Saturday, September 28, 2019

Australian Residency for Tutors

Beach and surfing is an integral part of life in Australia. Image by Fabricio Macedo FGMsp from Pixabay.

I bumped into a friend one day, and our conversation led to her plans of moving to Australia. She is married, with two kids, and has mostly worked as online English tutor. She has a degree from the University of the Philippines where she majored in Educational Communication. While our conversation did not really went verbatim as below, let me narrate it here just the same for the benefit of those who, like her, are planning to apply for an Australian residency DIY.

Q. So what was the first thing you did in relation to your plans of moving to Australia?

A. As people have advised me, particularly in online fora, the first step is always the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). The SOL lists the eligible skilled occupations which would allow an individual to qualify for an Australian working visa provided that all other requirements are met.


The SOL is updated regularly, so it is best to check it regularly too. You can find the SOL in the Home Affairs website, In the case of my friend, she was looking for a teaching role which aligns with her experience. Fortunately for her, there is the Private Tutors and Teachers NEC (NEC means not elsewhere classified, it is a catch-all occupation within the tutoring and teaching role) with ANZCO Code 249299. Searching the Home Affairs SOL search tool showed this result:

ANZCO Code 249299 Private Tutors and Teachers NEC

From the search, occupation 249299 will qualify one for different visas: Subclasses 190, 407, 489, 482, and 187. I am familiar with these options (I did my permanent residency visa DIY too), so I asked her next:

Q. With these visa options, what will you choose?

A. Residency visa in Australia is points tested. Subclass 190 will be tough, 407 is not appropriate, 482 and 187 require employer nomination. This seems to leave me with no other option but Subclass 489. But..

Yes, there is a but and it is not bad. The Australian Government has decided to close Subclass 489 (invited pathway) to new applications from 15 November 2019. That was fast, I thought.


The Subclass 491 will be replacing Subclass 489. Home Affairs has published a new instrument (LIN 19/051) which provides guidance on the changes to Subclass 489 and the SOL.

Click here to download LIN 19/051

Click here to download the Explanatory Note for LIN 19/051

This is good news to my friend. Her nominated occupation, Private Tutors and Teachers NEC  (ANZCO Code 249299) remains part of the Short Term SOL (STSOL) in the new Subclass 491. The best part is, a new occupation, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ANZCO Code 249311) has been added in the STSOL! This is in Item 90, Section 9, Page 14 of LIN 19/051.

Q. So what will you do now? Will you nominate ANZCO 249299 or ANZCO 249311?

A. This gets a little confusing. The best thing to do, I guess, is to check which of these two will suit my skills, experience and qualifications best. I need to try to improve my chances of getting the visa.


According to the ANZCO information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, TEACHERS OF ENGLISH TO SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES teach classes in English to students whose first language is a language other than English.

Tasks Include:
  • assessing the extent of language difficulties in students for whom English is a second language teaching students individually and in small groups out of the regular classroom, and assisting students within normal classroom settings 
  • teaching students English language skills using a variety of methods including lecture and visual demonstration 
  • providing assistance to other classroom teachers by designing special teaching programs for students with English language difficulties 
  • designing and producing teaching materials and adapting existing materials 
  • preparing course outlines and goals assigning lessons, correcting homework, and preparing and grading exams 
  • analysing, recording and reporting progress to regular classroom teachers, parents and students

According to my friend, the ANZCO description of the tasks where a classroom setting is expected could disqualify her. It is a risk to nominate ANZCO 249311.

On the other hand, PRIVATE TUTORS AND TEACHERS teach students in the practice, theory and performance of subjects, such as art, dance, drama and music, in private training establishments.

Tasks Include:
  • planning programs of study for individual students and groups 
  • preparing and presenting material on the theory of the subject area 
  • instructing and demonstrating practical aspects of the subject area 
  • assigning problems and exercises relative to students' training needs and talents 
  • assessing students and offering advice, criticism and encouragement 
  • revising curricula, course content, course materials and methods of instruction 
  • preparing students for examinations, performance and assessments 
  • keeping abreast of developments in the subject area by attending professional conferences, seminars and courses, reading current literature, and talking with colleagues 
  • may arrange visits and tours to professional exhibitions and performances 
  • may organise for exhibitions or performances of students' work
ANZCO 249299 is really the right occupation to nominate, my friend concluded. It aligns well with her experience as online tutor.

Q. Okay, so now that you are sure of the ANZCO occupation to nominate, what is the next step?

A. I will need a VETASSESS assessment. VETASSESS is the body or agency which is given the authority to provide suitability assessment for a nominated occupation, in this case ANZCO 249299. Other occupations will have a different assessing authority, mind you.


