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Welcome to the first Newsletter of 2019.

Home and away: a guide to moving to Australia for work

A common language, accessible visas, better pay and generally more than 240 days of sunshine a year together make Australia an appealing destination for Britons looking for a new place to live and work.

One in four UK citizens now living abroad has found a new life in Australia, making it by far the most popular expat destination with more than 1.2 million Britons now calling Australia home.

And it’s not difficult to see why. Earlier this year Melbourne was ranked as the most liveable city in the world for the fifth year in a row, while Adelaide, Sydney and Perth also made the worldwide top eight. Manchester, the UK’s highest entrant, placed a lowly 46th while London failed to make the top 50 and no other British cities featured in the top 100. Sydney was also named the most affordable city for young people to live last year, thanks largely to its high minimum wage (though this title came as a surprise to many young Sydneysiders).
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But before you start checking flight prices, the first step is to find a visa. Australia’s skilled occupations list shows which workers are most in demand. If your occupation is on the list you can make an expression of interest after which the Australian government (or a specific state or territory) may allow you to move permanently.

One of the most common ways to move to Australia is the temporary skilled visa (457 visa), which allows companies to sponsor employees from abroad for up to four years if their skills are in demand. A list of the jobs eligible for a 457 visa can be found on the consolidated skilled occupation lists.

“People who study for jobs like nursing or engineering will always be able to get in,” says George Lombard, an immigration lawyer based in Sydney. “But others who study occupations that are not in demand here might struggle.”

If moving to Australia is a long-term goal, people should start planning for it before finishing their education, advises Lombard, who recommends studying mainstream qualifications that are internationally recognised. Those still in education could also choose to spend two years at an Australian university and become eligible for a temporary graduate visa that allows people to live and work in Australia for 18 months after graduating.

Working holiday visa

If you are under 31 and don’t see your job on the skilled occupation list or struggle to find a company to employ you before you move, there is always the option of a working holiday visa, which entitles you to live and work in Australia for a year.

However, working holiday visa holders can only work for an employer for a maximum of six months, which can make getting hired difficult and can come at the cost of career progression.

Annabel Symonds moved to Sydney full time in 2018 on a working holiday visa (after a previous working holiday in 2016). After working in entertainment in London, Symonds spent six months in temporary office work after returning to Sydney with her Australian partner in 2018. But only after qualifying for her partner visa – which waived her working restrictions – could she find her way back into her previous career in radio.

Symonds set up the Londoner in Sydney blog which provides advice on moving to and living in Sydney. Her advice to new arrivals looking to stay in the country is to search for jobs that could lead to sponsorship later on – but if people are struggling to find work, try applying for more-abundant temporary work through recruitment agencies.

“When I came back there was a lot of amazing jobs going but I wasn’t getting any interviews,” she says. “At the time I didn’t understand why, but then I started to apply to temp agencies and I got phone calls straight away.”

If time is running out for working holiday visa holders, they can extend their stay for another year by spending 90 days helping out with Australia’s labour shortage by working specific jobs in rural areas. But moving to another part of the country to work requires time and organisation, so don’t leave it too late to plan, says Lombard – and resist the appeal of any too-good-to-be-true shortcuts.
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“We have seen many people slapped with three-year bans for false documents,” he says. “It’s amazing how naive people can be about the sophistication of government record keeping these days.”
Picking an employer

While landing a job before landing in the country can be tough, it’s worth trying, advises Symonds. “A lot of companies are happy to do Skype interviews,” she says – but because of the time difference, some interviews might take place in the middle of night.

Picking the right employer to sponsor you is also crucial. A sponsorship ties you to one company for your right to stay in the country – and you can only move jobs if another company agrees to take over the sponsorship. To avoid problems later on Lombard recommends being up front about your long-term plans during the interview and finding out if the company is in a position to sponsor you.

“The first thing you should ask is have they sponsored anyone before – and if they say yes, ask how long ago. If it’s recent there’s every chance they will look after you.”

If you have a working holiday visa and are looking to find a sponsor after landing in Australia, you should also make sure the job you find is potentially eligible for sponsorship. And that you will enjoy the work, warns Symonds.

“People can end up in jobs they don’t want so they can get sponsored,” she says. “You could be stuck in a job you hate and previously wouldn’t have touched with a bargepole. It’s amazing the things people can do to be in a country they really like.”

Home and away: a guide to moving to Australia for work