Name: Sam Eltringham
Originally From: United Kingdom
Moved To: Brisbane, New South Wales
Visa Type: Skilled Worker Visa
Sam Eltringham made the decision to move to Australia to live and work. She shares her personal experience and top tips when applying to move to Australia as a skilled worker.
Besides from the great weather, stunning coastline and laid back lifestyle, Australia is a forward-thinking nation. Boasting a strong economy, world leading education and an exceptional health care system, it’s easy to see why the land down under has become an increasingly popular destination for Brits looking to move overseas.
If that’s not enough, the Australian job market is thriving! On average, over 150,000 new job openings are advertised on a weekly basis, paired with remarkably low levels of un-employment, equates to a massive demand for skilled workers, making getting a visa more achievable than ever before.
Australia is renowned for its tough border policies and with over 100 subclasses of visa, it’s apparent that the process is mentally and physically exhausting. A short online assessment can be fulfilled to help you to determine which visa option you are eligible for and which is best for you and your needs.
The General Skilled Migration program is the most popular pathway to becoming a resident. This is the route that Sam Eltringham opted for, who we recently spoke to, to help other budding expats figure things out!
Securing a visa as a skilled migrant
The flourishing job market in Australia makes applying for the General skilled migration program a popular choice. This program allows immigrants with desirable, in-demand skills to apply, without the need for sponsorship or financial backing. There are three types of programmes within this category including Skilled Independent (Permanent), Skilled Nominated (Permanent) and Skilled Regional (Provisional).
Sam advises that the visa application process has been the most challenging aspect of her emigration process to date.
“Emigration has been five years in the making for us! I had to go back to university to study for a career in software development, this was something I had always been interested in, but had never perused. The fact that developers are sought after in Australia was a bonus! After studying, I then had to gain two years of industry experience before I could even apply for a visa.
We initially applied for a skilled independent visa (subclass 189) which would have meant I could work anywhere in Australia, but because I had the minimum amount of points required (60 points) we were at the end of a waiting list while people with 65+ points were processed.
My points would have increased over time as I gained more work experience but that could have taken years! For this reason, we decided to change our application to State nominated visa (subclass 190) which still gives us permanent residency, but we’re sponsored by NSW to live and work there for a minimum of two years. Once we changed our application to state sponsorship we had our visa in a matter of weeks!”
The basic criteria for securing a visa as a skilled migrant include:
Occupation: You must have the relevant skills, qualifications and experience in a desirable industry. As Sam mentioned, she had to retrain to even be considered for this type of Visa, which will lengthen the process.
Language: You must prove your ability to communicate in the English Language. For UK nationals, this is simply proven by your passport nationality, however, those from non-English speaking countries will need to pass an International English Language test.
Age: If you’re over 50 years old, unfortunately, this type of Visa is not an option for you. The Australian Government requires skilled workers who can contribute to the economy for years to come.
The points calculator is the best way to assess your chances of emigrating as a skilled worker. This is a simple online form, enquiring about you, your career and your education. In order to progress your application, you are required to hold a post-secondary qualification (Degree/ trade) and your occupation must be listed on the skilled occupation list – http://www.workpermit.com/immigration/australia/australian-skilled-occupation-list-sol.
If you tick all the boxes for the basic criteria and score well on the points calculator, you will be required to undertake various assessments, to help ensure you will be a credit to your new home. This includes a skills assessment, a health assessment and a character assessment, which will usually be a review of your criminal record.
Sam says, “The skills assessment wasn’t too difficult for me because I had support from my employer. Our agent let me know exactly what I needed to verify my work experience and I worked with my manager to write a letter for The Australian Computer Society (ACS).
The hardest part of all the assessments was passing the IELTS test! IELTS is accepted as evidence of English language proﬁciency for study, work and migration in Australia. The test cost £250 and was a two-hour exam. The first time I sat it I didn’t get enough points (at least eight in each band – reading/writing /listening /speaking). But the second time I sat it, which I felt was a worse attempt, I got an overall band score of 8.5 (proficient). I was so relieved I didn’t have to sit the exam again!
The only advice I could give anyone putting their paperwork together is to get your documents signed / stamped by a solicitor. Don’t try to use a doctor or family member that is in a trusted profession. This wasted a lot of time because mistakes were made. When we finally went to a solicitor, it cost £10, took 30 minutes and everything was correct!”
Getting an employer reference
Something that may be pushed to the bottom of your to-do list is your reference, but a professional reference is a vital element of your skills assessment and migration process. Your line manager will need to provide a formal letter detailing your role and your responsibilities. The HR team will also need to clarify the terms of your employment including start/ end dates.
Telling your employer that you are leaving to move half way round the world is daunting and you may be concerned that they will not be supportive of your decision, which could be detrimental to your application. This is something that Sam was concerned about, but she believes that being open and honest with her employer was helpful for the entire process.
Is it worth paying for an agent?
Laid out on paper, this process all sounds simple. However, that’s not the case. Sam tells us “Without the help from my agent, I don’t think my emigration would be progressing. The sheer quantity of paperwork almost sent me running, but with the agent’s guidance, we got through it. Our agent took away so much of our stress and it was great to have the support and guidance from a professional, who knew the process inside out.”
When deciding on your agent it’s vital that they are registered with Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). It’s important that you have a good relationship and a good line of communication with your agent, as even though they are working for you, they have the power to withdraw your application if they do not feel your case is strong enough to succeed.
Although it is possible to apply without the assistance of an agent, as Sam mentioned, doing it alone would be strenuous and frustrating and you may not finalise your application. Even the slightest mistake could ruin your chances, so we advise playing it safe and choosing a professional agency to handle the application – you will have enough to worry about!