Congratulations! Your visa has been granted, so what’s next?

Getting an Australian visa, whether is it for temporary stay or for permanent residency, is a huge achievement. Have a moment of celebrating your visa application success and plan for the next steps. I have here below the key preparations that should be made before entering Australia and in the first few weeks of your stay.
1. Check the date shown on the “must not arrive after” on your visa grant and book your airline tickets based on this and based on your target date of arrival. You can do this by booking directly with your preferred airline or by speaking with your travel agent.
It is best to wait for airfare promotions to get cheap prices. PAL and Cebu Pacific regularly announce their sale fares so make sure you are in their email subscribers list. Here are some options for you:
• https://www.philippineairlines.com/en
• https://www.cebupacificair.com/en-au
• https://philippinetours.com.au/

2. Research for potential areas where you wanted to stay based on your objective which can be accessibility of public transport to and from your education provider or employer or access to tourist attractions for visitor visa holders or cheap yet spacious accommodation or access to quality schools within the zone for your child/ren).
When we migrated to Melbourne, I researched for the best public school and we found Balwyn High School. For my daughter to be eligible for enrolment, our accommodation should be within Balwyn High School’s school zone, therefore, we ended up staying in Balwyn.
You can ask for referrals from your relatives and friends on where to stay based on your budget and objectives, join FB groups that cater for accommodation or just the generic Filipino FB groups where some available rooms/houses are posted, or visit real estate websites. I have enlisted here some links that you can use:

• https://www.facebook.com/groups/roompikmelbourneflatshares/
• https://www.facebook.com/groups/PinoyAUSydneyRoomforRent/
• https://flatmates.com.au/
• https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-real-estate/melbourne/room+rent/k0c9296l3001317
• https://www.facebook.com/groups/413920785484423/

3. For student visa holders, inform your education provider that your student visa is granted and arrange for your orientation date. Ensure you arrive in Australia at least a week before your orientation/class start date so you have time to adjust in your new environment.

4. For holders of visas that require health insurance (student visa, work visa, internship visa), update your cover start date to start when you arrive in Australia and ask for your health insurance card. You can do this by calling your health insurance provider (BUPA or Medibank or others) or visiting their retail branches. Make sure you maintain your health insurance cover during your stay in Australia to as not to breach your visa condition. Breaching a visa condition can lead to your visa getting cancelled.

5. For work visa holders, inform your employer/sponsor that your visa is granted and let them know when you plan to arrive in Australia. Ask your employer if you need to buy specific work uniforms (for example Chef jackets, shoes, etc.).

6. When you arrive in Australia (for visa holders with work rights), apply for your Tax File Number at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and set up your Australian bank account. See ATO’s link below:

https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Tax-file-number/Apply-for-a-TFN/

Make sure you understand your work rights (whether you can work full time or just for 40 hours a fortnight) to avoid breaching your visa conditions. You can find this on your visa grant under visa conditions.
The top four banks in Australia are Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, and ANZ.

7. Apply for Medicare (for permanent residency visa holders). Click the link below for more information:

https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/subjects/how-enrol-and-get-started-medicare/enrolling-medicare

Some visa applicants on a Bridging Visa who are currently in Australia may be eligible to apply for Medicare.

8. Decide whether you are buying your own car or if you will be using the public transport. If you are buying your own car, you should check the website below to get information on how to convert your overseas driver’s licence:

https://billing.vicroads.vic.gov.au/bookings/Overseas

If you plan to use the public transport, you should get yourself a Myki card (if Melbourne is your destination). For more information, see the link below:

https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki

Your decision to buy a car or not will depend on your daily travel requirements (depends on how far your education provider or employer is from your accommodation and if public transport is available). It will also depend on your job role, for example, you work as an Agency Nurse with night shifts. Public transport might not be available during the time you finish working, say at 3AM.

Moving to a different country can be overwhelming and I hope that this list of items to prepare for can take out some of your worries. Congratulations again and enjoy your stay in Australia!