Ways to get PR (permanent residency) in Australia

The new visa system (see blog post and this post) has brought into focus the issues around getting PR (permanent residency) in Australia. It used to be that the simplest & quickest way was via the Skilled Independent Visa 189 (points tested) system. However, recently this has become more difficult – anecdotally, we’ve heard that you need to have  75 points in order to be in with a chance of being invited to apply (GPs can get 65 / 70 points but it is hard to get more without having worked in Australia for at least a year. There is a bit of hope that it will get easier for GPs after July 1st 2018 for the new “immigration year” – there is a chance that they will allocate more invitations each month  (in the last few months it has been around 300 to 400 whereas a couple of years ago it was 7 x to 10x this number).

So, what are the alternatives? There are two further options to getting PR – both via the 186 visa: a Transitional Route and a Direct Entry Scheme

  • Transitional Route. This is available to 457 visa (the old work visa) and the new 482 visa holders. There is a minimum time you have to have worked in Australia for the employer to able to apply for you. For 457 visas granted before April 2017, the threshold is 2 years. For 457 visas since then and the new 482 visa, the threshold is three years. After you’ve worked in Australia for the requisite time, your employer can nominate you for PR. The key advantages with this method are: a) if you get your 482 visa while GPs are on the medium and long term shortage list (as they are at the moment) then, this route will be open to you – even if GPs are subsequently taken off the list (*see note below). And b) you don’t need to be a direct employee of the practice – you can be an independent contractor (the standard way in which GPs work in Australia). The disadvantages: it’s 3 years before the application can be made (for new visa holders) and you have to remain with that same employer for the whole time
  • Direct Entry Scheme. With this scheme, employers can nominate a GP at any time – there is no “time spent working” threshold. So, the application can be made as soon as you start work (or more likely just after a probationary period). The main stumbling block is that you will need to be a true employee of the practice rather than an independent contractor. Your contract will need to be for at least 2 years. We are currently talking to a few practices about offering employee contracts in order to meet the requirements.
    • N.B. you would need to start work via the 482 work visa and then the employer would submit the application for the 186 visa. It seems unlikely that it will be possible to arrange the Direct Entry scheme before you leave the UK.This is because, as part and parcel of the application, you would need to be registered with AHPRA, which itself requires registration with the RACGP. The latter requires you to start work within 6 months of registration. Although an extension might be granted to your start date (not guaranteed), it leaves you and the practice exposed to changes in the system (for example the RACGP registration process) or significant delays with immigration

So, possible routes for PR:

  • Agree a 3 year “independent contractor” contract with the employing clinic, with an agreement that they will support an application via the Transitional Route after 3 years. Start work via the 482 visa.
  • Agree an employer / employee contract with your clinic with an agreement that they will support an application via the Direct Entry route as soon as you arrive / after a probationary period in Australia. (N.B. You may need to pay for the application process). Start work via the 482 visa.
  • Apply via the points system (189 visa) when you get to Australia – you can do this instead of the options above (ie if you only accept a 2 year contract) or as well as. (If you’re successful with the points application, then you or your employer can withdraw the 186 application).

*note: We are not migration agents and we’ve published this information as an unofficial guide only, based on our understanding of the rules on visas and PR as at June 28th 2018. We cannot accept any liability if there is an error or if the immigration department changes the rules.

I recently moved to Perth in Western Australia to start work as a General Practitioner. It was a daunting prospect initially, when searching for suitable posts, especially without having been to Australia before. The formal registration process appeared challenging and time-consuming to start with. However, during the process, I found Monique and Paul to be very supportive, providing reliable and accurate information when needed. I would highly recommend using their valuable insight to those contemplating the move in the near future.
Dr Arya