Australia, a country located on a separate continent in the Southern Hemisphere, boasts a highly developed economy and ranks 12th on the UN list of the happiest countries globally. With a high level of freedom, robust social support, and a healthy GDP per capita, Australia offers a long life expectancy, low crime rates, a comfortable climate, and vast uninhabited land. If you're considering moving to Australia and obtaining permanent residency, here's what you need to know.
- What Makes Australia Attractive
- Who Can Receive Permanent Residency in Australia
- Visa Types and Acquisition Process
- Who Is Eligible for Permanent Residence in Australia?
- How to Become an Australian Citizen through Naturalisation
- Real Estate Prices in Australia
- Prices for Rent, Food, and Services
- What Else Should Expats Moving to Australia Know?
What Makes Australia Attractive
While much of the continent remains uninhabitable, foreigners opting for temporary or permanent residence in Australia will discover diverse living options to suit their preferences. Some are enticed by the prospect of starting a farm, while others seek oceanfront living. Thriving metropolises like Sydney or Melbourne also attract those looking for urban lifestyles.
The Twelve Apostles, Princetown, Australia. Photo: Victor (Unsplash)
Australia's natural landscapes are incredibly diverse. Every region of the country has its unique climate, with infrequent occurrences of prolonged rains or snowfall. The northern part of the continent boasts a humid and comfortable climate, while the central region alternates between tropical and semi-desert environments. In the southern and southwestern parts, a hot subtropical climate prevails. Australia is home to a remarkable array of endemic wildlife, including kangaroos, echidnas, koalas, platypuses, and numerous other distinctive species.
While English is Australia's official language, its residents communicate in over 300 languages within their families. Australia is a multicultural nation, home to approximately 270 nationalities. Since 1945, the country has welcomed around 7 million migrants, making it a diverse and multicultural society. In fact, every third resident has roots in another country, with the most common countries of origin being New Zealand and Great Britain.
The Australian passport holds a prestigious reputation and grants visa-free entry to over 180 countries worldwide. Australian citizens can travel to numerous European countries, Japan, Singapore, and several other Asian nations without the need for advance visas. Additionally, Australians can visit the USA and Canada for up to 90 days using an e-visa, and they have the option to apply for an E2 business visa, which is valid for up to five years.
Who Can Receive Permanent Residency in Australia
Australia is actively seeking to attract labour, investors, and skilled professionals, resulting in a regular increase in the visa quota. In 2023-24, the government plans to accept 190,000 immigrant applications, with over 70% of these being highly qualified individuals. The remaining applicants include family members, such as spouses and children of Australian citizens, as well as individuals from various other categories. People choose to move to Australia for reasons such as employment opportunities, family reunification, education, or entrepreneurial endeavours.
When it comes to the process, relocating to Australia, whether temporarily or permanently, is comparably simpler than moving to other English-speaking nations. The prerequisites for foreign individuals are relatively lenient; you primarily need to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support yourself and cover living expenses, including rent or property purchase. The path to naturalisation follows a standard sequence: initiating the visa application, securing permanent residency, and subsequently applying for citizenship. However, certain foreign citizens, such as highly sought-after professionals or investors, may be eligible to apply directly for a residency permit.
In contrast, acquiring citizenship is a more challenging endeavour. Simply making an investment won't grant you a passport. To be eligible for Australian citizenship, you must have lived in Australia for a minimum of four years, with the final year spent in the capacity of a permanent resident.
Sydney. Photo: Road Trip with Raj (Unsplash)
Australia boasts one of the world's most advanced and transparent migration systems. You can access the complete list of documents and applicant requirements on the Department of Home Affairs' website. Additionally, you can explore the various entry visa options available and select the one that aligns with your path to residency.
Australia warmly welcomes foreign investors and entrepreneurs, offering dedicated programs tailored to these groups of individuals. The nation also extends its hospitality to talented inventors and young scientists who can make significant contributions to the country's advancement.
