What are the key differences between permanent & temporary visas?

10th July 2020

In this turbulent period where non-citizens and non-permanent residents are excluded from entering Australia’s borders, the differences between the entitlements of permanent and temporary visa holders have become more apparent than ever before.

Australia has the second largest migrant workforce in the OECD (1), so how will closing our borders to temporary visa holders impact our economy? And how will temporary visa holders who are unable to leave Australia support themselves if they lose work as a result of COVID-19?

We’ve looked at some of the key differences between temporary and permanent visas and the impact these have on the rights and entitlements of visa holders.

Period of stay

The most significant difference between permanent and temporary visas is the duration of stay in Australia. Temporary visas (such as temporary skill-shortage visas [subclass 482], working holiday visas, or student visas) permit the visa holder to reside in Australia for a limited amount of time with some restricted working conditions. However, permanent residency visas (such as certain partner visas, employer nominated visas [subclasses 186 and 187]) allow the visa holder to stay permanently in Australia with less restricted working conditions attached to them.

This means that temporary visa holders are required to either leave Australia or apply for another visa on the expiration of their temporary visa. For example, you can apply for a subclass 186 or 187 visa upon your medium-term subclass 482 visa expiring.

In contrast, permanent visa holders are able to stay indefinitely or apply for citizenship to stay permanently in Australia upon their permanent visa expiring and given they fulfil other eligibility criteria.

Benefits and rights

Given the variety of temporary and permanent visa types, different types of benefits and rights are conferred with each type of visa. Generally, permanent visas provide more rights to the visa holder compared to temporary visas. For example, permanent residents have unrestricted work conditions and are entitled to government payments, whereas temporary residents have limited working conditions and cannot claim many government payments.

Many permanent and temporary visas also allow you to bring dependent family members as a part of your application. These dependent family members can work and study in Australia, as well as become eligible for further visa renewals and citizenship, depending on the conditions of your particular visa grant.

Common pathways from temporary visas to permanent visas include:

  • Medium-term Temporary Skills Shortage visa (subclass 482) -> Employer Nominated Scheme visa (subclass 186)
  • Temporary partner visa (subclass 820) -> Permanent partner visa (subclass 801)

This serves as a guide only – please confirm your personal visa journey with one of our registered migration agents.

You can find out more about specific visas and their pathways to permanent visas below:

If you are interested in finding out more about either a permanent or temporary visa, or if you'd like general advice, contact one of our agents today.

(1) https://www.sbs.com.au/news/how-australia-splits-its-migration-intake-between-temporary-and-permanent-visas