Following the historic Brexit referendum result in June 2016, there has been a significant rise in emigration inquiries from UK citizens concerned about the implications and searching for a better life abroad.
Commonwealth countries feature strongly, with Australia and New Zealand among the most popular destinations for emigrating after Brexit.
In fact, 2016 figures published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics show that the most popular emigration target of British citizens was Australia.
Six-fold increases in enquiries after Brexit
Paul Arthur, Director of UK-based The Emigration Group
, which specialises in Australia and New Zealand immigration, says, “We saw a six-fold increase in enquiries on the Friday of the referendum and a three-fold increase over that first weekend, as people reacted to the shock announcement and struggled to understand what was happening.”
But there has been no let-up in interest in emigrating after Brexit, says Grahame Igglesden, of UK-based Australian migration consultancy, Concept Australia
Mr Igglesden says, “Serious applicants wanting to live in Australia have been undeterred by Brexit. The leave vote showed a level of dissatisfaction in the UK about the processes here and in Europe, and this is often a driving factor for emigrating further afield.”
Why British citizens consider moving to another country
The reasons why Britons consider moving to another country include obtaining a better standard of living, employment opportunities, family reasons and lifestyle benefits.
Paul Arthur says, “Clients want to live in a country with economic stability, job security and opportunities for the future, particularly for their children.”
Grahame Igglesden adds, “For families, education is another important factor – many schools in the UK are overcrowded, or families can’t get their children into their chosen schools. There is also the appeal of the outdoor-based lifestyle in Australia and how this could transform their family’s quality of life.”
Main motivation for moving to Australia
A sense of uncertainty dogged the UK before the Brexit vote. The country had only just narrowly avoided a recession and the referendum brought further confusion about what Brexit might mean in practical terms. Mr Igglesden says this sense of uncertainty, coupled with the rising cost of living in the UK, is the main motivator for people from the UK looking to move to Australia.
In response to Brexit, Australia and New Zealand have increased their marketing to attract skilled migrants. Mr Arthur believes this will help drive further interest in the countries. “We predict that there will be more and more people emigrating, looking to countries where there are no language barriers and some cultural similarities, such as Australia and New Zealand.”
Historically, there has been more interest in Australia – and it remains the frontrunner. The most common route for emigration from the UK is through the General Skilled Migration Program.
The Emigration Group
says, “This program emphasises skills that are currently in demand within Australia and encourages potential immigrants who possess these to apply. There are several types of skilled visa, all are points based with a minimum pass mark.”
adds, “The processing timetable can be influenced by a number of factors such as the nominated occupation, sitting an English language test, applying for state or territory nomination or your points score. Generally, the overall timetable is between 6-12 months and in our experience the length of time is determined by the quality of documents presented throughout the entire process.”
Eight top tips on emigrating after Brexit to Australia and New Zealand
For British nationals who want to emigrate from the UK to Australia and New Zealand, our emigration experts have provided eight top tips.
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- Research – Find the skills shortages in the country you want to move to and seek opportunities that fit with your own skills and experience. Get to know about the migration and visa processes, what they entail, and understand the legal aspects of living and working in another country. Bear in mind that information online can be incomplete, outdated or incorrect.
- Professional advice – Pick someone who really knows and understands how the process, which can be long and complex, works. A specialist can undertake a comprehensive eligibility assessment initially, followed by a one-to-one consultation to go through the options available. They can help you throughout the whole process, from finding roles, to visa applications, to settling in to your new life overseas.
- Plan – It’s a life-changing decision for you and your family, so undertake detailed planning. Gain a good understanding of your country of choice and what it’s like to live and work there. Plan a budget at the outset and factor in all the different costs associated with your emigration, including visa fees, agents’ fees, removal and property costs, the cost of buying a vehicle there, and currency exchange.
- Get started – If you are serious about emigrating, begin the process as soon as possible. We predict there will be even more interest in moving to Australia, in particular, as Brexit negotiations progress.
- Skilled migrant visa – If you’re planning to move to Australia to work, even if you are not sure what position you want to apply for yet, it is worth applying for a skilled migrant visa. This gives you time and provides different working options for the future. Once your visa is approved, you are protected from any future policy changes.
- Arrange a job in NZ – Consider applying to New Zealand as a skilled migrant – there is high demand for skillsets, and there are specific skills shortages in the country that need to be filled. However, the system in New Zealand is different and you cannot apply for your visa unless you already have a job.
- Regional differences – Be mindful of the differences between states in Australia – each one has a very different economy and is seeking very different skillsets from their working migrants. Some are faring better than others, such as New South Wales, for example, which is winning awards and regularly voted as one of the most popular states in which to live.
- Stay up to date – Specialisations are changing all the time when it comes to Australian visas. Independent skilled visas usually need employer or government sponsorship, although there are options to get them if you fit the right criteria.