway, Specialist Pathway, etc.). The pathway you’ll take depends on your goals and qualifications.
  • Obtain registration with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) – Full registration or Provisional Registration
  • Apply for a visa through an Australian employer, usually as a “Resident Medical Officer – RMO”. Initially, you may work in Australia on a temporary employer-sponsored visa while under provisional registration. Once you attain full registration status, you may qualify for a general skilled visa.
  • For permanent residency purposes: Get a skills assessment after obtaining full registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Pathways for IMGs

International medical graduates who received their training from a medical school outside of Australia or New Zealand and who are seeking registration to practice medicine in Australia must demonstrate their eligibility by undertaking one of these assessment pathways.

  • Competent Authority Pathway
  • Standard Pathway
  • Specialist Pathway

You may do an initial self-assessment check to see which pathway best corresponds to your qualifications, background and goals.

To be able to work in Australia and be eligible for a skilled visa, all medical practitioners – including IMGs – need professional registration. If you’re an IMG who has completed the required paths, general registration makes you eligible to work in the country.

The Medical Board of Australia is the appropriate registration authority for medical practitioners.

Visas for GPs Initiative and Health Workforce Certificates

As previously mentioned, the Visas for GPs initiative requires all employers (including hospitals) to obtain certification in the form of a Health Workforce Certificate (HWC) or a Health Workforce Exemption Certificate (HWEC), as appropriate, from a Rural Workforce Agency (RWA).

This requirement applies to the following occupations:

  • General Practitioner (ANZSCO 253111)
  • Resident Medical Officer (ANZSCO 253112)
  • Medical Practitioners not elsewhere classified (ANZSCO 253999)

These certificates are letters from an RWA attesting to an overseas physician’s real necessity to fill a primary healthcare position at a specific region in Australia.

Employers must include the relevant certificate with their nomination application to hire doctors with the following employer-sponsored visas:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482)
  • ​Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (SESR) (subclass 494)
  • ​Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186)
  • ​Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (subclass 187)

Understanding Doctor Visa Options

With the range of doctor visa options and information sources available, it’s easy for IMGs and overseas-trained doctors to get lost in the process.

To help you out, we’ve distilled all the details you need below.

Permanent Visa Options for Doctors – Skilled Migration

Medical practitioners have a number of alternatives depending on their chosen specialism and other considerations if they want to travel, work, and live as a permanent resident in Australia.

Each nominated occupation is defined according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations for immigration law purposes (ANZSCO).

The ANZSCO occupational categorization system gives a broad overview of each occupation, as well as information on the required degree of competence, registration and/or licensing requirements, and tasks and duties that may be involved in each occupation.

The following permanent visa options for doctors do not require employer sponsorship.

Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189)

The point-based skilled independent visa (subclass 189) caters to foreign workers possessing skills that various Australian states need. It makes it possible for skilled professionals to relocate to Australia and live here without needing the sponsorship of a family member or a government nomination from a state or territory.

This visa was completely inaccessible to GPs for the last few years. However, as reported by many of our GP candidates, they are starting to receive invitations again to apply for the Subclass 189 visa.  This visa provides one of the best opportunities for for GPs to obtain Permanent Residency.

Medical practitioners applying for this visa must satisfy certain requirements, including:

  • General (not provisional, limited, or supervised) or specialist AHPRA registration
  • Meeting the required skilled migration points
  • Age limit of 45 (below 45 years of age at the time of invitation)
  • You must be invited to apply for this visa

If you are a GP and meet the above requirements, you can apply for a general practitioner 189 visa.

Skilled State-Sponsored Visa (Subclass 190)

You can remain in Australia permanently with the points-based skilled nominated visa (subclass 190). With this visa for skilled workers, you can work, study, and travel to Australia as a permanent resident.

If you’re a medical practitioner applying for the Subclass 190 visa, you need the following:

  • General (not provisional, limited, or supervised) or specialist AHPRA registration
  • Nomination from an Australian state or territory
  • Medical registration
  • Age limit of 45 (below 45 years of age at the time of invitation)
  • Required skilled migration points

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 491)

The skilled work regional visa known as subclass 491 allows for five years of living, working, and studying in a regional area of Australia. You need to meet the following prerequisites to qualify for a Subclass 491 visa as a medical practitioner:

  • General (not provisional, limited, or supervised) or specialist AHPRA registration
  • State or territory medical registration in Australia
  • Nomination by a territory government agency
  • Age limit of 45 (below 45 years of age at the time of invitation)
  • Required skilled migration points

Although this is a five-year provisional visa that only allows you to live, work and study in a regional area, you have the option to apply for permanent residence after three years.

Permanent Visa Options for Doctors – Employer Sponsored

If you’re seeking employer-sponsored permanent visa options as a doctor, check out the ones below.

Employer Nomination Scheme Visa (Subclass 186)

A path to Australian permanent residency for skilled workers is possible through the subclass 186 visa, which is based on an employer nomination program.

Medical practitioners who want to qualify for the Subclass 186 visa need to meet these requirements:

  • Employment level compatible with their medical registration
  • Direct stream of entry (specific requirements also apply)
  • At least three years of relevant work experience in the medical field
  • Age limit of 45 (below 45 years of age at the time of application)

For those applying for a 186 visa as a general practitioner for the temporary residency stream, you must:

  • Have spent at least three years working full-time in a relevant medical profession.
  • Be below 45 years of age at the time of your application, unless you’re a doctor who has worked in their field for at least three years (as a holder of a 457 or 452 visa), and out of those three years, you spent two years employed in regional Australia.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187) (direct entry stream) closes to new applications from 16 November 2019

With the introduction of the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494), due to commence on 16 November 2019, the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187) direct entry (DE) stream will close to new applications from 16 November 2019.

