For an International Medical Graduate (IMG) to work in Australia as a medical practitioner there are three key steps:
- Obtain a successful skills assessment
- Get registered with the Australian Medical Board (AMB)
- Get a visa
But there is a little catch: In order to get registration with the AMB you will need a job offer unless you are successful in gaining registration as a specialist.
No matter how many years of experience you have in your home country, your initial registration in Australia will be either limited or provisional – with the exception of specialists. This means that you will need to complete 12 months of supervised practice (minimum of 47 weeks of full-time service) before gaining general registration.
Gaining registration is easier for doctors who trained and/or are registered to practice in the the UK, Canada, USA, New Zealand and Ireland. The Australian Medical Board recognises that practitioners from these countries have essentially equivalent qualifications. Therefore the skills assessment and registration process revolves around verification of those qualifications and work experience.
Practitioners from other countries are required to pass both a written (AMC CAT MCQ) examination and the AMC clinical examinations, which are administered by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). In some cases a workplace-based assessment can be substituted for the clinical examination. Upon successful completion, you can then apply for provisional registration.
Specialists have a different skills assessment and registration pathway which is administered by the College that represents that field of specialisation.
To find out more about the skills assessment process for International Medical Graduates (IMG’s), refer to our Registration and Skills Assessment Blog on this topic
Working Holiday Visa
For young doctors, (30 and under) one option may be to come to Australia on a working holiday visa (subclass 417) or a work and holiday visa (subclass 462). You will need to hold a passport from one of the countries participating in the working holiday or work and holiday visa programs. These visas will enable you to travel and work in Australia while looking for employment as a medical practitioner and before commencing the skills assessment and registration process. A working holiday in Australia could also be useful to young doctors who have secured a job offer in Australia; have completed the skills assessment and registration process and are keen to get to Australia quickly. Working holiday visas are usually processed in about 2 weeks.
Temporary Work (457) Visa
This is a common pathway for many medical practitioners and requires you be sponsored by an Australian medical practice. The medical practice must be an approved 457 Standard Business Sponsor. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is currently taking about 3 months to process 457 visas. The visa is usually granted for 4 years and it enables the doctor to work for the sponsoring medical practice and other medical practices. This visa can provide a very useful stepping stone on the pathway to a permanent residence visa.
Employer Sponsored Migration
There are two programs under this general heading – the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 and the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186. Both are permanent residence visas but each has a slightly different set of requirements. Doctors generally work on a “self-employed” basis. The Subclass 187 and 186 visa programs require the nominated doctor to be directly employed by the medical practice. The DIBP processing time for these applications is currently 10 to 12 months. You need to have full medical (general or specialist) registration to apply for these visas.
General Skilled Migration
The General Skilled Migration program includes the Independent Skilled (189) Skilled Nominated (190) and Skilled Regional (489) visas. The 189 and 190 visas are permanent residence visas. The 489 visa is a provisional residence visa. – a sort of stepping stone visa. Permanent residence can be achieved by living and working in a regional area for 2 years and meeting additional visa application requirements. All three visas are applied for through Skillselect – which is a points tested program. Points are allocated for qualifications, age, experience and other factors. The 189 and 190 visas provide a swift pathway to permanent residence for doctors who can meet the visa requirements. The Department’s processing time for decision ready applications can be as little as 1 week. You need to have full medical (general or specialist) registration to apply for these visas.
Business Visitor Stream
Some doctors who do not have the qualifications to work in their profession in Australia can undertake a bridging program to gain registration with the relevant Australian Medical Authority. A business visitor stream visa is appropriate for a doctor to undertake a bridging program or to sit their medical board examination.
Migrating successfully to Australia as a doctor requires an in-depth understanding of the medical registration and visa application process. Engaging an experienced Australian Registered Migration Agent who is able to provide professional guidance on visa pathways and medical registration requirements can be an important first step. Once your pathway is clearly mapped out, an experienced agent can skilfully navigate you through the hoops and hurdles of the application process. Get in touch today to discuss your visa options and find out how we can help you come to, or remain in Australia