emigrating to australia as an occupational therapist
  • Are you a qualified occupational therapist?
  • Under the age of 45?
  • In good health and fluent in English?

Then emigrating to Australia may be an option for you! Continue reading to find out:

  • The criteria to meet to immigrate
  • What Australia expects of you
  • The process to follow

Is your occupation on a skills shortage list?

Australia has four skills shortage lists. These lists contain all the occupations in Australia that is in need from overseas because there is a shortage of talent in the country. 

  1. Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
  2. Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)
  3. Regional Occupational List (ROL)
  4. Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)

And do you know what? Occupational therapists are on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)! 

This means the Australian government is happy with Australian companies hiring occupational therapists from overseas, albeit subject to strict requirements. 

Please note: Australia has also created a temporary skilled occupation list in response to COVID-19 called the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).

Do you meet the requirements for skilled migration?

Your occupation appearing on a skills shortage list is only the start! You also have to meet Australia's skilled immigration requirements as you want to apply for a skilled migrant visa.

We take you through these requirements below: 

Australia's skilled migration criteria

Emigrating to Australia as a occupational therapist will only be possible if you achieve a points score of at least 65 in your immigration assessment.


In order to immigrate to Australia, you must score an IELTS 7 in all four components of your test - reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

The IELTS is not the only English test available though. Your immigration agent should advise you on which English language test would be best for you.

More information on English tests:

health requirementsAll applicants for permanent and provisional visas must meet Australia’s health requirements to qualify for immigration. This includes the:

  • Main applicant;
  • Spouse; and
  • Any other members of the family unit.

The Department of Home Affairs or the migration medical services provider will evaluate the completed health exam reports to decide if applicants meet Australia’s health requirements.

Please note: In certain cases, non-migrating family members will also be assessed against the health requirements.

Everyone who wants to enter Australia must be of good character and will be assessed against Australia's character requirements. As part of your visa application, you might be required to provide a police clearance certificate or other evidence to satisfy the character requirements.

  • You will not pass the character test if:

    • you have a substantial criminal record, meaning you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, or multiple sentences that add up to more than 12 months in prison. A suspended sentence is considered a prison sentence.

    • you have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention, or convicted for an offence that you committed:

      • while you were in immigration detention,

      • during an escape from immigration detention,

      • after an escape, but before you were taken into immigration detention again.

  • You are or have been a member of a group or organisation, or had or have an association with a person, group or organisation that the Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects of involvement in criminal conduct

  • The Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects that you have been involved in people smuggling, people trafficking, genocide, a war crime, a crime against humanity, a crime involving torture or slavery, or a crime that is of serious international concern, whether or not you have been convicted of such an offence

  • Your past and present criminal or general conduct shows that you are not of good character

  • There is a risk that while you are in Australia you would:

    • engage in criminal conduct,

    • harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person,

    • vilify a segment of the Australian community,

    • incite discord in the Australian community or in a part of it,

    • be a danger to the Australian community or a part of it.

  • You have been convicted of, or found guilty or had a charge proven for one or more sexually based offences involving a child,

  • You are subject to an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

  • You are subject to an Interpol notice, from which it is reasonable to infer that you a direct or indirect risk to the Australian community, or a segment of the Australian community.

More about the points test and English language requirements...

PART 1 – Age

18 – 2525
25 – 3230
32 – 3925
40 – 4415
45 – 490

Occupational therapists can get as much as 50% of the required 65 points just by being in the right age group!

PART 2 – English language

Superior English - IELTS 8 or more in all 4 components or OET ‘A pass’20
Proficient English - IELTS 7 or more in all 4 components or OET ‘B pass’10
Threshold English: Competent English (IELTS 6 or more in all 4 components or certain passport holders)0

PART 3 – Overseas employment experience

36 months (3 years) in the last 10 years5
60 months (5 years) in the last 10 years10
96 months (8 years) in the last 10 years15

'Overseas' means experience you gained while working outside of Australia. This experience must add up to at least three years of working in your occupation as an occupational therapist.

PART 4 – Australian employment experience

Points are available if an applicant has worked in Australia in their nominated occupation or closely related skilled occupation as follows: 

1 Year5
3 Years10
5 Years15
8 Years20

Please note: You can get a maximum of 20 points for a combination of Australian and overseas work experience.

