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  1. Jasper

    7 months in...

    It seems the Canberra community forum needs a bit of love, and I remember how useful it was for me in the planning phase to look back on people's opinions and thoughts as they've gone through it, and how things go in the initial months. So I thought I should jump back in and give an update - mine being the last one from just a few weeks in - now over 7 months in. My wife and I arrived at the end of January, in Canberra. Where I quickly got started at a job I found on arrival, while my wife still searched through February and most of March. She was eventually employed through meeting people at a work function of mine, who called her the next day, offered her a job and she started the following day. We have been told multiple times that that's how Canberra works. It's all about networking. And that's definitely true. The job market is tough, particularly in Canberra where a number of public service jobs are specifically for citizens and even the ones that are open for permanent residents, are still slanted to citizens. Not for any nefarious quota system, but simply because you need Aussie work experience - to understand the culture, the market, the needs of the consumer etc. That's not to say there isn't work, there is. The private sector is bustling and it's down to what you're willing to do I guess. My wife has a major qualification, but is working as a temp admin assistant on minimum wage. I'm only a little bit higher and earn a bottom of the rung salary. And we're tremendously grateful. I'd be happy to pick fruit in the fields, wash dishes or mow lawns - and many many people have do so to get their start, and have become incredibly successful doing so. We have been very fortunate with our immigration in that we are employed, have all but refurnished our home after arriving with nothing, bought a car, are expecting our first child, made some wonderful friends, eaten out, travelled to the coast and the alps, and save a lot of our weekly paycheck to pay cash for our purchased and avoid all debt. It's not because we landed with our butts in the butter, or are "just lucky" - it comes from over 2 years of planning before we immigrated, and a ton of research. We make lists of all of the things we need to buy for the house (we only recently bought a bread knife!), and we research their prices, and plan each purchase. One week we're able to get a piece of furniture, and the next is a saving week, and perhaps next it's a soup ladle and some work clothes, etc. You make your own luck in this world, and I've had many opportunities to look back on this experience and the choice to immigrate. It's particularly difficult because we came alone... just my wife, and I and our furry kids. We have no family or friends here (well, we have friends NOW). And I wouldn't change a damn thing. Canberra is a wonderful place, with outrageously gorgeous scenery, wonderful parks and lake fronts to walk through, it's safe, and the coffee and food culture is one of the best in the world. The drive to work takes all of 10 minutes, and maybe some mornings I have a few bumper to bumper moments at red lights - and I live 16 kms from work. The people are friendly, and helpful at every level. Whether your cashier at a local supermarket, call centre operators, doctors, nurses, tradies and everyone in between. It's no utopia. There is some crime in places, like anywhere in the world, there are homeless, and there are problems. The government has it's issues and the Liberal Party have Tony Abbott - as South Africans, this is all laughable. You'll hear how expensive it is to live - and some things are expensive, but if you stop converting and just live when you earn the currency, your spending power has far better than in South Africa - and if you shop clever, it can save huge amounts. And you're still able to treat yourself to niceties too. No one is going to just make success happen, that's not how life works. You do. And you have a damn find opportunity to do so in Aus. Whether Canberra, or anywhere else. Fortune favours the bold, and to everyone in the terrifying immigration process at the moment, it's worth every single tear. All the best.
