A few weeks ago, I met Ms. B online. She, like many of you, is taking the IELTS exam as part of her application for Australian immigration. She was kind enough to share her story, which contains a number of very helpful tips and resources. If any of you have additional online resources you would like to share, please leave them as comments to this blog post.
Update: Ms. B says she used the practice reading tests at ielts-exam.net to prepare for this portion of her exam.
This is the story of my personal experience with immigrating to Australia.
I was living in Dubai, UAE, and wanted to move to Australia in order to become an aircraft maintenance engineer, a discipline better known as avionics. I conducted some research and narrowed my choices down to two Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges. One was in Brisbane, Queensland, the other on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. I contacted both institutes via email and received a phone call from the one on the Sunshine Coast. After a lot of thought and discussion with my partner, we decided that this institute would cater to my needs. Thus began my foray into the Australian immigration process.
I commenced the temporary student visa application procedure. Being from Canada, I was considered a “low risk” applicant and the process was quite simple. I had to send my deposit to the TAFE and enrol in overseas student health cover. My partner and I had to undergo medicals. Aside from the medicals, all documents were uploaded to my online application. The medicals were forwarded to the Australian Consulate in Dubai and about 2 weeks later, I received my student visa.
I arrived in Australia in April 2009 and started my studies at TAFE about 1 week later. Driving on the opposite side of the road and Australian lingo took some getting used to. For example, I had no idea what was meant by “it’s time for smoko”. I soon figured out it meant to take a “coffee break”. Australians have many expressions which I have now grown quite accustomed to.
During my studies in Australia, I looked into my options for staying here long term. I thought I had everything figured out; however, the rules kept changing! It felt like I was constantly readjusting my plan and that my goal of permanent residency was becoming more and more difficult to obtain.
I went through what is called the Job Ready Program, which is designed by Trades Recognition Australia. This program provides you with the letter of confirmation that is required to apply for permanent residency. Different jobs have different assessing authorities and these authorities follow different procedures. These can all be found on the DIAC website, http://www.immi.gov.au/.
Once I finished my studies, I applied for jobs all over Australia. I had 2 job offers and chose the one I thought would best fit my career path.
I then applied for a temporary graduate visa (485). This visa allows you to stay and work or study in Australia for 18 months. Private medical insurance is needed just like on a student visa. The application was online once again and pretty straightforward. Uploading documents online made the process hassle free. I was required to obtain an Australian police check at this point because I had been in the country for more than 12 months. A bridging visa was granted whilst my application was being considered. The major downfall of this is that you cannot leave the country until they make a decision. If you must leave the country, you need to contact immigration and obtain special permission.
I was on the bridging visa for just under 12 months. It was quite a relief to receive that first contact email from immigration asking me to submit additional documents. It also made me realize that at this point I would need to finish the steps in my job ready program and sit an IELTS test in order to obtain the points required to apply for permanent residency under the new rules.
When applying for an independent permanent residency visa in Australia, one must obtain a minimum of 65 points from this points test: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/points-test.htm
As most Australian immigrant hopefuls know, these rules are due to change on July 1st 2012. For me, this means a race against the clock to get my paperwork together and other requirements fulfilled so I can apply for permanent residency before the new rules come into place.
The rules planned for July 1st 2012 will stipulate that you will either have to be sponsored to apply for permanent residency or you will have to put in an expression of interest. What this means is that you will not be able to apply unless you receive an invitation from the Australian government. The number of these invitations will be controlled by capping the number of applicants per skilled occupation.
I booked the IELTS exam and realized I needed to score a minimum of 8 in each band. I had a look at the general format of the exam and thought that I would be able to perform well without much preparation. I sat the IELTS on March 10th and awaited my results. As you can imagine, I was disappointed to see that I had only obtained 7 in writing. I did not understand what happened.
Following this disappointment, I took measures to apply for the next available sitting and started searching the Internet for tips on how to succeed in the IELTS writing general module. I found Ryan’s blog and started reading it and watching his videos. I am hoping by adjusting the structure of my essay I will be able to obtain my 8.
I am now impatiently awaiting my IELTS results and hope I was successful in obtaining a minimum of 8 in each band this time.
That is my story thus far! I hope it is helpful and wish those of you with similar pursuits the best of luck.
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