According to VETASSES, my friend's nominated occupation is classified as General Professional Occupation. To apply for assessment, one should create an account with VETASSESS at But before that, it would be prudent to have all the details and supporting papers first, as my friend did.

Q. How did you prepare for the VETASSESS assessment?

A. I downloaded the paper application form so I get an idea of what information will be required. I know, I will not be applying on paper. I will apply online. The paper form is downloadable at

Based on this form, these are the information needed, in addition to personal data:

  • Employment Details with List of Main Tasks and Duties
  • Professional License or Registration
  • Membership of Professional Body
  • Qualifications

The form also contains a required documents checklist which is reproduced below:

The additional evidence required for the Philippines based on the Explanatory Note (which then refers to Appendix A) is that if the applicant has passed the Professional Regulation Commission's Licensure Examinations, providing documentary evidence will POSITIVELY impact the application.

Q. The way I see it, it is crucial that you get a statement from your employer. But wait, aren't you an independent contractor?

A. Yes, I am an independent contractor. I have worked for the online ESL tutoring sites. I can, however, provide proof of having been an ESL tutor. 


My friend focused on the requirements from VETASSESS. Specifically, the Explanatory Note in the paper application form advised that:

Because of labor laws in the Philippines, employers are wary of using employment as a term. My friend is an independent contractor, so she asked for a Statement of Service (Work Reference) from her employer and prepared copies of her payslips. The statement of service is guided by Appendix B reproduced below:

Essentially, in addition to the above details, my friend asked for a document which reads like this:

"To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that xxx has independently contracted with This Company as private tutor from xx-Month-20xx to present. Her salary is Phpxx.xx (In Words) per hour. Due to our business model, we do not have full-time or part-time tutors as such, but all hours of work of our tutors are logged to enable correct payment of wages. The hours of work of xxx is indicated in detail in Appendix A.

As tutor, xxx is responsible for the following tasks:
  • planning programs of study of the English language for each student 
  • preparing and presenting material on English as a language 
  • instructing and demonstrating English communications 
  • assigning problems and exercises relative to the learning progression of each student 
  • assessing students and offering advice, criticism and encouragement 
  • revising curricula, course content, course materials and methods of instruction
  • preparing students for examinations, performance and assessments 
Her full duties and responsibilities are part of the contract between This Company and each independent contracting tutors. Attached is a copy of the said contract as Appendix B.

xxx also has an online profile as tutor which is available as part of our promotional strategy. Kindly refer to http:/url.of.her.profile.

This certification is issued upon request of xxx for whatever legal purpose it may serve."

The letter is dated and signed according to the guidance shown above. The statement of tasks may look familiar, and it should, because it is very much similar to the task listing in the ANSCO occupation at the Australian Bureau of Statistics website first mentioned above.

Q. So, how much is the assessment fee?

A. The assessment fee is published in the website, For my nominated occupation, the fee is AUD880.00. Lodging online is cheaper compared to the paper-based and it is faster too. I do not need documents to be certified, all I have to do is scan them in high resolution and in colour. It is also interesting to note that lodging offshore is cheaper still, because there is no GST, that's similar to VAT in the Philippines.


After obtaining a positive assessment from VETASSESS, the next step is to submit an expression of interest in SkillSelect at the Home Affairs website. The Subclass 489 guidance at (there is no page for Subclass 491 yet I suppose) provides a timeline as follows:

The waiting game begins.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Living on a Budget

In a Facebook group for Filipino students in Australia (and those planning to come on student visa), a common question asked is how much money do I need per week? A variant usually goes like will I survive on the 20-hour work per week? I got tired of responding to the same questions, so I decided to write this brief. If you are among those asking how much you will need to budget to live in Australia on student visa, this is your starting point. Read and be informed.


The information I will be providing here is based on very conservative estimates. You be the judge if these will suit you. You can certainly make adjustments, but that will mean the costs may (and certainly will) go up.


Here are the assumptions I made to come up with the lowest budget (you'll eat three times a day, but don't self-pity, okay?)

First, you will already have your plates, spoon, fork, cup and other eating utensils. You will also already have your cooking utensils, such as a turner for frying egg, and a $20 investment on the cheapest rice cooker. You accommodation should also have a stove, usually shared accommodation would have them (otherwise it will be additional one-time expense). Generally, gas cooking is free, you get charged for electric cooking (mahal ang kuryente!)

