Our Journey to Australia – Application Process to Permanent Residence

Updated: January 23, 2016

I would like to document my family’s journey to Australia so that my children and grandchildren remember how we came in this beautiful country, Australia.

I started considering applying for permanent residence (PR Visa 189) in Australia in May 2015. I got the idea from my friend Jonard who emailed me and other friends about the basic requirements and process of visa application. Actually, I got the mail in November 2014 but I didn’t yet started the process during that time because I’m not completely convinced that I should apply for permanent residence. After several months past by, my friend Jonard already granted his visa.

20160911_135024

What I like about the Australia visa application is the period of waiting. It took only 3 months after we got the visa. It is faster than other countries I guessed. It is also a convenient application because it is easy to send documents to the Australian immigration since they only require color scanned copies of the documents to be uploaded online.

Basically, in simple process flow, the application for Australian PR visa are as follows:

  1. Seating for an IELTS examination
  2. Assessment of Engineers Australia for engineering related jobs or other Assessing Authority for other job skills (Vetasses, ACS, TRA etc.)
  3. Application of Expression of Interest
  4. Waiting for Invitation to Apply for Visa
  5. Application of Visa
  6. Waiting Game
  7. Visa Grant through “Golden email”

If you are keen in applying for PR visa, this forum will help you a lot in your questions and will give you almost all of the queries you may have: http://pinoyau.info/. Please take note that this forum is not purely in English language because most of the users are from the Philippines. In addition, be sure to visit this blog to learn more about visa application and what life in Australia is.

Our journey starts here.

First, I prepared for IELTS exam. It is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS – https://www.ielts.org/) to assess my English proficiency in four modules: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

This is a mandatory requirement for applicants coming from non-English speaking countries like Philippines or countries that don’t use English as their native tongue. IELTS can be used also when applying residence or student visa to Canada, USA or UK.

It is not free to take the exam. Here in Korea, I paid around KRW 225,000 or equivalent to USD 200. It is a big industry, even students who want to study in Australia or US should also seat for an IELTS.

IELTS is required by Engineers Australia, EA (www.engineersaustralia.org.au) and Department of Immigration and Border Protection, DIBP (https://www.border.gov.au/). For EA, they require applicants to get at a minimum of 6.0 for each category.  On the other hand, DIBP requires minimum of 7.0 points in order to get a point.

IELTS should be taken mandatory by the main applicant. However, dependent members who are 16 years and older can show evidence of English as a primary language of teaching if you don’t want to take IELTS.

Reviewing for IELTs

IELTS is consists of listening, reading, writing and speaking part. You will be tested on these 4 categories and you must score at least 7 for each so that you can get 10 points in DIBP. Your target must be at least 7 or higher for each of the module. Other people also try to seat for a Pearson Test of English (PTE) which some people say is easier than IELTS. Anyhow, in both cases, you need to review for this exam. In my experience, I reviewed and practiced for almost 1.5 months before seating for an exam.

There are many reviewers that you can download in the net for free or you may also watch video tutorials in Youtube if you don’t want to pay for an extra fee in IELTS review centers. I would say many good sites are available enough for you to have a good review.

One blog I stumbled upon which teaches good IELTS review is www.ieltsliz.com. Click the link and start to review for your exam. She is an experienced IELTS teacher for many years and also offered many invaluable tips on how to review and take the exam so that you will finish it on time.

If you are planning to review using Youtube, just type in search menu “IELTS” and you will also find many video tutorials about IELTS that will surely help you. You must also practice regularly for IELTS particularly the writing and speaking part. Practice will make you familiar with the strategy on how to write a good essay in a given time.

IELTS Result

As I have said previously, IELTS exam result is needed for the main applicant and dependents who are 16 years and older. In our case, my wife also need to seat for an IELTS to show evidence that she can communicate in English. The needed score for her is only 4.5 for all categories.

