How I Moved from to Australia on a Sponsored Work Visa

The Finance Story

Do you want to move to Australia on a Sponsored Work Visa? 

It is true, getting sponsored is one of the best ways to get a job in Australia and can lead to immigration then citizenship.

Unfortunately, many people end up believing that sponsorship is impossible...It is tough but surely not impossible!

So how do you do it!?

In fact: In this article, Stalin Bikram Shahi shares with us his journey from Nepal to India to Australia (Melbourne) and the exact strategy he used to get an opportunity in PwC, Australia on a sponsored work visa. 

Stalin was born and raised in Nepal (Biratnagar).

He moved to India to become a Chartered Accountant from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). 

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant he joined KMPG (India) and worked there for 3 years before moving to PwC Australia (Melbourne).

Stalin is a qualified Chartered Accountant from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).

You can connect to him over LinkedIn at -  Stalin Bikram ShahiTo help our readers address their queries we have an FB group – The CA Story Community

My journey from Nepal to India

Accounting was an optional subject for my Board exams (class 10 exams are known as board exams).

However, since the Vice Principal of my school used to teach Accounts this optional subject was now made compulsory. Thus every student from class 8 onwards had to take Accounting.

I vividly remember to this day, after explaining to us the Golden Rules of Accounting, our teacher asked the entire class a journal entry and I was the only one who got it right. It is another story that I got the second entry wrong :).

So you can say my dream to become a Chartered Accountant (CA) began right after my first Accounts class in the 8th standard. However, I seriously contemplated pursuing CA at the end of Class 12.

After our internal exams and before the final examination of class 12, I along with my friends met our Accounts professor.

During our conversation, he looked at me with some kind of belief and told me to move to India (from Nepal) and pursue CA from ICAI.

It was like a final nail in the coffin and I made up my mind that I would be a Chartered Accountant.

Moving to India from Nepal is like moving from one Indian city to another. You don’t need a visa and there are no restrictions as such. In short, it is quite simple.

I finally moved to India from Nepal and pursued CA from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

Fast forward a couple of years later, I cleared CPT (1st level CA exam from ICAI) and IPCC (2nd level CA exams from ICAI) in my 1st attempt.

I was expecting to clear my CA Final exams in the 1st attempt however because of a few marks I could not clear the same.

Not clearing my CA Final exams (last level exam from ICAI) in the 1st attempt came as a rude shock to me!

I decided to get my answer sheets from The ICAI and was horrified with the way my papers had been checked.

I had been awarded minimal marks even though my answers were perfect.

I thought the marks awarded were bizarre and defied logic. But that was all I could do as there was no way I could challenge the results.

So, I picked myself up from there and started preparing all over again. Thankfully, I cleared my CA Final exams in my second attempt.

Recently, when I saw teachers and students alike protesting against ICAI’s paper checking and marking system, and the options available to the students to escalate things and get the issues resolved, I was all in with my support.

It is unfortunate that in this day and age students have limited options to voice their grievances with an Institute that advocates itself to be a pioneer in transparency.

Make no mistake, I take pride in being a member of such an esteemed organization, but it doesn’t mean you must support the Institute in everything it does. Especially when you believe it is an area which needs to be made more transparent.

JOINING KPMG AND QUALIFYING AS A CIA

When I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I found questioning myself - Okay, I am a CA now, what next?

I had spent 3 years of my articles doing Internal Audits, so I wanted to specialize in Internal Audit and Risk Management.

Also, I always wanted to move out of India. Thus, I decided to join one of the Big 4 Accounting firms and start from there.

One night I sent my resume to KPMG and the next day got a call for an interview. After 3 rounds of interview, I received an offer and joined them in October 2014.

The reason I wanted to join KPMG was that I knew someone who worked there and would always travel to different countries on international assignments.

And the funny part - I thought that everyone working at KPMG gets to travel on international assignments! However, later I got to know that it wasn’t the case.

Whatever you call it luck or desire, I was hired to be a part of a team which was working with a big client and involved frequent international travel.

I mostly traveled to countries in Africa like Kenya, Tanzania, Niger, Gabon, Zambia, and DRC.

I find working with people from different countries and background helpful as it enhances your people skills and gives you a different perspective of looking at things.

Everyone you meet along the way has their own life experiences and they end up teaching you something.

Also, working with a Big Accounting firm like KPMG at the start of my career had its own advantages.

The things I learned outweighed any financial incentive!

Yes, it was a lot of hard work and long working hours but all worth it.

I spent almost 3 years with Governance Risk and Compliance Services at KPMG.

During my tenure with KPMG, I made sure to focus on learning more than anything else.

The opportunities and exposure you get working with one of the Big 4 firms are unmatched. It boosts your confidence and ability to conduct and carry yourself.

By the end of 2016, having spent almost 3 years with KPMG, I thought it was the right time to start looking for opportunities outside of India.

I became a member of The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) a while back.

How to become a member of IIA?

  • To be a member of IIA you just need to find your local chapter and fill up an application form.
  • Being a member involves payment of annual membership fee.
  • I would suggest becoming a member when you have decided to sit for the exams as it will save you some bucks.
  • Finally, somewhere in 2016, I turned my attention on completing my Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification. I sat for my first paper in November 2016 and completed all three papers within 6 months.
  • I had purchased Gleim’s CIA review (study materials & practice questions) for preparation and found it extremely helpful.

APPLYING FOR VACANCIES ABROAD

I had already started applying for vacancies across the globe from December 2016 (after completing almost 3 years at KPMG as a CA).

