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Australia - Registration and Residency


A resident of Australia is one who holds a permanent residency visa but does not qualify as a citizen. An individual who has a permanent residency visa can reside in the country on an indefinite basis. A five year visa is also issued at the same time which allows the resident to travel in and out of the country as they please, and when this expires the individual will have to obtain what is known as a Resident Return Visa in order to be able to move freely in and out of the country.

If a permanent resident spends too long in another country then there is a danger that they could lose their Australian residency status. The only other circumstances which would see residency status being revoked is if a resident was convicted of serious criminal activity. This is at the discretion of the Department of Immigration and serial offenders will almost certainly be stripped of their status and returned to their home country.

Many people obtain permanent residency status through the Skilled Migration programme, although immigration through this programme is limited and only a certain number are granted each year. In order to apply for this programme you will need to be assessed on a points basis and points are given for factors such as language skills, age, qualifications and previous work experience.

A person who is applying for this scheme should be older than 18 but younger than 44, should have been recently employed in their nominated field of work, be healthy and have a proven good character. Your work skills and qualifications need to be assessed by the relevant authority so that they can be sure you are suitably qualified and experienced. Then you are able to make your application for the visa. Supporting documentation that will be required may include a passport, birth certificate, evidence of qualifications and references.

Applicants will also be assessed on their level of qualifications and the higher the level the higher the number of points awarded. The type of work that is being applied for will also be taken into consideration as some jobs do not require a university level education. If the field of work that you are applying for is on the Skilled Occupation List then you will also score a higher level of points, as priority on the skilled migrant programme is often given to those skills which are in short supply. Occupations which do not appear on the list will not qualify an applicant to apply through the skilled migrant programme. The requirement for previous work experience in your chosen field can sometimes be replaced with a study requirement of two years. This does not apply to all categories of jobs.

The spouse or partner of a permanent resident is also able to apply for residency. They can apply for a temporary visa while their request for permanent status is being processed and they are able to reside and work in Australia until it is approved. There is a great deal of documentation that is required for this application as it is up to the couple to provide information about their relationship and prove that the relationship is genuine.

There are a number of benefits to permanent residency status. These include access to free or partly subsidised healthcare and education. They have the right to apply for citizenship after a number of years of residency and can sponsor relatives for permanent residency. Their children who are born in Australia have the right to claim citizenship by birth and residents have the right to some social security benefits after a certain period of time in the country. The New Zealand government also allows Australian permanent residents to visit, live, work and study in New Zealand without the need for a visa.

There are also some differences between residency and citizenship. Residents are not allowed to vote in elections although some states allow citizens of Commonwealth countries to cast a vote in local elections. When you move into the area the local authority can help you with your rights there as these may vary between states.

Applying for a Resident Return Visa is fairly straightforward but should be applied for long before it is needed as it could cause problems if you need to leave Australia for any reason as you will have trouble re-entering the country without it. In order to make the application you need the appropriate form and the relevant fee, details of both are available from the website of the Australian department of immigration. It is not always necessary to provide a passport, as most now have biodata and a copy of this is sufficient. However, some people will need to send in their passports, including those who have not travelled out of Australia since 1987. Those who have been out of the country for a long period of time during their residency may also need to send extra documentation, although this is detailed on the information guide.

Those who need to send in additional documentation should provide a return stamped envelope so that original items can be returned. Processing times vary and will depend upon the office doing the processing. These visas can be issued by the immigration department for residents who are making arrangements prior to their travel outside Australia, or by a local embassy or consulate if you have already travelled abroad.

Someone applying on the skilled migrant programme is not necessarily required to have a job to go to as they are not being sponsored by an employer. There will be a requirement to prove that you are able to support yourself and your family financially until you are able to find paying work. In contrast, the employer nominated visa is where the applicant has a job to go to and their employer sponsors them into the country before a visa is applied for. These are normally fixed term opportunities but longer visas and residency can be applied for at a later date.

Embassies and Consulates

British High Commission Canberra
Commonwealth Avenue
ACT 2600
Tel: 02 6270 6666

British Consulate Sydney
Level 16, Gateway Building
1 Macquarie Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel: 02 9247 7521

British Consulate Brisbane
Level 26, Waterfront Place
1 Eagle St
Brisbane 4000
Tel: 07 3223 3200

British Consulate Perth
Level 26, Allendale Square
77 St George's Terrace
Perth, Western Australia, 6000
Tel: 08 9224 4700

British Consulate Melbourne
17th Floor, 90 Collins St
Tel: 03 9652 1600

US Consulate General Sydney
MLC Centre
Level 59
19-29 Martin Place
Sydney, NSW 2000

US Consulate General Perth
4th Floor
16 St George's Terrace
Perth, Western Australia, 6000
Tel: 08 9202 1224

US Consulate General Melbourne
553 St Kilda's Road
Victoria 3004
Tel: 03 9526 5900

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