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Do I have to get a job when moving to Australia on a work visa, or can I freelance?

By April 14, 2021December 22nd, 2022FinGlobal

Do I have to get a job when moving to Australia on a work visa, or can I freelance?

April 14, 2021


Many South Africans have their eyes set on Australia as their next home country. In fact, you might be one of them. If you are eyeing out the land down under, there are a few things you need to research before you pack your bags and leave. For starters, do you know how to get a work visa for Australia?

For a lot of people, finding a possible job in the country is a way of getting in. This isn’t considered “first prize” for everyone though. What do freelancers do if they have their sights set on AUS, but don’t want to get into a work contract? Many people enjoy the “nomadic” lifestyle and would much rather work as a freelancer. Are there opportunities in Australia for freelancers? Can a freelancer get a work visa easily?  If you are a freelancer, this one is for you!


Working in Australia requirements

To start working in Australia certain strict requirements have to be met. It’s not just about the working visa Australia cost that you should be interested in. You should also give some thought to who you are and what you have to offer the country, because Australia seeks out viable prospects who can offer value to the national community. 

The requirements for getting a work visa in Australia really depend on what type of visa you apply for. What’s evident is that you do need a work visa to freelance in Australia, but not all visas are designed for this.

Below are a few visa types (along with their requirements) that cater to freelance workers in AUS:

Work & holiday visa

If you want to test out the job market in Australia or just freelance for a short period of time, a work and holiday visa might be for you. With this type of visa, you are very welcome to earn your income through freelancing. To be eligible for this visa, you must:

  • Be under 35 years old.
  • Have a good level of English (certified).
  • Have at least 3500 euros in your bank account.
  • A return flight.


Student visa

This type of visa has minimal requirements, so it remains a popular choice. Applicants must intend to study for at least 3 months at a recognised Australian institution. During this time, you are allowed to work as a freelancer. If you keep up your studies, you can renew your student visa and keep working and studying for longer.


Spouse visa

If your spouse has a work visa and is working and living in Australia, you can apply for a spouse visa. When you have a spouse visa, there is no restriction on the work you can do. You can work for yourself or seek out employment with a company. This means that freelance work is considered acceptable for someone who immigrates to Australia with their spouse.


Citizenship by descent

You may be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if for instance, one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth and he/she (your parent) had spent at least 2 full years in the country prior to your birth. This only applies to people born outside of Australia to an Australian citizen, on or after 26 January 1949. Achieving citizenship in Australia via this route will entitle you to full working rights, which means that you can freelance while living in the country. Of course, you will still need to register for an ABN (Australian Business Number) via the Australian Business Register and ensure that you have a Tax File Number, before you start freelancing.


Self-employment visa

If you don’t want to go the spouse, student, or work and holiday visa routes, you will need to apply for a self-employment visa. This visa allows you to work for yourself and freelance in Australia, but it is not easy to get. The requirements are quite strict and demanding. There are 2 types of self-employment visas that you can apply for; Significant Business History Visa or Venture Capital Entrepreneur.

For the significant business history visa, you must have:

  • A net value of 1.5 million Australian dollars.
  • For at least 2 years prior to your application, you must have a turnover of no less than 3 million Australian dollars.
  • At least 400 000 Australian dollars’ worth of assets.
  • Younger than 55 years of age.

For the venture capital entrepreneur visa, you must have:

  • Minimum of 1 million Australian dollars in funding (capital).

As you can tell, both of the self-employment visa types are quite difficult for the average South African freelancer to meet with.


Get your tax & financial emigration finalised before immigrating to Australia

If you are heading to Australia, chances are that you’re doing a lot of research. Finding a job or working as a freelancer can be challenging, but once you understand the rules, regulations, and proper Australian way of doing things, it all gets a lot easier.

While living and working (and earning) in Australia, it is important that you understand what your tax and financial obligations are, both there and back in South Africa. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable tax and financial emigration consultant. At FinGlobal, we are here to help. With our assistance and guidance, you can make sure that your obligations are met and that you are faced with no nasty surprises in the future. For more information and advice, simply get in touch with us.


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