A visa? Why? Are we not good enough to just enter the country and give it a go? These were questions that popped up in my mind after discovering that entering Australia isn’t a walk in the park. Being from Europe, being white and being relatively rich when compared to 90% of the world population gives you a lot of perks*. And maybe even a bit of complacency… Shame on me.
* I don’t want to brag, I just want you to understand the fact that a lot of us are very, very lucky to be born where we are born and been given so many opportunities
So when you discover you can’t just rock up at Sydney Airport and start a new life in the country of your choosing, that’s a bit of a surprise. And I quickly learned that an Australian permanent visa can’t be had by just filling in some easy paperwork. Australia: 1 – Me: 0
Luckily the internet is patient and, I must admit, the websites of the Australian Government are quite good. So after some time things became more clear. The process (tedious), the requirements (many), the money involved (a lot) and how much time it would take (long) That’s when we decided to take a migration agency on board. Yes, these guys don’t work for free but let me use an analogy here…
Your partner has an apple placed on their head. And yes, you have to split it in two with that big ass bow an arrow. Who do you trust more? Yourself or William Tell…? I would pay William Tell a fair amount to do the duties, thank you.
So back to our story: Due to our age (being below a certain age is a requirement), our current type of jobs (another requirement) and the experience in that line of work (did I mention the thing about requirements…?) we had more or less one shot. One shot… Think apple, arrow and your significant other… So we forked out the extra cash. William Tell was on our side.
As an innocent bystander you probably are not familiar with the OZ visa system and the requirements so let me take you through the basics of an Australian Permanent Resident Visa. (note: the government changes the whole system every two years or so, to make sure everybody goes mental once in a while…)
The permanent resident visa will give you the right to stay in the country indefinitely, work in Australia etc. All the things normal citizens do. But you are not a citizen though. So you cannot vote, cannot work in the army or in many other jobs that require background security checks (as you do not have a background in Australia yet) Adn god, do they love security checks nowadays. But let us touch upon that specific topic in another blog post.
The visa works with a points system. You get points for age, your type of work, your experience, your proficiency in English etc. Small note, if your job is not on the infamous list you are not allowed to request a visa. And you can’t just make up that you are carpenter by trade. ‘…Oh I have been a carpenter all my life…’ NOT. They check your resume, your experience and your education. If one is not up to their standards your out.
Getting all this proof can be a pain in the #%@, so here is where the migration agent helps. You still have to do a lot yourself. But at least they tell you exactly what to deliver and when to deliver it. They check the content of what you provide, if it is fit for purpose and they point out mistakes etc. All in all very helpful. Our agent turned out to be indispensable as we ran into major issues with the assessing body. This institute checks if your qualifications and job experience are real and ticks all boxes. In our case there was a dispute in regards the years of experience N. had in the job we applied for. Only after the agent himself paid a visit to the assessment agency in Melbourne things turned for the better (mind you the agent was based in Adelaide). Having a migration agent in Australia was indispensable in our case and after this final intervention we received the much needed stamp of approval for job experience. Another 20 points in the pocket!
After gathering points for all the different items your score has to be over 60 points to qualify for a visa. We got to 55… Damn… Lucky for us, you can request a specific state in Australia to sponsor you. In return you promise that you will move to this state and not somewhere else. This way you have the benefit of receiving another 5 points and the state makes sure they attract the right people to their state. A win-win as they call it.
So we did, we aimed for sponsorship by South Australia, but before we even started South Australia took our job from their State Sponsored list. So no 5 points. No visa… Arrrgggghhhh.
The migration agent knew of one other state which sponsored our line of work and that was the Australian Capital Territory or better known as ACT. Talking about one shot…
Bloody hell, we didn’t know anything about this miniature state except that they have a real winter! Never been there, never heard much about it. But heck, if ACT is the only way to get into Australia, than that’s the way is should be. We requested sponsorship in ACT and received it! Finally after little more than a year planning, doing and waiting we received the coveted Visa Grant in June 2012! ACT it is!