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Last edited 01 Dec 2020
Relocating to Australia for work in the construction industry
Many people who are looking for a new challenge in life choose to relocate to Australia.
The country’s immigration system is notoriously strict, and there is a points system in place to ensure that those seeking permanent residency have skills and experience that will benefit the nation’s economy. However, it can be argued that there’s never been a better opportunity for construction professionals to find work. There are housing projects and major infrastructure programmes in the pipeline, confidence is growing across the Australian building industry and there are significant opportunities for construction professionals, with many construction firms actively looking to add more qualified workers to their ranks.
The Skilled Occupations List (SOL), can give an idea of the type of qualifications that Australian employers are seeking. There a significant number construction-specific roles on the list, particularly higher responsibility jobs such as project managers.
 457 visa reforms
The Australian Federal Government recently announced changes to the 457 visa system, a move which Master Builders Australia believes will make it easier for contractors to work with eligible 457 visa holders.
The 457 visa enables non-Australians to work for an employer for up to four years. By amending the rules, the Government has essentially removed certain obstacles for construction companies that are seeking builders with specific skills.
 189 Visas
The 189 visa is awarded via a points-based system and as a member of the construction industry, a candidate would normally qualify. Points are awarded on qualifications, experience, age, English language and other factors.
It is important to note as a construction manager you will be required to hold a degree or be a member of CIOB with three years experience outside of Australia or one year's experience in Australia. Any experience prior to membership will not be counted as the experience of the correctly level.
An 189 Visa allows a person permanent residency, medicare, social security, free education, and ability to purchase property freely. It is also not linked to one employer. Often with a 457 visa, people are forced to leave Australia if the job ends for whatever reason as the visa is terminated at that point and a person will have three months to leave or find a new sponsor which is not easy when you are under pressure.
The 189 visa provides stability, security, and additional advantages over the 457 visa but does cost a little more. The return is more than worth the price difference, especially if you have a family.
 How to move
You need to do plenty of research before you commit to moving, weighing up the pros and cons and working out where the best opportunities are. Australia is a vast country and the lifestyle you lead will vary greatly depending on where you relocate to. Somebody living in Melbourne or Sydney will have a very different experience to somebody who moves to a remote part of Western Australia.
If do decide to move, it’s important that you go through the correct channels when applying for a visa. Although in theory, it is becoming easier for skilled builders to relocate, there is still a strict protocol to follow and mistakes in your application can cause problems. It can be worth approaching an established migration agent to help ensure your application is error free and to liaise with the Australian Department of Immigration & Border Protection on your behalf.
There are many different types of visa, so you need to ensure you’ve selected the most appropriate one.
A good way to enter the country is to get an employer to sponsor you.
Once the move has been confirmed, you will need to organise accommodation. While renting is a common option, it can be more cost-effective to buy your own home, even if you’re not technically a full-time Australian resident. It’s a common misconception that expats who are in possession of a 457 visa are not eligible to take out a mortgage in their adopted country. However, whilst applying for a mortgage can be more complex for a temporary resident, it is possible.
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