Regional Employer Sponsored Scheme Visa (Subclass 494)

The regional employer-sponsored visa called subclass 494 enables firms in regional Australia to find internationally skilled people to fill labour gaps.

For a medical practitioner to qualify for the subclass 494 visa, they must:

  • Be below 45 years of age at the time of application – except if you are a doctor who has worked in their nominated occupation for at least three years (as a holder of a 457 or 482 visa), and out of those three years, you spent two years employed in regional Australia. You don’t need a medical registration for this visa subclass.
  • Have at least three years of relevant professional experience in the medical field.

Permanent Visa Option for Doctors With a Partner/Spouse in Australia

Medical practitioners can apply for a partner visa if they are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

With the partner visa (subclass 820 and 801), you can live, work, and study in Australia.

Although there is no minimum age requirement for a partner visa, you must still fulfil the necessary conditions to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and ongoing.

Temporary Visa Options for Doctors – Up to 4 to 5 Years Stay in Australia

Aside from the aforementioned permanent visa options for doctors, there are also temporary visa alternatives for medical practitioners in Australia.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (Subclass 482) – Medium-Term Stream

Employers can offset labour shortages with qualified workers from abroad thanks to the temporary skill shortage visa known as subclass 482. This is the most common visa option for General practitioners looking for work in Australia, and many employers are happy to provide sponsorship.

The following prerequisites apply to medical practitioners who wish to qualify for a subclass 482 visa:

  • Medical registration
  • Must work for the sponsor employer, unless your specialty is exempt and allows you to work in a different capacity, such as when you’re working under a contract, in a private practice, or during non-business hours with the sponsor employer.

Age restrictions don’t apply to subclass 482 visa for general practitioners and other doctor applicants.

Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) Subclass 494 (Employer Sponsored Stream)

The skilled employer sponsored regional (provisional) visa subclass 494 is another temporary visa alternative for skilled workers.

Medical practitioners applying for the 494 visa need to have the following:

  • Employer sponsorship in regional Australia
  • Position is likely to exist for 5 years
  • Age limit of 45 (below 45 years of age at the time of application)
  • Proof of English competency
  • Advice from a regional certifying body
  • Meet the required annual market salary rate
  • Skills assessment and three years of experience in their nominated occupation

The subclass 494 visa provides a permanent residency pathway.

Temporary Visa Options for Doctors – Up to 2 Years Stay in Australia

For medical practitioners who are looking at a short-term stay in Australia, the training visa (subclass 407) is a practical option.

The subclass 407 training visa enables a sponsored person to take part in professional development training programs in Australia or workplace-based occupational training activities to advance their abilities in their occupation, field of expertise or area of tertiary study.

The requirements for a subclass 407 visa are as follows:

  • Valid substantive visa (not a subclass 403, subclass 771, or special purpose visa)
  • Nominated by an approved sponsor
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Satisfy health and character standards
  • Adequate health insurance
  • Legitimate temporary entrant
  • Functional English literacy
  • Sign the Australian Values Statement
  • Does not owe the Australian Government any money or has made the necessary preparations to repay any debts owed
  • Not had a visa revoked or a prior visa application denied

Temporary Visa Options for Doctors – Up to 12 Months Stay in Australia

For shorter term visa options for doctors, you may consider applying for the work and holiday visa (subclass 462) or the working holiday visa (subclass 417).

These temporary working holiday visas (subclasses 417 and 462) enable international visitors to stay in Australia for a brief period of time for work or study.

Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)

You need to meet the following requirements when applying for the subclass 417 visa:

  • Must be between the ages of 18 and 30; however, nationals of Canada, France, and Ireland may be between the ages of 18 and 35
  • Application must be made from outside of Australia
  • Must not have come to Australia previously on a working holiday visa

Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462)

The requirements when applying for the subclass 462 visa are similar to subclass 417 visa:

  • Must be between the ages of 18 and 30
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​You must have a passport from an eligible country
  • You can apply for a second Work and Holiday visa if you meet certain eligibility criteria

Visit EasyMigrate’s Website.

Where Can You Work in Australia as an Overseas-Trained Doctor (OTD)?

Under section 19AB of the Australia’s Health Insurance Act 1973, foreign graduates of accredited medical schools and overseas-trained doctors can come to Australia and practice medicine, but need to work in a place designated as a Distribution Priority Area (DPA) in order to qualify for Medicare. Places classified as DPA are usually located in rural and regional Australia, and do not have enough doctors available to meet the demands of the local populace.

This means that, in order to live in the country and get employed, doctors must render return-of-service work in the designated DPA for the first 10 years (the so-called 10-year moratorium) of their medical registration.

Want to talk about your job options in Australia?

Leave your details and one of our consultants will contact you.

"*" indicates required fields

Max. file size: 32 MB.
Consent*

Sign up for Job Alerts & News

Why Alecto?

At Alecto Australia, we are committed to finding GP jobs that suit your individual preferences and needs. Because we specialise in sourcing the best GP jobs for the best GPs, we have access to the largest number of permanent GP jobs in Australia.

Search GP Jobs