Before you start the relocation process to Australia, remember that it may be hard to secure an Australian visa. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, though. Also, note that the majority of immigration visas to Australia are intended for people who are no older than 45 years of age or who have distinguished talents that can contribute to the Australian economy.
Be prepared for large expenses related to relocation and immigration to Australia. You will need at least A$4,000 for the visa itself plus additional fees for each family member plus about A$15,000 for starters, including a rental deposit, bank deposit (to open a credit card), buying furniture, utensils, and so on.
Some companies offer visa sponsorship and relocation packages. The cost of the visa (about $7K for the main applicant and family members), training levy ($2.4–7.2K), relocation package ($10–15K), and potentially a recruitment fee ($20–30K) are high for companies. So your chances of being of interest to those companies would be higher if you have a relevant education comparable to an Australian one and an extensive work experience relevant to the position to which you’re applying.
The process of relocation can take from 3–4 months and more. Some recruiters ask candidates to come to Australia to pass an interview in person, often at the candidate's own expense. The process of relocation would be easier if you have professional contacts in Australia and references from people who work there.
Here are the main steps to follow along the relocation process in Australia.
1. Getting a skills assessment
First of all, you need to get a skills assessment. It’s a qualification check for compliance with Australian standards. Only a few organizations located in Australia have the right to undertake skills assessments. Each organization has its requirements. You need to contact the assessing authority, fill out an application form, pay a non-refundable fee, and submit documents.
For most IT occupations, the organization responsible for skills assessments is the Australian Computer Society, ACS (www.acs.org.au). Other assessing authorities include Trades Recognition Australia, TRA (www.tradesrecognitionaustralia.gov.au) — e. g. for hardware or systems support technicians, and VETASSESS (www.vetassess.com.au) — e. g. for technical writers or web designers.
Here are the ACS assessment requirements:
- If you have an Australian Bachelor’s degree or higher in ICT (information and communications technology), and if you’re closely related to the occupation you’re applying to, 0 to 1 year of work experience is required.
- If you have a comparable degree obtained overseas, you need to have 2 to 5 years of ICT work experience in the last 10 years or 4 to 6 years of ICT work experience completed anytime, depending on whether you have an ICT Major or Minor degree.
- If you have a diploma obtained overseas, you need to have 5 years of ICT work experience in the last 10 years or 6 years of ICT work experience completed anytime.
- If you have a non-ICT diploma, you need to have 6 years of relevant ICT work experience completed anytime in past work history plus a successful RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) application.
- If you have no diploma or degree, you need to have 8 years of relevant ICT work experience completed anytime in past work history plus a successful RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) application.
The relevant work experience is a professional ICT employment of at least 20 hours per week.
The application costs A$500–530. The PRL application costs an additional A$575. A $50 fee applies for each additional qualification or employment episode that exceeds the maximum of eight per application.
You need to gather required documents and consolidate all pages into one PDF document for each qualification and each employment entry (with a maximum limit of 3MB per PDF upload). Here is the list of documents (you need to submit high-quality color copies):
- Passport (personal details page only). The name used in your application should match the name on your passport.
- Evidence of change of name (if applicable).
- Degree or Award Certificate.
- Title of Degree or Award.
- Name of University or Awarding Institution.
- Date the Degree or Award was completed (there should be documented evidence that the degree has been completed and awarded).
- Degree or Award Transcript.
- Unit or Subject Names and Grades or Marks Achieved (uploaded in chronological order).
- If you have a postgraduate degree, provide documents for the undergraduate qualification.
- Microsoft or Cisco certifications, if you have any.
- Employment References with start and finish dates of employment, descriptions of duties, hours worked, country, company name, and your employer’s signature.
- Evidence of paid employment (tax records, payslips, bank statements, etc.).
- If you apply for a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) application, you will need to submit an ACS Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Form.
- CV (upload in your personal documents section).
- Migration agent authorization form (if applicable).