IELTS result for main applicant is very important. You must review for all categories extensively before seating for an exam. In my experience, I reviewed almost every day for more than one month. You can see the result of my IELTS below:

IELTS

Practice is the key. You must practice with review materials with a time limit similar to the real IELTS exam. In this way, you will be able to know whether you can finish the test with the allotted time for each exam.

There are many video tutorials in Youtube for reviewing IELTS. You can practice your listening, writing, reading and speaking skills with the videos posted in Youtube and you don’t have to pay for this. However, if you have the money to review in a private training center, just do it because it will be complete and you have the “push” or motivation since you have paid money for it.

Engineers Australia

All engineering professionals who want to assess their skills and work experience in engineering field may do so by lodging a Migration Skills Assessment Competency Demonstration Report application in Engineers Australia. The result in this skill assessment must be submitted to DIBP in order to get points for the migration system. This assessment is mandatory for all engineers who will apply for permanent residence visa.

engineers australia

Basically, the assessment requires the applicant to submit 3 documents: the Competency Demonstration Report (CDR), Summary of you CDR and Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The CDR is an essay of your previous work experience and main responsibilities you have done in your previous and current companies. 3 CDRs must be submitted to EA so that the assessor will clearly understand whether you meet the occupational classification required by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation (ANZSCO).

You will put in your CDR the details of your work and responsibilities in your current and previous job. It can be in the same company you are now working or different companies. The important thing here is that you can give your job details and how you accomplish that job. Don’t be too technical in writing your CDR but some calculations or equations can be good in showing your technical knowledge.

If you want the detail application process and the guidelines in making CDR and CPD, you may visit EA website and download the PDF file of Migration Skills Assessment (MSA) booklet for free. It will give you the latest specific information about how to write your CDR and CPD. For Engineer applicants who will apply for EA assessment, you may email me at info@fourkangaroos.com to ask for sample of my CDR and CPD. I will reply as quickly as possible after I received your email.

In addition, the assessor will determine the number of working experience that will be credited for calculations of your points. Below you can see the result of my Engineers Australia Skills Assessment for your information:

EA RESULT

The total amount I paid for this assessment is around AUD900 in August 2015. The breakdown will be:

  1. Standard Migration Skills Assessment which includes the assessed Occupation and corresponding ANZSCO code, along with the comparability of qualifications to Australian Qualifications framework
  2. Relevant Skilled Employment Assessment

As I checked the EA website, I have found out that they have increased the fee for almost AUD100. I have availed both Competency Demonstration Report and the Relevant Skilled Employment System. The latest fee is given below:

 

Competency Demonstration Report Assessment Fees

MSA Fees 2015 – 2016 Fee Excl. GST Fee Incl. GST
Standard Competency Demonstration Report $650.00 ($AUD) $715.00 ($AUD)
Competency Demonstration Report +
Relevant Skilled Employment Assessment (+$270 Excl. GST)
$920.00 ($AUD) $1,012.00 ($AUD)

 

You may also visit their website at this address: https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/migration-skills-assessment/assessment-fees to get the updated fee for the services you want to avail.

I would like also to point out that if you want to speed up your EA assessment, you have the option to fast track it for a reasonable fee of AUD250. Normally, the assessment takes 10 weeks at the average but if you fast track your application it will take only 10 working days based on their announcement in their website. It will save you time and get ready for the next step which is the application of your Expression of Interest.

What is Expression of Interest?

In layman’s term, expression of interest (EOI) shows that you are interested in applying for a visa. During the process of application for EOI, you need to determine the number of points based on skilled migration point system. The application will also be done online through DIBP website. You can check this link https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Skil if you want to learn more about EOI.

EOI

You have to supply required documents such as your Engineers Australia assessment result, birth certificate, passport, and University transcript of records and diploma written in English or with translation in English among others of requirements.