Permanent residents of Australia enjoy nearly the same rights as citizens of the country. Holding permanent residence status grants you the opportunity to:
- Work and pursue an education.
- Visit the country regularly and stay for any duration while your permit is valid.
- Access the benefits of the national health insurance program.
- Secure bank loans for real estate purchases.
- Participate in state-funded English language courses for immigrants.
- Enjoy government benefits on an equal basis with local residents, including business loans.
- Live and work in New Zealand.
- Reunite with your family in the country.
The restrictions only apply to certain rights: non-citizens of Australia cannot participate in elections, serve in the country's armed forces, work in government positions, or re-enter the country without permission. Additionally, they are not eligible for loans for higher education.
Visa Types and Acquisition Process
Australia ranks sixth in the world in terms of land area. This continent, surrounded by the Pacific and Indian oceans, is truly unique. One notable aspect of the country is the availability of approximately 100 types of visas. In 2023, you can apply for more than 70 of them. To determine the appropriate category to apply for, you can take a specialised test on the website of the country's Department of Home Affairs.
A visa is necessary for all foreigners intending to visit Australia, regardless of the purpose of their trip and the duration of their stay. Whether you're a tourist, student, entrepreneur, contracted employee of a local company, or the spouse of an Australian citizen, you must complete the visa application process. Visas are categorised as follows:
- Guest and tourist.
- Student and educational.
- Partnerships and family.
- Work and for qualified personnel.
- Humanitarian and for refugees.
Australian visas can also be categorised into two main groups: those that do not immediately lead to permanent residency (referred to as temporary visas) and those that pave the way for future permanent residency (known as migration visas). Each category comprises various subclasses, each identified by unique code numbers.
Temporary, or non-immigrant, visas include:
- Tourist and other guest visas.
- Educational visas.
- Short-term work visas and certain other work permits.
- Specific categories of parent visas and other types.
Usually, non-immigrant visas have a short validity period ranging from three months to one year. They are open to all foreigners with a legitimate reason to visit the country, such as seeking medical treatment at local clinics, attending business meetings, visiting relatives, and more. These visas are also granted to individuals interested in enrolling in local language courses, a program highly sought after globally. Of course, Australian visas are highly coveted among those aspiring to pursue professional surfing.
Immigrant visas encompass a range of categories, including:
- Business visas.
- Visas for highly qualified specialists and talented individuals.
- Work visas.
- Child and partner visas.
- Some types of parent visas.
- Permits for returning residents.
- Humanitarian visas and entry permits for refugees.
Immigrant visas are typically long-term, with durations ranging from one to five years. These visas are commonly sought by close relatives of Australian citizens, refugees, investors, and individuals with highly sought-after professions in the country. Applicants must not only substantiate their eligibility for a visa on paper (such as by providing educational diplomas) but also present evidence of a job offer from an employer. In some cases, they may need to provide language proficiency certificates or meet other specific requirements.
Recipients of immigrant visas are required to pay a substantial government fee, which can amount to several thousand dollars for certain categories. In contrast, short-term visas are generally more affordable.
Photo: Jamie Davies (Unsplash)
The Most Popular Types of Australian Visas
To ensure a smooth visa application process, it's important to choose the type of entry permit that aligns with the purpose of your visit. Some of the most popular Australian visas include:
- Tourist Visa: Ideal for vacations, exploring the country, visiting friends, or attending conferences and seminars. Visitor visas are available for durations of three, six, or nine months. However, they do not grant the right to work in Australia.
- Transit Visa: Intended for travellers who pass through Australia as an intermediate point for transfers. This visa is valid for just 72 hours and is issued free of charge. Even if passengers don't plan to leave the airport, they require a transit visa, especially when travelling to New Zealand.
- Work Visas: This category encompasses a wide range of subclasses, with permit durations ranging from three months to several years. The maximum validity period for work visas is five years. It includes visas for workers in high-demand professions, highly skilled individuals, entrepreneurs, investors, temporary work permits, and more. Work visas have specific requirements, including the need to provide an employment contract signed by the employer. They are further categorised into employer-sponsored permits, those subject to state or territory quotas, and independent visas.
