Patience is a Virtue Apparently

For me, I think not so much but I am trying to become more patient.

In addition to still having no idea what the Aussie means when he describes a surprise for me as being “a bird with big feet” I am currently waiting for Immigration to process our visa application which was submitted in July and now for a university to decide whether to offer me a place to study the subjects required to qualify as a Solicitor in Australia as well as the UK.

The waiting time for processing the visa we have applied for is according to the Immigration website, 6 months from receipt. To be fair to Immigration, we did apply with only minimal documents at the end of July because my previous Visa expired in August. We submitted the rest of the documents that they need at the end of October so I am counting the 6 months period from October and will hopefully be pleasantly surprised when they process it earlier than that.

The frustrating thing about the Visa application process is that on the website you just receive a message that says that the application is being processed and someone will be in contact soon! I think it would be much more helpful to allocate it to a Case Officer and for that Case Officer to contact you and say, yep I have your application and I am processing it but its taking X number of months to process your kind of Visa so you won’t hear from me until at least then.

I’ve heard that the fact you haven’t heard anything is probably a good thing, but not for someone with no patience of course!!

a quiet study

I have also this week finally got around to submitting an application to begin studying again at University. It’s taken a while to get going because I had some questions and then when I received the answers more questions (trust a Lawyer to be that way inclined right?) for them as I am classed as an International Student currently.

I applied yesterday and was almost immediately told some of the documents I had tried to upload had not uploaded so sent them and now I have to wait and try and be patient whilst trying to remember I actually have to do the studying once I am offered a place 🙂

Study study.

Are we Nearly There Yet?

It’s been a while since I did a visa update but I think we might finally be on the final straight for this visa business and it reminds me of when your a child on a journey and keep asking your parents “are we nearly there?”.

We have gathered the following “evidence” to be submitted:

1) Statutory declarations from friends and families with just a couple outstanding;
2) Copies of emails, text messages, Skype and phone chat logs;
3) Evidence of our travels together;
4) Evidence of employment;
5) Bank statements, receipts, tickets as evidence of joint finances;
6) Certified copies of my passport and driving licence;
7) Proof we live in the same address – which is hard to do as we don’t get post to the home address but our PO Box address but we have evidence the post goes to the same place;
8) Copies of cards, letters and emails to and from friends when we discuss my moving to and being in Australia with the Aussie

Now we just have to do the following:

1) Finish our statutory declarations and get them certified/witnessed;
2) Get the Aussie’s passport and driving licence certified;
3) Wait for the outcome of my UK police check;
4) Wait for the outcome of the Aussie’s police check for Australia;
5) Finish filling out my application form;
6) Fill out a form which asks for everything I have done for the last 30 odd years including where I have traveled outside Australia, education and worked (seriously!).

I have tried to think of everything possible to support the application and sometimes think we have gone over the top but then I think is it better to give them more than they need so they don’t end up needing more from us so the process is smoother?

I think we will then be done if we can just get these last few bits finished off this week. Then it will be a case of submitting the application, being granted the bridging visa (hopefully) and waiting.

I do still wonder whether we should have used a Migration Expert but with the cost of the visa being so high we really wanted to avoid that cost. I’m hoping we do have everything together finally. Has anyone else used a migration expert for this process? What was your experience?

One of my friends in Darwin said to me that I should just write in my statutory declaration that I live in a house in the middle of nowhere with an outside toilet and shower, why would I do that if we weren’t serious!! I think she has a good point 😉 Not sure that’s what immigration is looking for though.

Piles-of-paperwork-002

*** Please note that I am in no way giving visa or legal advice about applying for visa’s in Australia or anywhere else – this is just what I have found and is only relevant to our situation ***

Grateful Heart Monday Part Two

The Grateful Heart Monday event is run by Emily of Ember Grey and today I wanted to post about how grateful that I am that my family and friends both in the UK and Australia have taken the time to help us with this damn visa application (it gets called various insults these days as it’s taking so long to get everything together).

Whilst we float along on a bubble of, maybe we’ll be ready next week and then another week passes they have been writing statutory declarations about me and us as a couple to help support our application. As I have mentioned before we have to prove we have been in a serious relation for more than 12 months and that we are a genuine couple so these statutory declarations are so so helpful.

I can imagine how hard it must be to write them as well, when doing so and having my application accepted, means I will be staying in Australia beyond August this year but they have done it and written such lovely things I have felt extremely touched.

So I am grateful for their help and also want to say thank you as it means the world to me.

Ember Grey

Visa Update – Evidence

We’re having a break from filling out the forms for the visa and this weekend I’ve been concentrating on gathering the evidence we need to demonstrate that we are in a genuine relationship and that we’ve been together more than 12 months.