Based from the result of your EOI, it will determine your migration points that will be used by DIBP for your invitation in applying for visa. In general, the higher the point you have received, the better because it means that you will be invited earlier by DIBP to apply for visa. The minimum point needed to be invited is 60 points but you must target around 70 points if you can so that you can apply right away for the visa. Some people wait for few months just to be invited because they are just within the minimum.

You don’t need to pay for EOI. All applicants must submit EOI and after that you will be invited by immigration depending on your accumulated points. You cannot skip this process; it is mandatory step by DIBP before you can apply for a visa. After completing your EOI, you will receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for visa which mainly depends on your accumulated points. If you have higher points like 70 and up, you can expect to receive invitation on the same month you have submitted your EOI but some skills occupation may vary results depending on the number of applicants during that period.

Applying for Visa

Take note that you need to wait for your invitation before you can apply for visa. If you are already invited, you are ready to start you visa application. You have to create first your own ImmiAccount in DIBP’S website. Your visa application will be done 100% online. All documents required by immigration must be color scanned and save as PDF, then upload it in your ImmiAccount after you have finished paying your visa fee.

IMMIACCOUNT

The payment system can be through credit card or using debit card with enough balance for those people without credit card to use. In my case, I used credit card from Korea (Samsung Card) for paying our visa fee and EA assessment fee. You may request your credit card company to raise the credit limit of your card because you will pay bigger amount than the usual amount you normally use.

I was able to request for the increase of my credit card limit one week before I paid the visa. I only called the customer service hotline to request for it. It is actually easy here in Korea to do that especially if you have the job and you’re working in one of the Samsung companies like mine which is Samsung Heavy Industries.

You must create an ImmiAccount to serve as your portal where you will start the application. In there, you can upload all the required documents needed by DIBP for processing and assessment of your visa application.

Before payment of your visa and uploading of documents, there are many questions that you need to answer in your ImmiAccount such as your personal identity, working experience, Engineers Australia assessment and IELTS result, information of Police clearance/check, the details of your family included in the application and the medical examination results. In my case, our family completed first our medical test before I paid the visa and upload all documents. By the way, the medical results will be sent automatically by the hospital to DIBP. However, if there are some issues in your medical results, the hospital will contact you regarding any further tests or deficiencies in your part.

In other case, based from the internet forums I have read, the applicants paid first the visa and then followed by medical examination. The result was automatically submitted by the hospital to DIBP but you will know if it is already done through your account. The notification will be “No health action required” if the medical exam was finished and submitted to DIBP.

Some people are asking in one of the forums if it is required to notarize the documents before uploading in my ImmiAccount? In my case, I have not notarized any of the documents I submitted. However, I uploaded color and clear-copy scanned document. It should be readable and clear so that the case officer that will examine will not find it difficult to view your documents.

Cost of Visa

If you want to know more about the charges and fees for different types of visas, you may visit this link from DIBP:

https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Fees

It will direct you to the DIBP website where you will know how much you should pay for the application of your visa and your dependents as well. You may also try their visa pricing estimator so you can have idea how much money you should prepare for your application.

Paying for Visa

There are several ways on how you can pay for your visa fees; the most common would be through credit card. DIBP also accepts payment via debit card with enough balance to cover the total amount of fees you will pay.

Just like any other transactions online, you will need to supply your credit card number and the code at the back of your credit card to complete the payment. Don’t worry about hacking because your card is secured with them; just make sure that you are using their true website.

If you want to learn more options and ways on how to pay your visa fees, you can check this link from DIBP to get the latest information about payment process and ways: https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Fees/how-to-pay-for-an-application

As what I remembered, you cannot pay via direct bank transfer since DIBP will not give their bank account. Your visa can be paid only through credit or debit card so if you have none, you may start researching and asking your bank on how to have one that you can use for payment.

Medical Examination

Regarding medical examination, I have finished the payment for visa and then I get the HAP ID needed by the hospital. It will be the control or reference number for all the medical related things involving you and your family.

Each applicant has its own unique HAP ID. You can generate HAP ID in your ImmiAccount. There’s a button in there that you need to click. In addition, you can also choose which hospital you want to go.