PART 5 – Australian professional year

You get five points if you've completed a professional year in Australia in your nominated occupation or a closely related occupation.

PART 6 – Educational qualifications

You get points if you have completed qualifications either through an Australian educational institution or an overseas qualification that is of a recognised standard:

Doctorate (PhD) – Australian institution or recognised overseas institution20
Bachelor degree or higher – Australian institution or recognised overseas institution15
Diploma – Australian institution10
Trade certificate – Australian institution10
Qualification or award recognised by the relevant assessing authority for the applicant’s nominated occupation10

You'll only get points for your highest single qualification. It is not possible to claim points for more than one qualification under this part.

PART 7 – Australian study

You can get five points if you meet the two-year Australian study requirement. 

PART 8 – Credentialed community language

NAATI-accredited translators and interpreters at the paraprofessional (level 2) or higher are eligible for five points. A list of languages is not specified, so by implication any language assessed by NAATI at the paraprofessional level or higher should be acceptable.

PART 9 – Study in a regional or low-population growth metropolitan area of Australia

Criteria are:

  • Applicant meets the 2-year Australian study requirement;

  • Studies were conducted at a campus in regional Australia or a low-population growth metropolitan area;

  • Applicant lived in in regional Australia or a low-population growth metropolitan area  during the study;

  • None of the studies was via distance education.

The relevant regional areas are all parts of Australia, excluding: greater Brisbane area, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne metropolitan area, Perth and surrounding areas and the Australian Capital Territory.


PART 10 – Partner skill

Applicant’s spouse or de facto partner:

The partner obtains competent English or holds a valid passport from the UK, Canada, USA, Ireland etc.5
The partner is under the age of 45, an applicant for the same General Skilled Migration visa subclass, obtains a positive skills assessment, is not an Australian PR resident or citizen, and has a minimum of competent English or higher10
The partner is an Australian or PR holder10
You are single10

PART 11 – State or Territory nomination

One way of gaining extra points as an occupational therapist seeking to emigrate to Australia is to look at state or territory nomination. While this commits you to living in a certain state for or territory for two years, it could mean that you earn vital points.

You're applying for the 190 visa:

To gain five additional points when applying for the 190 visa, you must meet these requirements: 

  • You've been invited to apply for the visa by a State or Territory government; and

  • The nomination has not been withdrawn by the State or Territory government.

If you are able to look at the 491 visa option, the following factors apply in order to gain 15 additional points.

  • The applicant has been invited to apply for the visa by a State or Territory government; and

  • The nomination has  not been withdrawn by the State or Territory government.

  • The applicant has been sponsored by a relative usually resident in a designated area; and

  • The sponsorship has been accepted by the Minister.

Want to know if you can emigrate to Australia as an occupational therapist?

ANZSCO and your occupation

ANZSCO stands for 'Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations'.

It’s a system within the skilled migration program that sets the standards for the skills and work experience that visa applicants must meet to work in specific occupation in Australia or New Zealand.

Further to this, ANZSCO sets out the tasks that visa applicants must be able to perform as part of their everyday duties.

In other words, ANZSCO determines the most important requirements you must meet in order to qualify to apply for a skilled migrant visa.

Let's look at the ANZSCO requirements for your occupation in detail:

The ANZSCO criteria

The ANZSCO code assigned to occupational therapists is 252411. This code gives us more details about the criteria you have to meet in order to qualify to immigrate to Australia.

The first thing we look at is the group that occupational therapists fall under:

Major Group: 2 - Professionals | Sub-Major Group: 25 - Health Professionals | Minor Group: 252 – Health Therapy Professionals | Unit Group: 2524 – Occupational Therapists

As you can see there are four groups showing how the code is made up – we are mostly interested in the code (252411) which is specific to occupational therapists.

This part of the ANZSCO criteria lays out a broad description of what a occupational therapist is supposed to be able to do:

Assesses functional limitations of people resulting from illnesses and disabilities, and provides therapy to enable people to perform their daily activities and occupations.

Occupational therapists is a Skill Level 1, which means you must have a level of skill comparable with a bachelor degree or higher qualification. In the absence of a formal qualification, at least five years of relevant experience may act as a substitute.

In some instances relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be required in addition to the formal qualification.

