Australia and UK are always amongst top destinations when people think about migration. They are famous for their quality of life, education, healthcare system, and career prospects. When considering which country to choose for settling a new life, migrants should also take into account the migration policy and system each country has in place. This helps to navigate which routes that you should follow, what types of visas are available and whether you are eligible to apply for any visas in that particular country.
Migration law of each country is complex and understanding which one you are qualified for is relatively difficult. Therefore, we write this article in order to give you a general idea about the migration system in Australia and UK.
Please note this is a basic comparison of immigration programs between UK and Australia skilled visa programs, for you to understand which immigration program gives you better options! To assess your individual case please book a meeting here.
Skilled worker Programs – Overview
As the most popular migration program is the skilled migration, we will focus our comparison on this program.
Generally, the skilled migration program of Australia is more open and flexible than that of the UK. This might be because the population in Australia is much lower than that in the UK (25 millions compared to 68 millions), and the labour shortage in Australia is more serious. Therefore, Australia’s migration system is designed who have those skills in demand, and in most of the case you do not need to have a job offer to apply for these programs (unless you are applying for employer-sponsored visas). In contrast, the UK migration system is designed in favour of those who are EU citizens and have been resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 (before the Brexit), and those who have job offers and are sponsored by their employers.
Major differences in the migration systems
Variant of visas for skilled worker
Generally, Australia has more types of skilled visas to suit different types of workers around the world.
Almost all of the skilled migration program is designed for those who have job offers and sponsorship in the UK, except for Global Talent Visa.
- Skilled Dependent visa (Subclass 189): for those who have skills in Medium Long-Term Strategic Skill List. This type of visa does not require a sponsor, nor a job offer in Australia.
- Skilled Nominated visa (Subclass 190): for those who want to work in an occupation in a relevant list. This visa requires a nomination from a state/ territory government. Depending on your occupation and state governments, you might or might not be required to have a job offer or experience.
- Skilled Work Regional visa (Subclass 491): for those who want to live and work in a regional area of Australia. This might or might not require you to have a job offer, but you must commit to live in regional areas once you get the visa.
- Temporary Skilled Shortage (Subclass 482): for those who are sponsored by their employer to work in Australia for 2 to 4 years. This requires a job offer, 2-year experience and sponsorship from the employer.
- Employer Sponsored visa (Subclass 186): this is permanent visa for those who are sponsored by their employer to work in an occupation in the Medium Long-term strategic skilled occupation. This requires a job offer, 3-year experience, and sponsorship from the employer.
- Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (subclass 494): this visa’s requirements are similar to that of subclass 186, but you must live and work in regional areas. This is a temporary visa with pathway to permanent resident, and the occupational list is different from that of subclass 186.
- Global Talent Visa: for those who have high achievement in targeted sectors. This does not require any sponsorship, nor job offers.
- Skilled Worker visa: for those who have a job offer from a Home Office-licensed sponsor at the required skill level.
- Skilled Work Health and Care visa: for those who word in an eligible health occupation and have a job offer from the NHS, social care sector or employers and organisations which provide services to the NHS. There is fast-track entry, with reduced application fees and dedicated support through the application process.
- Global talent scheme: You can apply for a Global Talent visa to work in the UK if you’re a leader or potential leader in one of the following fields: academia or research, arts and culture, digital technology.
Point System Comparison
Recently, the UK has introduced a point-based migration system for skilled workers since 01 January 2021. Accordingly, those who want to apply for skilled migration program in the UK must apply online through the point-based system and they must pass the minimum score of 70.
Unlike Australia point-based system, in the UK system, you must some compulsory points that you need to score to be eligible (for instance: job offer, English). In Australia, there is no compulsory points that you need to earn, as long as you can score 65 points as a minimum requirement.
The UK Point system
A total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply; some characteristics are tradeable. If a characteristic is tradeable it means you do not have to fulfil this specific requirement but can instead fulfil a different one to meet the required points.
This table provides an overview of the necessary characteristics to be eligible for a visa under the new points-based system.
|Offer of job by approved sponsor||No||20|
|Job at appropriate skill level||No||20|
|Speaks English at required level||No||10|
|Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039||Yes||0|
|Salary of £23,040 – £25,599||Yes||10|
|Salary of £25,600 or above||Yes||20|
|Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC)||Yes||20|
|Job in a listed health or education occupation with a salary that equals or exceeds £20,480 per year or the going rate for that occupation||Yes||20|
|Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job||Yes||10|
|Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job||Yes||20|
As you can see from the point test tables Australia and the UK, you can see that while Australia takes into account the applicants’ age, level of education, where the applicants obtain their qualification, experience and priorities those who have been studying and working in Australia, the UK mostly focuses on whether the applicants have a job offer at skilled level and English ability.
If you are over 45 years old, you are unlikely to apply for a skilled visa in Australia, whereas you can still apply to the UK if you have a job offer.
Australian immigration issues invitations once a month (on the 11th day of each month). Applicants with the highest ranking EOIs will be invited to apply. If multiple applicants have the same ranking score, the candidate whose occupation ceiling is not reached and their profile was submitted earlier will be prioritized. SkillSelect EOIs are valid for up to 2 years. If an EOI is not invited within 2 years, it will expire.
Occupation ceilings in the Australian Immigration system give an eligible occupation a maximum quota and if that quota is reached no other invitations in that occupation will be invited until the next year.
After receiving an invitation, an applicant is given 60 days to submit an application for Australian permanent residence to the Department of Home Affairs. If the application is successful, they receive permanent resident status for themselves and any dependent family members (spouse/ de facto and children).
The skilled workers visa are applied online and directly to the immigration department. Once you meet the 70 pass marks, you can start your visa application and do not need an invitation like in Australia.
Processing Time & cost
Due to the high volume of application, the processing time visas in Australia is relatively long. It ranges from 6 months to 25 months to process.
Costs for applying for a skilled visa in Australia is high. The application fee is AU$4045 for the principal applicant, plus an additional AU$2025 for a spouse or partner, and AU$1010 per child. Australian applicants would pay for translation, postage, health exams and miscellaneous costs.
If you are outside Australia, some state/territory governments may ask you to prove that you have enough settlement money of around AUD $20,000.
Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:
- 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
- 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK
When you apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you’ll need to have enough money to:
- pay the application fee – the standard fee ranges from £610 to £1,408 depending on your circumstances.
- pay the healthcare surcharge – this is usually £624 per year.
- support yourself when you arrive in the UK – you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt).
You’ll pay a lower application fee if your job is on the shortage occupation list.
If you would like to find out more about your skilled migration pathways to Australia and New zealand or discuss your visa options further , please contact VisaEnvoy, Australian migration agents and immigration lawyers in Melbourne on 03 9521 7577 or book a meeting.