Q. United States of America
America is still one of the best country to migrate to in the world with around one fifth of all global migrants heading there annually, however it is also one of the hardest to get into. Just 12% of Americans were born outside of the US. It’s often been said that the best way to get into the US is to fall in love with an American citizen!
The alternative is to get a green card or a visa. But these are very limited and the government caps what is available every year. Nurses and health professionals are in demand but they can only enter the country as green card applicants and it can take two years. Becoming American citizens can be a frustrating and long-winded process.
If you’re Australian, luck is on your side, as a new visa class the E-3 is solely for Australian workers and at the time of writing 10,000 each year were given out to Australian citizens. Singaporeans and Chileans may find it slightly easier to get in because of long standing free trade agreements.
An initial visa petition will cost around $350 US dollars per person and then a subsequent fee to process of just over $1,000 US dollars.
The quality of life in the United States is one of the best in the world. People settle well in their new communities because of the existence of a diverse mix of cultures.
Mid 2016, the unemployment rate stood at 4.9%, the same as the UK. Slightly less than New Zealand and Australia.
The crime rate is high – America has the second most murder rates in the world after Brazil. Detroit and St Louis have the worst violent crimes in the US.
There is a state education system with 87% of school-age children attending government schools, about 10% attend private schools, and roughly 3% are home-schooled.
Higher education can be expensive, but most of the top universities can be found in America. The tax system is complicated and many higher earners pay nearly 40% tax.
On the downside there is no state health system in the US. America has its own private health system. Medics in the US ask for insurance information or intended form of payment before they ever admit you to hospital, so it’s best to avoid being sick! 16% of American residents have no health insurance and the United States of America is just one of two developed countries not to have some form of government universal health coverage, the other being Turkey.
Americans love their sport especially baseball. The climate can vary as it is such a big continent but in general is temperate, but extremes can be reached to a freezing cold–62°C in Alaska to a piping hot 57°C in California’s Death Valley (hence the name).
Most migrants to the US come from Mexico. Over 9,000,000 of the foreign-born population of the United States was born in Mexico. China and the Philippines are next with just over 1,000,000 migrants, followed by India and Vietnam.
One real shocking statistic about America is the country’s severe obesity problem, 68.8% of adults are considered overweight with a staggering 3 in 4 men considered to be overweight or obese.
Q. United Kingdom
Approximately 7.5 million people in the UK were born overseas, which makes up 13% of the overall population. The UK is a multicultural nation, especially in its larger cities and this means its relatively easy to fit into local communities.
Currently if you are a European citizen, you have the right to work in the UK, but the Brexit decision means the UK is leaving the European Union and as such European citizens will no longer be allowed to work there.
Immigration has been a very hot-topic for many years with campaigns to crack down on immigration.
The UK Government uses a points system or five-point system to assess permanent resident visa applicants. Those who meet the requirements for Tier 1 are deemed ‘high value’ and are either entrepreneurs, investors or exceptionally talented. Tier 2 is for skilled workers who have a job offer in the UK in an area where there is a proven shortage. There are also three other tiers.
The quality of life is deemed excellent, it’s a multi-cultural society and is highly tolerant of people from all backgrounds and lifestyles and crime rates are low. But the UK was recently given the title of the most crowded country in Europe with a population of nearly 65,000,000. Australia has just 23,000,000.
It can be cold, wet and grey compared to the sunnier climate of Australia and a good deal of time in the UK is spent indoors.
Britain has a low unemployment rate of 4.9% and employees are given generous leave. It is the world’s 5th largest economy and has low inflation (under 1%).
It’s expensive to live in London and gas and electricity charges are amongst the highest in the world but otherwise the cost of living is average compared to other developed countries. Food in the UK is noticeably cheaper than in Australia and generally housing is too.
The National Health Service provides free medical care for all UK residents and is regarded as one of the best health care systems in the world. State schooling is both free and compulsory and 90% of children attended these schools with the remaining 10% opting for private education.
Football is undeniably the most popular sport but the UK does have some lovely countryside. When the weather permits, people spend their leisure time walking and enjoying the outdoors.
Q. New Zealand
New Zealand is a place of great natural beauty which is acknowledged as having one of the best work life balances. New Zealand is not as multicultural as other countries like the United States or the UK. That’s partly because of its remote location, but it still has small pockets of ethnic communities in its larger towns like Wellington and Auckland.
More than a third of immigrants to New Zealand come from the United Kingdom. Japan and Korea are the next biggest source of immigration. A large proportion of its immigrants are from the Pacific Islands, South Africa and Indonesia.
