There’s long-established links between Australia and the UK, whether it’s the shared monarchy or the image of students backpacking while travelling in either direction. For those in the UK, this can make Australia seem like the perfect idea for a change of scenery, be it temporary or a more permanent one.
That shouldn’t be surprising given that despite their shared history, the two countries have a drastically different climate with Australia seeing half the rainfall of the UK on average each year which is something that most in the UK wouldn’t miss.
If you’re considering emigrating to Australia, there are plenty of options available to you depending how long you wish to stay, and what you want to do while you’re there. Let’s take a look at some of those options and explore the ways in which you can take your next step.
Depending which route is most appropriate for you is going to depend on several different factors. Your level of professional qualification and experience in a chosen field, the need for those skills in a particular area of Australia, your age, financial situation and the length of time you wish to remain may all be examined and could factor in your chance of success.
Naturally, like most immigration processes, the majority of visas exist to serve either people of working age looking to fulfil a need in the Australian job market, students who wish to study at an Australian institution or those seeking asylum or humanitarian support.
In this article however we’re going to focus on just one of the many visa subclasses available under the Australian immigration system – the Skilled – Recognised Graduate visa subclass 476.
This visa is aimed at addressing the current skills shortage within Australia for Engineers, by allowing those who have recently graduated from specific universities around the world to live and work there to meet the needs of Australian employers. Eligible engineering qualifications can range from undergraduate to doctoral level and the institution it was gained from need to be accredited by a signatory of the Washington accord. In the UK, this means that the qualification must be accredited by ECUK (Engineering Council United Kingdom).
This visa, like many others designed to fill a skills gap is temporary. The idea naturally is that at some point the amount of trained engineers that Australia can provide through its home grown labour pools will meet the countries needs and as such candidates from other countries will no longer be needed. As such, this visa has an eligibility span of only eighteen months and is not able to be extended beyond this. As you might imagine, this visa is aimed primarily towards recent graduates and as such it is skewed towards a younger age range. The maximum age at which you can apply for this visa subclass is 31, which would allow recent graduates of higher level programmes to apply.
This might seem like it’s of no use to those looking to build a life in Australia, but just because that particular visa subclass can’t be extended, it doesn’t mean that the person holding that visa can’t gain another one, or work towards permanent residence.
How to Extend your Stay in Australia?
One way to extend your stay at the end of the eighteen months this visa grants is to apply for the Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 198). Unlike the Recognised Graduate visa, there is no time limit for this visas eligibility, meaning you can use it to remain in Australia permanently if you wish to.
Another difference between the two visas is that subclass 198 requires you to be ‘invited’ to apply for it. What this means in practical terms is that if you want to complete an application, you first need to submit an expression of interest, which will then be evaluated under the Australian points based immigration system. This is where various factors will be used to score your application. Your age, English language proficiency (IELTS score), length of employment in your field both within and outside of Australia, level of international and Australian qualifications and even whether your spouse or partner meet a basic set of requirements can all affect your score.
Assuming you meet or exceed the required score of 65 points, you will be invited to complete a full application for the subclass 198 visa within sixty days of your invitation notice.
The cost to apply for this visa is upwards of 4240 Australian dollars and can take up to 3 months on average to process, so be sure to allow yourself plenty of time as you approach the end of your previous visa. Although there is a clear process to follow, the Australian immigration system is complex and as such, those lacking confidence or without experience could easily find themselves needing further guidance when completing applications.
As such, if you feel you’re unable to follow the process with ease, or would like additional guidance, it’s worth remembering that it’s possible to consult with specialist immigration lawyers. Using their experience, they can often aid you in dealing with any issues, and help to make sure you have all the correct documentation in place to aid your application.
Once your subclass 198 visa is granted, you’ll be able to work or study within Australia, and additionally, you’ll be able to sponsor other relatives who meet eligibility requirements for permanent residence. It also allows you to enrol in Australia’s Medicare public health programme.
Most importantly however, after four years, this visa entitles you to apply to apply for Australian citizenship, by which time you would likely meet the other eligibility requirements such as knowledge of Australia and the ability to prove that you intend to maintain a long and lasting link to the country itself.
This may seem like a drawn out process, and of course this route does entail the use of two separate visa’s but it does have it’s advantages. It provides and opportunity for you to start your career in the place you intend to make your home, to build bridges and professional relationships right from the start of your working life, all the while providing the benefits of your training and knowledge to country you’ve chosen to make your own.