South African Engineers in high demand in Australia and New Zealand


Australia visa, New Zealand visa, skilled migrants, South Africans,


Both Australia and New Zealand need more skilled engineers to deliver a number of big infrastructure projects, and South African Engineers are in particularly high demand!

If you are a South Africa-based Civil Engineer or a Construction Professional who is considering emigrating to Australia or New Zealand, now is a perfect time. Both countries have fully re-opened their borders and you no longer need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination when entering these two countries. From November 2022, New Zealand is also re-opening the Skilled Migrant Visa category.

Demand for South African Engineers in Australia

According to Engineers Australia, overseas-born engineers make up over 58% of the engineering workforce in Australia, but the 2020-21 border closures have resulted in very few new engineers migrating. This is problematic as ambitious infrastructure projects can’t be delivered without a suitable workforce.

To meet demand across Australia, over 41,000 further individuals are estimated to be required to fill engineering occupations including positions in civil, geotechnical and structural engineering. Construction Managers, Civil Engineers, Surveyors, Structural Engineers, and Geotechnical Engineers have been added to Australia’s Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) and as a result, Employer will be given priority visa processing.

Most in-demand professionals in Australia – 2022/23

Getting your engineering qualifications recognized in Australia

Engineers Australia has mutual recognition agreements (MRA) with engineering bodies around the World. If you’re a member of a reciprocal organisation, the MRA allows you to join Engineers Australia at an equivalent level of membership.

Under the MRA, formal academic qualifications must be recognised by both bodies under the Washington, Sydney or Dublin Accords. If your academic qualification isn’t accepted under one of the accords, you might need to complete a competency assessment.

In South Africa, there is a mutual recognition agreement with The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)

If your organisation is listed and your qualification is recognised by Engineers Australia, you can create an account and apply via the EA member portal.”

To find out more about the documents you will require as well as fees and the registration process, visit Engineers Australia.

Source: Engineers Australia

Australian Visas for South African Engineers

If you are a qualified engineer, you might be eligible for a variety of visas such as the Skilled Recognised Graduate visa (476) or the Skilled Independent visa (189).

The Skilled Recognised Graduate Visa 476 

The 476 Visa is a visa that allows recent engineering graduates under the age of 31 from recognized institutions and eligible universities to get up to 18 months of skilled work experience anywhere in Australia with no restrictions.

You can include members of the family unit in your application when you apply. All applicants who apply for the visa must meet the health and character requirements.

When you apply, you must have completed an engineering course for which you were awarded a degree or higher qualification in the last 2 years. This could be a:

  • bachelors degree
  • masters degree
  • doctoral degree
  • postgraduate diploma

This qualification must be in an engineering discipline, such as:

  • civil engineering
  • structural engineering
  • chemical engineering
  • environmental engineering
  • electrical and electronics engineering
  • mechanical, production and plant engineering
  • mining and material engineering

IMPORTANT: Your degree must be obtained from an Institution recognized represented by Engineering Council South Africa (ECSA) (1999)

The current visa costs AUD 425 for the main applicant (last updated October 2022). There is also a charge for each family member who applies for the visa with you. You might also have to pay other costs for health checks, police certificates and biometrics.

You will also need to provide evidence of English proficiency:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)Overall score of at least 6 with a minimum score of 5 for each of the 4 parts
Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)Total score of at least 64 with a minimum score of 4 for listening, 4 for reading, 14 for writing and 14 for speaking
Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)Overall score of at least 50 with a minimum score of 36 for each of the 4 parts
Occupational English Test (OET)At least B for each of the 4 parts
Cambridge C1 Advanced testOverall at least 169 with a minimum score of at least 154 in each of the 4 test components

Source: Department of Home Affairs

The Skilled Independent Visa 189

The Skilled Independent Visa 189 is one of the most powerful visas available to immigrants to Australia. The visa is a permanent residency visa, meaning you and your family enter Australia as permanent residents and as such are afforded certain benefits, such as healthcare (Medicare) and access to public schooling. Subclass 189 allows you to live anywhere in Australia and work in any occupation, in any capacity you like.

You must

Cost: The visa costs AUD 4,240 for the main applicant. There is also a charge for each family member who applies for the visa with you.

Current Processing times:

  • 25% of applications: 34 Days
  • 50% of applications: 3 Months
  • 75% of applications: 37 Months
  • 90% of applications: 45 Months

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) subclass 482

The 482 visa is a temporary residence visa that allows businesses to sponsor overseas workers to Australia to undertake work for a period of either up to two or four years depending on the type of work they will be performing.

You must:

  • be nominated to work in a specified occupation under the terms of a Labour Agreement
  • have at least 2 years of relevant work experience in your nominated occupation or a related field
  • have a relevant skills assessment if this is required for your occupation
  • work only for your sponsor
  • meet minimum standards of English language proficiency unless you are exempt from needing to show this

You can bring immediate dependents family members such as your spouse and dependent children, but this will incur extra visa processing costs on top of the primary applicant costs.

You can:

  • work up to a maximum of 4 years for your sponsor, depending on the terms in the labour agreement.
  • study (you won’t receive government assistance)
  • travel to and from Australia as many times as you want, while the visa is valid

Some of ConsultANZ’s Clients possess an On-hire labour Licence which allows them to directly sponsor overseas candidates into the Australian civil engineering and construction industry. Get in touch with us to find out more: send your CV in Word format to [email protected]

Demand for South African Engineers in New Zealand

The construction industry is the fifth largest sector in New Zealand and currently struggling with severe skill shortages following two years of border closures. Hence, New Zealand is desperately looking for employees with a background in engineering and construction to work on infrastructure projects in various locations such as Auckland, Canterbury, Christchurch, and Wellington. Engineering and Construction Professionals with specialised skills or extensive experience are particularly sought after.

