In this episode you can listen to student’s first hand experience applying for a Permanent Residency in Australia. Too many qualified professional workers end up in new countries unable to fully utilise their skills. We all hear about philosophy students working at MacDonalds or PHD students driving taxis, in this episode Allejandro shares a simple technique to avoid this.
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A quick introduction about the points system.
Get an idea about the costs involved.
When you can activate the visa.
Learn a good technique to check the job prospects before going.
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Yeah. And a kangaroo.
Yeah. Australian flag and a kangaroo and some sausages for the barbecue.
You are now listening to the IELTS Podcast.
Hello there. Today I’ve got Alejandro and he’s a student. He’s an online student that I got in contact a couple of months ago. And he’s got a very interesting story to tell us about how he got his IELTS grades.
Ben: So first of all, Alejandro, could you tell us a bit about yourself, please?
Alejandro: Well, first of all, thank you Ben for having me here with you. And all your podcast listeners. It’s a pleasure for me. I am from Spain. I was born and raised in Cadiz in the south of Spain, but I’m currently living here in Barcelona. I’ve lived here for almost 8 years. I’m a computer engineer and currently working in an insurance company as an analyst programmer.
Ben: Right. Why did you decide to take the IELTS exam?
Alejandro: For immigration purposes. Me and my wife are planning to move to Australia. We’ve not decided yet but we’re planning to do that. In order to get the visa, as many of your listeners know, you need to… one of the requisites is passing the IELTS with at least a Band 6 which is what they call a “competent level.” But in my case, I also needed a Band 7 on each because I needed that 10 extra points for the visa. So I needed a 7.
Ben: Just to veer off for a second. Can you just quickly explain the process? Because first you apply for the visa, and you said that there was quite a bureaucratic spooks as when we spoke before. Can you just tell us a bit about that please?
Alejandro: Yeah, sure. Sure. Well, I would like to apply for the permanent visa which is actually the best one in order to get to Australia because it gets you Medicare which is a health national program. So you don’t need to be employed to be their… what? Anyway it says in the top visa for the skilled workers. The idea is that you have to take the IELTS and at least to take these advanced seminars as I’ve mentioned. And after that, depending on your occupation you have to go to one association. For example in my case, the Australian Computer Society which is the one who’s going to assess my degree. And also they’re going to assess my working experience. Because you have to nominate for a particular occupation. My case is programmer. So after that, you got your assessment and it says “Okay, you’re a programmer. Yes.” If you want you can apply for 8 years of working experience. So after that, you have to do some maths and say “Okay, for my age, I got 20 points (for example), and for my assessment I got 10 points for my location because I have… I don’t know… Whatever… And also 15 points for my work experience because I’ve been working for more than 5 years but less than 8 years. And also for age. For English of course. For the IELTS. If you got a Band 6, you get zero points. So that’s not good for me. But if you get a Band 7 at least, you get 10 extra points.” So before I… Well, of course I had to read all these red tape things and all this paper work. And I realize that I was 50 points and you have to get at least 60 points in order to apply for a visa. Okay?
Alejandro: So that’s why I had to get at least Band 7. Okay. So once that you have your assessment in your society (in my case American Computer Society), but is there Veterinary Society, the Nurse society, whatever, and the IELTS you can apply for a visa. But you fill what they call an expression of interest which is something like “Hey, I’m here. I say that I have 60 points and I can apply for a visa.” And after a while, it depends on your occupation, depends on how many points you say you have. And they are going to send you what it is called an “invitation to apply.” In this moment is when you have to present all your papers. You have to scan and send online, and attach online, all your papers. The IELTS, the assessment, your passport saying that you’re 25 years old or you are 35 years old, and also if you have been working in Australia or you have been studying in Australia, and that’s the moment you have to pay for the visa. But maybe you’re not going to be granted a visa yet. They’re going to study your case. But it’s in that moment that you have to pay for the visa. And I have to say it’s a big money.
Ben: A big amount. How much?
Alejandro: I think it’s 3,000 dollars for the first. Australian dollars. For the first applicant. It’s a lot of money. And sure you have been paying for the assessment to the Australian Computer Society or whatever, and you paid for the exam, for the IELTS exam (it’s about 200 euros). Translations, notary, medical examination… It costs a lot. But it’s the good visa. There’s another visas. The temporary visa which is I think about a third of the cost. But in case you are fired, this cannot be attached to a contract. So if you are fired from a company, you are not supposed to be anymore in Australia.
Ben: Wow. So just to summarize, you have to pay about more than 3,000 Australian dollars. And even then that’s just an expression of interest. And you’re not even guaranteed it. So you could be rejected and they would say “No, you don’t fulfill the requirement,” and you’ve lost 3,000 dollars.
Alejandro: Yeah, well the “Expression of Interest” is free. That’s free. But once they answer you and say “apply.” Invitation to apply, and then you can launch your visa, you can launch all your documents, all your things, and then at the end of the process you have to pay. When you launch your expression of interest you say “Hey, I have 60 points,” and then when you receive and invitation to apply, you have to prove it. And then at the end of the process, at the very end, you have to pay. And once they receive all the documents that prove that you have this 60 points, and also the money (for sure), they are going to study your case. And in case for example, say that you fake your passport and you are not 32, you are 62, they’re going to reject your visa. But it’s very unusual. Once you are in this step of the process, you’re not going to claim any points that you don’t have.
