Moving abroad on skills visa

Moving abroad on skills visa

What does an Australian barber, a South African winemaker and Scottish geologist have in common? They are all in professions that are in demand in their countries.

Many people think it is impossible to get a visa to live and work in another country. Some don’t realise that many countries welcome immigrants to fill demand for skills and experience that may be in short supply.

There are two main ways that these visas are offered. The most common is for the applicant to be sponsored by a local company in the form of a job offer. This means you need to have found a vacancy, applied for the role and been offered the position as well as visa sponsorship. The second is where you do not need to have a job offer and once you have the visa, you can live and work permanently anywhere that country.  The Australian Skilled Independent Visa is an example of this second type.

So let’s run through some of the visa offers and check out some key links to “skills in demand lists” for popular countries for immigration, and assess  some of the skilled visa opportunities from around the world.

If you are interested in moving to a specific country, it may be time to get educated in the skills that are in demand for your destination of choice.

Skills visa veterinarian is in demand

1.  Australian Skilled Visas

Australia has one of the largest immigration programs in the world with 190,000 places kept each year for permanent residents and 70% of those for skilled migrants.  There are over 400 occupations on their skilled occupations list and you will be surprised at the skills that are on there. It is not all finance and IT as you would think.  Occupations such as chefs, theatre managers, dog handlers and dressmakers also feature on the list. 

In 2018 the highest demand in Australia is for nurses, electricians, teachers (especially secondary school), motor mechanics, joiners, carpenters and metal fitters and turners.

SBS recently reported that there were categories in the skilled occupations list where there was not one successful applicant in 2017-2018.  These were wall and floor tilers, automotive electricians, electrical distribution trade workers, boat builders and shipwrights, precision metal trade workers and livestock farmers.  If you are skilled in these professions, you stand a great chance of getting into Australia on a skilled migration visa.

What steps can you take for a skills visa in Australia?

  1. The lists are updated every 6 months.  Have a look to see whether your profession is on the list and check back often if your profession is not on there.
  2. If your skills are on the list, you will need to be assessed by authorities in your field.
  3. Have a look at which employment scheme you are eligible under to understand your rights and obligations under the scheme.  Below we outline the four most common schemes.

The Temporary Skill Shortage visa (TSS) (Subclass 482)

There are 3 options under this sub-class:

  1. If your vocation is on the Short-Term Skilled occupation list, you can get a 2-year short term visa.  This visa can only be renewed once and is not a path to permanent residency.
  2. If your occupation is on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), you can work in Australia for up to 4 years.  This does provide a path to permanent residency.
  3. Labour category is for exceptional circumstances which are not covered in any other class, but the employer really has to make a good case to the government.

You also need to meet:

- Minimum English language requirements
- Minimum salary requirements 
- Minimum work experience requirements of at least two years in the same/similar field

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

This is permanent residence for skilled workers. You need to be nominated by an employer, under 45 or 50 years old depending on the stream and meet the skills, experience and English requirements of the role.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)

This is permanent residency for those who will be working in Regional Australia i.e. outside of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Newcastle, Gold Coast or Wollongong.  Again, you need to be nominated by an employer located in regional Australia and need to be under the age of 45 or 50 depending on the job.

Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189)

You need to be invited to apply for the much-prized Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189) however once you have the visa you can live and work permanently anywhere in Australia. 

You’ll need to make sure that your skills are on the list for this visa, and then submit an expression of interest to the government.  Once you have that approval you will receive your invitation to apply for the visa.  You need to be under the age of 45 to apply for this visa.  You also need English proficiency, need to pass the skills assessment and pass a points-based system.

Skills Visa teacher with children

2.  New Zealand Skilled Visas

The New Zealand Government really make it easy for you to find out what skills are in demand in their country.  Visit their Skills Shortage List Checker to see if your skills are listed on any of the three lists that they have as follows:

  1. The Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) covers occupations that have long term shortages of qualified people both globally and in New Zealand. If you can find a job in an occupation that meets the LTSSL requirements you may be eligible for a Work to Residence Visa which allows you to apply for residency after two years. You’ll need to meet some standard requirements ((medical and police checks etc.) and the job needs to have a base salary of at least NZD$45,000.
  2. The Intermediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL) is aimed at filling positions that have an immediate need as no New Zealand citizens or residents have taken up the position. These visas are rapidly processed and can lead to an Essential Skills visa, but not all roles will lead to you being able to apply for residency.
  3. The Canterbury Skill Shortage List (CSSL) is directly linked to the region impacted by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. The occupations on here are on either the LTSSL or the ISSL but are needed for the Canterbury rebuild. If you have a skill listed on the CSSL and a valid job offer in the region you may be offered an Essential Skills visa and if your occupation is on the LTSSL you may be able to apply for residency as a part of this visa offer.

