Aiming for permanent residency abroad?
Learn how to get permanent residency overseas as a skilled worker or professional.
By Crispin R. Aranda, executive director, Immigrant Visa Center
You get bonus points if you are married, have qualified relatives residing in the country, and can immediately settle. You also gain more points if you have a pending job offer, have available settlement funds, or have studied or lived in the country for a specific period.
The total number of points you have to reach varies per country. Lower points or pass mark in a particular country will not necessarily give you an easier time gaining residency.
Australia. The Australian immigration system for skilled migrants (under the age of 45) is a rigorous one based on points. For those who don’t make the cut, they have the chance to apply for a temporary (three-year) visa and eventually apply for residence, provided they are prepared to live for two years and work at least 12 months in a regional or low population growth metropolitan area in Australia. This program requires sponsorship by a participating state or territory government or delegated Regional Certifying Body.
Canada. Like Australia, Canada provides sponsorship by regions or provinces. Residency applications in such cases take just eight to 10 months to process.
The country’s two residency routes—Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)—are both in the midst of change. The FSW is currently on hold. Those with applications (the backlog totals 925,000) are subject to the new Canadian Bill C-50, which authorizes the Canadian Minister of Immigration and Citizenship to:
New Zealand. The minimum requirement for residency is 100 points. You must express your intention to migrate and pay at least NZ$400 for online processing or $500 for paper-based application. A job offer will give you an additional 50 points. The pass mark for automatic selection for permanent residency is 140 points.
For work visas, New Zealand has one of the fastest processing times—only four to six weeks after getting a job offer and submitting your application with the New Zealand Embassy in Manila. The only disadvantage right now for Filipinos is the recently signed agreement between New Zealand and China that allows 1,800 Chinese workers to fill shortage occupations in New Zealand in return for export of NZ products to China. Chinese workers are now given preference over other foreign workers, including Filipinos. A new list, dated July 2008, contains the skills needed in New Zealand, both immediately and on the long term.
United Kingdom. The U.K. holds the highest standards (though not reflected in points) for skilled migrants or professionals. Its Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)—along with the Work Permit categories—ended in November 2008 and has been replace with the 5-level (Tiers 1 to 5) migration points-based system.
As in Australia, the UK’s pass mark is 75-95 points. Those aged 32 and above, however, will find it extremely difficult to qualify, especially if they cannot show annual earnings in the P1.4-million bracket.
The other tiers, especially Tier 2, are more feasible for skilled workers, especially those eligible for qualification, certificate, or diploma through the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) program. NVQ offers a work-based paid study program attractive to nurses and allied health care workers. Five years of lawful residency will allow a Filipino to apply for long-term residency.
Age. As a general rule, countries with permanent residency programs prefer young, skilled, and talented workers with more productive years to contribute to the system. The U.K. sets its age limit at 32, Australia at 44, Canada at 52, and New Zealand at 55.
Experience. Longer years in employment or self-employment are relevant. The longer the work experience, the higher the points.
In Australia and Canada, the following relationships are qualified to sponsor residency applicants: spouse, child, parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, first cousin, grandparent.
In New Zealand, close family relatives include son or daughter, parent, grandparent, sibling. In certain cases, having a spouse or partner in New Zealand earns bonus points for the applicant.