Coming Up Tue 10:00 AM  AEDT
Coming Up Live in 
Filipino radio

The challenges of migrating to Australia as a teacher

Source: Getty Images

While the recently-released Australian skilled occupation list (SOL) includes teachers, the pathway is proving to be more challenging to pursue than expected.

A graduate of immigration law from Victoria University in 2013, Victorian migration agent Em Tanag has had her fair share of immigration cases. Many of the cases she has handled involved skilled visas, some of which were skilled visas for teachers.

"There are a lot of teachers from the Philippines who want to migrate to Australia," she shares, adding "But it can be difficult."

For those wanting to obtain an Australian skilled visa for teaching, Ms Tanag recommends that they are aware of the following:

1. The major hurdle for teachers wanting to migrate to Australia is the IELTS.

IELTS exam
We only have a handful of teachers because the IELTS is their number one hurdle when it comes to migrating.

According to Ms Tanag, the biggest hurdle for teachers wanting to migrate to Australia is the IELTS. 

For teachers wanting to apply for a skilled visa, they will have to take the academic version of the test and garner at least a 7 in reading and writing, and at least an 8 for speaking and listening. Other English exams such as PTE, Cambridge and OET cannot take the place of the IELTS.

"There are a lot of teachers who are good in English, but when they take the IELTS, they aren't able to meet the requried scores," she shares, adding, "This is why we only have a handful of teachers [applying]. There are a lot of slots for teachers in Australia, but not a lot of people apply, compared to say, accountants."

Ms Tanag recalls that she has seen cases wherein native speakers fail the test.

Liza Abad, Ms Tanag's cousin and a secondary school teacher from the Philippines, shares that she had to take the IELTS four times.

"It took me two years to fulfill the IELTS requirement," she says, adding, "I had a problem with the writing and speaking parts of the exam. Actually, even after taking the test four times, I still wasn't able to reach the required scores. My sister suggested I have my scores reassessed by IDP in Australia, the group giving the test in the Philippines. After reassessment, I got an extra 0.5 so I was able to meet the required band score." 

2. You can be exempted from taking the IELTS.

You can be exempt from taking the IELTS if you have a Bachelors degree in Education from countries like Australia, Canada, the UK and United States.

The only way an applicant can be exempted from the IELTS is if he or she took their Bachelor's degree in Education in countries such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

3. Not all teachers can apply for a skilled visa to Australia. Check the skilled occupations list.

Check the skilled occupation list if you are eligible to apply for a skilled visa to Australia as a teacher.
Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture's photostream/CC BY 2.0

Not all teachers are eligible for migration.

According to Ms Tanag, potential applicants should go through both the short-term skilled occupation list (STSOL) and, the medium and long-term strategic skills list (MLTSSL).

The occupations that fall under the MLTSSL include early childhood teachers, secondary school teachers, special needs teachers, teachers for the hearing impaired, teachers for the sight impaired, special education teachers not elsewhere qualified and university lecturers. The said occupations either do not need sponsorship to migrate to Australia or are sponsored by particular states.

On the other hand, the occupations that fall under the STSOL include primary school teachers, middle school teachers, education advisers, art teachers, dance teachers, music teachers private tutors and teachers not elsewhere classified, teachers of English to speakers of other languages, school principals and vocational education teachers. Applicants for this list need employer or state sponsorship to migrate to Australia.

4. Assessment, application, assessment. 

Teachers have to go through several assessments and applications in order to apply for a visa to Australia, and to practise teaching in the country.

"Most of the time, if teachers from the Philippines complete their qualifications as teachers and they are able to complete 45 days of supervised training, they can qualify for an assessment from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)," Ms Tanag shares.

She notes, however, that Philippine qualifications aren't automatically recognised in Australia. An applicant may need to undergo a skills assessment to determine if the Philippine degree he or she obtained is comparable to an Australian degree.

"The assessment can take roughly two months," she shares, adding, "It can be longer though if it verifying your degree with your school proves to be difficult."

5. The higher your points, the higher your chances of getting an invite.

The higher your points, the more likely you will get an invite to apply for a skilled visa to Australia.

An applicant can potentially wait two years to be extended an invited to apply for a visa. This is because priority is typically given to those with higher scores based on the Skilled Migration Points Test. 

According to Ms Tanag, "Those who have higher points will get invited sooner. For example, those with 80 or 85 points will be prioritised over those with 65 points."

Ms Tanag shares that it is important to remember that when an invitation is extended, you will have 60 days to lodge your application for the visa.


Listen to SBS Filipino 10am-11am daily

Follow us on Facebook for more stories