Guide for how to work in Australia for Malaysians

Hannes Ausmees

If you’re a Malaysian citizen dreaming of finding opportunities to work in Australia you’re in the right place. This guide runs through how to get a work visa in Australia, which work permits and visas may suit Malaysians headed to Australia, and how to apply.

We’ll also take a look at how the Wise Account can help you manage your money once you arrive in Australia, to cut your costs, and hit the ground running. Let’s dive right in.

Table of contents


Can I move to Australia as a Malaysian?

First some good news. You can move to Australia as a Malaysian citizen, as long as you have the correct paperwork in place.

Australia is a hugely popular destination for people looking to relocate, with its beautiful scenery, great climate and famously laid back way of life. Recent figures show that almost 30% of the people living in Australia were born overseas¹- with Malaysia as one of the top 10 countries in terms of numbers of immigrants to Australia annually. In fact, some 177,000 Malaysians lived in Australia in 2020.

It’s important to note that anyone wanting to live and work in Australia will need the right visas and permits to be able to do so legally. This guide walks through some of the most popular options for Malaysians looking to work in Australia to help you research. There’s a broad range of different visa types though, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, check out the Australian immigration authorities’ website² to see if there’s a visa which more closely suits your needs.

Who can get a work permit in Australia?

There are some 43 different types of work visa for Australia, which may suit you depending on the type of work you’re intending to do.

In this guide we will focus on the most common options including an Australian work visa for specialist and professional work, and the Australian work and holiday visa. However, you may also be able to get a visa as an investor, intern, exchange student or researcher.

Specialist and skilled work visas

If you work in a skilled role, particularly in a shortage area, you may be able to get a specialist work visa based on your profession and the area of Australia you want to live in. There are regional skills shortage visas which are offered to people who meet the minimum eligibility criteria, and who want to live and work in an area of the country where their skills are in demand. You’ll usually need an employer or relative to sponsor your application, or to be nominated by a state or territorial government agency.

The employer sponsored specialist visa costs start from 4,111 AUD, for a visa issued for up to 5 years. You may be eligible to apply for permanent residence after 3 years in Australia. Some visas can only be issued to people aged 45 or under, although some exemptions do apply based on the profession in question.

To see if this visa type may suit you, you’ll need to check out the Australian government’s skilled occupation list³, which covers all the different professions which are in demand, and details the visa types you may be eligible for.

Learn more about AU work visas from our 2023 guide.

Work and holiday visa Australia

One very popular way to live and work in Australia, while enjoying some travel around the country, is to get a work and holiday visa. As a Malaysian you can apply for up to 3 visas under this programme, which lets you do any type of work without a position being lined up in advance.

The work and holiday visa costs 510 AUD, and is issued for up to 12 months at a time. Up to 3 visas can be issued to eligible applicants, who must be aged between 18 and 30.

How to get a visa to work in Australia


If you’re applying for a working holiday visa in Australia you’ll need to complete the process online before you travel. You’ll need to provide a suite of documents to prove your identity, your English language and education level, and how you’ll pay for your stay. You’ll also have to pay the visa fees, and cover the costs of any required health checks or legal charges.

  • For employer sponsored visa applications you’ll first need the employer to register your nomination. They’ll be given a Transaction Reference Number, which you’ll need to have to hand when you apply for the visa online.
  • As with the working holiday visa, you’ll have to prepare and upload documents proving your skills and education, and you may be required to have health checks carried out before your visa is issued.

The good news is that there’s a helpful website provided by the Australian immigration authorities which sets out the full step by step process based on the specific visa type you’re interested in. There’s also the option to get professional help and advice from an immigration expert - although extra fees may apply in this case.

Australian work visa - costs

The costs of applying for an Australian work visa will vary depending on the visa type and duration.

  • Employer sponsored specialist visa application costs start from 4,111 AUD
  • Work and Holiday visa application costs 510 AUD

Aside from application fees, you may also need to pay legal costs, have documents translated, take medical exams or English proficiency tests. Before you get started you’ll want to check out the full range of charges which may apply, based on your personal situation.

How to work in Australia - finding a job

Australian work and holiday visa holders don’t necessarily need to have work lined up before travelling - however, for most skilled work visas you’ll need an employer to support your application, so finding a job in advance is essential. If you’re looking for highly skilled and professional work in Australia, an online tool may be a good place to start. Popular Australian recruitment websites include:

You’ll also be able to look for positions through your own professional network and by approaching companies directly. Finding a job in Australia isn’t an easy task, so be prepared to invest time on applications, and get started well before you’re hoping to relocate.

Malaysians going to Australia on a work and holiday visa may have a slightly easier time finding a position, as they’ll be able to take casual, contract and seasonal work alongside travel or study.

Choose an agency for work in Australia for Malaysians

One other option, if you’re considering a work and holiday visa for Australia, is to make arrangements via an agency. In this case, an agency may be able to help find you a job, and offer additional support to help you settle into your new home.

Costs for this option are pretty steep, but with an agency like Global Work and Travel⁴ you’ll get help with the visa application process, a guaranteed job for when you arrive, as well as social activities, orientation and a few nights accommodation to help you settle in.

Moving to Australia? Manage your money between Australia and Malaysia with the Wise multi-currency account

Arranging your Australian work visa will mean paying a few fees in AUD - and once you actually make the leap to relocate, you’ll need a convenient way to manage your money in both ringgit and Australian dollars.

Don’t wait until you get to Australia - instead, open a multi-currency Wise Account before you leave, to hold and exchange AUD, MYR and 50+ other currencies. And get paid like a local from 30+ countries - you can get AUD bank details without leaving Malaysia. For daily spending, the Wise card allows you to easily spend your AUD in Australia and withdraw cash from ATMs so you can hit the ground running once you arrive.

If you need to move money from Australia back to Malaysia, it’s easy to transfer money from AUD to MYR in the Wise account. View and manage your account online or in the handy Wise app and benefit from transaction and exchange fees which are usually significantly cheaper than banks. Whenever you need to convert from one currency to another Wise uses the mid-market rate - the one you’ll find on Google - with no hidden fees or charges to worry about.⁵

The true cost of sending MYR to AUD


If you’re looking for ways to work in Australia for Malaysian citizens, you’ll have a few different options depending on your personal circumstances. Use this guide to get started in your job search and find the right visa type for your needs.

And don’t forget to open a free online Wise Account to hold and exchange ringgit and Australian dollars with the real exchange rate, even before you relocate.

Learn more about Wise 👀


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics - migration
  2. Australian government - work visa finder
  3. Australian government - skilled occupation list
  4. Global Work and Travel - agency
  5. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: Only Pay for What You Use for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information

Sources checked on 02.02.2022

Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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