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GP onboarding process in Australia
What doctors need to know about immigration and visas

Navigating immigration and visas along with all the paperwork that goes with it can seem a huge challenge for doctors wanting to move to Australia.

Understanding how to be nominated and which visa to apply for might appear like it requires a bachelor’s degree in itself.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Luke Edwards deals with immigration and visas every day as an Immigration Lawyer at Work Visa Lawyers in Adelaide.

On a recent episode of Living The Australian Dream podcast, Luke helped us untangle the myriad of requirements around immigration and visas so you can begin your journey to a new life down under.

Visa eligibility

It can be a giant headache just working out what visa you are eligible to apply for.

The process varies depending on your profile, age, experience and sometimes your competency speaking the English language.

“Most GPs come to Australia under the 482 visa program,” Luke said.

“It’s a temporary employer-sponsored work visa, usually good for a period of up to four years.

“Beyond that, many doctors are then able to advance to permanent residency in Australia by applying for one of the permanent visas such as the 186 employer-sponsored permanent visa.”

General Skilled Migration visas (GSMs) allow foreign doctors to permanently migrate to Australia without an employer sponsor.

These are known as the 189 or 190 visas, the latter being a state-sponsored pathway and another viable alternative according to Luke.

“Obviously there’s a big demand for doctors in Australia at the moment so lots of states are quite interested in sponsoring GPs and other doctors,” he said.

“Because it’s not employer sponsored, it’s a bit more independent.

“Most states will ask the applicant to commit to a period of two years living in that state but there is flexibility to move around within there.”

Which visa to choose

The difficult part is knowing which visa to apply for because there are various restrictions such as an applicant’s age and their specific occupation as well as requirements around skills assessments.

There is an abundance of information online.

The immigration portal is self-explanatory.

Simply answer the questions and upload documents as required.

But immigration and visas is a specialised field so if you are in any doubt, it is wise to enlist the services of an immigration lawyer.

Nomination vs Application

Many people become confused with the difference between a nomination and an application.

A clinic that sponsors a doctor to come to Australia will make a visa nomination.

It is then up to the GP to forward their application.

The employer-sponsored process such as the 482 temporary visa or the permanent 186 visa is comprised of two separate parts – the medical practice’s part and the GP’s part.

The nomination is the medical practice’s part which involves them giving:

  • details about the business
  • why they need the position filled
  • why they are having difficulty in getting GPs locally
  • showing they are a suitable business to nominate this position

The visa part or application on the GP’s side involves them:

  • verifying their identity
  • showing they have the skills to fill the position
  • detailing their qualifications and experience
  • providing details about their family
  • proving they are of good character
  • proving they have no criminal record
  • providing detailed health assessments

What documents does a GP need to complete an application?

There are numerous documents required to complete an application.

These include medical assessments which can be done either before or after lodgement.

It requires visiting a panel of physicians selected by the Australian Department of Home Affairs in the GP’s home country. 

This is a requirement for all family members who wish to migrate.

It is not possible to have an assessment conducted by a doctor of your own choice.

Police clearances are also required from any country where you have resided for 12 months or more in the last 10 years. This can be an arduous process so leave yourself plenty of time.

You will also need:

  • AHPRA registration
  • qualification certificates from your Bachelor’s degree
  • two-year employment experience requirement (482 visa only)
  • work reference 
  • evidence of English speaking ability
  • evidence of payment

Submitting an application

For a 482 visa, you won’t be able to lodge an online application or upload relevant documents until your nomination has been submitted.

“Many people will choose to wait until the nomination application has been approved,” Luke said.

“But plenty of people I’ve assisted can be expedient to lodging them both around the same time.

“It means that if both take approximately one month to process, you can reduce the overall waiting time from two months to one month.

“It allows you to get to Australia a bit sooner.

“Given the high demand for GPs in Australia, applications are looked at quite quickly and tend to go faster”

Cost of visas and supporting documents

Most GPs on a 482 visa fall under the Medium Term Stream, attracting a cost of $3035.

A partner pays the same fee while children below 18 years of age cost $760 each.

The cost of a permanent visa (186) is $4640 for the primary applicant, $2320 for additional applicants over 18 years of age and $1160 for each additional applicant under 18 years of age.

Generally for Australian visas, only members of the immediate family unit can travel with the applicant. 

That means partners and dependent children up to age 23 only.

A 20-year-old child who has married and has a full-time job would not be eligible to migrate with their family.

What about citizenship?

You will need permanent residency before you can apply for citizenship.

In November, 2023, the time required to work for your sponsoring employer before applying for citizenship was reduced from three years to two years.

Nomination and application issues

Another issue with immigration and visas in Australia arises if a nomination is withdrawn by the sponsor or rejected.

It is possible to request a refund for the application fee and this is normally approved.

It is done online and may take around a month to process.

But if you change your mind about travelling, there is generally no provision for a refund.

“You will still have up to 12 months to arrive,” Luke said.

“But for a 482 temporary visa, it is a condition you arrive reasonably quickly.

“GPs really need to be fully committed to the move.”

Appealing a rejected application is also difficult, Luke said.

“Most commonly where an applicant is overseas and their visa is refused, there is generally not an ability to appeal that.

“On a more practical level, in some circumstances where appeals are possible, such as where an employer’s nomination is refused, there is currently around a three-year wait for that appeal to be heard.”

Submitting a new application is a more sensible approach.

“So for most employers, the additional expense can be worth it when we’re talking a couple of days to redo job advertising and resubmit a better application. 

“The few thousand dollars is usually a good trade off.”

What clinics can sponsor a GP?

Generally speaking, the practice must be well established and have a good reputation to prove they are suitable to nominate a GP to migrate.

The first time a practice sponsors a GP, it must also be a business sponsor.

This involves applying for a five-year standard business sponsorship which is a one-time application and allows the practice to sponsor multiple GPs, as well as other roles if suitable.

Contact Health Recruitment today

Now you’ve got your head around the immigration and visas process, it’s time to start thinking about your new life in Australia.

That’s where Health Recruitment Australia can help!

HRA is a dedicated recruitment agency that specialises in matching overseas doctors of all ages with clinics needing GPs in Australia.

We’ll help you find the right city, region and practice to work in.

That clinic will then nominate you and your application process can begin.

We’ll answer all of your questions to help put your mind at ease and make your move as smooth as possible.

There are multiple opportunities available for doctors keen to make the move and enjoy everything living and working in Australia has to offer.

We’ll even help you complete all that annoying paperwork so you’re living and working in Australia ASAP.

Why not start with an informal, no-obligation discussion with the experienced team at Health Recruitment Australia? Contact us.

Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!


Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!