For most people the thought of migrating to Australia comes paired with questions about visa options, shipping and the cost of living – to name a few.
It’s a time consuming endeavour and it certainly isn’t suitable for everyone, but for those who’d like to realise their dream of living in Australia, it also comes with big rewards.
If you’re considering a new start, a lifestyle change, a move to a warmer climate or if you’re in search for better opportunities – this article should provide you with an overview of what is required in order to make the move.
The first and most important step to take before relocating is determining whether you qualify for a visa, and which visa is most appropriate for your circumstances.
Australia has around 140 visas to choose from, so it wouldn’t make sense to cover them all in this article. Instead, we’ve listed some of the most common visa categories for temporary and permanent migrants.
The family migration stream facilitates sponsorship of family members who meet the requirements to apply for a family visa. The family visa category has been overhauled recently, mainly due to the growing number of parent visa applications, so the government has implemented a system where parent visa applications are placed in a queue. The current waiting time for (non-contributory) parent visa applicants is around 15 years.
There is of course an alternative solution to avoid the 15 year waiting period. It’s called the “contributory parent visa” program. The processing time for this category is reduced to 12 – 24 months, however, along with the reduced processing time comes an additional visa application charge of around $40,000 per applicant.
Visa options for family sponsorship:
- Child Visa (subclasses 101 & 102)
- Parent Visa (subclass 103)
- Aged Parent Visa (subclass 804)
- Contributory Parent Visa (subclasses 173 & 143)
- Contributory Aged Parent Visa (subclasses 884 & 864)
The partner sponsorship program provides Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens with a means to sponsor their partner to join them in Australia.
Given the current economic down turn in many regions across the globe, partner visa applications have increased significantly as more Aussies sponsor their partners to migrate to Australia.
Visa options for partner sponsorship:
- Onshore Partner Visa (subclasses 820 & 801)
- Offshore Partner Visa (subclasses 309 & 100)
- Prospective Marriage Visa (subclass 300)
The skilled migration program has grown to be the most popular visa category in recent years. In 2011 – 2012 more than 120,000 skilled visas have been issued. The skilled migration program now accounts for more than two thirds of total net overseas migration (NOM).
The skilled migration scheme is pivotal to Australia’s economic success and is expected to continue its upward trend until the skill shortage issues are resolved. Numerous studies have indicated that the skill shortages are due to continue until at least 2036, so if you aren’t quite ready to make the move you’ve got some time to spare!
Visa options for skilled migration:
- Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189)
- Skilled Sponsored or Nominated Visa (subclass 190)
- Skilled Regional Sponsored Visa (subclass 489)
Employer sponsored visas are for businesses in Australia who would like to sponsor foreign skilled workers. In order to be an eligible sponsor, a business must first be approved by the government.
Individuals are free to approach businesses in Australia if they would like to be sponsored. If sponsorship cannot be attained, it’s advised to lodge and Expression of Interest (EOI) under the new SkillSelect migration program.
Visa options for employer sponsorship:
- Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)
- Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (subclass 187)
- Temporary Business (Long Stay) (subclass 457)
Should I use a migration agent?
Using a migration agent to assist with the process of applying for a visa is very much a personal choice. It’s comparable to hiring an accountant to prepare and submit your tax returns. Some people feel comfortable doing it themselves, while others prefer to employ a specialist to carry out the work.
All the information you need to apply for a visa is made available by the Department of Immigration. If you feel confident that you are able to prepare and submit a successful visa application, you are free to do so.
If (like many of us these days) you don’t have the time to trawl through reams of paper work and spend hours researching Australian immigration requirements, for a relatively small fee you can hire an Australian migration agent to do the work for you.
If you’d prefer to appoint a migration agent, it’s highly recommended to use an agent who is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). The MARA is a government led organisation that regulates migration agents, and ensures that their knowledge of the latest immigration regulations is kept up to date by enforcing continuing professional development (CPD).
If you are interested in appointing a registered migration agent you can start by completing an Australian visa assessment
Taking your household and personal effects with you shouldn’t cause too much trouble, but there are a few things you should be aware of.
Anything you ship to Australia (household goods etc.) qualifies as Unaccompanied Personal Effects (UPEs). Concessions for duty free items such as alcohol and tobacco do not apply to unaccompanied goods – these items will be subject to a Goods and Services Tax (GST) which currently stands at 10%.
Furthermore, goods that have been owned for less than 12 months may be subject to a GST assessment. This includes furniture, electronics and appliances.
Motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and commercial goods are not qualified as Unaccompanied Personal Effects.
The Australian Border and Customs Protection Services take their role of protecting Australia from pests and diseases very seriously. Items such as timber goods, food and plants may be subject to quarantine inspection and/or fumigation. In some cases where items are deemed to be high risk, you will be informed and your goods may be destroyed.
For a list of restricted imports, please visit this website: http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4369.asp
Cost of living
The cost of living in Australia is one thing that surprises many people. Food, energy bills, house prices and the cost of day-to-day activities seem higher in this part of the world. Partly to blame is the Mining Boom Mark II which has resulted in Australia fairing quite well during uncertain economic circumstances in other parts of the world.
We’ve pulled together a few statistics, which should be used as guidelines only, but they should give you a general indication of the cost of living in Australia.
|Average House Price||Rental (AUD)||Purchase (AUD)|
The figures below are based on an average family of four (2 adults and 2 children) living on the Gold Coast.
|Monthly family outgoings||Value in AUD|
|Comprehensive health insurance||$300|
|Utilities (broadband and phone included)||$400|
|Public school education||$120|
|Fitness (gym memberships x 2)||$165|
|Running cost of medium sized car||$450|
Living costs will of course vary quite significantly, but to get a general indication of what you can expect, the next table includes salary ranges from $120,000 to $150,000 as total income for a typical family based on the figures from the table above.
|Salary (inclusive of superannuation)||$120,000||$130,000||$140,000||$150,000|
|Monthly take home (after tax)||$6,617||$7,079||$7,542||$8,004|
Moving abroad brings with it a number of challenges. It’s a daunting prospect for most people and it’s very much a personal choice, but if you’ve had enough of the daily grind or you just need a lifestyle change, a new life in Australia could be just the thing you need.