When you get the Australian PR visa, it’s quite common practice to do a visa validation trip. Though it is a convenient way to prove that you intend to settle in Australia, is it really worth? What are the pros and cons of doing a visa validation trip? Let’s find out.
First, let’s look at some of the benefits of a visa validation trip.
Gives More Time To Plan
Planning to move to a different country is neverending. But especially after getting Australia PR, you might feel that time is running out fast.
When the initial excitement of getting PR dwindles, the reality of leaving everything and starting a new life in a different country kicks in. Thought of moving to Australia without a job is scary enough but making it to Australia before the Initial Entry Date adds to the pressure. Almost all of us have some things to take care of, family and finances to look after and a long journey to plan.
A visa validation trip can provide that extra breathing space. You are not rushed into leaving everything behind and grapple with the challenges of settling in Australia. Once you make the visa validation, you have 5 years to move to Australia, giving you ample time to plan.
You Can Test The Waters Before Jumping
I had never visited Australia before getting PR. Naturally, I was very anxious. I had no idea about the culture, the job market, the people and the struggle ahead. One way to reduce such anxiety is to make a quick visa validation trip to Australia.
A one or two week trip to Australia can give you a good idea about many things – how friendly the people of Australia are, how’s the lifestyle and culture and how’s life in general. It can also give you a rough idea about which are the good spots for living. You can look at things like nearby schools, shops, nearest transportation, neighbourhood etc.
Though validation trip might not give sufficient time to gauge the job market, it can give you time to meet recruiters or at least talk to a few of them over the phone. If you can attend a few meetups, you can talk to a few people and learn from their experiences.
Sometimes, people receive a grant with a very short gap between the grant date and initial entry date. For example, one of my friends got the grant in February and he had to travel before October and this was still much better compared to some extreme cases where people got only a couple of months to do the move.
In cases like this, there is not much you can do. So the best option is to make a quick validation trip and make the final move after doing all the groundwork.
Now that you know why visa validation trip is a good idea, let’s look at some of the downsides.
The most obvious implication of validation trip is that you have to spend more. Firstly, you will have to pay twice the airfare – first for validation trip and next when you move permanently. As visa validation is a must for each PR holder, you will pay more if you are doing it with family. Plus, if you are unfortunate enough to face the special situation as described above, you might have to make flight bookings at a higher cost.
In addition to airfare, you will have to pay twice for accommodation, transportation, food and sightseeing. If you want to be extra secure, you might have to pay for the travel insurance too. You can avoid all this if you don’t do a validation trip.
We, humans, don’t want to get out of our comfort zone. So when we are compelled to do so, our mind tells us to delay it. However, delay in taking decisive action increases anxiety. Validation trip is a good example of this.
When you do validation trip, you are delaying the move to Australia. However, by doing so, you put yourself in a limbo state – to do or not to do. Plus there is a false sense of comfort that you have five years to decide when in reality no timeframe is long enough when you are unsure. As such the more you delay it, the harder it gets to move to Australia.
Unable To Drive On Overseas License
When you get the Australian PR, you can drive on your overseas license for at the most 3 months (6 months in Victoria). However, the clock starts ticking when you first enter Australia. So if you do a validation trip for even a few days and return a year later, you can’t drive on your overseas license anymore. This can be especially cumbersome because all the Australian cities are heavily reliant on private vehicles. This can even hamper your chances of getting a job as some jobs specifically ask for driving as a part of the job description.
Limited Understanding Of The Australian Job Market
Since you have a little time and focus during validation trip on getting a job, you don’t really get a deep dive of the Australian job market. Even if you manage to get hold of a few recruiters, they won’t consider you as a serious candidate once they know that you are on a validation trip.
Since you won’t be applying or attending interviews, it will be very hard to understand what the current market trends are or how to prepare for it in future. Even if you apply, it takes some time, at least a month, to get any serious callback from the recruiter. So the best you can do is talk to people and learn from their job-hunting experiences.
One of the minor side-effects of the visa validation trip comes when you apply for citizenship. According to the current citizenship rules, if you are out of Australia for 12 months or more and you lived in a country for 90 days or more, you need to provide a Police Clearance Certificate from that country. Now agreeably this is a minor inconvenience which will cost you a little time and money.
However, if you stay away from Australia for more than 3 out of 5 years after getting PR, you might not get 5-year Resident Return Visa. Of course, you can still apply for 1-year RRV (or even 3-month RRV in special cases) but you need to prove that you have substantial ties with Australia. Shorter extensions like this could impact your case when you apply for citizenship as you will be seen as someone who is not really willing to fully commit to Australia. This may add to more documentation and more processing time.
To sum it up, validation trip in itself is not evil. In fact, it can be a real boon if done properly but don’t use it as an instrument to hide your indecisiveness. Have a look at both the pros and cons of a validation trip and make a balanced decision. Treat validation trip as the first look into Australian life and use it to better plan your next move. What was your experience of a validation trip? Did it help?