Victoria Legal Aid

Ways of migrating to Australia

There are three main ways of migrating to Australia. Family migration, economic migration, or if you are a refugee.

Family migration

Family migration means you apply to move to Australia to join a family member who is a permanent resident or an Australian citizen. A family member includes husbands and wives, de facto partners, parents and children.

Read about bringing your partner or family over to join you temporarily or permanently in Australia on the Department of Home AffairsExternal Link website.

There are many different types of visas a family member overseas can apply for, and the process can be quite complicated. The rules change often, so get help.

Economic migration

Economic migration means you are:

  • a professional or skilled worker looking for work or business
  • sponsored by an employer to work.

There are rules about the types of skills and qualifications you must have to get a visa. The Department of Home AffairsExternal Link website lists the different skilled worker visasExternal Link .

These visa applications are expensive and complicated. You may need help from a migration lawyer. The Law Institute of VictoriaExternal Link can refer you to lawyers who specialise in immigration law.

Refugees through the Humanitarian Program

You are a refugee if you leave your country because you have good reason to feel at risk of serious harm there. If you come to Australia as a refugee, you will need to prove that:

  • you may be persecuted for your race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, and/or membership of a social group. Being persecuted means that you are hurt or treated very badly by people who have power over you, like police or soldiers. This could include them hurting you, or putting you in prison without a good reason.
  • your own country is unable or unwilling to protect you from harm.

If you are a refugee, you can apply for a protection visa to stay in Australia.

Getting a protection visa

To apply for a protection visa, you must fill in an application form and explain why you cannot go back to your home country. The application fee is $35.

The Department of Home AffairsExternal Link is the government department that will decide if you meet its rules about who is a refugee. If the department agrees that you are a refugee, they will give you a temporary protection visa. This means you have permission to live in Australia for the amount of time on your visa.

While you are waiting for the department’s decision, you may be able to work, but get legal advice first. If you work without permission, the department can put you in detention.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 04 March 2022

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