Normally, in every country, there are 2 hospitals that you can choose to visit for your medical examination. In Korea, there’s one in Busan, and one hospital accredited in Seoul.

What I remembered is that we spend more or less KRW 700,000 for all of our medical expenses (2 adults and 2 children). It is equivalent to around USD 600.

The medical examination is only basic. There’s a physical examination, blood and urine test, X-ray, hearing and eyesight test and brief interview by the physician of your past medical history.

Police Clearance

You need to submit a police clearance for every country you have lived for 12 months or more. Only applicant 16 years and older are required to submit police clearance.

This clearance will be the evidence of your good moral character and that you don’t have any criminal records in the country you have lived. This document will be required in the later stage of your application so you don’t need to get this too early, maybe after your EA assessment has just arrived.

For Filipino applicants, you need to apply for a NBI clearance as your proof of no criminal records. If you are residing outside the Philippines, you can apply to the Philippine embassy where you are located.

Please take note that you cannot get instantly your NBI clearance from the embassy you went to, you must mail your accomplished form to the NBI main office in Manila. You can arrange where to send your clearance; it can be your parents’ or relatives’ house. After that, simply tell them to color scan it clearly, save it in PDF and send it to your emai.

Birth Certificate

For all applicants, a clear copy of your birth certificate is required to be uploaded. It should be the copy you get from your government written or printed out in special paper.

In Philippines, your birth certificate must be coming from the National Statistics Office (NSO). Any other birth certificate not coming from NSO may not be accepted by DIBP.

If you are residing abroad, you can still get a NSO birth certificate by applying online. You can visit this website to apply  online – https://www.ecensus.com.ph/Default.aspx.  You can have it delivered in your parent’s or any relative’s house. After that, just ask them to color scanned the birth certificate and send the PDF file in your email. I have done this process that’s why I know and it works.

Passport

It is advisable to renew first your passport before paying your visa or staring the application. If your passport will be expired in one year, you must renew it so that you won’t need to change your passport details along the way.

Some applications last for more than 6 months or more so it is better to renew your passport to avoid hassle in the future. I have renewed my passport here in South Korea before submitting my visa application because it is less than one year for expiration.

Please visit Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs website for applying new passport or renewal of your old one – https://www.passport.gov.ph/. You can renew your passport in the Philippine embassy in the country your are living now.

Transcript of Records and Diploma

Your university transcript of records (TOR) and diploma is also needed for the application since it will be your evidence that you have graduated from college or university.

If you don’t have your TOR or Diploma with you, you can ask your family member to scan the document if you have left it in your house in the Philippines. After that, they can send it via email. Only PDF copy is enough, JPG file is not advisable.

In my case, I have only diploma written in Filipino. So I requested my university (UP Diliman) to send my diploma printed in English for a fee. It is not difficult to request, I have only done it through email. The payment is through bank deposit to their nominated bank account. It is actually a fast transaction.

The new diploma can be picked up by your relative or friend with your authorization. You may also request them to send to your residence with additional fee for the courier.

Family Details

If you are applying with your family and dependents, it is important that you have their birth certificates for your children and spouse and marriage certificate. These are needed to prove your relationship with them.

In my family’s case, I have also submitted to DIBP their own Korea’s Alien registration card to show strong evidence that we are living together in Korea and I have sole jurisdiction with my kids. If you have other identification cards showing the relationship of your children and wife to you, it is very advisable that you also upload them in your ImmiAccount.

 Lodging and Completing your Visa Application

As what I have said earlier, you must create an ImmiAccount to be able to start your application. In there, you will upload all the necessary documents DIBP needs for your visa application. It is much convenient way than sending all your documents to them.

There are several sub-menus that will show every time you will upload documents. For example, there’s a separate window for IELTS as well as for uploading your work experience-related documents. If you have already supplied the needed requirements, the system will tell you are supplied already so you don’t need to upload it again.

