So, you’re thinking about making the big move and emigrating to Australia. Good choice! It’s one you won’t regret. There’s no doubt that when starting the process of emigrating to Australia, the amount of things you need to do can seem daunting, but fear not, broken down into stages, the migration process need not be too stressful. One thing’s for sure, the excellent standard of living, vibrant jobs market and beautiful weather will certainly make it worthwhile.
Australian work visas
To get a job in Australia you must have a work visa. To see the full, up-to-date range and all the conditions, check out the Australian government’s immigration website. The number of work visa options are huge, however they can be broken down into variations of several types. It is also worth checking out the numerous ex-pat online forums, which are a great source of advice.
While it is not that hard (and certainly much cheaper) to apply for any visa yourself, hiring an immigration agent will take much of the pain out of what can be a stressful experience. They will advise you on what visa will best suit you, help with all the paperwork and probably make the entire process slightly quicker. Make sure you use an agent who is registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority.
Working Holiday Visas
The simplest option for getting started in Australia is the Working Holiday Visa (417). Many young people wanting to emigrate to Australia start with this work visa because it is a hassle-free way to dip your toes in and see if life in Australia is right for you, without committing too much. The Working Holiday Visa can be arranged within days online and only costs AU$235. The drawback is that you have to be aged between 18 and 30 to be eligible, it only gives you one year in Australia and you are limited to a maximum six months in one job. It is possible to extend the Working Holiday Visa for a second year by doing 88 days of “specified” voluntary or regional work, such as fruit picking, but also including some construction and mining jobs.
Sponsorship – Skilled Migration
Sponsorship is basically when an Australian company vouches for you, saying you are a skilled worker that they need. Two of the conditions are that the job must pay at least AU$47,480 a year and be included on the Australian government skills list. Visa applicants must also have suitable health insurance. The visa can keep you in Australia for up to four years, but ties you to that job, meaning that if you quit you have 28 days to find another company to sponsor you or leave Australia. Sponsorship, most commonly using the 457 visa, costs AU$685 in fees, plus you might have to supply chest X-rays and pay $300 for a skills assessment, yet the company sponsoring you will generally pay for these. Many people find it easiest to move to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, find a job they like and then get that company to sponsor them.
The easiest route to Permanent Residency in Australia is Employer Nominated Permanent Residency, usually an 856 visa. This will cost a little over $3,000, but will mean you can stay in Australia for the rest of your life (unless you leave for an extended period). You will also be free to work for anyone you want, in any type of job. Police checks, educational records, a skills assessment and a full medical are the main hoops you have to jump through.
De Facto Work Visas
Most skilled migrant visas allow for a partner or dependent to also be granted the same visa with relative ease, subject to the same police checks and medicals (but not employment requirements). A de facto relationship must have existed for at least 12 months before a visa application is lodged, and both partners must be at least 18 years old. Since 2009, Australia has fully recognised same sex partners as de facto partners.
Studying in Australia is an easy way to make the first step to emigrating to Australia and is one of the quickest routes to permanent residency. The student visa itself will cost about AU$550. It allows you to stay in Australia for the duration of your course, plus a month before and after. The visa also allows you to get a job and work 20 hours a week while studying or as much as you like during the holidays. You’ll have to get health insurance as Overseas Student Health Care is a compulsory condition of gaining a student visa.
Getting a Job in Australia
Thanks mainly to its closer connection with Asian economies and the strength of the mining sector, the Global Financial Crisis far less affected Australia than European and North American nations. Firms did definitely tighten up on offering sponsorship for a while, but prospects are now on the up again. If you’re struggling to find a visa you qualify for then consider working in regional Australia. Being prepared to take a job out in the sticks where there are skills shortages earns you serious brownie points with the immigration department. You will get extra points towards residency and it opens doors for sponsorship, plus it will make registration smoother for medical and teaching jobs. Doing 88 days regional work is also how you extend a working holiday visa for a second year. Make sure you check the area’s postcode against the list on the immigration department website to confirm that where you’re working is definitely recognised as being regional Australia.
Finding a house in Australia
Your ability to buy property depends on your visa. Permanent residents are fine, but temporary residents (including sponsored workers) need approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. House sales are often done by auction.
There are several estate agents that specialise in furnished properties, but the vast majority of rental accommodation in Australia comes unfurnished so remember to factor furniture costs into your budget. As a result, however, Australia has a thriving second-hand furniture market.
So you are emigrating to Australia? Before paying a freight company to transport all your stuff across the world, remember that most things will also be available in Australia. Don’t just go with the cheapest freight company, but check online forums for opinions as there are some real horror stories out there. Be careful to take detailed measurements from the start to get an accurate quote and avoid getting stung later.
To emigrate to Australia with your pet in tow, you must meet all the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) conditions. All dogs and cats must be micro-chipped and will have to spend at least 30 days in quarantine in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth. Horses are the only other animal that can be imported to Australia as a pet. Check the Australian government DAFF website for all the info.
There are plenty of banking options in Australia. Most Australian banks, however, do charge for using competitors’ ATMs. As a result, it pays to have a current account with one of the big four, which are Westpac, the National Australia Bank (NAB), the ANZ National Bank and Commonwealth, which is the biggest. Many current accounts also come with a monthly fee. Interest rates are relatively high in Australia. This might not be great news for mortgage holders, but does mean there are lots of attractive savings accounts. Numerous Australian banks offer savings accounts with interest rates above six per cent. As anywhere, look for smaller institutions with more of an online presence.
Once you hve emigrated to Australia and have an address, apply for a Medicare card if you are from an eligible country (that’s the UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Malta or Belgium). A Medicare card gives you access to Australia’s universal healthcare program. It means you can receive certain treatments and prescriptions at a subsidised rate. Usually this involves seeking a refund from a Medicare office after your treatment. However, if you go to a “bulk billing” doctor you only pay the subsidised rate up front. Irish and New Zealand citizens are not eligible for a Medicare card, but are still entitled to limited subsidised health services. If you’re travelling to Australia on a student visa you are not covered by Medicare and must take out Overseas Student Health Cover.
Finding schools in Australia
If you’re emigrating to Australia with your family then finding schools for your children will obviously be a top priority. There’s not much need to worry about the average standard, with the UN’s Human Development Index rating Australia’s education system as one of the best in the world. But for detailed info on over 10,000 Australian schools, both state and private, visit the My School website. The Australian school year is from January to December.