It can be difficult to know where to start and which visa to apply for. Below are some of the ways you can gain permanent residency and citizenship for you and your family in Australia.

Generally speaking, there are three visa streams available for South Africans that want to migrate to Australia: the family stream, the workstream, and the business or investment stream. These streams have many different visa subclasses for specific immigration situations.

The Australian migration system is complex; it’s easy to apply for the incorrect visa, so be sure to do your research thoroughly or speak to a registered Australian migration advisor.

We’ll look at each stream in more detail, covering your various visa options and the processes involved with applying.

Family stream

If your family member is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you could join them on a family-stream permanent residence visa. Here are two common visa categories in this stream:

Partner visas

These visas allow partners and spouses of Australian citizens and permanent residents to live in Australia permanently.

They’re separated into two categories for applying from within Australia (subclasses 820 and 801) and for applying from outside Australia (subclasses 309 and 100).

Each category has a temporary and a permanent visa, but you apply for both at the same time.

Parent visas

There several different subclasses of parent visas covering the spectrum of temporary and permanent stay in the country. The permanent options require you to pass the balance of family test, meaning that more than half of your children need to be Australian citizens or permanent residents.

One visa that doesn’t hinge on this requirement and has relatively low processing times compared to permanent visas is the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 870). This allows parents of Australian citizens or permanent residents to visit for up to five years at a time but unfortunately won’t lead to permanent residence.

There’s also the option of applying for one of the permanent visas and staying in Australia on a bridging visa while you wait for the approval.

Workstream

If you’re looking to live and work in Australia permanently, you can do so with a work visa.

Employer-sponsored visas

This category of visas allows an Australian employer to sponsor you to work in the country. The Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186) requires you to have an occupation on the list of eligible skilled occupations.

There’s also a Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) for jobs on the skilled shortage list. This can potentially lead to permanent residence.

Skilled visas

The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) is a popular route that lets you live and work anywhere in Australia. You don’t need a job offer for this visa – eligibility works on a points system. If you can get enough points based on age, work experience, and education level, you can apply.

If you fall short of the requirements of the independent visa, you may still be eligible for the Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190). You’ll need a nomination from an Australian state or territory, which you can get by having an occupation in demand for that region.

The third option for recent engineering graduates is the Skilled—Recognised Graduate visa (subclass 476). You’ll need to be under 31 and have completed your engineering degree within the past two years.

Business or investment stream

Setting up a business or investing in Australia is an excellent way to gain permanent residency if you have the means to do so.

The Business Talent visa (subclass 132) is perfect for business owners, investors or property developers looking to gain permanent residency in Australia. A popular route is to form or join a property development company in the country to qualify.

Other options include the Business Innovation and Investment visas (subclasses 188 and 888). Various streams fall under this category, depending on if you’re investing a large sum or you’re an entrepreneur.

Other options

If you don’t qualify for any of the various permanent residence visas on offer in the family, work or business visa streams, there are some other ways to qualify for permanent residency. These include the new skilled regional temporary visa, or the Distinguished Talent visa (subclass 491 and 858).

The Distinguished Talent visa is granted in the case of internationally recognised, exceptional and outstanding achievement in eligible fields, including the arts, academia, research, sport or a profession.

The path to an Australian passport

Once you’ve been in Australia for a while, you may be eligible to become an Australian citizen if you meet all the requirements.

You must have spent four years in Australia on a valid visa and have held permanent residency for 12 months before applying. There’s also a “good character” assessment and a citizenship test with an English language requirement. This route is called citizenship by conferral.

If your parent is or was an Australian citizen and you weren’t born in the country, you can gain citizenship by descent.