Ben: Yeah, it’s too risky. Okay.
Alejandro: Yeah, it’s too much money to risk.
Ben: Exactly. Right then. In the end you got it. You got your permanent residency. Can you tell…
Alejandro: Well, no. I got the IELTS. I’m in the process of getting the permanent residency. Now, I’m waiting for the assessment.
Ben: Right. And then if you get it, you get… Is it 5 years to activate it?
Alejandro: 1 year to activate the visa. That means that you have to travel to visit Australia at least. You have to go there and go to their border and say “Hey, I’m here,” and they activate your visa. Since you are granted with a visa, and to deactivate your visa, you have one year. But after that, you can come back to your country or wherever. You can go just for short holidays. Maybe a week or two weeks. But then you have your visa activates.
Ben: And then you’ve got permanent residency? Even if you go back to your home country?
Alejandro: No. Then you have 5 years to go to live there. So after you activate your visa, you have 5 years to go to live there in Australia. And after 4 years I think that you can apply for the citizenship. So that’s what most of the foreigners do. And because after 4 years, well, you can apply for another permanent resident visa for another 5 years. But really most of the foreigners really ask for the citizenship. Australian citizenship.
Ben: Yeah. Because one of my students, his brother went to Australia. I think he’s an architect, and he went through all this rigmarole as well. He got the IELTS, he took it a few times. And then he got his permanent residency, then he got his citizenship. And when he got citizenship they send you a box, and they even include and Australian flag for you.
Alejandro: And a kangaroo?
Ben: Yeah. Australian flag and a kangaroo and some sausages for the barbecue.
Alejandro: We don’t see there’s going to be any problem with our visa. Hopefully. I’ve been reading about the I.T. market. They are in Australia. And it doesn’t look so good right now. Since there are a lot of candidates for each position on I.T. I’m not really sure. I’ve been in touch with some guys who have been living there for 6 months, and they say they’re not having a good time. Because they cannot find a job, they cannot secure a job…
Ben: Was this the contact that you got in touch with through Linked In?
Alejandro: Yeah, that’s right. In Linked In there’s a bunch of forums which you can read about how your industry is. In my case there’s a lot of I.T. there’s 3 or 4 Australian I.T. jobs. And many Australians are unemployed with a lot of experience. It’s not so easy to find a job. Because it’s a small country, there’s not so many companies like in the States. Or even in Europe. It doesn’t look so easy to find a job right now. Anyway, we are going to try to go for a visa. Go for the visa, get it, activate the visa…
Ben: Can I just interrupt? Did you say you contacted somebody on Linked In, and you say he was an I.T. engineer here in Spain and in Australia?
Alejandro: No. In United Kingdom. His Spanish. But he used to be living in U.K. for almost 6 years. An amazing CV. Amazing. Amazing. For sure, astonishing English, I guess. Because he’s been living in Sydney for 6 months. And after all this time he’s got only 3 or 4 interviews and they said their CV was really good while he had no local experience. It opened my eye, you know.
Ben: What’s he doing now? What’s his job at the moment?
Alejandro: Sadly he’s working in a restaurant. How do you say this?
Ben: Washing dishes?
Alejandro: Washing dishes or raising potatoes? Raising?
Ben: It’s peeling.
Alejandro: Peeling. Peeling potatoes. I don’t know the name of this… the mat?
Ben: The table cloth?
Alejandro: That’s right. You know I have to work on my vocabulary.
Ben: I think it’s wise that they do all the necessary research like you did. On the Linked In, check out the job prospects, see how the compatriots are, of finding it, see the actual situation like is there. Because if not you can just find yourself in one of those situations.
Alejandro: He had a good job in the U.K. He went there just because he read about the life in Australia. So easy and so relaxed. And the unemployment rate is so low. And with this beautiful weather. When there’s thinking that he was going to find a job quite easily in one month.
Ben: It sells itself really well, Australia. And it’s not a difficult thing to sell. The country is massive, there’s incredible resources, it’s relatively cheap to live, you can come to beach. It’s easy to sell.
Alejandro: Actually I went to immigration agency here in Barcelona. Set a meeting for people who wanted to migrate to Australia. I attended this meeting. They always say the same thing. “Australia is the perfect place for you,” whatever. And they ask “What are the troubles? The negative sides?” And they said, in my opinion, silly things. “Well, you know, spiders, snakes, crocodiles, traffic jams…” Yeah. These kind of things.
Ben: They didn’t mention that you might be working in a kebab shop washing potatoes. They didn’t say that as a potential product?
Alejandro: Yeah. They didn’t say that.
Ben: Traffic jams?
Alejandro: They’re immigration agency so for sure they’re trying to catch you and…
Ben: Right then. Well, Alejandro we’ll have to finish there. Yeah?
Ben: Well that was excellent and thank you very much for taking the time to do this.
Alejandro: No, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m happy to be… Now I’m going to be a star in your podcast.
Ben: I’ll send some money in the post.
Alejandro: For applying for visa in Australia, that’s 5,000 euro. No, 5,000 Australian dollars.
Ben: Don’t worry about it. I’m going to send 10.
Alejandro: Okay. Okay. Thank you, Ben. Thank you.
Ben: All the best.
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