Making the decision to pack up and move to Australia can be one of the toughest choices a person can make in their lifetime.

So why are more and more people making the decision to move to Australia every day? click for answer

Part of the reason is because Australia is a growing economy, and with that comes an increase in demand for skilled professionals and tradespeople. Also - despite the detailed application process, it's often easier to qualify for an Australian visa than it is in many other first world countries - which have tightened regulations over recent years and limited their skills intake.

A big pull factor is the long term stability that Australia offers skilled migrants and their families. Australia has a stable political environment, a low crime rate, good weather and offers a good work/life balance. It's a young country by world standards and it isn't densely populated, which means plenty of space for new arrivals.

Four of Australia’s major cities recently ranked in the top 10 of the "World's most liveable cities" in the Global liveability index, which is an index is based on a survey of health care, culture, environment, education, infrastructure and sport.

How much does an Australian visa cost? click for answer

This is often the first question that people ask. Unfortunately there is never a definitive answer because the cost of an Australian visa will vary depending on what visa stream you choose to apply under, the number of dependents you have and the complexity of your case.

Generally the costs will comprise the visa fee paid to the department of immigration, fees paid to authorities that assess the skills of applicants, English language tests, and fees paid to a migration agent for facilitating the visa application. The fees paid to the department of immigration are generally the largest component, especially when dependents are attached to an application.

As a rough guide, application fees with the Department of Immigration for a skilled independent visa could be in the region of AUD4,000 for the main applicant, plus AUD2,000 for a partner added to the application, and a further AUD1,000 to get a child added to the application. Migration agent fees, fees levied by skills assessment authorities and English language assessment fees are paid over and above these amounts.

More information on fees levied by the Department of Immigration can be found on their website: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/fees-and-charges

Should I use a migration agent? click for answer

There is no obligation to use a migration agent when applying for an Australian visa. People opt to use migration agents because they want to avoid the confusion and the complexity behind what can often be a long and administrative process.

The recent increase in application fees charged by the department of immigration means people are more likely to enlist the services of a migration agent. This is because the migration agent fee now forms a lesser part of the total cost, and because people don't want to risk losing money should their application be unsuccessful.

Why use a migration agent based in Australia? click for answer

While MigrateAU is based in Australia, the majority of our clients are outside the country. The technology we use means that electronic communication largely replaces paper, and consultations / correspondence take place via telephone and email.

Using a migration agent inside Australia means you are using a company in the same region that your visa gets processed, and in the same region where continuing professional development for migration agents takes place.

When considering an agent outside Australia, make sure they are registered with MARA and qualified in Australian migration law.

What does it mean if an agent is registered with MARA? click for answer

In Australia, a person cannot provide migration advice unless they are a registered migration agent with the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Using a registered migration agent means using someone that has studies Migration law at a recognized Australian Institution, is bound by a code of conduct and is subject to continuing professional development obligations.

Agents outside Australia aren’t obligated to register with MARA. This means that they might not have any qualifications or continuing professional development obligations. It also means you have no recourse with a professional body should your agent negligently provide incorrect advice or should you be defrauded.

How do I check if a migration agent is registered with MARA? click for answer

To check if an agent is registered with MARA, you can use the following website: https://www.mara.gov.au/search-the-register-of-migration-agents/

Registration with MARA and professional membership with the MIA could also be displayed in the company profile as follows:
Migration Agents Registration Authority / Migration Institute of Australia

Temporary Australian residence versus Permanent Australian residence. click for answer

Permanent residents of Australia are not yet citizens, but enjoy all the same benefits - with the exception that they are not eligible to vote.

Like the name suggests, if you are a permanent resident of Australia, you are entitled to remain in Australia indefinitely. Getting a permanent residence visa puts you on the path to Australian citizenship. Once you have lived in Australia for 4 years, you are eligible to apply for citizenship.

Temporary residence does not give you the right to remain in Australia indefinitely. Many skilled professionals move across to Australia on temporary visas such as the "482 visa". The main reason for this is because they get sponsored by an employer.

