Moving to Australia is a lengthy and complex process, and unless you happen to be of Aussie descent, you can’t just decide to turn up — you’re going to need a visa. So, as we near our move date, I thought I’d suggest the most important steps along the way to securing a new life in Australia.
1) Check the skills list
Unless you have Aussie relatives or want to invest a huge sum of money in setting up an Australian business, the most likely way of getting into Oz is via the SkillSelect process. Each Aussie state regularly publishes a list of its skills shortages, detailing which professions are most likely to receive an offer of a visa. Check these regularly to see if your skills are in demand. If they are, move quickly to apply, because the lists change once or twice a year and once the quota in a certain profession has been met, jobs can be removed from the list too.
2) Check your points score
Aussie visa applications are assessed under a points system. You get points for your age (younger is better), qualifications, work experience, English language skills and other criteria. There are several websites that will give you an estimate of your likely score, and this should guide you on whether to proceed with your application. Remember that you can top up your score in certain areas – although my wife is a native English speaker, she took an English language test to gain additional points for her level of fluency, and doing something similar might help to push you over the qualification threshold for a visa.
3) Get an immigration agent
Unless you love paperwork and want to run the risk of having your application rejected because you filled out some forms incorrectly, sign up with a licensed immigration adviser. This is not a cheap service, but a good adviser can help reassure you when you have a setback in your application process, and can perhaps suggest alternative options if one door closes on you – perhaps by suggesting applying to a different state if your job is removed from one skills list, or by checking whether you might be eligible for a New Zealand visa instead.
4) Be a good filer
Your application will require you to account for jobs, homes, qualifications, salaries and lots of other information, going back years and, perhaps, even decades. If you haven’t been good at filing personal information, you’re going to have to piece it together again by contacting old schools, universities, employers and former bosses for evidence, references and testimonials. It’s impossible to underestimate the scale of this task, so if you’re serious about a move, you’d best start pulling this stuff together sooner rather than later.
5) Start saving
Did I say this was a lengthy and complex process? Let me add ‘costly’ to the list too. Hiring an agent and submitting your visa application will run to thousands of pounds. Making a recce trip down under will cost thousands, making the move itself will costs thousands, and then there’s the cost of replacing all the goods you can’t take, the money you will lose on selling and then re-buying a car… and so on. I estimate that we’ll have burned through between £20-30,000 by the time we arrive in Oz, and that’s without considering loss of income while we establish ourselves in your new home. So, start saving, and keep an eye on the exchange rate, because it will have a huge impact on how much ‘real money’ you end up with once you arrive in Australia.
The alternative route
Of course, there’s a short cut to all of this, and I’m not advocating it as a route of convenience, but if you do go to Australia to check it out, spend time there, and perhaps meet a certain, special someone, you could always just marry an Aussie. I did look into this as a possible option, and it is by far the easiest route, but my wife wouldn’t let me pursue it. Thankfully, I did the next best thing, I married someone who qualifies for an Australian visa.