- Fiancée/Fiancé Visas: These visas are designed for individuals planning to marry Australian citizens or permanent residents. The subclass 300 permit allows work and study in the country and is typically valid for nine months or slightly longer. During this period, the couple must marry and proceed with applications for temporary and then permanent partnership visas. Applicants should be prepared for a thorough assessment to verify the authenticity of the relationship, which may include providing documents demonstrating the duration of the relationship, such as letters and photographs together.
- Humanitarian Visa: Issued to individuals facing challenging life circumstances, such as those who can substantiate persecution in their home country or refugees seeking protection in Australia. Asylum seekers who have fled their home country due to humanitarian crises, persecution based on factors like nationality, religion, or political beliefs, may be eligible for asylum in Australia.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a Visa?
The processing time for your entry permit application, the required documentation, and the associated fees all vary depending on the type of visa you're applying for. You can find a comprehensive list of required documents for each visa type on the official website of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
The standard list of documents includes:
- Travel passport with scanned copies of the main pages.
- Completed application form.
- Recent colour photo, sized 35x45 mm.
- Certificate of no criminal record.
- Bank account statement.
- Proof medical insurance coverage.
- Documentation demonstrating the source of income, such as a work certificate or registration certificate for self-employed individuals.
- Receipt confirming the payment of the required fees.
- If a third party is submitting the paperwork on your behalf, a written authorization confirming their authority may also be necessary.
Certain documents must be accompanied by an English translation. Additionally, some copies need to be notarized, such as marriage certificates and children's birth certificates. Individuals aged 75 and above must also provide an insurance policy and the results of a medical checkup. Other applicant groups may also be requested to undergo a medical examination. This includes students and foreigners travelling to Australia for medical treatment, among others. Please note that the results of the medical examination will only be accepted for review if conducted by an accredited doctor.
Minors are also required to have a visa for entry into the country. If the child does not possess a passport, the document package must include a notarized birth certificate. When a minor is travelling with only one parent or without both parents or legal guardians, the responsible adults must provide written consent for the trip. This consent should be completed using Form No. 1229.
Applications submitted by foreign nationals residing outside the country are handled by the immigration attaché at the Australian Embassy. In other instances, the document package and the application will undergo review by the immigration department. Alternatively, you have the option to submit your documents online through the department's website.
The visa is not physically stamped or inserted into the passport; it exists as an electronic document. This permit is recorded in a dedicated database, and you can verify its status online at passport control. However, as a precaution, it's advisable to have a printed copy with you.
Filling in the Application Form
In order to complete the application form on the website of the Department of Home Affairs of the country, you must first register/sign up. The option to submit an application will be accessible within your personal account. The form should be completed in English. Each type of visa is accompanied by specific instructions that pertain to the application.
Survey questions may vary depending on the permit category and subclass. Common fields include last name, first name, patronymic, date of birth, complete passport details, contact information, and more. Each section of the questionnaire provides helpful tips to assist you in correctly completing the required information. In cases where an entire family is immigrating to the country, a separate form must be completed for each child.
The processing time for an application depends on various factors, including the department's current workload and the type of visa being applied for. Generally, tourist, student, and temporary work visa applications are processed relatively quickly. In contrast, you can expect longer processing times for marriage and professional visas.
Visas for parents of adult residents are a distinct category with significantly longer processing times. It can take up to a decade to process such visas. This extended processing duration is primarily attributed to annual quotas for the issuance of long-term visas. Regrettably, parent visas have a low processing priority, and frequently, the available quotas are insufficient. Consequently, applications may be deferred to the following year in such cases.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Brisbane, Australia. Photo: Brisbane Local Marketing (Unsplash)
What Are the Grounds for Refusal
If a foreigner applies for a visa type that does not align with their eligibility, their application will be rejected. While you can reapply, please note that the visa fee, which can be quite substantial, is non-refundable. Additionally, incorrect completion of the application form or the provision of false information may lead to a refusal. Other common reasons for visa denials include a prior criminal record, insufficient financial means to sustain oneself in the country, being a fugitive, or a history of violating immigration laws.
