Australia is an attractive destination for migrants. It has miles and miles of gorgeous beaches, wild outback, warm weather, and friendly people. And historically, Australia has been very open and welcoming to immigrants.
However, in the past year or so, Australia has begun to revise their immigration policies, especially in relation to skilled migrant visas. There are fewer professional skills that can qualify you, and the popular 457 visa has been abolished and replaced with two stricter types of work visa. Australia’s retirement visa program has also stopped accepting new applicants.
Employer Sponsored Workers
The most secure way to get started on the road to permanent residency is to find an employer who is willing to offer you a job. Once employed, you need to work for that same company for two straight years and stay out of any kind of legal trouble. Fulfill those requirements and you will be eligible to apply for permanent residency.
Note that this pathway only works for approved skills and your employer must be able to demonstrate to the government that no Australian could be found for the position. That’s the part that gets tricky. However, if you are in a career that’s highly skilled and has a shortage in Australia, such as medical professionals, you may be able to go straight to a permanent residence visa.
Professionals and Skilled Migrants
The General Skilled Migration program is designed for people between 18-45 years old with needed professional skills and proficiency in speaking and reading English. The skills lists, now called Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), are in flux. It’s very important to go right to the source to determine whether your skills qualify for this program.
Business Innovation and Investment
This is the visa to pursue if you plan to start a business in Australia or invest in an existing Australian company. The requirements are steep – you need at least AUD $1.5 million to invest during your time there AND you will need to be sponsored by an eligible government organization. If approved, the length of this visa is four years and three months, which should be enough time to transition to a permanent visa track if you end up loving life there.[quads id=2] [quads id=1]
Spouse or Prospective Spouse
One of the most fool-proof ways of achieving permanent residency in Australia is to marry a citizen or permanent resident. The application can take between six and 15 months to process, and grants you a two year provisional permanent resident visa. After two years, you’ll need to show that you and your spouse are still together. If so, you are eligible to become a permanent resident. Do not try to fake a relationship status, as the government looks very closely at you and your partner, including whether friends and family are aware of the partnership and how often you communicate with your spouse while separated.[quads id=2]
Interestingly, you don’t have to be already married in order to gain entrance to Australia. If you apply under the Prospective Spouse category, you have nine months to register the marriage and receive a provisional two year Spouse visa. After two years, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residency if you are still together with your spouse. It’s also possible to receive a visa under this category as a de-facto or common law spouse, if you can prove that you have been living with your partner for at least twelve months.
Working Holiday Visa (WHV)
If you are a young person who is willing to go to Australia on a temporary basis first, the Working Holiday visa could be a good option. Open to people aged between 18 and 31 years, it allows visitors to stay for up to one year. During your stay, you may work for the entire period but can only be with any one employer for six months
A working holiday can be a great first step toward permanent residency because you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate your skills to a variety of employers. If you’re able to make yourself indispensible to a particular company, you can switch over to an Employer Sponsored visa and then apply for permanent residency after two years.[quads id=2]
The WHV visa is only available to passport holders from qualifying countries. As of May 2018 they are: Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.[quads id=1]
If you’d like to get your foot in the door by undertaking a course of study in Australia, a student visa is a great option. Applicants need to be at least six years old and already accepted into an educational program that is listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions. If granted, the student visa is good for the length of your program, or up to five years.[quads id=2]
As the guardian of an overseas student, you may apply for a Student Guardian visa, which allows you to live in Australia with your student until they turn 18. Guardians must be at least 21 years of age. Students on a student visa are permitted to study and work part time, but guardians are not typically permitted to work.
Use Australia’s Visa Finder Service[quads id=1]
To dig more deeply into available visas and determine your eligibility for various programs, check out the Visa Finder run by the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs. It offers detailed information about work, student, visitor, and investor visas. If you are the partner or spouse of a permanent resident or wish to move to Australia as a family member/dependent of a visa holder, you can dig into those requirements, too.
Consider Professional Assistance
Because the laws surrounding migration to Australia are changing all the time, and are extremely complex in any case, it can be helpful to engage the services of a Migration Agent. A professional can help determine the best visa for your situation and make sure that the application is completed accurately, saving you time and ensuring the best chance for approval.[quads id=2]
Be sure that the Migration Agent you choose is registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority. A fraudulent or undertrained professional is likely to hurt more than help your case.
While it may be a long road, permanent residence in Australia can still be in reach. Check out those skills lists, begin networking with Australian businesses, and make peace with the fact that it could take some time to achieve your dream. Those beautiful beaches and friendly faces will be waiting for you.