Although an advantage of this type of temporary visa option can be a quicker visa processing time, the main disadvantage is that your visa is tied to your employment at the sponsor company. So should you decide that you would like to look for work with another employer, you would have to find another employer who will continue to sponsor you.

This can be a serious challenge because employers tend to favour job applicants that possess permanent residence, because sponsorship requires additional administrative burden.

So where should I live in Australia? click for answer

Mostly - this decision is based on where migrants expect to find work, as well as to be close to family or other support networks. However Australia is a vast country and the states differ significantly in terms of population size, weather, job opportunities and even sport.

It pays to do some research, and every state has a website which helps give you some background:

What is "state sponsorship"? click for answer

Australia is divided into 6 states and 2 territories. As we referred to above, these are NSW / VIC / WA / QLD/ SA / TAS and NT / ACT.

These states and territories are able to sponsor migrants for permanent and temporary residence to live and work in certain areas. The reason for this is to address certain skills shortages.

Sponsorship shouldn't be taken to mean financial assistance, but rather an increase in points for eligibility. It can form part of the following visa subclasses:

  • 190 (permanent skilled)
  • 491 (regional provisional)

When you are granted a visa after get additional points based on state sponsorship, you are obliged to work in the State that sponsored you for a period of 2 to 3 years after arriving in Australia.

Where should I open a bank account? click for answer

Australia has four big retail banks. All of these banks offer migrant banking accounts, which effectively allow you to open an account into which you can transfer cash in anticipation of moving across to Australia.

Bear in mind that these may have limited functionality until you have activated them on arrival in Australia, so it's often beneficial to keep another account open until you've established yourself.

The banks and associated links on how to set up an account are as follows:

Property in Australia. click for answer

The first thing migrants tend to realise once they arrive in Australia is how expensive it is to buy property. This is especially the case in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia has enjoyed a long property boom, which has recently been stretched further in an environment of low interest rates. Australian property is expensive relative to most of the developed world on most valuation metrics.

The following charts (sourced from the Economist) show:

  • How Australia has a higher price versus disposable income ratio than the UK, US and Japan.
  • How Australia has a higher price versus rental income ratio than the UK, US and Japan.

For this reason, most people advise that the best approach is to rent first to get a better feel for an area before making the big decision to buy.

Property in Australia

Medical care in Australia. click for answer

Australia has a world class public healthcare system, which is known as Medicare. Migrants who are Australian permanent residents are able to use Medicare, and a component of their taxable income is paid to the Australian tax authority to fund the public healthcare system.

Migrants who come to Australia on a temporary visa like the 482 visa are not eligible for Medicare and require private health cover.

However many permanent residents opt to take out private health cover in any event, because once your taxable income hits a certain threshold, you are subject to a Medicare tax surcharge if you don't have private health cover in place.

Learn more about Medicare in Australia: www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/medicare-services#a3

Saving for retirement in Australia. click for answer

Saving for retirement is done via the Superannuation system.

Superannuation is a tax-effective savings system used by individuals to provide for their retirement in Australia. It was designed to help employees save for their retirement and reduce the burden on the state.

Generally, superannuation contributions called "Superannuation guarantee" contributions are paid over to a Super Fund by your employer. Super contributions currently approximate 9.5% of your salary payment.

You can only access your Superannuation balance when you meet a condition of release, which is most commonly retirement at age 65.

Things you might not know about Australia. click for answer

  • 85% of Australians live within 100km of the coast.
  • Sydney and Melbourne each have a population of more than 4 million people, and comprise roughly a third of the total population of Australia.
  • Australia's homicide rate is 1.2 per 100,000 population, compared to 6.3 per 100,000 in the United States.
  • Australia has one of the lowest population densities in the world, roughly 3 people per square kilometre, versus 262 in the UK.
  • It is the sixth-largest country, the world’s largest island and about the same size as mainland United States and China and approximately one and a half times the size of Europe.
  • Australia nearly has the same land mass as the United States of America and China, and is about 50 percent larger than Europe.