The big mistake South Africans make when emigrating to Australia

 ·4 Sep 2022

South Africans are often so desperate to get into Australia via the quickest and easiest route, that they hinder their chances of getting through the visa process successfully, says Sable International’s Sam Hopwood.

In a recent webinar on skilled visa types and paths to permanent residency in Australia, Hopwood outlined the most popular visas South Africans use to make the jump to the country, as well as some of the pitfalls they encounter along the way.

One of the biggest mistakes South Africans make, he said, is not having a clear focus on where they want to live and work in Australia and taking a shotgun approach in applying for visas hoping to hit something.

This relates to one of the visa routes that are gaining popularity with the Australian government – State Sponsored Visas (190) – which Hopwood says prospective emigrants should be aiming for.

“This is my new favourite visa. This is what the majority of people should be aiming for. This is a visa that the government is now in love with. And this is how the government believes they are going to deliver skills to particular parts of Australia which they are in need of,” he said.

The State Sponsored visa requires that you are sponsored by a state government. The state government provides a nomination that gives a migrant the invitation to apply for a visa.

“State governments survey their local labour market requirements. Based on those requirements, they then devise their own lists. And if your occupation is on one of their lists, and you meet their criteria, then chances are you might be lucky enough to be nominated by that state,” Hopwood said.

Once a nomination is received, a migrant has 60 days to submit their application. Once the visa is granted, they’re granted a permanent visa. “So you’re a permanent resident on the day that you arrive,” he said.

“Just like with the 189 (Skilled Independent) visa, you don’t have to work in your profession. You can work in any profession you want. So the state government is taking a chance on you, they’re taking a little gamble, I guess, that you will work in your occupation when you get to Australia.

“Now, in turn, you’ve got to agree to live and work in that state for at least two years. So they’re giving you something, and they want you to give them something, which is a guarantee that you will live and work in that state for the next two years.”

Hopwood said that this visa is gaining in popularity but has some pitfalls which can see an application “come undone”.

Australia has seven states and territories, and the visa application requires that prospective migrants select which area they would prefer to move to. Some applicants select all the states, hoping that they will get placed somewhere quickly.

However, Hopwood said that most states would outright reject applications that do this, even if they have the skills they require.

“They’re not going to nominate you because New South Wales (Sydney) wants you to have specified that you wish to migrate to New South Wales. They want you to make them feel special. They want you to say that you only want to migrate to New South Wales because you’ve researched New South Wales and there’s a reason why you want to go there,” he said.

He said the application process is not about being placed in the “easiest” state but with the state that has the highest chance of success.

Other options

Australia increased its visa quotas for state sponsorships from 11,200 places last year to 20,000 this year. Other potential visa paths include the Skilled Independent visa (189) and the Regional State Nominated visa (491).

The former allows skilled professionals to enter the country and work and live wherever they want. However, Hopwood said this has fallen out of favour as it was not delivering the required skills to areas where they are needed.

The latter visa – the Regional State Nominated – is similar to the state-nominated visa in that it focuses skills on specific areas. However, these areas are more remote, and the visa is a temporary one with an option to apply for full residency after five years.

“They’ve structured this visa so that they make sure that you go and live and work in a regional area for a lengthy period of time. So the government is hoping that you will ingrain yourself in that community, the kids will go to school there, you’ll get a job there, you’ll buy a house there. And over a period of time, you’ll love the area and you won’t want to leave,” Hopwood said.

Basic requirements

In order to qualify for any one of these three visas, you need to:

  • Be under the age of 45
  • Work in a skilled occupation on a skilled occupation list
  • Have your skills assessed, which means that you need to have a positive skills assessment in that occupation
  • Pass an English language test
  • Pass health and character requirements

These are all points tested and prospective migrants will only get invited to apply for one of these visas if they score sufficient points.

“It’s important to note that you can’t just go and apply for one of these visas, you need to be invited to apply. All these visas require that you complete what’s referred to as an expression of interest. It’s kind of like throwing your hat in the ring, as they say,” Hopwood said.


Read: Here’s how many South Africans are leaving for Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK

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