Million-dollar Questions

  1. I want to migrate to Australia, where do I start?
    Unfortunately, this FAQ should really not be your starting point. Amazingly, and surprisingly, you have found your way to this FAQ before you have acquainted yourself with the Department of Immigration website at www.border.gov.au.
  2. Where is the official Australian Department of Immigration website?
    www.border.gov.au
  3. As a citizen of the UK/USA/Canada/etc I don’t need a visa to enter Australia, right?
    Australia enforces a universal visa system. This means that every non-citizen requires a visa to enter and remain Australia, either temporarily or permanently. Almost every non-citizen will need to apply for a visa of some sort before entering Australia. The only notable exceptions are New Zealand citizens (who do not already hold Australian permanent visas or citizenship) who are granted Special Category Visas (SCV) upon arrival. SCVs are temporary visas allowing the holder to stay indefinitely in Australia but are not permanent visas.
  4. Why should or shouldn’t I use a migration agent?
    An agent is very useful if you have the money but not the time, or if you have an unusual case (unclear work experience, criminal record, prior immigration offences, medical problems etc.). If your case is straightforward, it is possible to apply without the aid of an agent, provided you have a firm understanding of what is required. Usually extensive research is necessary before one is able to lodge a visa application, especially if it’s a skilled visa application. If you decide to engage a migration agent, ensure he/she is a registered migration agent by checking his/her credentials at https://www.mara.gov.au/.   Agents’ fees are not regulated, so feel free to get a few quotes before engaging a registered agent.

Forms

  1. What is Form 80 for?
    Form 80 is used by the Department for character assessments. Every permanent visa application can give rise to a request for this very long and detailed form.
  2. How do I inform the Department of a change in my circumstances?
    Send them a completed Form 1022.
  3. How do I inform the Department of a change of address?
    Send in a completed Form 929.
  4. Do I need to inform the Department of an incorrect answer?
    Yes. Failure to do so may result in your visa being cancelled or your Australian citizenship application denied when you do decide to apply for it. Form 1023 is the form to use.
  5. Where can I find the Department’s visa and citizenship application fees?
    They’re all at http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Fees but be warned, it’s complex.

Questions on DIMA Application Forms

  1. Where can I find the Skilled Occupation Lists?
    See http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists .
  2. If my spouse is not migrating with me, must I put his/her details in my application form?
    Yes.

English Language Requirements

  1. What are the relevant tests?
    There are five possible English tests now: IELTS, TOEFL IBT, Pearson Academic, Cambridge and the OET.
  2. What scores do I need?
    It depends on many factors but you can get an idea from http://www.border.gov.au/Lega/Lega/Form/Immi-FAQs/how-can-i-prove-i-have-competent-english  or from this table of scores required for a 457 visa:

    • an overall test score of at least 5.0 in an International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with a score of at least 4.5 in each of the four test components
    • an Occupational English Test (OET) score of at least ‘B’ in each of the four components
    • a total score of at least 36 in a Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based (TOEFL iBT), with a score of at least 3 for each of the test components of listening and reading, and a score of at least 12 for each of the test components of writing and speaking
    • an overall test score of at least 36 in a Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, with a score of at least 30 in each of the four test components
    • an overall test score of 154 in a Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test conducted on or after 1 January 2015, with a score of at least 147 in each of the four test components

Skills Assessment: General

  1. Can I lodge a valid skilled visa application without a valid skills assessment?
    Generally, no. Your skilled visa application must include a valid skills assessment. A valid skills assessment is an assessment that must not have expired at the time your visa application is lodged.
  2. How do I find out which skills assessing authority to lodge my skills assessment application to?
    Find your occupation at http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists and there will be a link to the assessing authority.
  3. What if I have more than one occupation that I think I can nominate?
    A person may sometimes have qualification and/or experience that allows him to nominate more than one skilled occupation. For such cases, there is nothing stopping that person from applying to more than one skills assessing authority. If successful, the person may choose the positive assessment that suits him/her best. Note that having two positive skills assessments will not give you double skills points!

Basic Requirements

  1. How is my age calculated?
    For general skilled migration visas, your age points are calculated based on your age at the time the Department issues  an invitation based on your Expression of Interest.  For other applications which are age-dependent, it’s normally the time that the application is received by the Department.
  2. Will work experience after my application lodgement be counted?
    Not for general skilled migration or permanent employer nominated visas.  It may be taken into account for a 457 visa..
  3. How can I claim points for proficiency in an Australian community language?
    Normally by passing a NAATI test at professional or paraprofessional level.  Qualified interpreters may also be accepted by NAATI.