New Zealand has a range of visas available but the country’s Work to Residence program is the main route for skilled migrants who have specific skills or who can fill job sectors that are in demand. There are also long term visas for investors and entrepreneurs.
Successful applicants get a two-year temporary visa, after which they can apply for permanent residency via the Residence from Work programme. You’ll be paying around $2,500 New Zealand dollars for one skilled migration resident visa.
The cost of living is like the UK or US but New Zealand’s extremely remote location, means that many white goods and other special imports are rather expensive.
It has one of the lowest murder rates in the world of just of 0.9 per 100,000 inhabitants. There is an impressive state education system. Taxes are lower than in Australia, with the top rate for personal tax around 33%.
No surprise about the national sport which is rugby with the All Blacks fuelling a passion for the game.
Canada is one of the most sought after places to migrate and it is easy to understand why. The government positively encourages people to move there and even in the current downturn still has a high immigration quota. There are a range of visas available for businessmen, students and the self-employed.
More than 250,000 new permanent residents come to Canada each year and adapt easily to the country’s easy going lifestyle. It has one of the lowest crime and murder rates in the world and was recently ranked 9.7 out of 10 for safety. Its murder rates are six times lower than America and slightly less than Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
There are several ways of securing a visa for Canada. Skilled workers are eligible on a point-based system. A typical point based visa would cost $600 Canadian dollars for the principle applicant, $550 for the spouse and $150 per child under 22 years.
Canada has breathtaking and stunning scenery and has one of the lowest population densities in the world with just 3.75 people per square kilometre which gives a sense of freedom and space. It’s also one of the richest nations in the world.
The cost of living is on a par with Western Europe and slightly cheaper than Australia. The highest paid industries are mining/oil/gas and drilling. It is relatively easy to secure a job, although some companies do like to see some Canadian experience. However, out of the five countries listed in this article Canada currently (2016) has the highest unemployment rate at 6.9%. A recent downturn in manufacturing and construction has led to widespread redundancies.
The federal government doesn’t control the state schools in Canada, schools are the responsibility of individual provincial departments of education and funded mainly from local and provincial taxes, with some federal funds. Education is deemed good and there are several well-established universities.
Health care in Canada is delivered through a publicly funded health care system, known as Medicare and most services are free.
Canada’s climate can be quite diverse as it covers such a huge area, winters are cold with temperatures of up to minus 40 in the winter. Be prepared for some high fuel bills for the winter months but most Canadian cities are within 300 km to the US border and so experience mild springs, hot summers and crisp autumns.
The Canadians love sport and like to live an outdoor life with ice hockey being the most popular spectator sport. Its breathtaking scenery makes it a popular tourist destination.
More than one in five Australians (27%) were born overseas. It’s one of the most popular places to migrate too as skilled workers are in demand. A point based system determines the actual value of each immigrant application.
Most migrants secure a visa through an employer-sponsored visa from a recognised Australian employer or through the General Skilled Migration Programme.
If your occupation is on the Skilled Occupation List, to qualify for a permanent residency visa, you will need to pass an IELTS English language test to prove your competency in English, take a health exam and provide a criminal background check.
Visa costs can vary but in general terms, total visa costs including government fees are approximately $10,000 Australian dollars for a family of four.
The cost of living in Australia is on a par with the UK and USA. Eating out is expensive in Australian cities and some places seem costlier than others like Sydney or Perth.
Buying cars in Australia is expensive with vehicles costing up to 20% more than if they’d been bought in the United Kingdom. Fuel is noticeably cheaper than most other countries. You’ll be paying nearly half what the British pay for their fuel.
Property prices in Australia have rocketed, in the past twenty years but recently have stabilised or even declined.
It has a comprehensive public health program. The Australian Government’s Medicare system is designed to give every resident free comprehensive healthcare coverage. Medicare covers 100 per cent of your healthcare bill when using the public hospitals, and provides on average 85% coverage for general practitioner (GP) fees, and 75% for certain specialised services. Private medical insurance is also an option to increase your health cover.
Australia provides free state schools to children as well as private schools which range in price from anything from $4,000 a year to $25,000 a year.
Australia has one of the highest number of public holiday days and the year-round good climate means people live a very outdoor lifestyle, visiting beaches or enjoying the national parks and of course it’s a country which is not very crowded. You’ll need to be prepared to travel long distances to visit towns and cities.
Australians are renowned for being very friendly and the pace of life is very laid back. You really should put Australia among one of the best countries to migrate to in 2017.
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