Getting your engineering qualifications recognized in New Zealand

If you would like to work in New Zealand as an Engineer, you will need to have your engineering qualifications recognized by the governing professional body Engineering New Zealand .

A credential check is the name of the Engineering New Zealand process that will assess your engineering
qualification/credentials. You may need a credential check for:

• Immigration New Zealand visa applications
• Registration as a Chartered Professional Engineer
• Registration as a Chartered Member of Engineering New Zealand

During the credential check process, your engineering credentials/qualifications will be assessed against the global engineering educational standards: Washington, Sydney, and Dublin Accords. These standards are what you need to meet to work as an engineer in New Zealand, and/or achieve Chartership status.

The WASHINGTON ACCORD is an international agreement between bodies responsible for accrediting engineering degree programmes. There are currently 15 signatories to the Washington Accord and South Africa is represented by Engineering Council South Africa (ECSA) (1999)

The SYDNEY ACCORD is an international agreement between bodies responsible for accrediting engineering technology academic programmes and was signed in June 2001, by seven founding signatories representing; Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom and South Africa. South Africa is represented by Engineering Council South Africa (ECSA) (2001)

The DUBLIN ACCORD is an international agreement establishing the required educational base for engineering technicians. Currently, there are nine signatories that make up the Dublin Accord and South Africa is represented by Engineering Council South Africa (ECSA) (2002)

Qualifications accredited or recognized by signatories are recognised by each signatory as being substantially equivalent to accredited or recognised qualifications within its own jurisdiction.


New Zealand Visas for South African Engineers

New Zealand Government has announced the reopening of the Skilled Migrant visa categories, helping businesses attract talent during global worker shortages.

From the 9th of November 2022, selections of Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the Skilled Migrant Residence Category Visa will resume. The New Zealand Government will select the first EOIs with at least 160 points from the 9th of November 2022 and EOIs with at least 180 points from the 18th of January 2023. After the 18th of January 2023, selections will be monthly, where EOIs must have at least 180 points to be chosen.

Once an invitation is sent to apply for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, four months will be given for migrants to apply. Documents include a photo, a copy of your passport with details, and police certificates. Every person included in the application must have a copy of these documents. 

Straight to Residence, Work to Residence and Highly Paid Residence Visa

The New Zealand Government has introduced three new residence pathways as part of the Government’s immigration rebalance.

Straight to Residence Visa

To be eligible for this residence visa you must be working for an accredited employer or hold a job offer from one.

  • Your role must be on Tier 1 of the Green List.
  • You must meet the requirements set out on the list for your role.
    Green List roles and qualification requirements
  • Your role must be full-time (at least 30 hours a week), genuine, and permanent, or be at least a 12-month fixed term contract. Under certain circumstances independent contractors are also eligible. 

Find out more here

Work to Residence Visa

To be eligible for this residence visa you must:

  • be employed in a role on Tier 2 of the Green List or hold an offer of employment for one
  • meet the specified requirements on the list for the role
  • have worked for 24 months in New Zealand in a role (and meet the specified its requirements) on Tier 2 of the Green List.

Your employer must be accredited when you apply for this visa.

Find out more about this visa

Highly Paid Residence Visa

To be eligible for this residence visa you must have:

  • employment or an offer of employment in a role that is paid at least twice the median wage (currently NZD $55.52 an hour)
  • been working for 24 months in New Zealand in a role that paid at least twice the median wage.

Your employer must also be accredited when you apply for this visa.

Find out more about this visa

Success stories of South African Engineers moving Down Under

Over the last ten years, ConsultANZ has placed many South African Engineers on a variety of infrastructure projects in Australia and New Zealand. Here are some stories of Candidates we have successfully placed:

Q&A with Tertius Vermooten, Project Engineer at Acciona

In 2017, ConsultANZ had the pleasure of placing a South African civil engineer Tertius Vermooten at NorthConnex, a major infrastructure project in Sydney, New South Wales. Today, Tertius works as a Project Engineer for Acciona at one of the biggest infrastructure projects the country has seen – WestConnex.

Interview with Civil Engineers Sumesha Durais and Riki Shutte

ConsultANZ interviewed Sumesha Durais and Riki Shutte, Civil Engineers from South Africa to find out what it is like for women in the civil engineering industry in Australia.

Q&A with Petrus Rautenbach, a Senior Project Engineer at John Holland

Petrus Rautenbach arrived in Sydney shortly after his interview with Peter Laver to work on Australia’s $3 billion NorthConnex road tunnel. Initially planning to stay for a year or two, Petrus has lived in Sydney for four years and has recently started a new role as a Senior Project Engineer with John Holland.

Q&A with Loubser Steyn, Engineering Surveyor at WestConnex

Interview with Loubser Steyn, who came over to Australia on a 476 Graduate Visa and whom we placed with Surex Surveyors.

Thinking of making a move from SA to Australia or New Zealand?

ConsultANZ has many years of experience placing civil engineers and construction professionals from South Africa with Tier 1 and Tier 2 Clients Down Under. We work closely with immigration agents who will be able to advise you on the best visa type for you and your family.

If you would like to discuss your employment options, get in touch with us on LinkedIn or email your CV in Word format to [email protected]

ConsultANZ help Siviele Ingenieurs en Konstruksie Spesialiste met geskikte beroepsrolle in Australië en Nieu-Seeland

IMPORTANT NOTICE: ConsultANZ recommends you obtain your own independent immigration advice. It is solely your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy, completeness and usefulness of all information provided through this blog/website. In no event will ConsultANZ Ltd be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken by you or anyone else in reliance upon any information contained on or omitted from this blog/website.

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