A large number of Greek non-citizens living in Australia have contacted me, asking me a number of questions regarding the pathways and options for coming to Australia, how to get permanent residency and of course, citizenship.

During my talks with them, I have heard too many misconceptions about Australian migration laws and regulations from a large majority of them: the sources of these fallacies are usually “Giorgos” or “Mitsos” from Oakleigh over a cigarette and a frappe, an online forum, or, simply put, complete lies that have been told to them deliberately by others.

Below, please find the truth behind eight of the most common misconceptions by Greeks looking to live and work in Australia, as told by a registered migration agent:

1. I have access to Centrelink payments/Newstart Allowance while on a student visa/457 visa.

Incorrect. Centrelink contributes to the social and economic outcomes set by the Australian government by delivering services to assist people to become self-sufficient and supporting those in need. As a newly-arrived migrant on a student or 457 visa, you only have access to a very limited range of services. Centrelink payments and the Newstart Allowance are not available to you.

Even when you become a permanent resident, there is usually a two-year waiting period. Best source for information is the Australian Department of Human Services website (also available in Greek).

2. I have access to Medicare while on a student visa/457 visa.

Incorrect. You will have to organise your own health insurance when you are in Australia as a student or a 457 visa holder. The kinds of health insurance you are required to have vary from visa to visa.

Once you are a permanent resident of Australia, you will have access to Medicare, Australia’s scheme for health-related care and expenses. Best source for information is the Australian Department of Human Services website (also available in Greek).

3. I don’t need to sit an English language test for a 457 visa.

Incorrect. Greece is not one of the countries exempt from English language testing. The current available tests are IELTS, OET, TOEFL iBT, PTE (academic) and CAE Cambridge English: Advanced, all of which are accepted by the department. There are many online workshops for these tests.

In some circumstances, depending on your yearly salary, you may be able to get a 457 visa without passing an English language test.

4. Once I’ve lived in Australia for eight years, on any visa, I am guaranteed Australian citizenship.

No. This is one of the worst misconceptions that many Greeks that have recently arrived actually believe.

5. Having the condition 8503 on your visa doesn’t matter. You can still apply for another visa.

The 8503 ‘No Further Stay’ condition can be found on some visas, usually visitor visas and student visas. If you are granted a visa with an 8503 ‘No
Further Stay’ condition attached, you are not permitted to apply for another visa to extend your stay in Australia without first departing, with some exceptions.

You can have this waived; however, you will need to prove a major change in circumstances beyond your control to have the 8503 condition waived.

6. The skills, education and work experience I gained in Greece will be recognised in Australia.

Not all the skills, education and work experience for all job roles will be recognised in Australia. You may need to meet further requirements, where you will need to provide many documents providing your skills, education and work experience (all separately) from Greece. This can be complicated and it is highly recommended that you seek professional advice from a registered migration agent as early as possible.

7. There is no danger with a visa refusal. I can just reapply and succeed.
It depends. If you are still on a substantive visa when you get a refusal, you can apply for another visa, as long as you do it before your current visa expires.

However, if you get a refusal and you are not on a substantive visa, you will be subject to Section 48 of the Migration Act 1958, which means that you cannot apply for most visas while in Australia.

However, you may be able to prolong your stay in Australia, under some circumstances.

8. It’s easier and cheaper to do it on my own.
Yes, it’s cheaper. No, it isn’t easier. Some people choose to handle their own visa applications. However, the majority of visas are very complex, and hiring a registered migration agent is extremely important to avoid problems, mitigate risks and maximise your chances of a visa approval from the department.

I mean, it’s also cheaper to service your own car, to represent yourself in a court of law, to perform a medical checkup on yourself, right?
I have lost count of the number of enquiries by individuals who lodged their visa by themselves and got a visa refusal while on a bridging visa. In every case they had to leave Australia before they could apply for another Australian visa.

In addition, if you provide false or misleading information, whether on purpose or by accident, you may get a refusal based on a ‘bogus document’, or a visa cancellation, which could lead to the applicant being sent back to Greece. This would likely include a three-year ban from applying for any Australian visas, with some exceptions.

Andreas Athanasiou is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN: 1685134), employed at Katsaros & Associates. If you wish to seek further advice, please call them on 03 9670 3663.