- Translations of documents into English, with an official stamp, the translator’s name, signature, and contact telephone number.
If you have run your own business as an individual or in partnership, you need to prove your self-employment experience with the following documents:
- Self-written Statutory Declaration with the commencement and completion dates of your self-employment, your occupation, nature and content of the work you performed, and the number of staff employed and their occupations (if applicable).
- Business registration certificates covering the period of self-employment.
- Statement on a letterhead from your accountant or legal representative certifying the name and nature of your business, your full name and role in the company and how long you have been continuously self-employed.
- Statements from your clients with details of the work performed and dates. These statements should cover the entirety of the experience claimed.
- Payment evidence showing regular income from self-employment, such as client invoices with corresponding bank statements or official tax records.
- Contracts with clients or suppliers, client testimonials, evidence of projects completed.
If you have worked as a freelancer (a sole trader or contractor), you need to prove your freelance experience with statements from clients with details and dates of the work performed. These statements should cover all work experience and include hours worked. The statements should be on the company letterhead of the business that employed your services.
You must apply for the skills assessment on the ACS website.
2. Gathering documents for the visa
To work in Australia, you need to obtain a visa. In general, you and your family members will need to gather the following documents:
- Passports, birth certificates, a marriage certificate.
- Results of a medical exam made by a panel physician at an approved clinic. You can find out more information by contacting a service location in your country. The cost of a medical exam can vary depending on the country and averages at about A$300 for one person.
- Police certificates proving you have no criminal record. You can get a police certificate in your local police department of your home country.
- Biometrics (fingerprints and photo).
- Education credentials, certificates, and other documents related to your profession.
- Unless you’re a citizen of Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or the United States, you must prove that you’re proficient in English by providing test results (IELTS, TOEFL iBT, PTE Academic or Cambridge English: Advanced) or education credentials from an institution where all instruction was in English. For example, IELTS results should be at least 4.5 or 6 (depending on the visa) for each of the 4 components.
- Job offer or employment contract, if applicable.
- Copy of skills assessment (the majority of high-skilled IT specialists apply to Australian Computer Society, ACS).
- Signed Australian values statement (about equality, freedom of speech, etc.).
- Translations of all documents into English.
3. Applying for a visa
To work in Australia, you can apply for a temporary visa, which in most cases is valid for up to 4–5 years and allows you to live, work, and study in Australia, or for a permanent visa that is valid for 5 years with an option of renewal. With a temporary visa, you will be able to apply for a permanent visa after 3 years of residing in the country.
A permanent visa, compared to a temporary one, has more advantages. Once you obtain it, you will be able to do the following:
- Sponsor your dependent children and spouse or partner to come to Australia.
- Stay, work and study in Australia permanently (and so do your spouse or partner and dependent children).
- Enroll in Australia’s public health care scheme (Medicare).
- Get social benefits (except unemployment benefit, which is not available to newcomers for the first 2 years in Australia).
- Become a permanent resident of Australia on the day you obtain the visa.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship publishes the annual Skilled Occupations List (SOL) that contains eligible occupations for high-skilled immigration to Australia. The majority of IT occupations are on this list. You can check all available IT occupations with the list of visa options in our article.
If you found your occupation on this list, you can start looking for a job in Australia and apply for one of the temporary or permanent visas.
The majority of visas to Australia are intended for people who are no older than 45 years of age. If you’re older, you may need to have distinguished talents that can contribute to the Australian economy.
In most cases, you need to be nominated and invited to apply before you can submit your application for the visa. Your nominators can be either one of the state/territory governments or your Australian employer. A few options are also available for those who intend to apply independently. Depending on the visa type, you may be restricted to reside in a specific region of Australia or you may choose to live anywhere in the country.
Below is the list of visas available for occupations in the Skilled Occupations List (SOL).
If you intend to get a temporary visa:
- Temporary Skill Shortage visa. This visa is valid for up to 4 years. To get it, you must be nominated by an Australian employer and have at least 2 years of relevant work experience in your nominated occupation or a related field. Your employer can apply for this visa on your behalf through the Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) Program (see the details below).
- Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa. This visa is valid for up to 4 years. When you get this visa, you will be able to invite your family members to Australia. To get this visa, you must be nominated by a state or territory government and intend to live in a regional or low-population area of Australia.
- Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa. This visa is valid for up to 5 years. To get this visa, you must be nominated by a state or territory government or an eligible relative must sponsor you (an Australian citizen or resident in a designated region of Australia who is 18 years of age or older), and intend to live and work in a designated regional area of Australia (e. g. Adelaide, Canberra, Geelong, the Gold Coast, Hobart, Newcastle / Lake Macquarie, Perth, the Sunshine Coast, Wollongong/Illawarra).
- Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa. This visa is valid for 5 years. To get this visa, you must be nominated by a regional employer and have at least 3 years of relevant work experience in your nominated occupation.
If you intend to get a permanent visa and be sponsored:
- Employer Nomination Scheme visa. To get this visa, you must be nominated by an Australian employer and have at least 3 years of relevant work experience.
- Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa. To get this visa, you must be nominated by your employer in regional Australia, have at least 3 years of relevant work experience, and agree to remain employed with your nominating employer in regional Australia for a minimum of 2 years.
- Skilled Nominated visa. To get this visa, you must be nominated by an Australian state or territory government.
If you intend to get a permanent visa and apply independently:
- Skilled Independent visa. This visa is for invited workers and New Zealand citizens with skills to live and work permanently anywhere in Australia.
- Distinguished Talent visa. This visa is for people who have an internationally recognized record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in an eligible field. You can apply for this visa through the Global Talent Independent (GTI) Program (see the details below).
If you’re nominated by an employer, the application process is the following:
1. Your employer applies to be a sponsor.
2. Your employer is approved to be a sponsor.
3. Your employer proves to be unable to fill a position with a suitably skilled Australian.
4. Employer nominates you for a skilled position for a specific visa.
5. You apply for the visa in ImmiAccount within 6 months of nomination.
If you’re nominated by a state/territorial government or your Australian relative, or if you’re applying independently, the application process is the following:
1. You submit an expression of interest (EOI) in SkillSelect.
2. You get an estimate of your points score. If you score a minimum of 65 points, state and territory government agencies can see your EOI and might nominate you for the visa. You can get an estimate by using an online calculator. The most important criteria are the age of the main applicant (no older than 45 years), proficiency in English, skills assessment results, education, and relevant work experience. You can get additional points for your family members, e. g. if your spouse or partner has an IELTS certificate.
3. If you score enough points, the Department may invite you to apply for a visa in an invitation round. You can wait for an invitation for one week or for several months — it depends on many factors.
4. Apply for the visa within 60 days of invitation.
All visas cost A$4,240 (plus additional costs for family members), except the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (A$1,330) and the Distinguished Talent visa (A$4,110).
Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) Program
Under this program, you get a Temporary Skill Shortage visa via sponsorship of a company that is active in Australia. It means that you get a job offer first, then your employing company applies on your behalf for participation in the GTES program, and you get a visa. Here are the main requirements:
- Your employer can prove that the position offered to you cannot be filled by Australian workers or through other skilled immigration programs.
- Your employer should be one of the accredited sponsors or accredited startups operating in a tech-based or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field.
- You cannot have a family relationship with directors or shareholders of the sponsor company.
- You must meet health, character, and security requirements meaning you should have no serious health issues (like active tuberculosis) that impose a threat to Australians, and you must have no criminal record.
- You need to have education credentials to prove your eligibility for the high-skilled position.
- You need to have at least 3 years of work experience directly relevant to the position.
- Your salary offer should not be lower than A$162,000 per year.
Global Talent Visa Program
Under this program, you apply for a visa as an individual candidate without needing an employer’s sponsorship. The requirements are the following:
- You’re highly skilled in one of the target sectors, including AgTech, DigiTech, and FinTech.
