Medical Training Review Panel: thirteenth report

Department of Immigration and Citizenship Entry Processes

Page last updated: April 2010

There are a number of specific visa classes and processes through which an overseas person can apply to work in Australia. Temporary visas range in duration from one day up to four years.

There are three subclasses of visas under which most medical practitioners enter Australia. Until 1 April 2005 medical practitioners applied for a specific visa, 'Subclass 422'. Since then medical practitioners have been encouraged to apply for the more generic 'Subclass 457 Long Stay Business' visa, which can be granted for a stay of up to four years for business purposes. Other IMGs enter Australia under visa Subclass 442, which is for ‘occupational trainees’. Given the changes in the visa categories being used, trends in the numbers of medical practitioners entering Australia under various visas should therefore be considered with caution.

Business - Long Stay (Subclass 457) Visa

The Business - Long Stay (Subclass 457) visa is the most commonly used program for employers to sponsor overseas workers to work in Australia on a temporary basis.

Recipients may remain in Australia for up to four years and can bring eligible family members with them. They can work full-time, but only for their sponsor or, in some circumstances, an associated entity of the sponsor. Doctors are able to work for multiple and/or unrelated entities, but their sponsor retains obligations in relation to them.

Applicants must comply with the following conditions:
  • be sponsored by an employer;
  • have skills, qualifications, experience and an employment background that match those required for the position;
  • have a job with their approved sponsor;
  • meet the English language requirement unless eligible for a waiver;
  • be eligible to hold a licence or registration for the position (if required); and
  • be paid the rate of guaranteed salary specified in the relevant nomination, based on the market salary rate for the position.

Medical Practitioner - Temporary (Subclass 422) Visa

The Medical Practitioner - Temporary (Subclass 422) visa is only open to medical practitioners and permits them to work in Australia for a sponsoring employer for a period of three months to four years. Medical practitioners are now encouraged to choose the Business - Long Stay (Subclass 457) visa in preference to choosing to apply to enter the country under this visa.

Applicants can work in Australia for the employer who sponsored them, as an independent contractor or for multiple unrelated employers. There are special arrangements available if applicants want to work in rural or regional Australia.

Applicants can bring eligible family members with them to Australia, who are able to work and study.

Applicants must comply with the following conditions:
  • be eligible for at least conditional registration through the medical board to practise as a medical practitioner in the state or territory where they will be employed;
  • have an offer of full-time employment with an Australian employer, such as a hospital, medical practice or area health service;
  • salary may include fees charged and Medicare rebates;
  • their family will need to undertake health examinations;
  • police clearances, for themselves and any family members over 16 years, are required if their stay exceeds 12 months; and
  • ensure that they and their family hold adequate private medical and hospital health insurance cover for the entire time they are in Australia.
Further information is available at:

Occupational Trainee Visa (Subclass 442)

The Occupational Trainee Visa (Subclass 442) allows people to complete workplace-based training in Australia on a temporary basis. The training must provide people with additional or enhanced skills in the nominated occupations, tertiary studies or fields of expertise.

This visa may be valid for up to two years to undertake an approved training program (subject to the length of the approved training program).

People may be nominated for this visa if the proposed occupational training is one of the following:
  • training or practical experience in the workplace required for the person to obtain registration for employment in their occupation in Australia or in their home country;
  • a structured workplace training program to enhance the person's existing skills in an eligible occupation; or
  • structured workplace training to enhance the person's skills and promote capacity building overseas.

Further information is available at:

Current Data

In 2008-2009 there were 4,080 visas granted to medical practitioners across the three main visa subclasses (422, 442 and 457) (Table 5.1).

The overall number of visas issued has fluctuated over the years between 2004-05 and 2008-09, from a low of 4,070 in 2004-05 to a high of 4,930 in 2007-08.

The trend in the types of visas issued over this period has altered dramatically. The bulk of those being granted are now under Subclass 457 (81.2%) and those under Subclass 422 have decreased substantially from the 3,070 visas issued in 2004-2005 to 430 visas in 2008-2009.

Table 5.1: Major classes of visa granted to medical practitioners, 2004-05 to 2008-09(a)(b)

Visa subclass






2008-09 proportion of total (%)

Increase 2004-05 to 2008-09 (%)










(a) Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
(b) For Subclass 442 and 457, nominated occupations include ASCO 231 Medical Practitioner.

Source: Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship administrative data, 2009

Medical practitioners from all across the world apply to work in Australia. Many of these come from countries, namely the United Kingdom and Canada, which have very similar medical training and have been major sources of medical practitioners to Australia for decades. One-fifth (20.5%) of visas under the three main classes were granted to applicants from the United Kingdom (Table 5.2). More recently, larger numbers of international recruits have come from a number of Asian countries, particularly India and Malaysia.

Table 5.2 Primary visa applications granted to medical practitioners by visa subclass: Top 10 citizenship countries, 2008-09(a)(b)

Citizenship country

Visa subclass 422

Visa subclass 442

Visa subclass 457


Proportion of total (%)

United Kingdom804072084020.6
Sri Lanka20401902405.9
South Africa50<51401904.7
Ireland, Republic of20<51401603.9
Other countries10016066091022.3







(a) Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.
(b) Subclass 442 and 457, nominated occupations include ASCO 231 Medical Practitioner.

Source: Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship administrative data, 2009

Table 5.3 provides data on the total number of medical practitioners in Australia who hold one of the three main subclasses of visa at the end of the 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 financial years. This shows that there were 6,140 medical practitioners holding visas at 30 June 2009, which is not dissimilar to the previous year when 6,167 medical practitioners held visas at 30 June 2008. This is equivalent to 8.0% of all medical practitioners registered in Australia in 2007 (77,193 registered medical practitioners, AIHW 2009)3.

Table 5.3: Primary visa holders where the occupation is medical practitioner by visa subclass, 2007-08 and 2008-09

Visa subclass







Source: Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship administrative data, 2009

3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. Medical labour force 2007. National health labour force series no. 44. Cat. No. HWL 45. Canberra: AIHW.