If you’re considering emigrating to a new country, then chances are Canada and Australia have both crossed your mind. Both countries have a strong economy and high quality of life, and they both regularly appear on lists of the most livable places in the world – particularly Melbourne and Vancouver. They’re both multicultural countries in which English is the primary language.
But aside from the obvious differences – one gets very hot and the other gets very cold – there are also some differences in their immigration policies.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect when applying for permanent residency in Canada or Australia, including timeline, costs, and eligibility requirements.
Skilled Worker Programs
Compared to some countries that are more difficult to immigrate to, both Canada and Australia have immigration policies that actively seek out skilled candidates — even if you have no other ties to the country, such as a job offer or family. Having connections may help, but they aren’t necessary to be eligible for permanent residency and citizenship.
Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker program is for applicants who have at least one year of work experience (outside of Canada) in one of 347 job categories. The list is extensive, and includes jobs in the arts (writers and photographers), sciences (doctors and engineers), food services, trades, management, and more. As long as your job training and experience falls into one of these categories, then you may be eligible to apply for this visa.
Australia’s list of skilled occupations is not as extensive, but there are currently 212 skills that are eligible for the Skilled Independent visa. The list was updated in March 2019, so be sure to look at the most recent updates to make sure your occupation is eligible.
If your occupation isn’t on the list, you may be eligible for the Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190), which has a list of 427 eligible occupations. This visa requires you to be nominated by an Australian state or territory after submitting an expression of interest EOI via SkillSelect.
Basic Eligibility Requirements
In addition to being on the list of skilled occupations, both countries expect you to meet certain eligibility requirements in order to apply for the visa. These typically include health and character requirements (such as submitting a medical report and police check) and an English language test, but there are some important differences between the two countries.
Canada’s Express Entry program has three main requirements: education, language ability, and work experience. You’ll need an Educational Credential Assessment from your country to show that you’ve graduated from secondary or post-secondary school, and a language test showing level 7 proficiency in either English or French.
Canada also requires a police check and medical certificate, as well as proof of funds (around $12,669 CAD) to cover the cost of relocating to Canada.
Australia also requires you to show English language proficiency, unless you are from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Ireland, or New Zealand. You’ll have to undergo a medical examination and meet the skills assessment and character requirements. Unlike Canada, Australia also has an age restriction: you must be under 45 years old to be invited to apply for the visa.
You don’t have to provide proof of funds to resettle, but you will have to be free of any financial debt to the Australian government.
Once you’ve met the minimum requirements, you’ll be ranked according to a points system to assess your eligibility for the visa. Both countries use a similar system to rank applicants in a number of different categories, including age, education, and language skills.
Meeting the minimum requirements doesn’t guarantee you a visa. Canada requires you to have a score of at least 67 on the points system, while Australia requires a score of at least 65.
Canada’s points system assesses 6 different factors, with a maximum score of 100 points:
- Language skills in French or in English (up to 28 points)
- Work experience (9-15 points)
- Education (up to 25 points)
- Age (up to 12 points)
- Job offer (up to 10 points)
- Adaptability (up to 10 points)
To be eligible, you must have at least 1 year of work experience (9 points), with points added for additional years (up to 15 points). You can get up to 28 points for your language skills in French or in English (24 for your first language and 4 more for your second).
You’ll get 12 points if you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, with fewer points for each additional year of age (and 0 points if you’re over 47). You’ll also get points for adaptability, which includes having relatives in Canada or previous work experience or studies in Canada.
You’ll need a score of at least 67 to qualify for the visa. If you don’t have enough points now, you can increase your points by gaining additional work experience or language skills.
Australia has a similar points system, although unlike Canada, there is no maximum number of points. You’ll need to score at least 65 points out of the following four categories:
- Age (up to 30 points)
- English language proficiency (up to 20 points)
- Work experience (up to 20 points)
- Education (up to 20 points)
You’ll get more points for work and study that took place in Australia rather than overseas. For example, you can get points for studying in regional Australia, having a professional year in Australia, or having a degree from an Australian institution. This makes it a little harder to increase your score if you aren’t already working or studying in Australia.
Applying for Immigration
The process of applying for a visa is similar in both Canada and Australia. Both countries have an online immigration system that makes it easy to apply for your visa online rather than submit a paper application. Both countries require you to submit an expression of interest (EOI) and be invited to apply for a visa rather than immediately submitting your application.
It’s free to submit your profile to the candidate pool, and you can update your information at any time while waiting for an invitation.
Canada uses the Express Entry system for all skilled worker visas. To begin the process, you’ll have to create a profile expressing your interest for the visa and demonstrating your eligibility. If you meet the minimum requirements, you’ll be added to the pool of applications.
Once you’re in the pool, you’ll be ranked using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The candidates with the highest score will be invited to apply for the visa first.
If you receive an invitation, you’ll have 60 days to submit your application. If you don’t receive an invitation within a year, you’ll be removed from the pool, but are welcome to try again.
Australia also uses an invitation-based application system called SkillSelect. You’ll submit your information through the online platform along with documents to demonstrate your eligibility. The highest-ranking candidates will be invited to apply.
As with Canada, you’ll have 60 days to submit your application if you receive an invitation. You’ll be removed from the candidate pool after 2 years, but are free to re-submit your profile.
If you’re applying for the Skilled Nominated visa, you’ll also have to receive a nomination from a state or regional government in order to apply.
Processing times and costs vary depending on whether you have submitted all of the required documents and whether you are applying individually or with a spouse. It’s a good idea to get your medical and police checks under way before you receive an invitation to apply. You may also have to submit your passport and biometric markers, such as fingerprints.
Applying for the Skilled Worker visa in Canada costs $1,040 CAD. The processing fee ($550) is due when you submit the application, and the permanent residency fee ($490) will be due when it’s approved. You can pay both fees at the same time if you choose.
Canada processes most of the applications through the Express Entry system within 6 months from the time your application is submitted (not from the time you create your profile).
Australia’s Skilled Independent visa costs $3,775 AUD and 90% of applications are processed within 6 months. If your visa is approved, you’ll be given a date before which you must arrive in Australia. You won’t receive a refund if your application is rejected.
Should You Emigrate to Canada or Australia?
There are many things to consider when choosing which country to emigrate to. In addition to all of these differences, there are personal preferences to take into account. Do you prefer to live in a big city or a small town? How much will you pay in rent in Melbourne vs. Toronto?
Choosing a country to move to is a big decision. But based on the criteria we’ve looked at here, applying for a skilled worker visa in Canada visa is a little more straightforward. Not only does it cost less, but it’s easier to add points to your score to reach the eligibility requirements.
Also, the Express Entry system is easy to use and will keep you updated on the status of your visa every step of the way.
Whichever country you choose, if you start getting your documents together now, you could be well on your way to permanent residency in Canada or Australia in less than a year!