- You must have a salary or salary offer that is no lower than A$162,000 per year.
- You are internationally recognized and can show evidence of your outstanding achievements (senior roles, professional awards, international publications, etc).
- You need to be endorsed by a nominator who has a national reputation in the same field as you and is either an eligible Australian citizen or resident, an eligible New Zealand citizen or an Australian organization.
- You must meet health, character and security requirements meaning you should have no serious health issues (like active tuberculosis) that impose a threat to Australians and have no criminal record.
The process of applying is the following:
1. You register an expression of interest through the Global Talent contact form.
2. You get a unique identifier.
3. You complete your visa application in ImmiAccount. When applying, choose the correct visa subclass: a Global Talent (subclass 858).
4. You get a visa and become a permanent resident on the day you obtain it.
4. Finding a place to live
The first thing you should do after arriving in Australia is finding a place to live. Allow at least 2 to 3 weeks to hunt for a home, as it may be hard to find a permanent apartment at once due to the high rental demand and the need to gather all the necessary documentation. Remember that summer (December and January) is the worst season to look for an apartment in major cities as there is too much student demand.
Temporary accommodation can be offered by your employer. If not, you can find it on Airbnb or similar websites before you arrive in Australia.
A permanent home can be found on one of the real estate websites:
To rent a house or apartment in Australia, you will need the following documents:
- Passport or another piece of photo identification (international driver’s license, Medicare card or birth certificate).
- Immigration documents (visa).
- Reference letters from your former landlords or from your former or current employer.
- Summary of your rental payment history with copies of recent rent receipts and previous utility accounts.
- Proof of income: bank statements, tax return or payslips from your employer. Debit or credit card or bank statements from an Australian bank would also be accepted as an additional proof of income. If the rent is more than 30% of your income, your rental application may be rejected.
- Letter of employment or employment contract.
- Marriage certificate (if applicable).
- Cover letter about who you are, what your job is, what your visa status is, why you’re moving, and whether you have pets.
- Completed application form (you can create an application on the 1form.com website).
- Good rental/credit history in Australia. If you don’t have one, you’re recommended to find a guarantor (a friend or employer in Australia). You can also provide mortgage documents if you have any.
It’s recommended to make all the supporting documents printed and take it with you when you come to see the property. If you don’t apply quickly enough, you may lose the deal as the rental demand in the major cities of Australia is high.
Real estate agents normally accept applications only from those who have already seen the property. It’s advised to go to home viewings in the middle of the week (e. g. on Tuesday or Wednesday) in the middle of the day (2–3 p. m.) when there are fewer people. You can visit an open for inspection, make an appointment with the real estate agent or collect the key from the agent's office.
When renting a house or apartment in Australia, you will have the following expenses:
- Rent in advance in the amount of 2 weeks or more.
- Rental deposit (also known as a security deposit or bond) that is usually equal to one month’s rent (at least A$2,200 in Sydney). This deposit is refundable unless you don’t follow the terms of the tenancy agreement. Document the condition or your rental apartment or house before you move in so as not to pay for damage made by the previous tenant.
- Holding fee (it’s a fee of one week’s rent that means the agent or landlord will keep the home for you for at least 7 days, and the property will not be offered to anyone else during this time).
- Furniture and other things for your house or apartment. Not all homes in Australia are offered fully furnished and may not be equipped with a refrigerator and washing machine (but usually have at least kitchen cupboards and a stove). You can use Airtasker, Betta Home Living, Brosa, Gumtree, Ikea, LivingStylesor or Zanui to buy things.
Utility costs such as electricity, gas, and water may or may not be included in the rent price. It’s recommended to ask your real estate agent or property owner about utility costs before signing the tenancy agreement.
Note that you can sign a tenancy agreement of one of two types: a fixed-term agreement (for a specified period, e. g. 12 months) or a periodic agreement (with no fixed term specified).