Please take note that you must NOT click the submit button until you have uploaded all the required documents. Make sure that you uploaded all the documents needed.

Waiting Game

The normal processing time is around 3 months starting from the day you have paid for your application. Some people experienced earlier than this time but majority pass through the 3-month period just like me.

In addition, you can only follow-up your application after the 3 months have lapsed. Before that, DIBP will not entertain any follow up from you so don’t waste your time and money calling DIBP.

A case officer will handle your application and will let you know if you need to provide more documents and information based from their assessment. Some applicants have asked to provide some identifications and relationship evidence of their dependents. Thus, it is very important that you upload other IDs that will help in your application.

Visa Grant

Many visa applicants called it the golden email because it contains the information about your visa grant.  It is one of the much anticipated emails of your lifetime.

Your visa grant will be sent to your email you used when creating your ImmiAccount. It is written in PDF form detailing your personal information such as complete name, passport details, reference number, visa grant number and the date before that when you should make first entry to Australia. It is very important that you must make you initial entry before this date because it cannot be changed according to DIBP.

Preparing for your Initial Entry or Big Move

Once you have been granted your visa, you have the legal right to travel to Australia to work or live there indefinitely, same case with your dependents that are granted with visa. In some cases, there are conditions written in the visa grant letter about the entry of your dependents. Some dependents need to enter Australia together with the main applicant. But in our case, we don’t have such condition.

The important thing to consider here is your initial entry date. You and your dependent need to enter before IED or your visa will be revoked. In addition, it cannot also be changed so make sure that you will travel to Australia before that time.

20160911_123411

The documents you need in your initial entry are your passport, copy of your visa grant letter and some identification like your ID (if needed). For us, we are also bringing copy of our marriage certificate and birth certificate for me and my dependents. Other documents I have already put in Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) so that I can show it whenever needed.

The initial entry is also expensive particularly if you have no friends or relatives to stay with during your travel in Australia. That’s why it is important to prepare your finances. Accommodations in Australia are bit expensive compared to most of Asian countries so you will spend lot of money on this.

I have booked our accommodations using Agoda (www.agoda.com) and AirBnB (www.airbnb.com). Agoda has a good feature where you can reserve the hotel or serviced apartment without paying the whole amount. Agoda will set a latter date when you should complete the payment which is good because you have other expenses to pay.

In case of AirBnB, you must pay right away the whole amount of your stay. It is better to choose serviced apartment because you have the option to cook and wash your clothes if you will be staying more than a week. Also, choose those which are near the central business districts (CBD) for ease of transportation and it is nearer to main attractions, tourist spots and airports.

Your point of entry doesn’t matter whether you are state nominated visa (Visa 190) or Skilled independent (Visa 189) The important thing in your initial entry is that you enter Australia before the IED shown in your visa grant letter. In our family’s case, all of us must enter Australia before Novemeber 30, 2016 or our visa will be revoked. This date cannot be changed as told by the CO who sent the email.

Buying Airline Ticket to Australia

There are many budget airlines now that have operations going to Australia. I bought our ticket in AirAsia which has the lowest fare of all from South Korea. One friend told me that the airplane and service is good so I have decided to try this airline. If you want to know the schedule and flight details of AirAsia, you can visit to their website: http://www.airasia.com/

I bought ticket from Gimhae airport to Sydney, then going back to Korea, I bought Mebourne to Gimhae. For Sydney to Melbourne flight, I bought the ticket from Tiger Air. You can check their site regularly so you can avail some promo tickets.

If you are coming from the Philippines, there are 2 airlines that you can look for airline ticket. I would recommend first, Cebu Pacific Air because they have the cheapest price. As of this writing, CebPac has no direct flight going to Melbourne, Pert, Adelaide and Brisbane.

If you are going to these places, you can find ticket in Philippine Airlines, though prices are little bit expensive. You may check their website to get an idea how much.