  2. Well, my wife and I have now been in Canberra for a few weeks. We landed in Sydney on the 22nd of January, and drove through on the morning of the 23rd - with an incredibly early start owing to jetlag which after 11000km is no joke! I also highly recommend driving in to the ACT, it's a light drive (3 hours) and offers up beautiful scenery you would otherwise miss entirely. Upon arrival, we had set up to stay at the Ibis Canberra (old Formula 1) until the end of January, with a hire car until then too, to allow us time to settle in and find our roots. The key was to get employed, homed, and buy some odds and ends we'll need (we sold everything to start from scratch). Thanks to an incredibly first world system, we were able to have our bank accounts and medicare done on the day we drove in; we had our dogs licenced, our bus passes done and by the end of Saturday 24th, we had applied for a home to rent. Within the next week, we'd found employment, secured the home, bought some inexpensive Salvos (Salvation Army) furniture and some cheap goods to set up a little home for ourselves and managed to fit in some incredible Australia Day celebrations through the long weekend. There is far too much to include in a quick little post, but sufficit to say - Canberra is amazing. It's most definitely not a stuffy public servant town, or a quiet sleepy village. It's a bustling metropolis filled with incredible culture, AMAZING food and coffee, incredibly variety, tremendous shopping experiences - all interspersed amongst a wide open vista of green trees, open plains and beautiful views. Canberra offers you everything you need - what you choose to get out of it is entirely up to you. I've found the people to be amongst the most friendly and helpful that I've ever come across in the world. The service has been 2nd to none, whether with call centre operators, cashiers, waiters, or even the guys down at the tip. There are a lot of things to get used to, coming from SA, like the ways the estate agents work (use the websites and book inspections yourself - they just do the paperwork) - and PARKING! Oh the parking! Recycling is huge and the refuse system is a new adjustment because they do it properly - and we're not used to that. It's an amazing, wonderful place filled with opportunity. It's all up to you whether or not you're willing to find it. Our dogs also finally joined us earlier this week - a tremendously smooth process (PetPort were fantastic on the SA side, and the Eastern Creek quarantine facility was lovely.). The dog parks are wonderful and our pups are having a wonderful time adjusting to the clean air and amazing smells. I can go on and on - but thought I should share some good news about Canberra, in reality - now that we finally arrived and particularly because this community doesn't get nearly enough praise as it should deserve.
  3. Hi Team, We are in a bit of a predicament... Here are the facts: I have received an ACT state sponsorship on the 11th of July 2014. According to the CO, I have 30 days to lodge my EOI. Then once the visa invitation is issued, i will have 60 days to apply for the 190 visa. She also mentioned that ACT nomination will expire after 90 days. Here is the problem: I require a further 5 points to qualify for a 190 visa, which i am planning to make up with a higher IELTS score. I have booked my new IELTS exam BUT they only had a spot on the 16 of August 2014 with an expected date for releasing my results at the 29th of August. Taking the timelines mentioned above into consideration, i will not be able to lodge in time as i need to lodge an EOI before the 10th of August. How will the fact that my points score will be too low, if i lodge before I my receive the new IELTS score, affect the process. Could someone perhaps offer some advice on options i might have? I am very concerned with timelines as i will not be allowed to resubmit an application for State sponsorship in ACT due to the fact that my occupation has been removed from the skills list. Your views/advise will be highly appreciated. Thank you
  4. I don't feel like working this morning so thought I'd pull a post together offering you info and tips for a 190 SS application. I've not completed the application and don't profess to be an expert, these are simply my opinions, suggestions and recommendations - If this helps anyone even a bit then I'm happy. I am using an agent and what I'd say is if you can afford it, do it! Can it be done without an agent, probably; however there are many pitfalls, the process is hugely time consuming and stressful and if you need to focus on work, selling houses, ordering shipping containers then I believe it's worth the money. I'm not going to recommend agents here, there are a number of posts on this topic so have a look around Step 1 - Collating doc's Below is a list of documents I collated, copied and certified (this is a massive pain in the @rse so prepare yourself for the slog!) Passport – Main applicantPassport – Spouse / DependentsPassport photos for bothPrevious Employer Reference lettersPrevious Employer Employment contractsPrevious Employer Confirmation of resignation (dated)Last 4 payslips from Previous EmployersPrevious Employer P60 tax documents (UK)Current Employer Reference letterCurrent Employer Employment contractMy last 4 payslips from Current EmployerCurrent Employer Pension Plan letter (or other similar documents)Unabridged birth certificateUnabridged marriage certificateQualification – Certificate/Diploma/DegreeConfirmation of graduation letter (confirming study in English)Complete Academic recordInternational Qualifications letter Step 2 - IELTS test PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE! This test is not easy (and I am an English, first language speaker). Check out the training materials on the IELTS website. If you go in prepared then you have no reason to stress, so my final tip is take deep breaths and stay calm. Don't get into your own head and don't over-think it! Step 3 - Skills assessment Ah, the dreaded skills assessment! I went through VETASSESS and received a negative first assessment, I then changed my occupation and my re-assessment came back positive in less than 2 days! What the process taught me: Make sure that prior to requesting reference letters and polishing up your CV that you go to the Aus Bureau of Statistics website and read through the Indicative Skill Levels and Tasks for your occupation. This should form the foundation of what is in the references and CV. You cannot copy the information word for word but ensure you adapt what your roles and responsibilities are to the specific requirements on ABS. I did this second time round and my positive assessment happened in days! If you're on good terms with your old bosses, ask them to read the ABS website before writing the reference and ask them to base the letter on those tasks.If you've not heard back in 12 weeks (from when they receive the hard copies, not online app unfortunately!) then call them! I did (after 16 weeks!) and they were super friendly and helpful and it was the lady there that actually recommended I change my occupation!If you do need a reassessment, ask for the same assessing officer, it fast tracked my application.Step 4 - State Sponsorship / EOI Here my agent basically did everything for me. The only thing I'd say is do LOADS of research of the State you're applying to. For ACT I needed a Commitment letter (attached), this is your opportunity to show that you're interested, that you've read up on the areas and would fit well in the community. GOOGLE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND, but some other good research tools to help you start include: http://www.saaustralia.orghttp://www.abs.gov.auhttp://www.wikipedia.org/http://www.realestate.com.auhttp://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/http://www.seek.com.auWell that's about all I can comment on as I've only just submitted my SS application. Other suggestions, some of which have no basis on any experience or concrete facts would be: Hound your agent, this is your right! If you're not on top of him/her then someone else is and they're getting the best possible service whilst you hang around your mobile pulling your hair out!Engage with people on SAAustralia, this is the best resource I've ever found and everyone wants to help! Likewise, don't be a Lurker, help people, give advice, show support and generally share the love;-) We're in this together, come hell or high water!Don't give up - Nothing worth having comes easy so just keep persevering and you'll find a solution to any problem (unless you're an international arms dealer or you've murdered someone...). No problem is unique, someone on this forum has been through it, just ask for helpRight, I may as well do some work now...hope this is somewhat useful to people entering the process GOOD LUCK C WA Relocation Costs and Budget - Updated 11.04.13.xls Commitment to Canberra Draft.doc
  5. Hi again all So I've been trying to pull a budget together based on expected salaries and expenses. I've used all the resources I could find on the interweb to try and get this as accurate as possible...now I'd like to draw on the experience of the Canberran contingent of SAAus to give me your opinions on where I need to tweak my expectations. Next to each income/expense I've added the source however if you think I'm off the marke please let me know. As it stands, we'll have loads more disposable income in Canberra than we do at the moment in UK doing exactly the same jobs. And that includes a house with a garden and free sunshine! Seems too good to be true...can you let me know if it is please:-) BUDGET Description Ave Source Income Marketing Manager salary $5,104 $80,000pa - http://www.payscale.com/research/AU/Job=Marketing_Manager/Salary#by_State (nett - http://www.paycalculator.com.au/) Exec Sec salary $4,010 $60,000pa - http://www.payscale.com/research/AU/Job=Executive_Assistant/Salary#by_State (nett - http://www.paycalculator.com.au/) Expenditure - 2 people Home rent -$2,200 http://www.allhomes.com.au/ Council Rates -$133 http://www.justlanded.com/english/Australia/Australia-Guide/Money/Cost-of-Living (Took the total annual and split over 12 months) Water -$74 Water usage -$35 Contents insurance -$35 Electricity -$139 Gas -$61 Transport - Public -$225 https://www.transport.act.gov.au/myway/fares.html#Adult Groceries -$140 http://www.justlanded.com/english/Australia/Australia-Guide/Money/Cost-of-Living Mobile -$130 https://onlineshop.telstra.com.au/ Internet $50 http://www.telstra.com.au/internet/home-broadband-bigpond-elite-plans/ TV -$109 https://www.foxtel.com.au/shop/packages-and-deals/?execution=e1s1 Entertainment -$2,500 Finger in the air! Holiday savings -$1,000 Finger in the air! Life savings -$2,000 Finger in the air! Nett $383 A SURPLUS…SURELY NOT! Hope the pasted table came out ok! C
  6. Hi all Can anyone tell me what the process is once you receive the ‘Visa Approved’ email? What I’d like to understand is; once the approval comes through, what is the process to actually physically get the visa in your passport and how long does it take from the day you get the email to the day you have the passport including visa, in your hand? Thanks C
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