By Fang Tian, Uglobal Immigration Magazine Staff
When Cecillia Cheah was running her automotive lubricant manufacturing company with her husband in Malaysia, she was working most of the time. She barely had time for her three daughters, and when the eldest of them left Malaysia to attend college in the U.K., Cheah realized that she had missed out on a large part of her childhood. She decided to make a change.
In the spirit of being more involved with her children, she began a journey to move to Australia using the country’s 188 visa, which is Australia’s provisional business innovation and investment visa. In addition to the country’s high standard of living and world-class education system, Cheah liked the country’s warm weather and its proximity to her native Malaysia, especially when compared to farther immigration destinations like the United States and Canada.
A NEW LIFE “DOWN UNDER”
Now living in Melbourne with all three of her daughters, Cheah said she appreciates every minute with them. She has plenty of time to cook for them, talk to them about their days at work and at school, or simply be there for them.
“I’m very happy here because I don’t feel as stressed as in Malaysia,” Cheah said, “and I have more time to spend with my children.”
To fulfill the requirements as a 188 visa holder, she operates a boutique pet grooming shop in Mornington, a seaside town about 20 minutes from Melbourne. The 188 visa allows applicants with management experience and a minimum net worth of $800,000 Australian dollars to run a business in Australia, she said. If the business manages to achieve an annual turnover of $300,000, the applicant is eligible to apply for permanent residency.
Fortunately for Cheah, profitability hasn’t been an issue. Her shop, which opened in October 2017, has already accomplished annual sales of more than $500,000. She is preparing her permanent residency application and feels confident about the outcome.
“The business is very good,” Cheah said. “I want to continue running it after I get permanent residency.”
When her Australian migration journey started, Cheah wasn’t as confident, however. She felt that running her own business as a new immigrant in a new country was a daunting proposition. That’s why she initially submitted her 188 visa application through a passive investment route. But her petition was rejected because she didn’t meet the net worth threshold.
Thankfully, Cheah received advice from Global Migration Solutions, a Malaysia-based migration agency. With their help, she restructured her investment proposal and hired a consultancy with Australian business experience. The consultancy helped her identify profitable opportunities and manage a business, minimizing her own risks of failure.
Cheah’s second 188 visa application, using the business innovation stream option, was approved within seven months.
“I was quite happy but also surprised that my application got approved this fast,” Cheah said. “The applications of some of my friends took over a year to process.”
BUILDING A FUTURE IN AUSTRALIA
To fulfill the physical presence requirements of the 188 visa, Cheah currently spends most of her time in Melbourne supervising the grooming shop. She returns to Malaysia every now and then to help her husband with their business.
She is actively learning the business culture of Australia as well. She attends weekly meetings with advisors from the consultancy to discuss the management and strategies of her shop. When ready, she plans to operate this business completely on her own.
Cheah said her three daughters, ages 27, 22 and 16, are very satisfied with their new lives in Australia. Her eldest has graduated from the University of Manchester and started her career at an event management company in Melbourne. She is grateful that she doesn’t have to look for jobs in Malaysia, where the job market is highly competitive while wages are low.
Her other two daughters, both attending college in Melbourne, also forsee better career opportunities for themselves, thanks to the high-quality educational resources they enjoy in Australia. As 188 visa holders, they have greater flexibility in Australia’s job market. If they were international students, they would have been be forced to leave Australia if they couldn’t find a job within six months of graduation, Cheah said. Finding a job is often a difficult task, because most companies don’t employ non-resident candidates or sponsor their work permits.
“If you are not a 188 visa holder, you will have very limited choices,” Cheah said, “but we don’t need to worry about this anymore.”
Cheah is also spreading the word among her friends, trying to correct their misunderstandings about Australia. She said many of them are intrigued but concerned about the slow pace of life here.
“I told them, ‘Don’t listen to people who say it’s boring here,’” Cheah said. “It’s not! In Australia, your life becomes quieter, healthier and longer. I don’t regret choosing it.”
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