After receiving your visa grant, one of the most important things you need to do is to prepare for your initial entry. This is applicable only to people who will stay in Australia for a short moment, maybe for few weeks, and then will return back to their previous country where they came from.
Your initial entry to Australia is indicated in your visa grant letter in the section “Must make entry to Australia Before” and then the date on the right side. This date is very important because it cannot be changed and you should enter Australia before this date or your visa can be revoked.
Preparing for initial entry requires careful planning on where to go and what places to visit. The purpose of initial entry is to scout the place where you want to live or work. It is a requirement set by Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) so that they’ll know that you have entered in Australia. Also, during your initial entry, you can assess yourself if you want to permanently stay in that place or not depending on the vibe of the place, job market, culture and community, and other personal considerations.
If you are coming from far away places like Europe or South America, it can be hard to return back to your own country after initial entry. So most people make their initial entry as their “big move” to Australia. Meaning, they will stay in Australia permanently and as long as possible they can afford until they become Australian citizen.
Every time you enter Australia during your permanent residency stage, you can stay indefinitely inside the country without any restrictions. It means you can live and work legally in Australia as long as you want. However, if you travel outside and your visa has expired, you cannot enter anymore unless you will apply again a Resident Return visa.
What Are the Things You need for your Initial Entry?
First of all, you should bring your visa grant letter. You can bring the printed copy for convenience during checking in immigration from your departure place to immigration area in Australia. Of course, you must have your own passport and your dependents’ since it is your identification and basic requirement during your travel. I would suggest that you should also keep an electronic copy of your visa grant letter and passport in Dropbox or your email.
Since you are going to Australia, you should book an airplane ticket few months before your intended initial entry date. It can be costly particularly if you have dependents with you that will be going to Australia. Thus, you can keep watch at some of the budget airlines that regularly have promos for airfare like AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and the likes if you are coming from Southeast Asian region.
In addition, you must also book your accommodation several months before your departure. It will be good if you have friends or relatives that you can stay with during your initial entry in Australia to save some money. If you have no one to stay with just like us, you can book a serviced apartment near central business district (CBD) for ease of transportation. It will save you some money on your transportation expenses. Moreover, most of the popular tourist spots are near CBD areas just like in Sydney and Melbourne.
I recommend that you book a serviced apartment because you can wash your clothes there, cook your own food if you want, and it’s cheaper than hotels. I used Agoda and AirBnB when I booked serviced apartments in Sydney and Melbourne. As much as possible, you should choose accommodation near train stations so that it will be easier for you and your family to go around as cheap as possible.
Taxi fare is Australia is a bit expensive so you should use it sparingly. Anyway, trains and trams are many in CBD areas. You may also try buses once you have already know the route you’re going. I have found this website helpful when you are planning your trip around Sydney area: http://www.transportnsw.info/ and this one around Melbourne: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/
In Sydney, you must buy your own Opal card which is used for paying your fare in train, bus and ferry. You can buy it in conveniece store and train stations as well. In Melbourne, a different type of card you must use when riding train, tram and bus. They called it myKi card.
Activate your Bank Account
Before going to Australia, you can apply your own bank account through online application. I have applied a classic bank account in National Australia Bank (NAB). I have already sent some money to that account. However, I cannot withdraw it because I need to complete the application by visiting the bank in person so that I can verify my identification. Without this step, it is impossible to withdraw money from my account.
If you are planning to open a bank account before your trip to Down Under, you can try it by going to NAB website under Migrant Banking section and open your account without depositing any money. However, you should supply some personal information such as your complete name and your current address so that your application will be successful. You should also apply for internet banking so that you can view your account balance online.
Once you have have opened an account and received the “welcome letter” in your email showing your account name and number, you can start sending your money in Australia. It is not recommended to bring all of your money with you during your travel because it may be lost so sending money will be another safer option.
Centrelink and Medicare
I would not suggest to register in Centrelink and Medicare if you are just staying for few days or weeks. First, you still don’t have your own permanent address. All applications need an address where you are living so it is not advisable to do the application at this moment. Secondly, it will take several hours of your time especially if you are a family going to Australia. Instead, use that time visiting famous places in the city you are going.
If you are doing your “Big Move”, then you should register to Medicare and Centrelink as early as possible when you arrive. It is a must for permanent residence so that you can avail the benefits immediately.
In conclusion, preparing for your initial entry in Australia can be a bit challenging and requires careful planning in the things you need to do and what places to visit. Perhaps you can book ahead of time your airline ticket and accommodation so that you can save some amount of money. Opening an Australian bank account can be helpful so that you can safely send your money there.