  • Assessing clients' emotional, psychological, developmental and physical capabilities using clinical observations and standardised tests
  • Assessing clients' functional potential in their home, leisure, work and school environments, and recommending environmental adaptations to maximise their performance
  • Planning and directing programs through the use of vocational, recreational, remedial, social and educational activities on an individual and group basis
  • Providing advice to family members, carers, employers and teachers about adapting clients' home, leisure, work and school environments
  • Providing adaptive equipment, such as wheel chairs and splints, to assist clients to overcome their functional limitations
  • Working with other Health Professionals in overall case management of clients
  • Working with other professionals in providing specialist advice to specific client groups such as those requiring driver rehabilitation, third-party compensation and medico-legal representation
  • Recording clients' progress and maintaining professional relationships in accordance with relevant legislative requirements and ethical guidelines

Many people mistakenly think that finding a job is the first step when immigrating.

In fact, the first step should always be an immigration assessment to see if you have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience to live and work in Australia.

Why do we say this?

Firstly, even if you find a job, you'll only be able to work in Australia if you have a work visa. You thus have to know if you qualify for skilled migration, or any other type of visa category that allows you to work in Australia, before you start to look for a job.

Secondly, job hunting with the confirmation that you do qualify for a work visa means you can job hunt with confidence. It's not only the confidence of job hunting while already knowing that you do qualify to live and work in Australia. It's also that employers are much more likely to extend job offers to overseas candidates who they know are eligible to work in Australia.

The golden rule? Do an assessment, then find a job.

The assessment of your occupation

The Occupational Therapy Council of Australia (OTC) is an independent not-for-profit organisation whose purpose is to ensure that standards of education, training and assessment of occupational therapists are maintained and developed so the Australian public is assured of safe and proper practice.

The Occupational Therapy Council of Australia's assessment process for occupational therapists from overseas consists of two stages:

  • Stage 1

In stage one, you’ll take a desktop assessment in compliance with the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia (OTC) requirements.

On completion of the assessment, you’ll be advised in writing of the suitability of your qualifications for the purpose of applying for skilled migration.

The outcome of your assessment can take up to four weeks from the date the OTC receives your completed application.

  • Stage 2

During stage two, you’ll undergo a period of supervised practice undertaken in Australia.

You must complete this process for OCT to be able to grant you general registration.

Our recommendation is to do an immigration assessment before you do a skills assessment. Skills assessments are expensive! If you do a skills assessment but then don't qualify for a work visa, you would've wasted a lot of money. 

Your assessing authority and ANZSCO information

Here's how you should start your emigration...

Most people assume that there is one way to emigrate. This is not entirely correct. The general process is the same, yes, but the individual parts differ from one person to the next.  

Let us explain:

You might have to do an English test because it's not your first language and you don't meet the exemption criteria. Your neighbour, however, may meet the exemption criteria and thus won't have to do an English test.  

Here's another example - you might want to immigrate with your family while your colleague is immigrating on their own or only with a partner. Again, your immigration journeys are going to be different. 

The secret to getting it right? Getting a tailored immigration plan from a licensed advisor to know which steps to take and when to do so. This approach maximizes your chances of success and reduces unnecessary costs.

How do you do this? By completing an immigration assessment that assess your education, skills, experience, and unique situation against the immigration criteria set out by Australia.

This is how Intergate Emigration can help

We have a team of licensed immigration advisors supported by an experienced administrator.

Our licensed advisors:

  • assess your eligibility,
  • discuss your visa options with you,
  • explain the immigration process to you,
  • put together a tailored immigration plan for you and any family members,
  • and guide and assist you throughout your visa application. 

Our administrator:

  • works with you to compile all the necessary documents at the right time,
  • and acts as extra support during your immigration.

The first step is a consultation call with one of our licensed advisors. Upon booking your call, you'll get a short questionnaire to complete. The information you submit will enable our advisor to assess your eligibility to immigrate to Australia.

Once your assessment is done, our advisor will contact you to discuss your visa options and the best way forward. You'll also learn more about the immigration process and find out what costs are involved.

The outcome of the call?

  • You'll know if you qualify to live and work in Australia.
  • You'll know what visa you qualify for.
  • And you'll know exactly what to expect from the road ahead.

Ready to get started with your immigration? Click below to book your consultation call. 


Get your visa application right the first time with the assistance of our advisors