So this weekend I have been looking through all of our photos to find the photos we have taken together. These are the photos from his visits to the UK, mine to Australia and then since I arrived last August which were quite a lot as I take heaps of photos!! I’ve found about 20 showing the various stages of our relationship and saved them all in to one document that can be uploaded/turned in to a PDF.

I’ve also been taking screenshots of our What’s app conversations, Skype calls (I just discovered that Skype only save them for 6 months so it’s best to keep these records if your planning on doing the same kind of application – although the Aussie has managed to find a way round this – no idea how but can ask if needed by anyone), phone call logs since I have been in Australia (it looks like the iPhone call logs aren’t that great either and I can’t go back before then without a 3rd party application or website).

I also wanted screenshots of a sample of text messages since we got together to show we weren’t just dating but were in a relationship. This proved difficult on the phone itself as the iPhone is very slow at displaying old texts and you have to do them in blocks of messages. I did some research and found some downloadable programs that find your backed up texts on your computer and displays them for you to save as a PDF if you want (at a charge). I didn’t want them all so took screenshots of the messages I wanted.

I might take screenshots of all references to Australia and the Aussie from Facebook maybe if they are easy to find.

I also thought it would be helpful to get my phone bills as I used to have to pay to send text messages to the Aussie so they are all on there but they only keep them online for 2 years so I’m going to have to get them to send the others to my family so they can send them to me.

I will also be trying to arrange to print all emails we have sent to each other and relating to our travelling together. I’ve flagged the ones I want up and its over 150 so that’s going to be fun to print! I think probably we just need a sample so I will go through them and select a few.

I’ve also read it might be helpful to show emails, texts etc where I refer to the Aussie and our living arrangements so I think I will probably screenshot/print those as well.

I’m not sure if I am going overboard or there is more we need to demonstrate our relationship but this is all I can think of at the moment so hopefully it will be ok.

All in all I feel like this when it comes to the computer!

woman asleep on computer (Small)
(Image from here)

*** Please note that I am in no way giving visa or legal advice about applying for visa’s in Australia or anywhere else – this is just what I have found and is only relevant to our situation ***

Visa Update

Sooo this visa process is flipping complicated. I honestly don’t know how we would manage it on our own if I was not legally qualified and bearing in mind my experience is more along the lines of employment law I really know zilch about immigration law. I guess we would have to pay a Migration Agent or Lawyer which is totally understandable as we go through this process.

I have made the local immigration office my second home as I am always popping in to ask questions where I can’t find the answer from the Immigration Website or all of the super helpful forums for people going through the same process.

We are applying for the Onshore De Factor Partner Visa which is subclass 820 and 801 and means that I apply and the Aussie sponsors me to stay. When you submit the forms, which can be done online and the supporting evidence (or as much as you have to hand with confirmation of what else you will be sending) my understanding is that you get issued a bridging visa, we will see when the application gets submitted.

This bridging visa continues with the same conditions of the visa you are already on (I think) and so in August when my Working Holiday Visa (sub class 417 ends) I will go on to a bridging visa on the same conditions (including the working restriction).

So, so far I have managed to arrange my Australian Police check as you need a Police check for every country you have lived in for more than 12 months. This came back last week and apparently I am not of dodgy character, phew!

The Aussie will also have to apply for this, once we locate his passport, as he is sponsering me.

The process was really quick. I applied online by filling in the form, downloading, printing, signing and uploading it along with 100 points of ID (passport, medicare and bank card) and paid the $42 fee.

That was on a Sunday and on the Monday I had received an email confirming my certificate had been printed and by Friday it was sitting in the mail box for me.

Next up I have to sort out the forms and all the documents for my UK police checks. I also need to start printing all of the evidence to demonstrate our relationship as well as finish off writing our statutory declarations and filling in all of the forms.

*** Please note that I am in no way giving visa or legal advice about applying for visa’s in Australia or anywhere else – this is just what I have found and is only relevant to our situation ***

Life Juggling

There is a certain degree of juggling going on in my life at the moment. Between keeping in touch with family and friends in the UK, blogging, job hunting, visa application stuff and of course spending time with the Aussie I feel like there are a lot of “balls in the air” at the moment but it is worth it.

As you know I finished working for the company where I had worked for about 5 months last week. I have a job lined up to start but not for a few weeks so I thought I would try and find something temporary for a few weeks to get out of the house, earn some money and of course spend time in the air conditioning.

