Migrating to Australia entails many steps and it can take a long time to get a Permanent Residency visa granted.
The first step of the application process is to apply for skills assessment. Pastry Cooks who are Philippine passport holders go through the Offshore Skills Assessment Program (OSAP) with Trades Recognition Australia (TRA). This can take between one to six months, depending on the availability of the assessor. The next steps such as lodging an Expression of Interest (EOI), applying for state sponsorship, and lodging a visa application can take between six months to two years.
Although it is a lengthy application process, claiming the prize– that is, being able to live and work in Australia permanently, is all worth the time, costs, and effort. Here’s a true story about a Pastry Cook from Makati who in December 2017 decided to take his journey to migrate to Australia.
Rizalino, in his younger years, was a sensible nephew as he would always help out his aunt in the kitchen when preparing food for the family. While studying Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management at De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, Rizalino and his team joined many cake decorating and bread sculpting competitions and had consistently bagged the first and second place awards. These were the moments when Rizalino realised his passion for patisserie.
After graduation, Rizalino developed his career as a Pastry Cook at Shangri-la Makati and Shangri-la The Fort while winning pastry and culinary competitions in the Philippines and in Singapore.
Rizalino was influenced by some of his friends who were granted Permanent Residency in Australia and decided to apply with his partner. In the Philippines, there is no concept of a de facto partner relationship. It was either a Filipino couple is married, or they are just boyfriend or girlfriend. However, Rizalino and his partner Krisna have lived together for over 12 months and have satisfied the meaning de facto partners as per the Migration legislation.
Rizalino got his skills assessment as a Pastry Cook from TRA in August 2018, got his VIC state nomination granted in December 2018, lodged his 190 visa in January 2019 and on the 31st of December 2019, Rizalino’s and Krisna’s 190 visa was granted. The couple were ecstatic to have heard this great news and planned to move to Australia in April 2020. However, due to the pandemic, it was only in December 2020 that the couple arrived in Melbourne.
Here are some excerpts of my interview with Rizalino and Krisna:
- What was it like travelling to Australia during the pandemic?
“Our flight to Australia was cancelled multiple times due to the lockdown. It was really stressful for us since we already resigned from both of our jobs and we felt stuck waiting for the Australian border to open. But we still considered ourselves grateful because after ten months of waiting, the government opened its border to Permanent Residents and its citizen, a chance for us to fly and start our life in Australia.
It was scary to travel during the peak of the pandemic, but we needed to risk it because nobody knew how long the border would remain open.
When we touched down at the Melbourne airport, there were a strenuous procedures that we needed to go through and the security was really tight. We were asked to fill out some information for contact tracing, temperature checks and they asked Covid related questions.
There was a long queue of passengers, including us, who were escorted by airport security staff wearing protective gears to our buses going to the quarantine hotel.
Given the pandemic situation, we had to follow the government protocol and undergo the 14-day hotel quarantine which was paid by the government since we booked our flight way before the pandemic happened.
They took swab test three times. The first one was during our arrival. The second, was during our 7th day, and the last was the day before our departure. Luckily, we finished the 14-day hotel quarantine with no problem.
- How has becoming an Australian Permanent Resident changed your lives?
We felt that our life here in Australia as permanent residents is more secured as we are entitled to a lot of government benefits. We remember, just into our second month, we were able to use our Medicare health benefits with no hassle and surprisingly free for our health check-up.
We did not encounter any problem in applying for work either because permanent residents have unrestricted rights to work. Even though we arrived during the pandemic period, we were blessed that work opportunities were still present.
- How can you compare your work life in the Philippines to that in Australia?
I feel that it is more rewarding to work in Australia. Firstly, you will definitely earn a higher salary with the same job that you do in Philippines. It means that you can save more.
Companies here promote work-life balance which is really essential in promoting health and mental well-being. In the company where I work, the management is considerate and flexible in giving work schedules for staff who have kids.
In terms of the people in the workplace, there is growth in the workplace as it is composed of diverse people. It means we also learn and the workplace opens us to different backgrounds and culture. In return, we can also share the good values that we have as Filipinos.
- What are your suggestions to Pastry Cooks who intend to migrate to Australia?
Understand the process and ask the right people who have the knowledge and expertise before applying for a PR visa. If you have the right skills and experience as a pastry chef, we suggest you go for a permanent residence visa. It will take some time, but it would be worth it.
Pastry Cooks are still listed under the Department of Home Affairs’ skilled occupations. If you have plans of making Australia your home, it is suggested to seek advice or assistance from a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer to understand your visa pathways.