Regular readers and Twitter followers will know that my family and I had arrived at a crossroads a couple of months ago. We were debating whether to relocate in the UK or follow a dream that had been with us for the past four years and emigrate from the UK to Australia. It was a really difficult decision and was something we debated over long and hard. Thankfully, one minute everything seemed complicated and murky, and the next it was crystal clear.
Husband and I came to the same conclusion at the same time: if we didn’t try Australia we’d always be wondering what if…
I’m sure there will be moments of worry, fear and maybe even a bit of regret as things move along, but as soon as we agreed to go for it, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders.
The last few weeks have been complicated. Firstly, on 1 July 2013 (a few days after we made our decision) visa prices increased massively as they started charging for every dependent on the visa rather than one single charge. This means we have four extra people to pay for now and that more than doubles the cost of our visa. The biggest blow was that on 1 July Husband’s occupation of ‘Aircraft Engineer, Avionics’ was one of just five occupations that were removed from the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). The SOL is the main list to consult if you want to immigrate to Australia – if your job appears on there, and you can meet the minimum criteria set for each occupation in terms of qualifications and work experience, you are in a position to move anywhere in the country (obviously depending on other aspects of your application like medicals and police checks etc.). Husband’s job was bumped down from the SOL onto a secondary list called the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL). This is a list that each state can pick from to create their own ‘occupations in demand’ lists in their State Migration Plans (SMPs). Each state has these and updates their list at random times, so you find occupations from the CSOL can be added or removed to SMPs to keep up with the demand in the particular state.
We now have two options:
1) Husband *might* be able to come under the Electrical Engineering Technician job occupation instead as he has relevant qualifications and some experience in this category. This is on the SOL and means we could move anywhere in the country.
2) We look for state sponsorship from a state that has the Aircraft Maintenance role on their SMP. At the moment, only Northern Territory (Darwin) and Australia Capital Territory (Canberra) have him on their lists. If we moved to either of those we’d have to stay in the state for two years before moving on. We would still do this route if we needed to, although those two states aren’t ones we’d have chosen as we haven’t visited either of them and feel work opportunities for him in both states would be more limited. We could also put in for states that don’t have him on the SMP in the hope they consider us, but this is is a long shot.
Obviously, we’re keeping everything crossed that when we’ve finished collecting all of the supporting documents, option 1 is possible. We’ve enlisted the help of a migration agent to help us navigate the process and they will be reviewing all of our paperwork and helping us to decide on our route. There’s a wait of around 12 weeks for the Trade Recognition Authority to assess the paperwork against his nominated occupation, so if we put in for Electrical Engineer we need to be pretty sure they are going to accept it as we’ll have invested around £1300 in the application (for the TRA fees and the agent fees) as well as the time involved. A note for anyone considering their skills assessment – you have to nominate an occupation and the authority will only assess you against the one you nominate. Choose wisely because if you don’t meet the minimum criteria for that role, the skills authority will refuse you rather than recommending you for another occupation. In a forum I heard of a ‘Chef’ being rejected because his qualifications were more suited to ‘Cook’. Both were on the wanted list, but because they didn’t consider the qualifications he had as being high enough he received a flat rejection and had to reapply. If your occupation straddles two occupations it could be worth enlisting the help of a migration agent to make sure you get it right first time, which should save you time and money. Agents charge in stages, so you can always just pay them to help with the skills assessment and then do the rest of the application on your own if you like.
Once the skills assessment is complete (and hopefully successful first time) we’ll need to do an Expression of Interest, which involves collating more paperwork and putting together our initial application. Then it will be a matter of waiting to hear back about whether we are going to be invited to apply. Apparently, if you are invited to apply, providing everything you said in your EOI is genuine then the application process should be smooth. I’m hopeful that through one route or another we will be going.
At the moment we just feel excited. We know the reality of leaving relatives and friends is going to creep up on us, but at the moment it just feels like a big adventure.
I’ll keep my blog updated with our progress and will tell you the things we learn along the way. Since I published my first post on the subject a couple of months ago I’ve had lots of tweets and messages from other people who are thinking about emigrating. I can’t promise it is the right move for everybody. I can’t even promise it is the right move for us. But what I do know is that if we don’t give it a try, we’ll spend our whole lives wondering if we should have gone.
If you’re thinking about it, in the process of doing it or have a blog about emigrating, then please share the details below as it would be lovely to hear from other people on the same journey.