Visa Labels

How do I read my visa label?
Visa labels are no longer issued automatically, make sure you have access to the email which includes your visa details and learn to use VEVO if that’s a problem.  See http://www.border.gov.au/Busi/Visa

Resident Return Visas

  1. What is an RRV?
    RRV stands for Resident Return Visa. See http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/155- for a good explanation on what an RRV is and who needs one.
  2. What happens if I remain outside Australia after the expiry of the re-entry facility for my Resident Return Visa or my permanent visa?
    A person who is outside of Australia and is not a citizen of Australia will require a visa in order to enter Australia from abroad. If you hold/held a permanent visa for Australia, and are presently outside of Australia, and if your visa is due to expire before your planned/scheduled return to Australia, or if your visa has already expired, you will lose your Australian permanent resident status when you return to Australia unless you hold a valid visa that allows you to return to Australia for permanent residence. An RRV is one such visa that allows you to re-enter Australia for permanent residence after your initial migrant visa’s re-entry facility has expired.
    In order to qualify for an RRV, you will need to meet certain requirements.
  3. I am in Australia on a permanent visa, and it’s about to expire. What will happen to me if my visa expires?
    If you entered Australia on a permanent visa, you have the right to remain in Australia indefinitely. This right does not lapse when your visa expires. In actual fact, your permanent visa will never expire (or lapse) while you are in Australia.
    To explain this better, it is necessary to separate your permanent visa into two portions:

    1. A re-entry facility: This facility is normally valid for 5 years from the date of grant. This is the portion of your visa that will expire. Upon the so-called expiry date of your visa, this facility will cease to be valid. This means that if you travel out of Australia after the “Must not enter Australia after” date, you will lose your Australian permanent resident status. In order to avoid this, you should get an RRV if you wish to travel out of Australia (even for 1 day) after the expiry of your permanent visa. If you have already gotten an RRV once, your RRV functions the same way as your initial migrant visa, and will also have a re-entry facility.
    2. Authority to remain indefinitely: This portion of your visa allows you to remain permanently or indefinitely in Australia, unless your visa is cancelled. There is no expiry of this portion so long as you remain in Australia. But once you exit Australia, you must ensure you have the authority to re-enter Australia (see the point above) before you can avail yourself to the authority to remain in Australia under this portion of your visa.

This assumes you remain a non-citizen even after you qualify for Australian citizenship.

Medicals, Newborn Babies and Character Checks

  1. What happens if I get pregnant before my request for medicals?
    You should be aware that it may not be advisable for a pregnant woman to undergo an x-ray test. If and when your request for medicals are received, you should consult a medical practitioner for more information. You should also let your case officer know if you do or do not want to proceed with the medical exam, and your case officer may decide to put your application in suspension until after your pregnancy.  Some people are able to obtain a permanent visa despite pregnancy, by lodging a form but the Department does not use this approach universally.
  2. What happens if I get pregnant after my request for medicals?
    If your medicals have already been sent to the Department, there’s nothing much that you need to do. Bear in mind if your child is born before the grant of visa, you will need to notify the Department about the new addition to your family. Also, bear in mind that you will be given a period of time before you must enter Australia after being granted your visa, even if it’s for a short trip. If you are into your advanced stage of pregnancy, some airline carriers will not permit you to board. It’s been said that pregnancy and immigration do not mix well.
  3. What happens if I have my visa, but not validated it, and my child is born?
    If your visa has already been granted, your newborn child may not get a visa granted on your already successful application. You have an obligation to inform the Department about the new addition to your family, as a change of circumstances before initial validation needs to be reported to the Department. Your baby may have to be sponsored on a child visa later on.
  4. What is my newborn baby’s Australian immigration status?
    On the assumption that you applied for your PR visa before your baby was born, it depends on your circumstances, but generally:

    1. If your baby is born in Australia, and at least one parent is an Australian permanent visa holder or Australian citizen, your baby is an Australian citizen by birth. No Australian visa is required for this baby.
    2. If your baby is born outside Australia, and at least one parent is an Australian citizen otherwise than by descent, your baby is eligible for Australian citizenship by descent.
    3. If your baby is born outside Australia, and at least one parent is an Australian citizen by descent and that parent was present in Australia lawfully for at least 2 years before your baby’s citizenship registration, your baby is eligible for Australian citizenship by descent.
    4. If your baby is born outside Australia, and neither parent is an Australian citizen, your baby has no immigration status in Australia and will need a visa to enter Australia.
  5. How long are my medical and police checks valid?
    Usually, your medical and police checks are valid for one year from the date they are issued (not the date you submit them to the Department).
  6. What services are there available for me if I am pregnant?
    Pregnancy, Birth and Baby provides a range of services that can help Australians in their parenthood journey, from practical advice and resources, to help finding support services including:

    • A video call service with a maternal child health nurse
    • Help finding local health services
    • A-Z general advice on the parenting journey
    • Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline for confidential advice
    • Due date calculator

    Our clinically approved health information is easy to understand and simple to follow. Our pages link to related content from some of Australia’s most trusted organisations and peak bodies, to help guide visitors to quality Australian content.
    You have great information on your website and I believe the information provided by Pregnancy, Birth and Baby would be of great benefit to your visitors. I’d appreciate it if you would consider adding the following link to Pregnancy, Birth and Baby from your pages:

    http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/public-vs-private-care-during-pregnancy

    http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/medicare-during-pregnancy

    http://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/pregnancy-care-on-a-visa-in-australia

Visa application processing

  1. How long is my visa application processing expected to take?
    Times vary depending on the visa subclass you chose, the workload of the processing centres and other factors.

Useful links