Brain drain: skilled Australians moving overseas

Why skilled workers are looking to leave Australia

Australia is facing a brain drain as skilled workers with ties overseas look to leave the country. It’s now clear that borders won’t open until mid-2022, and many say they’ve waited long enough and can’t face another year of separation from family abroad. Thousands of Australian citizens with family overseas, along with dual citizens and non-citizen visa holders are giving up on Australia and heading home. Data from the Department of Home Affairs demonstrate that long-term resident departures are averaging 3500/month, up by 26% on the monthly average at the same time last year.

We’ve noticed an uptick in document attestation requests from highly skilled workers giving up on calling Australia home. A lot of the people we’ve talked to cite closed borders as their primary reason for leaving. One client returning to the UK told us, “We love living in Australia, we have an incredible lifestyle here, but living here has always been based on the idea that if anything happened to our parents or family overseas, we could fly back in a day. That’s no longer the case.”

There have been many devastating stories in the press of people unable to visit ill parents abroad or attending funerals via Zoom. For many, remaining in Australia now comes at the very high price of perhaps never seeing overseas relatives again.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 49% of Australians were either born overseas or had at least one parent who was born overseas. Add to those the non-citizen permanent residents and visa holders who pre-pandemic were working and studying to build their lives here in Australia. That’s a whole lot of people with serious ties abroad, who are likely to be having these sorts of conversations in their households as our lockdown continues and our borders remain closed to overseas travel.

For the Australian economy, this loss of skilled workers is sure to be a problem in the future. An analysis by McCrindle, Australia’s population is set to be 1.7 million less than the pre-COVID baseline. But that’s another kettle of fish — the more immediate problem for these workers themselves is how to ensure their certifications are legalised for recognition abroad.

What you can do if you're a skilled Australian considering moving overseas

There’s obviously a huge list of things to do in a move abroad, from shipping your things and organising removalists to finding somewhere to live when you arrive. Here we’re looking at the three key pieces of admin you need to leave Australia and to work or study overseas off the back of your Australian-gained certifications.

  1. A travel exemption (see last month’s article Aussies Making the Move to Countries with Better Vaccination Rates for tips on applying for your travel exemption.
  2. Travel documents (passport, any visas you may need).
  3. Legalisation of your Australian documents. We know a lot of people are moving suddenly as travel exemptions are approved, so we’re authenticating documents here in Australia and we can also sort your Australian documents on your behalf once you’re overseas, so don’t panic if you can’t get this done in time to jump on a plane. See our article How-to Guide: Six Steps to Legalising Your Australian Documents When You’re Overseas for more info on how this process works.

With the Australian government keeping the border shut tight, more and more skilled workers are giving up on calling Australia home. The three key pieces of admin you need to leave Australia? A travel exemption, your travel documents, and legalisation of your Australian documents so they can be used overseas. We’ve helped thousands of Australians authenticate their documents over the years — let us help make it easy for you too.

Do you need help legalising your Australian documents for use overseas?

Find out more about how we can help.

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australians moving overseas

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