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Dreaming of becoming a permanent resident or Australian citizen? If you are currently in Australia on a student visa, we have the advice and necessary steps you need to take in order to gain your citizenship in Australia

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Sam Hopwood is a top Australian migration agent, who has helped thousands of clients move to Australia

According to the 2021 U.S. News Overall Best Counties Rankings, Australia is the fifth best place to live, with the highest quality of life. For Filipinos, Australia is especially seen as a great choice when it comes to choosing a country to migrate to, due to the high standard of living and ease with the English language.

In this article, Sam answers common questions from his clients about gaining citizenship in Australia and gives top tips on studying, working and pathways to permanent residence in Australia.

How to get permanent residency or citizenship in Australia

My response would largely depend on their educational and work background. I also often ask clients what their end goal is, to give them appropriate advice.

If you do not know where to start when it comes to your path to permanent residence in Australia, then it pays to look at the bigger picture and ask yourself what exactly you want to achieve and why you want it. Listing your motivations can help you internalize what your goal is and what steps you need to take.

International students: Which Australian visa is right for you?

For current international students in Australia or anyone considering going to Australia to study, a common starting point to figure out which Australian visa you should apply for is determining what your end goals are and whether you would like to:

  1. Earn a degree and gain work experience or
  2. Become a PR/citizen immediately after finishing your studies
  1. Option 1: Earn a degree and gain work experience

    If you would like to earn a degree and then gain some Australian work experience, the Post-Graduate Work Visa (485) may be a good option for you. Using the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa gives you unlimited work rights in Australia for two years and can provide opportunities to expand your work experience and potential for jobs in the future. You can also bring your family to Australia with this visa. The visa is relatively straightforward as long as you meet all the requirements.

    The 485 visas (Temporary Graduate visa)

    To be eligible for the PSW visa 485, you would need to meet the “Australian study requirement”, which requires that you have completed a degree-level course that was: 

    • A registered (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students - CRICOS) course. 
    • At least 16 calendar months as a result of a total of at least two academic years of study
    • Given in English
    • Undertaken while in Australia and on a student visa

    To get your 485 visa you must also: 

    • Apply within six months of meeting the Australian study requirement
    • Not have held a 485 or 476 visa before (unless applying for a second 485 visa based on regional studies)
    • Have already sat an English language test
    • Have already applied for an Australian Police Check (APC)
    • Have NBI clearance (For Filipinos an NBI clearance certificate is required. Applying for NBI clearance when in Australia can take a lot of time, so plan ahead before your visa expires)
    • Maintain health insurance 
    • Be under 50 years old
  2. Option 2: Become a permanent resident or Australian citizen

    If your long-term goal is to become an Australian permanent resident (PR) or citizen, you have to be strategic in your decisions. 

    A good strategy would be to select an occupation found on the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and work your way towards securing education and work experience within the same area. The lists contain occupations that have been identified by the Australian Government as being in long-term demand. 

    Some common occupations that Pinoys pursue that are on the MLTSSL:

    • Nurse
    • Engineer
    • Mechanic
    • Chef
    • Welder/Boilermaker
    • Electronic Instrument Technician

    Though the common advice is to select an occupation from the MLTSSL and study it, just be sure that this is not the sole reason for you to pursue it. The occupations on the list can change, and it is not uncommon for jobs to be removed or for employment in that occupation to reduce. For this reason, it makes sense to pursue study and work in an occupation that you aspire to. 

General tips for becoming an Australian citizen

  1. Always think long-term

    It is quite common for Pinoys to be advised to take on the cheaper certificate and diploma courses. However, you must ensure that your line of study will have an outcome which will benefit you and have the potential to lead to PR. The fees may start off a lot cheaper than other courses but short courses are also short fixes and may not give you the best outcome in the long run.

  2. Australian work experience is vital

    Though work experience in the Philippines does help, securing a job in your field in Australia will increase your chances of getting hired by an employer that can sponsor you. Your resume will also look much more attractive if your other future employers see that you have local experience.

  3. Secure a job in your field

    Aside from studying and living in a regional area, finding a job in your chosen field and earning some local experience can definitely boost your chances of being nominated by your employer through the Employer Sponsored Visa stream. This visa also qualifies for a definite pathway to PR. 

  4. Consider regional areas

    Another way of increasing your chances of obtaining PR is to study and work in a regional area. Traditionally most migrants want to live and work in the largest Australian cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane because there is a misconception that other parts of Australia are barren. 

    Contrary to popular belief, regional areas are not necessarily the same as “Outback areas” (or areas that are highly rural and only consist of farms). An example of a regional city is Central Adelaide, this vibrant city was ranked not only as Australia’s most liveable city but the third most liveable city in the world in 2021

    The Australian government has created policies that benefit people who study and work in regional areas so that they have increased chances of securing a permanent visa. For example, if you study in a regional area, your Post Study Work visa can be valid for up to four years (compared to two years in a capital city). The job competition is lower and your chances of getting hired may be higher. The Regional Occupation Lists also have a wider number of job opportunities. There are also other incredible and vibrant regional areas that you can take advantage of such as, Perth, Tasmania and Wollongong in New South Wales. 

    Studying and working in a regional area of Australia could make your road to Australian citizenship shorter and less complex. 

If you want to become an Australian citizen, consult a registered migration agent

It is understandable that you may feel overwhelmed with all the visa types, and may not know where to start. We recommend consulting a migration agent to help you make informed and strategic decisions about your future as taking certain actions could make or break it.

Want to know more about your own path to Australian permanent residence or citizenship? Schedule a free 10-minute consultation with Sam Hopwood, migration agent from Sable International

Call (03) 8651 4500 or email migration@sableinternational.com

Note: The information in this article cannot be used as advice on your specific immigration matter and no liability for any actions taken as a result of this article is assumed.