An interview is not typically mandatory during the visa application process. However, there may be instances where an interview is requested. Generally, this is a standard procedure when applying for a fiancé/fiancée visa. It's important to note that a visa application can be denied at this stage if the immigration officer has concerns about the authenticity of the intentions of the parties involved, the sincerity of their feelings, or whether the partners are cohabiting.
It's crucial to understand that presenting fraudulent documents or false information may result in a ban from reapplying for a visa for a period of up to three years. If your application is denied, you have the option to pursue an appeal through the court system. This can be accomplished either with the assistance of a migration agent or by personally representing yourself in Australia. Please note that this is a paid procedure, and the fee amounts to over $3,000. In certain situations, an appeal may not be available as an option. However, if you meet the eligibility criteria for the specific visa category, you can submit a new application.
In certain situations, a visa holder may risk losing their current status. Visa cancellation can occur for the following reasons:
- Voluntary renunciation of your Australian residence permit.
- Violation of the country's laws.
- Engaging in actions that pose a threat to the sovereignty of the country.
- Attaining the status of a permanent resident or citizen of the state.
Both the denial of a visa application and the cancellation of a valid permit must be accompanied by an explanation and justification for the decision. You have the option to appeal to the court not only in cases of visa refusal but also when the validity of a visa is prematurely terminated.
Submission of Biometric Data
A distinctive aspect of obtaining temporary and permanent visas for Australia is that most of the application process can be completed online. You can digitally submit all the required documents and receive the visa itself as an electronic document (e-document). The only offline component of the registration procedure may involve the submission of biometric data.
Following the submission of the application form, the applicant will receive an invitation to provide biometric data. The letter will specify the location where you can undergo the procedure (either at the consulate or visa centre) and the allotted time frame. Typically, you will have approximately two weeks to complete the biometrics process.
The process of submitting biometric data includes capturing a digital photograph and recording fingerprints. For minor applicants under 16 years of age, it is necessary to be accompanied by a guardian. Children under five years old, however, only need to provide a photograph.
Visa Photo Requirements
When applying for a visa, the candidate is required to include a high-quality photograph in the list of documents. This photograph is uploaded online through a designated form. Several requirements must be met for the photo. Firstly, the photo must be recent, taken no more than six months before the application.
In the photograph, the face should cover 70% of the total area and be positioned precisely in the centre. The photograph must be in colour, sharp, and taken against a white background, with no retouching or blurring allowed.
Photographs in which the applicant tilts their head back, lowers their head, laughs, or engages in antics will not be accepted. You may wear religious headdresses in the photograph, provided they do not cover your face. Tinted glasses are permissible for the photo as long as your eyes are visible behind the frames, but regular sunglasses are not allowed.
How to Apply for a Student Visa
Australia is a sought-after destination for international students looking to pursue higher education abroad. Until recently, there were multiple categories of student and educational visas available in the country. However, as of 2023, these have all been consolidated into a single type of permit known as the Student Visa subclass 500.
The Student Visa subclass 500 is open to both university students in Australia and children aged six and above who intend to enrol in local schools. As with most applications, you can apply for a student visa online. For primary school students, the visa is valid for three years, while for other student categories, it's valid for five years. Foreign students are eligible to apply for scholarships or grants and are permitted to work part-time while studying, with a maximum of 48 hours every two weeks. Upon completing their studies, students can also apply for a temporary graduate visa.
If the applicant is a minor, they must have an on-site guardian. Adult applicants, on the other hand, will only require an official admission decision from the university. It's important to note that this decision should be in the form of an official document; a standard letter will not suffice. However, there's a crucial detail to consider when it comes to university admission. If this marks the applicant's first experience with higher education, in most cases, they will need to undergo additional training. Alternatively, they can provide a college completion certificate in a related field. This requirement arises due to the disparity in educational systems, as Australian students typically complete 12 years of schooling.
