I am 36 working in scuba for over 7 years now and manage a dive centre in Cyprus. End of summer season i would like to emigrate with partner to Australia. Any help regarding process for visas or sponsorship would be very helpful.

Shame you’re a little old for the ‘working holida visa’, since that’s one of the easist ways in, if you can find a job once you get there.

I don’t know if Aussie immigration’s got stricter in the last ten years, but one of the things they look at on visa applications is ‘useful trades’. Unfortunately, SCUBA instruction doesn’t count, since (1) it’s not a vital trade such as medicine, teaching, etc. and (2) the supply of homegrown instructors already outstrips the demand. Your age will also count against you.

Rather than looking at permanent immigration, you might be better off trying for temporary residency, at least at first. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, so to speak, you can start working on making that residency permanent. Are you thinking of taking Australian citizenship?

For SCUBA instructors, the best way to get temporary residence (including the right to work) is to persuade a dive company in a major diving tourist area such as Cairns or Townsville to sponsor your immigration application. The catch is, you have to be (at least on paper), an exceptional prospective employee, since Australian companies officially aren’t supposed to import employees unless they can show that the local labour pool doesn’t meet their requirements. So you’ll probably have to show multiple ‘bonus’ skills such as being able to teach in languages OTHER than English (Japanese or German are good ones), or qualifications and experience in dive gear/compressor/boat maintenance.

If you are successful in finding sponsorship, it will very likely be conditional on working for the named company for x no. of years, i.e. if you quit or get fired during that time, you also have to leave the country. If you’re successful in getting in, then you will also have to be a model citizen for whatever probationary period you’re required to serve; e.g. pay your taxes, don’t claim on the dole, don’t start (too m)any bar fights, don’t kill anyone, etc. Basically, don’t give the authorities any excuse to throw you out.

The other thing to look at is whether your partner has any in-demand skills and qualifications, and you enter the country as spouse, then look for work in the dive industry. You might have to get married, though, if you aren’t already.

Good luck with it, and don’t let the neg-heads put you off.