UK immigration works on a points-based system. This is similar to the Australian one and applicants gain points for different categories like English language skills and professional experience.
For most people though, there are typically four visa routes to move to the UK from Australia:
Let’s find out how it all works and take a quick look at the cultural differences between the two countries.
The UK is a popular location for international students, including Australians. In fact, last year, more than 276,000 Tier 4 Student Visas in the UK were granted to international students.
So, how does the application process work? First, it’s split into four categories:
The General Student Visa is aimed at long-term students. Typically those studying at university for a few years. The Short-term Study Visa is granted for six months, or up to 11 months for an English language course.
And the Child Student Visa allows children aged four to 17 to study at an independent British school. With consent from a parent or guardian, of course.
Whichever student visa category you want to apply for, the first step is to have a confirmed place on a course. As well as enough money to pay tuition fees and support yourself.
The most common route for people to move to the UK for work is with a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa. This allows companies to hire international candidates for roles in skilled occupations like healthcare, accounting and teaching that cannot be filled by the workforce already in the UK.
There are four categories in the Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa:
To apply for this visa, you will need a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer with a Tier 2 sponsor licence.
Then there is the Working Holiday Visa. This allows Australians aged 18 to 30 to live and work in the UK for up to two years. The aim of the visa is exactly what the name suggests. It’s a way to have an extended holiday in the UK while also working to supplement your travels.
And with the UK next door to central Europe, many young Australians use the Working Holiday Visa to base themselves in the UK while visiting European hotspots.
Each year, people from all over the world join family in the UK. A Partner Visa is the most common visa granted in the family category, followed by parents, children and other dependents.
To apply for a Partner Visa, you need proof that you’re in a genuine relationship with either a British citizen, a permanent resident, someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. You can be married, engaged, in a civil partnership or a long-term relationship.
The Parent Visa is for parents seeking to care for a child in the UK. For example, when there is shared parental responsibility following the breakdown of a relationship.
The Child Visa category is for children to join a parent in the UK. For this you will need proof that the parent has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
And finally, there is the Dependent Adult Relative category. This is for people already based in the UK that want to bring relatives from overseas to live with them.
Australia is part of the British Commonwealth, which means Australians can apply for an Ancestry Visa (if eligible). This visa allows you to stay in the UK for five years and is even a pathway to long-term settlement.
To be eligible to apply, you must have a grandparent that was born in the UK, including:
Australia and the UK share a long history. As a result, most Australians are already familiar with British culture. Just like lots of British people know about the Australian way of life. Usually from time spent down under with a working holiday visa.
It can be quite different to actually live in the UK long-term though. Thankfully, the language is the same. But there are some cultural differences to be aware of. As well as some similarities.
Then there is the British weather. This is one of the biggest differences for Australians in the UK.
Australia is lucky to have year-round good weather and mild winters. The same can’t be said for the UK (although summers have been warmer in recent years). British weather is typically very changeable and it’s often windy with rain.
This means there isn’t quite the same beach culture as in Australia. But the UK is an island nation, so there are plenty of beaches to explore and even lots of surfing. Just expect the water to be a bit colder.
As with most things in life though, experience is everything. A good way to get a feel for the British way of life is to spend some time in the UK by visiting first. And with an Australian passport, you can stay in the country for up to six months as a tourist.
So, if you’re considering moving to the UK from Australia, decide which visa route is best for you and then get planning. Moving to a new country can be challenging, but preparation is the key to making it a success.
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