In certain situations, the applicant may not require a confirmation of enrollment from the university. This exception applies when the student is involved in an exchange program or is sponsored by the state defence department. The applicant must still demonstrate language proficiency, financial stability, obtain medical insurance, and undergo a medical examination.
A student visa is the ideal solution for:
- Recent high school graduates seeking a prestigious education while immersing themselves in the country's culture and traditions.
- Immigrants with prior education who haven't secured sponsorship from an employer.
- Qualified applicants who may not be proficient in English.
- Individuals aiming to enhance their qualifications and earn additional points for residency applications.
Please note that relocating to Australia on a student visa provides an opportunity to establish a presence in the country. After studying at local universities for two years, students become eligible for a work visa, allowing them to seek employment in their chosen profession before completing their education. The cost of education depends on the institution selected and typically ranges from 12,000 AUD to 45,000 AUD per year on average.
Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Фото: Partha Narasimhan (Unsplash)
How to Move to Australia for Investments and Business
As previously mentioned, the Australian government actively seeks to attract foreign investment. Investor proposals are carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This is due to the fact that such investments contribute to the country's tax revenue and job creation. This approach serves to safeguard national interests while also maximising the inflow of funds.
Entrepreneurs and investors are granted business visas, offering similar opportunities and a duration of validity comparable to temporary residence permits in many other countries worldwide. Typically, these permits are valid for up to five years, with the option for renewal. Both the investors or entrepreneurs themselves and their family members can utilise this visa to enter Australia. This permit grants them the right to reside, study, and work within the country.
Business visas are categorised based on various factors, including their validity period, the level of investment in the economy, and other specific parameters. Examples of such visas include the entrepreneur visa, investor visa, and significant investor visa. The specific requirements for each of these visas depend on their respective subclasses. In some instances, applicants may be required to furnish documents that verify their business turnover or demonstrate that the investment funds originate from legal sources. In other cases, it's essential that the candidate receives approval from a specialised commission and is nominated by the government of the state or territory where they intend to conduct their business.
Minimum investment requirements for each category:
- Business Innovation Stream: Starting from 1.25 million AUD ($757,000).
- Investor Stream: Starting from 2.5 million AUD ($1.57 million).
- Significant Investor Stream: Starting from 5 million AUD ($3.15 million).
- Premium Investor Stream: Starting from 15 million AUD ($9.4 million).
Requirements for Investors
Investors and entrepreneurs are required to meet standard criteria, which include:
- Age not exceeding 55 years.
- A clean criminal record.
- Proof of financial stability.
- Certification of basic English language proficiency.
- A police clearance certificate from the country of residence, confirming no criminal offences within the past 10 years.
- Documentation substantiating the legality of income.
- Verification of relevant business experience.
- Results of a medical examination.
Furthermore, applicants for business visas must achieve a specific point score in a standardised assessment. These assessments are based on various criteria, including the investment amount, the applicant's age, business turnover, experience, and other individual and business-related attributes. The assessment is designed to identify candidates who can make the most positive economic contribution to the country.
Under current legislation, holders of temporary business visas can apply for a permanent visa after only three years. The latter type of visa grants eligibility to apply for citizenship.
Professional Immigration to Australia
Australia actively seeks to attract highly skilled professionals, and the Skilled Independent Visa program is tailored for them. It's important to note that this is a specialised independent visa, distinct from a standard work visa.
To qualify for skilled immigration, applicants are not required to include an invitation from an employer in their document package. They can relocate to the mainland country first and then commence their job search. The candidate should outline their skills and accomplishments on the SkillSelect website.
The Skilled Occupation List can assist you in identifying which professions are currently in demand in Australia for the year 2023. This list is compiled for the entire continent and is regularly updated. In 2023, it included a wide range of professions such as:
- Coding analysts.
- Software engineers.
