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Life after uni: What it’s like to become an Australian permanent resident

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Mon Jan 23 2017


Shaegan Vishal Visvaratnam, 25

Which year did you receive your permanent residency and how long did it take?

I received my permanent residency on June 10, 2016 and it took me a total of four months to get it. The process can be a lot longer, but I was just very fortunate that mine was expedited.

How has acquiring permanent residency changed your life in Australia?

When you are on an international student visa, you are limited in the way you move and you have to be in and out of the country on certain days. You also have a limited amount of hours to work in a week and the only time you can really sort of work an unlimited amount of hours is on your holiday.

I find what permanent residency has given me is a big sense of relief and now, I can contribute to the Australian economy. I can work in places where it is a lot easier to get a job because they want a resident or a citizen. It is quite easier to get a job and I have that freedom to change my job as compared to those who worked under a job sponsorship. Working under sponsored work visa (457), you are tied to one industry for two years and even if a better opportunity comes along, you cannot take it because you are avoiding the terms of the visa.

Did you have any difficulty in getting your permanent residency?

Personally, I felt a little bit of difficulty because I had to apply for it offshore. Offshore application will happen outside of Australia and onshore application happens in Australia. The only difference is where you are in the world. If you are onshore application, you still don’t have many working rights and you basically have to sit there and wait. Other than that, in my case, I was right in the perfect spot. I was at the best age range and I was in one of the approved skill occupation as a civil engineering. It is just a matter of waiting.

Anything you would like to share for people planning to get a permanent residency?

The thing to understand about permanent residency application is that it takes you the closest to citizenship and so it’s quite a large application.

You can apply for it on your own. However, my personal recommendation is to get a consultation from an independent migration lawyer based in Australia. This is mainly because most of them have worked with the department of immigration and border protection so they know the system a lot better and they are more than happy to help.

A lot of time, they offer you the first consultation for free and all you need to present is the basic information such as your degree when you graduated, your English proficiency (IELTS) and any other credits or certificates you can provide. By looking at this, they can already tell roughly how good your chances are.

Nick P’ng, 35
Senior Director at Avanade, Melbourne

Which year did you receive your permanent residency and how long did it take?

So I got mine during the first few months of 2004 and it took me about six months. From memory, I got my document in order and started the process with the immigration department six months before I graduated. It started probably in 2013.

How has acquiring permanent residency changed your life in Australia?

I found work immediately and so I started work in Australia after I graduated. I graduated from RMIT University in December and then I started working in January. Ever since then, everything was quite easy actually. At the moment, I am running a technology consulting business called Avanade.

Did you have any difficulty in getting your permanent residency?

Actually, I don’t have a problem with getting my permanent residency, because the common degree during my time was sufficient to get enough points for permanent residency, so I had no problem whatsoever.

Is there anything you would like to share with people planning to get a permanent residency?

I think that it’s important that they adjust culturally to Australia. I find that students usually stay within their national group. For example, the Malaysians stay within the Malaysian group and the Indonesians stay within the Indonesian group. So no one mix in with the Australians.

I think that is very important because if you’re planning to work in Australia, you have to interact with the Western culture and the Australians. So during the university courses that you study, you should mix with the Australians as well.

Becoming a permanent resident is something that I would recommend and I think that it is best to have everything organised and start early so that when you graduated, you don’t have to wait for another six months for the permanent residency. In your final year, you should organise your documentations and start finding a migration agent. I think that will simplify the process and speed it up as well.

Enoch Ko, 32
Senior Finance Analyst at Medibank, Melbourne.

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Which year did you receive your permanent residency and how long did it take?

I got my Australian permanent residency in 2011. After graduating from the University of Melbourne, I went back to Taiwan to work for a few years and then I came back to continue studying for Masters of Commerce and that was around late 2009. I applied for PR in early 2011 and got my PR around May or June so it took around six months.

How has acquiring permanent residency changed your life in Australia?

There is actually not much of a difference, especially in terms of looking for jobs. In my case, I was working in Taiwan for a while and one of my clients had a business based in Australia. A few months after I graduated from the university, I applied for several jobs but was out of luck because I did not have PR.

But then I was offered a job by one of my former clients in Taiwan and I said, “Hey, I graduated and I am available”. So there was actually not much of a difference in my life after getting PR as I got my job before I got my PR itself.

Did you have any difficulty in getting your permanent residency?

It was a pretty straightforward process because I had met all the points required to apply for PR. Some people would do the medical test along with their application, but in my case, I waited until they asked me to do the medical check-up. So that may have put the process on a little delay.

Is there anything else you would like to share with people planning to get Australian permanent residency?

I don’t think that I could give any advice on getting Australian permanent residency, but all I can say is that even if you pick an occupation that is worth a lot of points, you should also take into consideration your own interests and hobbies, and whether or not they line up with the occupation you are applying for.

Another thing would be to set your default language to English at all times, which means no matter who you are talking to at whatever situation, even if they start the conversation in Chinese or any other language, your response should be in English. This would help you in meeting the IELTS requirement that you would need to get in acquiring you PR, because the listening and speaking part of the test would require practice, unlike the reading and writing part where you can just study for.


This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via