The cost of immigrating to Australia

The land down under is very popular among South Africans to move to. In recent years South Africans have faced down political upheaval including a number of scandals such as the Nkandla upgrades, social unrest among students following the #FeesMustFall campaign and more recently the fact that the country has been demoted to junk status.

Angelique Ruzicka interviews Sam Hopwood, managing director of Sable International Australia to find out the cost and other requirements involved in moving to the land down under.

How many people does Australian allow into the country?

Australia has a capped migration programme so they know at the start of the migration year as they have a quota which is 190 000 per annum at last count.

When it comes to interest from South Africa we can see a definite spike in the level of enquiries in the last twelve months.

Why have you seen this increase from South Africans?

From the people I speak to it’s all due to uncertainty and the last time I was there, it was the future of education of people’s children and what was happening at the universities. It’s that level of uncertainty and people want to obtain a better future.

I have been doing this for 14 years and when I first started doing it, it was the moms and dads wanting to leave. But now there are enquires from 30 year olds who don’t have a family but have a degree and some experience. So the type of enquiries have changed from older moms and dads to young professionals thinking about their future

How difficult is it to enter Australia?

It’s probably getting more difficult every year. They scope and filter for the people they are after. It’s not difficult if you fit the paradigm of what they are looking for e.g. secondary school teacher, engineer, nurse, carpenters, joiners, wall and floor tilers, plasterers and electrician. Incidentally not all teachers are in demand. They need secondary and early childhood teachers, but if you are a primary school teacher you are not in demand. So there are nuances.

When it comes to tradesmen what qualifications do you need?

South Africans are very well and taught for professional trades such as accounting, but tradespeople often get on the job training without qualifications that are recognised here in Australia. So this is why it can be more difficult to get into Australia. We are big on qualifications.

Also, the English language component skills is on a high level and of large importance and points are given to excellent English language skills. Some tradespeople don’t get in not because they can’t speak the language but because their grammar isn’t good.

For other people it’s near on impossible. If you were a marketing specialist a few years ago you could get in. We’ve had a drop of skills that previously could get in, but now you no longer can.

What does the process cost if you go through an agency like yours?

It’s a staged process so you need to do one stage before you can progress onto the next. You should first do your English language test and that costs around R4, 000. Then after that you need to do a skills assessment and this can be conducted by various institutes and they all have different fees and can cost between AU$600 – AU$2000 (R5888 – R19628.14*). Then after you have a positive skills assessment you can submit a visa application. It costs AU$3,600 (R36, 330) for a main applicant, AU$1,800 (R17, 665.33) for the spouse and for each child AU$900 (R8,832.66).

Agency fees, such as with 1st Contact can be roughly about AU$4,000 (R39, 256.29). So when you exchange that all into rands it can be considerable. It’s a staged process but on the flipside your earning capacity in Australia can be good. For example, for one engineer that I am currently helping could expect to earn AU$120,000 (R1 117 688) a year.

What about fraud? Is it possible to be caught up by an agency that has fraudulent intentions?

It’s unfortunate but it is the case that there are people that say they can do something for someone and then they can’t. Before I will even offer terms I will go through a lengthy process to ensure you meet the criteria. And often I say you don’t qualify and I can’t offer you my services. But there are others that may promise you that they can. Sometimes agents aren’t malicious but may also not know what they are doing.

Can South Africans secure a job before they get a visa?

A lot don’t want to apply for a visa unless they know they can get a job. But no employer will talk about employing you unless you get a visa. The level of enquiries they get from people that don’t have visas is quite high. You do have to go out on a limb unfortunately. But the unemployment rate in Australia is currently around 5.8%.

Do South Africans have to bring money over once they get a visa?

You don’t have to bring any amount of money into the country. Strangely nowhere in the visa application do you have to provide bank statements to prove you can support yourself.

How long does it take to get an Australian work visa?

If we talk start to finish from the point someone speaks to me to the point someone gets their visa it’s around nine months. The skills assessing component can take around three months.

What’s the best type of skills visa to get?

There’s a lot of different visas and they are referred to in subclasses. The one that everyone is after no.189 and that’s because it’s a skilled independent visa and you are a permanent resident for five years and can work and live anywhere in Australia. You don’t need family sponsorship and when you arrive you can live and work in any capacity. Some people qualify as school teachers and want to do something else. Strangely it allows you to do that but there is no requirement to work in that occupation. The Australian government takes a gamble that you will stay in that profession.

How do you get citizenship?

For the people who arrive with the no.189 visa they must live in Australia for four years before they are eligible for citizenship. You do a test which asks you about Australian culture and you pay a fee and swear an oath. After that you get a citizenship certificate and a passport. The 189 visa is valid for five years from the day of grant.

Some people just get it for security. They will come, activate it and go back to South Africa. However, you need to remain in Australia to get an extension.

How can I make sure that I get a visa if I qualify and how do I find a reputable agent?

Speak to a qualified registered agent. Here in Australia we have to hold a MARA (Migration Agents Registration Authority) agent certificate. It allows you to look me up online and see my registration with the Department of Immigration in Australia.

*Correct as at 30 May, 2017