- Anaesthesiologists, and more.
The Skilled Independent Visa does not tie the applicant to a particular state or territory. To enhance the chances of a successful application, it's crucial for the applicant to achieve the highest possible score in a specialised assessment. The minimum threshold for receiving an invitation to apply is 65 points.
Furthermore, it is essential to gather documents that validate professional experience, higher education qualifications, and proficiency in English at a level exceeding B2 (this includes attaching an IELTS certificate with a score of 6.0 or higher, or a certificate from a different language examination). The candidate's age is also a factor; they should be no older than 45 years, although exceptions are permitted for rare specialists such as researchers, professors, and others.
Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, Australia. Photo: Photoholgic (Unsplash)
Who Is Eligible for Permanent Residence in Australia?
Holders of permanent visas can become residents of the country, and they are granted permanent resident status automatically. This rule is applicable to holders of family, skilled, permanent business, and talent visas. In Australia, there are no specific concepts of a residence permit or permanent residence status; these are instead replaced by temporary and permanent visas.
Some permanent visas can be obtained immediately upon application, whereas others are accessible to those who have resided in the country for a specific period and meet certain criteria. For instance, certain business visa categories are considered permanent, but they are attainable for investors who have made substantial investments in the economy and possess assets. Additionally, they must secure approval from the administration of the territory or state where they intend to establish their enterprise.
Talented scientists, researchers, and cultural figures are subject to a distinct set of conditions. They can acquire permanent residence in Australia by participating in a competition. The process involves submitting an application through the talent search system, wherein they can showcase their achievements. Following this, all that's left is to await further developments. If there's demand for their candidacy anywhere in the country, they will receive an invitation. Talented individuals are not required to meet the same language proficiency standards as other applicants. However, in this case, they are subject to a doubled visa fee.
Certain temporary residence permits in the country may also enable you to apply for permanent residence, provided that specific conditions are satisfied. For example, holders of fiancé/fiancée visas must marry an Australian citizen, and subsequently, they can apply for a spouse visa.
Types of Spouse Visas for Australian Citizens
Spouses of Australian citizens and partners of Australians who plan to get married can acquire temporary residence permission in Australia. It's important to note that the partner visa differs from the fiancé/fiancée visa. The primary distinction lies in the duration of validity. The prospective spouse should apply for subclass 300, while the official spouse files for subclasses 309, 100, as well as subclasses 801 or 820.
Applicants for a temporary or permanent spouse visa must meet the following requirements:
- Be of legal age and legally capable.
- Possess a marriage certificate recognized in Australia or demonstrate at least 12 months of cohabitation as common-law partners before submitting their documents.
- Provide evidence of cohabitation and the sincerity of their intentions, such as witness testimonies or a rental agreement.
- Present a medical examination certificate.
For spouses of Australian citizens, there are no specific requirements concerning maximum age, profession, or English language proficiency. The primary focus should be on gathering substantial evidence showcasing the cohabitation of the spouses. To prepare for the interview, you will need to compile photos, printouts of correspondence, and other relevant documentation.
The subject of relationships is deeply personal, and the immigration service approaches it with sensitivity. If a couple has not yet begun living together but plans to marry, this should be communicated during the interview. Even if there are doubts regarding the strength of the couple's relationship, they may be granted another opportunity. In such instances, partners are provided with specific guidelines outlining additional evidence they can provide. This may encompass bills, documents related to joint travel, and even telephone call histories.
How to Become an Australian Citizen through Naturalisation
As previously mentioned, foreigners can obtain Australian citizenship solely through the naturalisation process. To be eligible to submit an application, you must meet the following criteria:
- Hold a valid visa and have been a resident in the country for the four years leading up to the date of your application.
- Maintain continuous permanent residence in Australia for the last 12 months, during which time you must not leave the country for more than 90 days.
- Possess a permanent visa for at least one year before applying for citizenship.
You can accurately determine the number of months the applicant has spent in the country recently by using a dedicated calculator available on the Department of Home Affairs' website.
