How is life in Australia for foreigners

Emigrate to Australia

Many people dream of turning their back on Germany and emigrating to another country. Especially when the long and cold winter in Germany gets on your nerves again, you might think of moving to the other end of the world, to Australia. The good weather, the great beaches, the mountains and deserts as well as the relaxed lifestyle make Australia a popular country for emigrants. But emigration to Australia needs to be well prepared. The cost of living in Australia is generally higher than in Germany. If you are considering emigrating to Australia, you should first look for a well-paying job and bring sufficient financial reserves with you. In order to really gain a foothold in Australia, it is essential to have a good command of the English language, both spoken and written.

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For whom is Australia suitable as a country of emigration?

Australia's immigration policy is very strictly regulated. For Germans who want to live and work in Australia, there are actually only two options for getting a work permit. Either you are qualified in a job that is currently in short supply in Australia, or you are specifically invited by a company to work in Australia. Which professions are particularly sought after in Australia can be found on the “Skilled Occupation List” (SOL) of the Immigration and Border Security Authority.

The following professional groups are particularly sought after in Australia:

  • Doctors, nurses and orderlies
  • Architects, engineers and site managers
  • IT specialists
  • Craftsmen such as electricians and car mechanics, roofers, plumbers, painters

However, the SOL is constantly being adapted to the economic situation in Australia.

Requirements for an unlimited visa

In order to be able to live and work permanently in Australia, you need an unrestricted residence and work permit ("Permanent Residence"). Information on visa requirements can be obtained from the Australian Embassy in Berlin. The visa system in Australia is very complex. There are numerous ways to apply for a visa. Most are aimed at professionals who are wanted in Australia. Roughly speaking, one can differentiate between the following visas in order to obtain "permanent residence" status:  

  • due to family reunification: The regulations for family reunification are very strict in Australia. Children, parents and life partners are given preferential treatment in this category. Parents will only be considered for a permanent visa if at least half of their children live in Australia. Other relatives can only apply for family reunification if they have no more relatives. As a further requirement for a family reunification visa, the applicant must have a sponsor who is an Australian citizen.
  • if you want to invest in Australia: This is the "Business Skills Visa", which is aimed at people who want to set up a branch of their company in Australia or a company in Australia or who want to join an existing company in Australia. The “Business Skills Visa” is divided into four categories, which can, however, be combined with one another. For each visa you have to meet different requirements.
  • Work visa for skilled workers: There are several different temporary and permanent visa categories for professionals wishing to work in Australia. The “Skilled Migration Program” is aimed at people who want to emigrate and who are looking for a job in Australia and who would like to apply for a visa independently of an employer. There is a point system for issuing such a visa, after which the applicant can qualify for a visa. There are also several visa options that can be used to obtain an unlimited or limited visa at the invitation of a company. If you get a temporary visa, you have the option of extending it or converting it into a permanent visa.

Australian citizenship can be applied for by anyone who has been a permanent resident in Australia for four years.

Moving to Australia: what to look out for

What you can already regulate in Germany

  • Papers: Before leaving for Australia, you should de-register at the responsible residents' registration office in Germany. You will need the de-registration confirmation later, for example if you want to apply for a new passport at the German representation in Australia. To enter Australia you must be able to show a valid passport and the corresponding visa. Of course, you should also take other important documents with you, such as the birth or marriage certificate, in certified translation. If you are staying in Australia permanently, you have to convert your German driver's license into an Australian driver's license after arriving in Australia.
  • Pension and old-age provision: Germany and Australia have signed a social security agreement. This means that the pension entitlements from the respective other country are recognized and taken into account. More information on the subject is available from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung. The Australian pension system is built on two pillars. Every Australian and resident of Australia with a permanent residence permit is entitled to the Australian state "Age Pension". There is also a private pension insurance, the "superannuation", also known as "super". The “super” is currently nine percent of gross income and is paid by the employer. The beneficiary can decide for himself how and for what he wants to use the money.
  • If the household effects are to emigrate with: If you emigrate to Australia and want to take your household effects with you, you should hire a forwarding agency that transports everything to Australia by container and ship.

The "Australian Customs and Border Protection Service" provides information on import regulations and customs fees.

What needs to be regulated in Australia

  • Apartment Search: In Australia it is common  hire a broker if you want to rent or buy an apartment or a house. As a rule, there is no direct contact between the searching and the offering party. Everything is handled through the broker. The rental contracts are usually limited to up to one year. In addition, the tenant is severely restricted in the extent to which he can design the rented living space himself. For example, hanging pictures is often forbidden. Those who can afford it should therefore consider buying an apartment or a house. If you want to look for living space without an agent, you should find out more in the local newspapers or free advertising papers. Well-known websites that can be used to search for accommodation online in Australia include “realestate.com.au” and “Domain”.
  • Applying for a Tax File Number: If you want to live and work in Australia, you need a Tax File Number (TFN). You should apply for this shortly after arriving in Australia at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). This can also be done by telephone or online -Form possible.
  • Setting up a bank account: After arriving in Australia, you should open an Australian bank account. With some Australian banks you can do this from Germany. However, after arriving in Australia you still have to go to a bank branch to pick up the bank card. The activation of the account applied for in Germany must take place in Australia within four to six weeks.
  • Health insurance: Health care in Australia is regulated by the state and is called "Medicare". All Australian citizens and residents of Australia with permanent residence status are eligible for basic government health care. However, Medicare benefits are very limited. It is therefore strongly recommended to take out private health insurance or at least supplementary insurance.

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