My journey first begins with having graduated with first class honours in Mechanical Engineering from a leading university. Having graduated during the time of global economic downturn obtaining a job was not such an easy endeavour and I started to wonder if there really was a skills shortage of engineers in the workforce. In addition, the ever increasing unemployment rate of South Africa was a looming testimony that hard times would lay ahead.
Fortunately after four months of looking I was head hunted for a position as an Engineer-In-Training in the heavy industry. Starting off in my first job was no easy achievement but after a couple of hurdles I started to settle down.
Life was starting to look good. To add to life I had also met a wonderful companion to share stories, laugh about friends and cry about family with all in a couple of months of knowing her. She had recently moved back from Hong Kong and was in the beginning not interested in a relationship but I guess things turned out well in my favour. Or did they?
Taking a few steps back I had earlier applied for a Subclass 476 Skilled Recognised Graduate visa for Australia as I wanted better opportunities such as health, education, lifestyle and travel that South Africa could not give me. I must confess though that living in South Africa all my life I did not explore as much as I should have. But in my defence I had only started to become more independent and adventurous having received my own vehicle after graduating from my wonderful and supportive parents. In addition, I did not have the finer things earlier in life to go exploring and events such as end of High School Vacation down in Cape Town or Plettenberg Bay or my 18th or even 21st Birthday was non-existant. Sad and introvert it may seem but burdening my parents with demands was simply not what I would have intended as I knew very well the amount of sacrifices that they had made for the benefit of the family.
So what is this 476 visa and its eligibility? Simply put as of April 2012 when I first applied for it:
- You must be under 31 years of age on the day of making your application
- IELTS Test Report Form (TRF) Number to show you have a band score of at least six on each of the four components – speaking, reading, listening and writing
- In the two years immediately before the date of making your application, you must have completed an eligible degree qualification in Engineering
- You must have completed your Engineering degree at a recognised institution in the last two years
- You may be in Australia at the time you apply for a subclass 476 visa unless you have either condition 8503 or 8535, or another condition on your current visa that prevents you from making a further application to remain in Australia. Unless you are an eligible New Zealand citizen, you and any secondary applicants included in your application, must be outside Australia at the time that a decision is made on your application
- You and all secondary applicants must have a health examination
- You and any secondary applicants must be of ‘good character’
- If you are aged 18 years or over, you are required to sign an Australian values statement
The end result is if you are granted this visa you are able to live and work in any part of Australia and engage in any type of employment for a period of no more than 18 months.
Having applied for this visa in April 2012 my initial expectation was that it would have been granted in more than a years time as it was not on the Priority Processing Agenda of Immigration Australia. Having said that I was surprised to find that my visa was granted July 2012.
Having spent the majority of my time before I was due to depart, April 2013 that I had decided on before the expiry date of the visa, I soon started to realise that job opportunities were non-existent for holders of the 476 visa and that either citizenship or Permanent Residency was needed. (Such a visa should be brought into question as to its validity as most employers in Australia would not recognise it)
To be continued….