New Zealand is very particular about correct tertiary qualifications so do check the list eligibility requirements carefully before applying for roles through these visa schemes.

3. United Kingdom Tier 2 Skilled Occupation Lists

In most cases in the UK before you hire an immigrant for a skilled job, you need to have advertised the job to citizens of the EEA (European Economic Area).  The exception is for the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List .  Jobs on this list do not need to be advertised within the EEA before they are offered to a non-EEA citizen.

You will still need to have a job offer before you can get a Tier 2 Work Permit and the company offering the role must sponsor your visa.  They also need to be offering you an appropriate salary and you need to be able to speak a decent level of English.

The occupation list is broken into skill shortages in the whole of the United Kingdom and those that only exist in Scotland.

4.  Austria Skilled Worker Visa

Austria has what is called a Red-White-Red Card for a Skilled Worker to work in a Shortage Occupation.  This is valid for 24 months and you must pass a points-based test as well as have a job offer.  You get points for things such as

  • Your qualifications
  • Your experience
  • You age (must be under 40)
  • German and English Language skills

To view the list of professions that are deemed shortage occupations click here.

Skills Visa Carpenter

5.  South Africa critical skills work permit

Would you like to live in sunny South Africa, with one of the fastest growing economies in Africa?  The South African government has recognised that it needs to attract skills from outside the country to support its economic growth and for this reason it has implemented a Critical Skills Work Permit.  There is a national list of occupations in high demand which you can view here.

The occupations tend to be those where the South African economy has show strong employment growth and/or where skills shortages are being experienced in the labour market. It also includes skills that are forecast to be in short supply in the future.

The visa lasts for five years and you do not need a job offer to apply for it.  You do however have to find work within 12 months.

6.  Irish Critical Skills Employment Permit

To apply for this employment permit, you need a job offer that pays a minimum of EUR60,000 per annum.  You also need to have the appropriate experience, skills and qualifications for the role.   If your occupation is on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations list then the salary requirement is only EUR30,000.  This list can be found here.

Your job offer needs to be for a minimum of 2 years to apply for the permit and after 2 years you can apply for a Stamp 4 visa which allows you to live and work permanently in Ireland.  The benefits of this over a general employment permit is that the employer does not need to have the role go through a labour market needs test.  This means that it doesn’t need to be advertised to EU citizens first.

 An Expat's Guide to Ireland: Life in a Second World Country 

 Have a read of Milo Denisons first hand account of moving to Ireland from the US.




7.  Japan Highly-Skilled Professionals Visa

Japan also has a visa scheme for Highly skilled professionals who fit into one of these three categories:

  • Advanced academic research activities
  • Advanced specialized/technical activities
  • Advanced business management activities

If you qualify you get preferential treatment such as a residency permit for 5 years and an easier route to permanent residency.  Permission for your spouse to work and other privileges.

It is a point-based scheme where you get points for:

  • Academic Background
  • Professional
  • Salary
  • Age
  • Other bonus point items

You can find a point calculation form here.

Skills Visa hairdresser barber cutting hair

From an auto electrician or veterinarian in New Zealand, a roofer or carpenter in Austria, a labour recruitment officer or sales manager in South Africa, a midwife or teacher in Ireland there are places to be had in a range of countries for a huge range of skills. These skills are constantly being updated and shifting according to the needs of the countries so if your skills are not on the list, keep checking and if they are on the list now might be the time to act.

We have included just a few of the skilled visa options around the world to whet your appetite.  If you would like to find out about opportunities in other countries, then leave us a comment and we will add to this blog or leave us a comment about your experiences.

Pin this to Pinterest:

skills visa for a barber in australia  Skills visa vet pinterest




Moving to Spain? Your Spain Visa Guide

Do you dream of settling in Spain?  Spain holds many attractions for potential tourists and ex...

Live in the UK on the Tier 1 Investor Visa

For high net worth individuals, the Tier 1 Investor Visa is a great pathway into the United Ki...

How Sephardic Jews can get citizenship to Spain and Portugal

The governments of Spain and Portugal have passed laws to allow descendants of Sephardic Jews to ap...

Author image

Alison Johnson

Alison is a travel junkie, digital nomad and the co-founder of She has lived in 7 countries on 4 continents and is passionate about opening the world up for others.

Start the Smart Wizard!