In continuing with our series, top 10 reasons to settle in Australia, today I will provide you 12 reasons today (more is better!) why you should consider Australia over USA. Both these countries are first world countries and the living standard is one of the best in the world. If you have the opportunity, you can choose any of the two any day.
I lived major part of my life in India and then moved to USA. I spent seven years of my prime working days in USA and being stuck there in visa maze, I decided it was time to move on. If I had gotten my green card there, I would have not thought of other options. USA has their own visa system in which they assign visa date based on the country of birth of the applicant (not country of passport). Also there are different employment categories for different countries. Look at the table below and try to understand (if you can!).
USCIS Visa Bulletin for November 2016
The above table is for final action on visa application. They issue another table which is called ‘dates for filing visa applications (employment).’ Try to make sense of their visa system which is so ancient that even dinosaurs extinction seems recent! President Obama wanted to bring new immigration legislation within 100 days of his Presidency to replace their ‘unfair and archaic migration system.’ Here we are after 8 years of Mr. Obama’s presidency and USA has not moved an inch towards modernising their visa system. It’s best that I do not discuss the nominees for the next President of the great USA.
I have seen many Indians being stuck on H1b visas in USA for more than a decade. What it means is that they are stuck with an employer who knows that it is very difficult to get a new H1b visa if they try to change the employer. Also, their green card may get jeopardised in the process of changing jobs, so the majority don’t change their jobs. Employers take advantage of their situation and exploit them by under-paying in terms of salary and in so many other ways that a whole new blog can be written without covering even a small portion of the issues involved. I also know many Indians who have not visited their home country in decades fearing that their visas may get denied in India.
The USA embassy in India did deny many visas after the 2008 global financial crisis for Indians who had lived in USA for years on H1b visas. They had even bought homes and cars there. This is a very difficult situation for any person and it’s really shocking because they had kids who were born in USA and hence, these kids are USA citizens. This is a very complex subject-matter, so I will not go further and come back to the topic but if you have questions/comments, post below and I will try to answer them to best of my knowledge.
Without any further ado, let’s start the reasons for choosing Australia over USA.
- First of all, from our discussion above, getting permanent residency in Australia is like a walk in the park if you are qualified, your skills are needed here and you fulfil their criteria. What about USA? Even if you fall in the above category, USA will make you jump through so many hoops and make you wait for at least a decade that I personally find it worthless. Reason? You lose so much in personal and professional life that you regret after 20 years. Don’t get me wrong, if you get green card quickly then you can set up your own business or change jobs easily and you can really achieve success in your chosen field. Otherwise, good luck! You are stuck with blood -sucking employers.
- International students have pathway to getting permanent residency in Australia as you are rewarded a minimum 5 points towards the total 60 points needed, if you meet their conditions. You are also free to work in any job if you are studying in Australia but in USA first you have to find job at the campus you are studying at, which is next to impossible. If not, then find work outside campus but in a field related to your studies. Again, very unlikely. End result? International students work illegally for cash with gas stations, convenience stores etc. getting paid in cash. Again, employers take advantage of their vulnerable situation and hugely underpay them. Oh, and what about green card after studies? Well, you have some advantage over H1b allocation every year but nothing towards green card!
- Australia has mandated four weeks of paid annual leave whereas USA is the only developed (OECD) country where the employees are left at the mercy of their employers to negotiate the annual leave. Some shift workers like nurses get six weeks in Australia but the average annual leave for high earners in USA is two weeks.
- The same issue with the medical leave: Australia has mandated 10 days of sick leave every year but USA has got zero, zilch, nada! You are not allowed to get sick there!
- Number of deaths in gun violence in USA in 2014: 12,594 and in Australia: 230! Agreed that the USA population is more than ten times that of Australia but still there is a huge difference here. Australia banned guns after Port Arthur massacre of 1996 but Mr. Obama even though he tried (and is still trying) couldn’t even implement simple background checks for all gun buyers even after Sandy Hook Elementary shooting where 20 children were killed (aged 6 to 7 years) on December 14, 2012.
- College education is cheaper when compared to USA. It’s getting expensive every year here too but still if you will have university going kids Australia makes more sense. But remember, USA universities are the best in the world and Australian universities featuring only in top 50/100.
- Australians are more laid-back than Americans, so if you want to have more relaxed lifestyle, Australia is the way to go. Nobody is responds to official matters on weekends in Australia but in USA your employer expects that from you.
- The national minimum wage in Australia currently is $17.70 per hour whereas the federal minimum wage in USA is $7.25 per hour. This is the basic reason why there are more beggars, homeless people in USA. Australia is more egalitarian than the US and Australians are able to live with ambiguity more than Americans are.
- Australian employers have to contribute a minimum of 9.25% of your salary in ‘super’ contribution. This is like provident fund in India. In USA they are not required to contribute anything in your ‘401k’ (retirement fund), but some employers do match employees contribution which can be 3% to 6%. But again, that is not mandated. It means that if you retire in Australia you will have a bigger retirement fund, guaranteeing peace of mind. Did I mention that you are also eligible for pension if you pass the asset test which excludes your primary residence and approximately $8ook in other assets?
- Peace of mind is the central theme when you live and retire in Australia. Medicare is free in Australia (you do contribute 1.5% of salary) whereas in USA if you are working class (as most of us immigrants are), you have to buy private insurance. The monthly premium depends on your medical condition and family size and you are subject to deductibles and out of pocket expenses. You get the point, I hope. Thousands of Americans declare bankruptcy because they cannot afford medical bills. Insurance companies find ways to not pay your bills and you are excluded from coverage if you have pre-existing conditions.
- If you love cricket, of course you will choose Australia any day! Australians love sports and love to be outdoors as the weather allows them to be. Did I mention the weather year around is great?
- If you would like to spend less time in a metal tube at 35,000 feet above sea level travelling to your country of destination, you will definitely choose Australia if travelling from Indian subcontinent. I definitely feel to get out of the airplane after a very short time in flight! But that’s me!
Australians have a unique sense of humour and if they are teasing you, it’s most probably that they like you and if you play along and respond in the same humorous way, they will become your mates for life. Remember, Australia is more expensive particularly homes, cars etc. but that has still not hampered its growth in the last 25 years. Australia is called a ‘lucky’ country and growing at a steady rate.
When it comes to choosing a country where you want to settle and retire, it all depends on your priorities and unique situation. It is a personal choice and you have to take that decision. My work is to provide you some relevant facts so that you start thinking. The purpose of this is to start a conversation so that we all benefit from this. This is my viewpoint based on my personal circumstances and I am not claiming it will be 100% accurate or right for you.
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