The sole category eligible for automatic Australian citizenship includes children with one or both parents who are Australian citizens. This entitlement also extends to children born in the country with one parent holding permanent residence status. In the case of adopted children, each Australian state or territory independently determines their citizenship status.
The primary stages of acquiring citizenship comprise the following:
- Gathering the necessary documents and paying state fees.
- Submitting the application.
- Completing a citizenship test and participating in an interview.
- Awaiting the decision.
- In the event of a positive decision, participating in a citizenship rights ceremony and obtaining a passport.
To become an Australian citizen, a foreigner is required to pass an examination demonstrating proficiency in the English language and knowledge of the country's history, as well as to take an oath. There is no requirement to renounce one's original citizenship; Australian legislation allows for dual citizenship. Consequently, foreigners can maintain their original passport but must enter Australian territory using their Australian passport. Additionally, it is essential to confirm one's good standing, meaning that there are no legal issues not only in Australia but also in other countries.
Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, Australia. Photo: Fabian Kühne (Unsplash)
Test for Australian Citizenship
Applicants for citizenship must be at least 18 years old. They are required to exhibit a strong moral character, as well as possess knowledge of the culture and history of the country and an understanding of the responsibilities associated with being an Australian citizen. Applicants undergo an examination and interview as part of the process.
A dedicated test has been designed to evaluate knowledge of the country's history, culture, political structure, and values. Foreigners can prepare for this test with the assistance of local public organisations, which provide all the necessary resources for self-study or offer courses for individuals to enrol in.
The test is administered in English, and it is applicable to individuals between the ages of 18 and 59. The examination encompasses questions related to Australia's national symbols, fundamental rights and freedoms, core values, and more. For instance, candidates are required to be familiar with the number of states and territories within the nation, significant dates in Australian history, and the appearance of the country's flag.
Minors and individuals over the age of 60 are exempt from taking the test. Applicants with hearing, speech, or vision impairments are also excused from this stage.
The test is considered successfully completed if the applicant answers more than 60% of the questions correctly. The test is conducted in writing and has a duration of 45 minutes, during which candidates must respond to 20 questions. In the event of passing the test, applicants will receive a decision specifying the date of the oath ceremony within 90 days.
Real Estate Prices in Australia
Immigrating to Australia also comes with its challenges. One of the frequently cited drawbacks of permanent residence in the country is the high cost of housing. Australia ranks among the most expensive places to purchase or rent real estate. However, this largely hinges on the expatriate's income. If they arrived in Australia on a skilled visa with strong qualifications, their income should be adequate to manage these expenses.
The highest housing prices can be found in Australia's coastal cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. Real estate is also relatively expensive in Canberra and other major cities in the central part of the mainland. This is why many immigrants opt to reside in the suburbs of these developed cities. For instance, in the outskirts of Melbourne, the cost of a small house may be around 600,000 AUD ($381,600), whereas a house within the city can exceed 1 million AUD ($636,000).
Australian legislation permits non-residents to buy only primary real estate, considering it an investment. To gain ownership of the property, you must obtain approval from the FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) commission responsible for overseeing foreign investments. It's crucial to note that purchasing property in Australia does not grant you citizenship.
Foreigners who do not possess permanent residence, meaning they are residing on a temporary visa, are permitted to buy secondary real estate for personal use. To do so, they must obtain authorization and pay a state fee. Purchasing housing on the mainland without the required certificate may result in a fine of up to 50,000 AUD ($31,800). Non-citizens have the option to secure loans for real estate purchases, but they do not have access to the benefits available to citizens. For example, Australians can take advantage of a grant for their first home purchase or receive discounts on state fees.
Prices for Rent, Food, and Services
Local residents often opt for a mortgage when purchasing a home due to the country's low interest rates, or they choose to rent housing. Despite the high level of prosperity among the population, mainland Australia experiences elevated prices for both rent and utilities. The cost of renting a property is influenced by factors such as the size of the apartment, the city, the region, and others. Each year, rental rates in Australian cities typically increase by 4% to 5%. Sydney is renowned as the most expensive city, with the monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside of the central areas averaging around $1,000.