I am not sure if my CIA designation made any difference but I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was being interviewed by companies outside India when my friends were not as lucky. However getting a specialized certification could definitely help to a certain extent.

If you see the vacancies in Risk Consulting domain, most of it will state that a CIA designation is preferred.

My priority, in the beginning, was to apply for vacancies in KPMG member firms (since I was working in KPMG back then) that is KPMG firms across the globe in different countries.

How did I apply to these firms? I mostly searched for opportunities on LinkedIn and applied from there. I also went to the websites of various firms and applied for the jobs posted there.

I appeared for a total of 6 interviews with different KPMG member firms in Europe and the Asia Pacific.

Being already employed with KPMG helped me get these interviews to some extent. However, the vacancies and member firms I applied to and the interview offers I received were very disproportionate.

Like I did well in the interviews and received good feedback, however, getting a job sponsorship seemed difficult.

Immigration policies, in general, have been made stringent across the globe and I sensed that companies seemed to prefer hiring candidates locally than getting someone from outside. So, I was prepared to be persistent in my job search.

I then began to apply to all the relevant vacancies within and outside consulting firms.

I gave a lot of interviews but unfortunately, the interviews were not generating concrete job offers. However, I was determined not to give up.

HOW I GOT AN OPPORTUNITY IN PWC MELBOURNE ON A SPONSORED WORK VISA?

In the meanwhile, in early to mid-2017, all of a sudden there was a mass movement of people from KPMG to Deloitte. Most of my friends whom I worked with left for Deloitte.

I had the opportunity to move to Deloitte but it did not make sense as my priorities were different.

Instead, I went ahead and got my skill assessed for Australian PR.

I started to inquire about the process of getting a Permanent Residency in Australia.

When my skill was assessed as positive in the Internal Auditor category, I abruptly resigned from KPMG and went back to Nepal (my home country) in September 2017.

I did question if it was the right move, but I was confident of getting a job in Nepal so I just backed myself on the move.

The idea was to work in Nepal for as long as it takes me to either get a job abroad or a PR in Australia.

I appeared for a number of interviews in Nepal and had few offers but I did not accept those offers.

At the same time in November 2017, after almost 400-500 job applications and 10-15 interviews, I finally received the offer I was waiting for from PwC Melbourne office.

They offered me to join The Risk Assurance practice. They were willing to sponsor me for 4 years on a work visa.

Getting an Australia PR takes on an average 6-12 months and I was not sure if I would have been able to accumulate the required points. So, accepting the offer was a no brainer.

I was happy but knew I would have to prove myself yet again!

My work visa was approved at end of May 2018 and I moved to Melbourne in June'18. I started office immediately as I was itching to get back to work.

I did not proceed with Australian PR so don’t have adequate information about it. I moved to Australia on a company sponsored work visa.

The experience with PwC has been fantastic, everything from the work environment, work culture, people etc.

I settled in quickly and easily than I thought. However, I never let myself forget the fact that I need to put in the effort to keep learning, keep moving and keep growing. It is what motivates me the most.

I have spoken to people who want to find opportunities in Australia and I always tell them to get some experience under your belt before you actually start looking and applying for jobs.

Any company would want candidates who can add some value to what they do. Having good experience and background is always beneficial especially when you have to compete with local talent.

HOW did I prepare FOR THE INTERVIEWS?

In terms of interviews, you do not actually need to prepare for them.

If you prepare well for the jobs and engagements you work on, know what you’re doing and are clear about the expectations from the job.  There can be nothing else which can prepare you better.

If you are on top of what you do, the confidence you will have oozes from you and people can observe that.

I think you can never fully prepare for interviews as the person in front of you could ask just anything.

The catch is not to be overconfident and always look out to learn and be receptive.

ABOUT SPONSORED WORK VISA

Getting a sponsored work visa is not easy at all. You have to compete against the local talent pool to get one!

Sponsoring someone comes with an additional cost to companies and thus getting a visa takes time too.

I would always recommend a PR visa if you can get the required points.

However, if you do brief research, you will find that people do get sponsored!

Getting a sponsored work visa to Australia is not impossible. So there is no harm in trying.

Having a good profile that matches the company's needs can help you with a sponsored work visa.

There is no formula for getting sponsorship or any exact way to apply. Just keep applying to the vacancies and hope for a response. That is all.

I would say build a good resume and just apply.

I have been getting messages where people ask me if I can help get sponsorship. The answer is no. I cannot help you.

The only way I can help you is by sharing what I know.

Maybe doing a bit of research about how sponsorship works, which are the companies that sponsor etc. will help you greatly in applying for a sponsored work visa in Australia.

TO CONCLUDE...

Ultimately, you need to have some sort of a career plan.

It does not have to be detailed and rigid but knowing what you want to do or where you want to be and a broad outlook on how you are going to execute the plan definitely helps.

If you have a plan, you will come up with some milestones and bit by bit and step by step, every milestone will take you closer to your ultimate goal.

However, in the midst of all this, don’t forget to live your life. Enjoy each day doing what you like.

Never forget that your career is only a part of your life and not your life.

Everyone’s life experiences are as unique as a fingerprint, so just relax and life will take you to places.

Pull up your socks, dare to dream and dream big.

Challenge yourself every day that your achievements in life should not surprise you.

Carpe Diem!

Now it's your turn!!!!

I’d like to hear from you:

Have you ever considered moving to Australia on a Sponsored Visa (and not PR Visa)?

Or maybe you have a question about something you read.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

If you have a specific question for Stalin comment below and I will connect you to him for sure ?

Also, subscribe and connect to me at thecastory@gmail.com.

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