Second, a typical breakfast (actually, following these estimates, that will be your DAILY breakfast) will consist of two fried eggs from the cheapest 700g one-dozen pack caged variety you can find, plus 100g of rice (that is the average rice consumption in the Philippines per person). To save on costs, you must buy the 10kg (or the 5kg) pack, the cheapest find you can get. (TIP: every week, grocery chains Woolworth and Coles will have items on 50% discount. In my almost 10 years in Australia, I have not bought rice full price. I always buy the 50% off at sufficient quantity to last until the next 50% off is on).

Third, since you will be out and about at lunch, and you will have not time to cook something, a sandwich will be your typical fare. For $5, you can have a sandwich from Woolworth. It can be cheaper if you get a $2 burger from Hungry Jacks. Whatever. Lunch is $5. You can buy instant noodles, instant rice meals, instant pasta, for that amount. You will need a microwave oven though if you plan to go that way. Otherwise, sandwich it is. 
Every week, grocery chains Coles and Woolworths have items on sale, usually 50% off shelf price. You can stock up on basic necessities so you don't have to pay for full price.

Fourth, dinner will be pasta. You can easily find a $3 pasta and a $3 pasta sauce which will last you two meals. Add a can of tuna for $2, you are set. Alternatively, you can visit a mall or shop just before closing, they will usually sell their take away food for $5. That will cover your dinner.

With the foregoing as your typical day, you can add accommodation costs. For a shared room, you can start from $150 per week. That's $600 per month. Let's hope that your $150 per week is all inclusive of electricity + water and if you are lucky, WiFi too. I did not factor them in here, so make the adjustments in case your accommodation is not as I described.

For a $150 accommodation, expect to spend on transportation. Walking might not be an option (although walking will be part of your daily commute). Spending $15 on train, tram, bus or ferry per day is not uncommon, so in a month your transportation costs will be $450.


With the assumptions above, you will need at least $1,350 per month. Prospective students and just the kibitzers will ask, can I survive on work while on student visa? Remember that you will have to consider the following:

First, while on student visa, you can only work 40 hours every two weeks, or 20 hours per week. At that rate, you can earn at most $1,600. That is assuming that you are able to work all the 20 hours per week, every week. In a month, you will have worked 80 hours, and at the rate of $20 per hour more or less, you will earn $20 x 80 = $1,600. The $20 per hour is just an estimate, you can find out the minimum wage, award rates and other rights (yes, even workers on international visa have rights, read about them and do not get exploited by dodgy business and persons) at the Fair Work Ombudsman website:

Click here for the Minimum Wage

Click here for your Rights as Working International Student

Second, while the first may sound optimistic (look, you have some extra cash $250 per month) and not to dampen your optimism, you have to be realistic. There is a very good chance that you cannot find work immediately upon arrival. If it is your first time abroad and away from the comforts of home, there will be some adjustment period and it can be tough. Even if you have full working rights, it would be prudent to assume that you will not be able to find work in the next 3 to 6 months. Some are lucky and can find work in the first week, but some could not find work even after 6 months. So keep that in mind and consider the possibilities. I guess what I am saying is that you should not rely solely on income from working while on student visa to support yourself fully. It can be done, but at a cost.

What about cash on hand?

Cash on hand is wage paid to you without going through the tax system. It is illegal. It is unlawful. DO NOT consider it. It will bring you trouble and could jeopardise your chances here. It can get you deported. It can put you on exclusion from Australia. Cash on hand will also be supporting dodgy businesses, cheaters who exploit people and the system.

So, can you survive as working student? Probably. It can be done, it has been done. But it will be very difficult.


One does not live on eggs and rice alone. (Well, my daughter used to, eggs and rice being comfort food). The example above is merely for purposes of illustration. You can of course vary the menu. Canned goods can be your friend. Corned beef and Spam will cost less than $5. As you get settled, you can get better at budgeting. Aside from pork and beef, lamb is popular in Australia. Sausages too. And salad. Veggies. Be creative. Make your own menu. You can estimate the costs by having a look at current prices. The following websites are popular grocery chains:

That will give you an idea of how much food costs.

Next, you may want to look up accommodation options. You may find help from Filipino groups on social media. Otherwise, checkout the following:

Flatmates (Shared Accommodation)
Booking (Temporary Stay - Use this link to get $25 back off your first booking)
AirBnB (Temporary Stay - Use this link to get up to $76 off your first booking)
Domain and RealEstate (Long-term Accommodation Rental)

Goodluck. Remember, bawal ang tamad. Do some research, make some tentative plans. Ask if you need help, but do not wait to be spoon-fed. People who help may get tired helping.