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Fact Sheet 46 – Temporary Entry: An Overview

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People may enter Australia on a temporary basis, whether as visitors, students or for a range of specialised purposes.

Temporary entrants include:

  • visitors or tourists
  • students
  • business people for short stays
  • people with specialist skills, such as managers, academics and medical practitioners
  • people who make a social or cultural contribution to the community, such as entertainers, media and film staff, sports people, religious workers and visiting academics
  • people who contribute to the development of international relations, such as diplomatic personnel, participants in exchange programmes and working holiday makers.


Tourists come to Australia for holidays, to visit friends and family or for social and cultural events. Visitors are the largest group of temporary entrants to Australia, contributing to Australia's export earnings and employment.


Overseas students are Australia's second largest group of temporary entrants, with international education being one of Australia's largest export industries.

A total of 259 278 student visas were granted in the 2012-13 programme year, an increase of 2.5 per cent compared with 2011-12. Students studying abroad create ties at a more personal level than formal international diplomacy.

Australia's student visa programme provides an opportunity for people to study in an environment that is internationally recognised as progressive, secure and culturally diverse. Australians value the wealth of cultural diversity and social sophistication that international students bring to our campuses and communities.
See: Fact Sheet 50 – Overseas Students in Australia

Temporary graduate

The temporary graduate visa enables graduates who have completed their studies in Australia while on a qualifying student visa, to live and work in Australia temporarily after they have finished their studies.

This visa has two streams:

  • Graduate work stream – for international students who graduate with skills and qualifications that relate to an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL): Schedule 1. A visa in this stream is granted for 18 months.
  • Post-study work stream – for international students who graduate with an eligible qualification. This stream is only available to students who applied for and were granted their first student visa to Australia on or after 5 November 2011. A visa in this stream can be granted for up to four years, depending on the applicant's qualification.

See: Fact Sheet 45 - Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa

Temporary residence programme

Temporary residents bring new ideas, contacts, understanding, skills and technology to Australia enabling it to remain competitive—the key to further economic prosperity.

Australia benefits from the energy, skills, commitment and diversity which temporary residents bring to Australia and the contribution they make to the economy through spending and investment.
See: Fact Sheet 47 – Temporary Residence in Australia

Skilled and business

Australia receives many thousands of short-term international business visitors each year.

The business visitor stream of the Visitor (subclass 600) visa permits business visitors to spend short periods in Australia for business visitor purposes. Business visitor purposes may include attending a conference, negotiation or an exploratory business visit.

Businesses unable to meet their skill needs from within the Australian labour force can sponsor skilled workers from overseas on a temporary basis to work in Australia for up to four years through the Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) programme.

A key objective of business temporary entry policy is to support Australian business in its endeavours to be internationally competitive, while ensuring employment and training opportunities for Australian residents are not compromised.

Some of the benefits for Australia are:

  • employment creation
  • enhancement of our skill and technology base
  • development of cutting edge technologies and industries.

See: Fact Sheet 48 – Helping Skilled and Business People

Temporary work

This group of visas are available for a range of activities, including for people taking part in sporting, entertainment, and cultural activities, for short-term highly specialised work, for religious work and for staff exchange arrangements between an Australian and an overseas organisation. These professionals contribute to our skill base, and to increased understanding between cultures in Australia.

Australian industries continue to benefit from the experience and status of people from overseas.
See: Fact Sheet 47 – Temporary Residence in Australia

International relations

The international relations visa category seeks to foster better relations and cultural understanding between countries. Visitors include foreign government personnel, diplomats and working holiday makers.

Training and research

The training and research visa allows for the temporary entry of groups of professionals, managers and government officials from overseas who want to enhance their professional skills by taking part in tailored training programmes, conduct research or to participate in academic activities.
See: Fact Sheet 51 – Training and Research Visa

Working holiday visa programme

The working holiday programme aims to promote international understanding by helping young people experience other cultures. The reciprocal nature of the programme offers similar opportunities for young Australians to undertake working holidays overseas.

Australia has reciprocal working holiday arrangements in effect with: Belgium, Canada, the Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
See: Fact Sheet 49 – Working Holiday Programme

Work and holiday visa programme

Australia's work and holiday programme allows young people from arrangement countries to have an extended holiday in Australia by supplementing their travel funds through incidental employment. Work and holiday visas are similar to the working holiday visas, except that the work and holiday visa programme requires additional documentation from arrangement countries. Applicants may need to provide a letter of support from their government agreeing to their stay in Australia, hold university education qualifications and have functional English.  
Note: These extra provisions do not apply to applicants from the United States of America.

Australia currently has reciprocal work and holiday arrangements in effect with Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay.
See: Fact Sheet 49a – Work and Holiday Programme

Other visas

Other visas include the retirement visa, the investor retirement visa, and the special programme visa. These people contribute both financially and socially to the enrichment of Australia.

Additional visitor information

For further information about visiting Australia see the following fact sheets:

Fact Sheet 46. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed December 2013.