There are several options for expatriating to Australia. If you do not have a partner visa, another option is to follow or join one’s spouse and be added on your partner’s “work visa”. As you can imagine, moving to Australia is always easier and more pleasant as a couple than alone. In this article, we will give you information about the different options for expatriating as a spouse, as well as share Cécile’s experience as a “follower,” with the concessions she had to make, and more.
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Preparation is essential! But why? To avoid reproaching your spouse and jeopardizing your relationship. Here are some tips to help you getting prepared for this adventure:
Tip 1: It’s time to reinvent yourself, give life to a passion, develop a concrete project, or even change careers. If you are following your spouse to Australia and your profession back home requires you to resume studies or undergo other qualifications to be recognized in Australia, why not consider a career change?
Tip 2: Expatriation is a significant upheaval and can be a challenging experience. Don’t hesitate to seek help to overcome difficulties, such as calling on a life coach or a psychologist online. You can find a list of approved healthcare professionals (across Australia) online.
The first months in Australia
Maybe you will start the adventure with a Working holiday Visa. After a one-way trip and with just a suitcase, you will arrive in Australia.
In the first few weeks, your program may include discovering the city, meeting cute animals, encountering scary ones, and searching for a job in Australia. Depending on where you will land, it may be more or less difficult to find an employer willing to sponsor you. Generally, it will be easier to find sponsorship (and getting a TSS Visa) in a big city such as Sydney or Melbourne, depending on your areas of expertise.
Tip 1: Take English lessons if it is not your mother tongue. It will help you in your daily life as well as in your job search.
Tip 2: Register at your consulate as a resident. This is a mandatory step to start any administrative procedure. In case of loss or theft of your identity papers, you will be happy to have already registered. It saves valuable time when replacing your official documents!
Tip 3: Try to enrol in activities such as yoga classes, the gym, art etc to meet new people and start a new social life.
From the moment your partner’s sponsorship is signed, the adventure start for at least 2 years or 4 years, depending on the TSS applied for. You will gradually abandon the backpacker rhythm to adopt the Australian way of life. Getting up at dawn, having coffee on the beach before leaving for work, celebrating Christmas in July, and traveling on weekends become the norm. Your network will gradually develop: the café downstairs, the neighborhood association, and the meetups. Very often, you will see your expatriate friends leave, once, twice, or even three times. You will learn to enjoy the moment and finally, you will no longer see yourself leaving this newly adopted land.
Tip 1: Find a way to connect with the local community and get involved. The give-back community is a very important concept in Australia, and it’s still the best way to fit in. Volunteering allows you to get out of your home, meet people, and start building a network.
Tip 2: The successive departures of loved ones with whom you have emotionally connected can be really difficult to manage. They sometimes lead to withdrawal or even the onset of depression. If you’re having trouble coping, there are specialized expat crisis lines or chat groups (Beyond Blue/RUok).
Permanent visa and health coverage
After two years in the same company and under the same sponsor (TSS visa), you can apply for a permanent visa. Once your application is accepted, you will then be able to fully access Medicare, the Australian healthcare system.
The permanent visa will give you the opportunity to invest more easily in real estate, as it exempts you from the 20% compulsory contribution required from foreigners.
Will you miss home? Sometimes. This is the fate of every migrant.
Tip 1: Invest in real estate. It’s easier and simpler than most countries, and it’s still the best way to ensure your old age.
Tip 2: In the event of long-term illness, we tend to think that Australia is better equipped. Access to care is indeed more expensive, but society is much better adapted to disability, especially in companies.
After several years ( 4 usually) of being sponsored, it is possible to apply for Australian citizenship. This will give you dual nationality.
There are two types of ceremonies, one big and the other more modest. Becoming a citizen is a state of mind. The big advantage is having two passports and more travel options. By becoming a citizen, you will also have the duty to vote (yes, voting is compulsory in Australia, under penalty of a fine).
My spouse found a sponsored job in IT in Sydney. For my part, as a nurse, if I wanted to work, I had to resume my studies from the beginning. It was not an option. So what to do? It was time for me to move on and do something else. I try my luck at a chocolate factory in town and get a part-time job that turns into full-time job.
After a year, I left the world of chocolate to join a media library team. Becoming a librarian, a childhood dream come true. I always wanted to write a novel without ever giving myself the means to carry it out. It was also time to get started…and this time seriously.
After 2 years as a sponsor, we applied for permanent residency, especially because we wanted to have access to Medicare (as we were not from the UK we couldn’t benefit from it before).
After 11 years I realise that it was an incredible life adventure. Australia gave me the luxury of time and allowed me to focus on what really makes me happy. I was published (not the first novel but the second), I built my home, I live by the ocean and every day, I can walk on the sand.
The little things that made a difference to us:
- Watch the 8 p.m. news in case of homesickness.
- Find a neighborhood that matches your way of life.
- Adopt a cat or a dog.
- Establish traditions. For us, it’s Christmas meals. Twice a year (in July and December) with all my friends.