Utility bills in Australian cities are divided into two components—monthly and quarterly. These bills encompass expenses for water, gas, heating, and electricity, along with a compulsory fee of approximately 20 AUD ($13) per person.
Apart from the elevated prices of food, public transportation, mobile services, clothing, and footwear, Australia also imposes high tax rates. In 2023, for instance, the individual income tax rate stood at 45% and has remained unchanged for several years. This tax is calculated on a progressive scale. To provide a comparison, New Zealand had a lower tax rate of 39% in 2023. Nevertheless, families with lower incomes and citizens with modest earnings may be eligible for more lenient conditions, potentially exempting them from certain taxes.
Education in the country is also costly, including educational services for young children. The cost of attending a kindergarten can be as high as $1,000 per month or even more. Students with study visas can explore scholarship opportunities, but typically, they are required to cover their tuition fees. Nevertheless, Australian education is renowned for its exceptional quality and a broad array of programs. In major cities, it is readily possible to locate schools offering instruction in languages such as French, German, and others.
Pinnacles Desert, Cervantes, Australia. Photo: Tobias Keller (Unsplash)
What Else Should Expats Moving to Australia Know?
When contemplating a move to a distant continent, it's essential to research which insurance company offers the best policy options in advance. The national health insurance program, Medicare, does not cover all expenses, leading to roughly half of the local population acquiring private insurance. Australia operates under a mixed healthcare model, and only permanent visa holders have access to free medical services.
Non-residents have the option to utilise banking products and services offered by financial institutions in Australia. You can open accounts with major banks in the country, including the National Bank, and typically, this service is provided free of charge. However, local banks may decline to open accounts for non-residents.
Regarding employment, the average annual salary in Australia typically falls within the range of 50,000 to 80,000 AUD. The highest income levels are observed in sectors such as banking, IT, business, and medicine. Nonetheless, salary levels can vary significantly depending on your place of residence, with Melbourne and Sydney offering the highest salaries.
Before making the decision to relocate, it's important to take into account Australia's distance from other continents. Visiting relatives abroad can be costly, and it's worth noting that travelling within the country can also involve covering long distances. Another unique aspect of life on the mainland is the high level of solar activity. Even in the northern regions, it is essential to consistently use sunscreen. This precautionary measure is necessary because ultraviolet radiation is exceptionally harsh, and despite their high life expectancy, Australians often experience instances of skin cancer.
Lastly, expats with substantial experience living on the continent advise those considering a move to acknowledge the presence of numerous exotic animals and insects, even in non-tropical regions. It's common to come across snakes, lizards, spiders, and other potentially hazardous creatures, many of which are venomous.
In a Nutshell
To visit Australia for tourism or any other purposes, you require a visa, which can be either temporary or permanent. The entry permit is issued electronically. There are approximately 100 visa subclasses, although not all of them are currently open for application. Both permanent and temporary visas in the country function as local equivalents of permanent and temporary residence permits. Therefore, the initial step toward acquiring citizenship is obtaining a residence permit.
You have the option to apply for a visa online. The processing time and the visa application fee, as well as the specific list of required documents and requirements, are directly determined by the type of visa you've selected. You can access detailed information and complete the application form on the website of the Department of Home Affairs in the country.
A foreigner can acquire an Australian passport only when holding a permanent visa. To initiate the process, they must maintain this status for a minimum of four years, with the last 12 months being spent in Australia continuously, without departing for more than 90 days. It's also essential to pass a test and demonstrate proficiency in the English language.
When contemplating where to initiate the process of applying for permanent residence in Australia, it's crucial to assess all the advantages and disadvantages of temporary or permanent residency in this country. Despite its allure, Australia is not the most easiest destination for relocation.
Cover photo: Melbourne. Denise Jans (Unsplash)