Be Careful What you Wish For

The building blocks of your Australian dream.
The building blocks of your Australian dream.

Strategy is arguably the single most important part of a visa and relocation process, if you have aspirations to live in Australia permanently.  Just as you would have plans drawn up before building a house; so you should get some proper advice before embarking on a project which is likely to be your next biggest single expense in life, after purchasing a house.

Getting everything in place for a move to Australia can be like a game of chess.    There are so many things that can happen, and decisions that can be made, before a visa application is even lodged, that can heavily impact on the outcome, or affect the ease with which your Australian residency options are realised.   Putting some thought, and careful planning, into your overall visa strategy long before lodging any sort of application, can be well worthwhile.

You could get what you wish for, but the overall cost might be higher than you think.

Ronan is from the UK and has had an Australian partner for three years.  He now wants to apply for a Partner visa.   To make his life a bit easier, rather than just applying for an Electronic Travel Authority through his travel agent, he thought he would apply for a twelve month Tourist visa through Immigration, so he could come to Oz; and spend time with his partner Jess, without having to worry about leaving after twelve weeks.   The Tourist visa was granted without problems; and now he’s here in Australia – ready to lodge the Partner visa.  Ronan’s looked at the Immigration website and is delighted to see that while he’s on a Bridging Visa, waiting for the partner visa to be granted, he’ll have full work rights.

Ronan will be issued a Bridging Visa A (BVA) when we lodge his visa application.  However, the problem is that his Bridging Visa A won’t be in effect until September 2015 – when his twelve month Tourist visa expires.    That means, between November and September – for ten months – he will not have any work rights, because he’ll still be on his Tourist visa!  It’s going to be difficult to take Jess out for romantic dinners and buy that diamond ring now!!

If he’d had some professional migration advice BEFORE applying for the tourist visa, he may well have been advised to enter on an ETA; which would have been a three month entry permit.  Once the three months expired, his BVA would have taken effect and – voila – work rights.

It might sound good, but it could be a noose around your neck…..

At the moment there’s a lot of talk about the three year Tourist visas, which are available for parents of Australian citizens or permanent residents.  The idea behind them is that makes for a smoother and cheaper process, to allow genuine visitors to enter and spend additional time with loved ones who are settled here, without having to continually apply for visas.

Long stay visas might suit some people, but they can also be problematic for others.  Once you have a visa, there are really only three things that can happen to it.   It can expire, by reaching its end date; it could be replaced by another visa, or it could be cancelled by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.   Visa cancellation is a drastic step and can result in re-entry bans to Australia.  When a visa is cancelled with a person onshore, they will be forced to become unlawful, even if for a short time – and that can have consequences for future citizenship applications.   Avoid visa cancellations where possible – even voluntary ones!

Visas can also come with undesirable conditions.   Take, for example, Kaye’s situation.  She’s a young 65-ish widow who has Australian children, and is eligible for a Contributory Parent visa – and most importantly she has the money to pay for it.   Being from the UK she could also easily have entered on a Tourist visa.  But, thinking she was doing the right thing, she applied for a “Sponsored Family Visitor” visa.   Unbeknown to Kaye at the time she applied, the visa has a mandatory “No Further Application” condition.     That means she can’t apply for the Parent visa while onshore.  She has to wait until this visa expires, then leave Australia before she can return to Australia on a different visa, one without that restrictive condition.   That will add at least $5000 in costs to her application! Ouch!  Spending the kids’ inheritance!!

Skill Select  – Select Wisely – A trap for young players!

Skilled visas are now only available through the Department of Immigration’s online Skill Select system – described as a mix between Facebook and an online dating site, aiming to get the best and brightest skills into Australia.

It might sound simple, but even the brightest of the best can get it wrong.   Sometimes people ask me to just “check their visa application” after they have been invited to apply.   In some cases, the Expression of Interest which was lodged – including the points claim – has been based on inaccurate and unquantifiable claims – meaning that the visa application is bound to be refused.    Unless you are 100% sure that you have the correct evidence to back up your claims, it’s a risk.   Your claims are frozen at the “time of invitation” – no leniency after that date!

Strategy, correct advice and good planning, can prevent very costly mistakes later.   At the very least, it can streamline the process and save you from extra stress.

Leanne Stevens

CEO, Emergico // Registered Migration Agent (#1171279)