5. Enrolling in Medicare
If you have a permanent visa, you and your family members may be eligible for free or subsidized healthcare through Medicare, Australia’s universal health insurance scheme. See the list of permanent visas in section 3 (Applying for a visa). You’re also eligible if you have applied for a permanent visa and live in Australia.
You need a Medicare card to get access to medical services, collect prescription medications, and get rebates of medical expenses. You can also use this card as an ID within Australia.
To enroll in Medicare, you need to provide the following documents:
- Passport or Immicard.
- Proof of permanent residency from the Department of Home Affairs.
- Completed Medicare enrollment form (MS004).
- Two documents from Australia (a rental agreement and gas or electricity account in the same name, employment contract, proof your child is enrolled in school, childcare or university, a bank statement, health or property insurance) or one document from Australia plus one document from another country (proof you sold your property or ended your lease, proof you ended your job, a bank statement showing that you closed your account or proof you canceled your insurance).
You need to submit these documents at a service center that is closest to you.
Once you get a Medicare card, you can use the Medicare system, including the Medicare mobile app where you can link your bank account, lodge insurance claims, and receive money after a visit to a doctor.
6. Getting a tax number
To pay less taxes, apply for government benefits, as well as for identity purposes, you must obtain a tax file number (TFN). To get it, you need to have the following:
- Passport issued by your home country.
- Australian permanent resident visa.
- Address in Australia.
You need to apply online, and the Australian Taxation Office will send your TFN within 28 days to the Australian address you indicated in your application.
7. Purchasing a SIM card
To live and work in Australia, you may also need a local SIM card. You can buy it in one of the major retailers (such as ALDI, Coles, Woolworths or 7-Eleven), electronics stores, from one of the retail outlets of mobile phone service providers as well as in kiosks in the main airports of Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth.
The main mobile phone service providers in Australia are Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Others include ALDImobile, amaysim, Boost Mobile, Coles, Dodo, GoTalk, Hello Mobile, Lebara, Lycamobile, Virgin Mobile, Woolworths Mobile, and Yomojo.
Telstra’s prepaid monthly smartphone plans start at A$30 for 25 GB of data or A$40 for 35 GB. Optus’s standard prepaid plans start at A$30 for 35 GB of data or A$40 for 45 GB. And Vodafone’s standard prepaid plans start at A$30 for 25 GB of data or A$50 for 55 GB.
A SIM card costs A$2. You’ll need to show a piece of ID (e. g. your passport) to purchase it.
8. Opening a bank account
Finally, to get your salary in Australia, you need to have a bank account in the country. Many other payments (bills, rent) may also require an Australian bank account (normally an everyday transaction account). It can be opened within 3–10 minutes.
Here are the largest and most popular Australian banks:
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, ANZ (anz.com.au)
- Commonwealth Bank (commbank.com.au)
- National Australia Bank, NAB (nab.com.au)
- Westpac (westpac.com.au)
You can set up your bank account and transfer money up to 3 or 12 months before coming to Australia (depending on the bank) by applying online or once you’ve arrived. Even if you open your account online, you may need to visit the bank in person upon your arrival to verify your identity.
You will need to provide the following:
- Your passport.
- Two additional pieces of ID such as a birth certificate, citizenship certificate, Medicare card or Australian Taxation Office (ATO) assessment notice (it may be an optional requirement depending on the bank).
- Email address.
- Visa information.
- The date and city you’ll arrive in (if you’re applying online before moving to Australia) or your residential address in Australia.
- Tax Identification Number (TIN) for each country of foreign tax residency.
- Translations of all documents into English by an accredited translator.
The list of documents may be shorter depending on the bank.
Some banks have no monthly fees for the first 12 months. The account-keeping fees are usually around A$4–5 per month. Other fees may include transaction fees (A$0.3 – 0.5 per transaction), ATM fees for using ATMs of other banks (about A$2–5 per withdrawal), and international transaction fees (2–3% per transaction).