Sadly it appears that it is not meant to be as even with my criterion being only administration work in an office for 2 to 3 weeks there just isn’t anything around, even with my amazing recruitment consultant who found me my last job literally in 24 hours after I joined.

I’m filling the time as best as I can but there is only so many movies you can watch and so much window shopping you can do. Today i’m meeting up with my friends for lunch and quite looking forward to it.

Visa and Passport
(Image from here)

This break in work does also give me/us the opportunity to start getting things together for a visa application.

We have decided to apply for the Onshore De Facto Partner visa (subclass 820 and 801) which will mean that I am able to remain in Australia after my working holiday visa expires in August and also visit the UK for my friends wedding in September and for Christmas with my family.

This is by no means an easy decision and I know it has been tough on my family and friends when I told them that I was going to apply for the visa and remain in Australia but they have all been amazing and so so supportive which makes me feel truly blessed to have such wonderful family and friends back home.

The visa process is so confusing and very involved, the Aussie thinks I am joking when I grab the receipts for dinner etc from the keypad thing but it is needed.

I sometimes think that I am a Lawyer but I have had to visit the Immigration Office in Darwin numerous times to check things or ask our questions so I can totally understand why people use migration agents to help them even with the expense. I’m determined to do this by ourselves with a little help from Immigration, the visa website in Australia and the many many online forums where you can speak to people and ask your questions or find the answers because someone else has answered it.

After quite a bit of research I have made a list/table of each aspect of our application and what we need to provide to Immigration with our application forms.

We have to prove that we are in a genuine relationship which includes:
♦ LOTs of statutory declarations from our friends and families that they are currently writing for us as well as our own;
♦ That we have lived together for more than a year (or been in a serious relationship for more than a year);
♦ How we support each other financially, emotionally etc;
♦ That we or particularly me are of good character through Police checks; and
♦ I will eventually have to have a medical to show i’m healthy and won’t require lots of medical treatment.

I suspect that this is going to cost us a fortune in printing and scanning costs before we even get to the fee for the visa, police checks and medical but I think it will all be worth it!

I’ll try and keep you updated on my visa application as it progresses but we are hopeful it will be submitted within the next few weeks, fingers crossed.

Forums I have found helpful (although you should always refer to the Immi website and/or the Immigration Department)
Poms In Oz
Australia Forum
Expat Forum

*** Please note that I am in no way giving visa or legal advice about applying for visa’s in Australia or anywhere else – this is just what I have found and is only relevant to our situation ***

Useful Things I’ve Discovered about Australia and my Visa

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The sister of one of my friends messaged me to ask about my working holiday visa (visa 417) as she is thinking of applying for one here.

I’ve also had a few people asking me about how things work in Australia for someone on a visa so I thought I might just go through some of the questions I have been asked as well as a few things I have thought about that are helpful. I am by no means an expert and certainly not an immigration expert but these are the things I learnt, sometimes the hard way when I arrived. If you need more specialst advice you should contact immigration etc!

I applied for the Working Holiday Visa which lasts for a year (it can be renewed for a second year as well in some circumstances) and this entitles you to work for six months for any one employer and also study for up to 12 weeks so is very handy for getting your way around Australia. A handy key fact sheet is here. I tried to find out how much you need in your account when you arrive but I couldn’t find that bit. I think when I got here it was between $4,000 and $5,000.

Medicare
This is like the NHS in the UK as it will pay for medical treatment costs. Some people have Medicare and private health cover and some have just medicare. Here is a link I found explaining what is and is not covered.

I discovered whilst doing some research that there is a reciprocal health agreement between some Countries and Australia so you are entitled to apply for a medicare card if you have a passport from those countries.

I applied for a card by visiting my local Medicare Office (they are in all sorts of places including shopping malls so fairly easy to find) filling in the form and then providing proof of my ID with my driving licence, passport (you will need this all the time when you first arrive) and visa details.

Now the first time I tried to register for a card I was told off because I had been in Australia for more than 2 weeks and so they for some reason couldn’t just accept my visa stamp in my passport. They sent me off to immigration, who shook their heads in wonder about why I had been sent there and then printed me off the original visa letter I had confirming when I was entitled to stay in Australia.

The whole process went smoothly from then, other than when they spelt my name as Vistoria rather than Victoria. It’s an easy mistake to make!

Going to the Doctor was easy, you can seemingly go to any Doctor, although I have heard that they like you to stick to one really, make an appointment and then just pop along with your Medicare card and be seen by a Doctor. The surgery had to check I was entitled to treatment with Medicare but it was all very straightforward.

It’s useful to know that there are Doctors here who do bulk billing where they invoice Medicare direct and get paid for seeing you. There are also some surgeries where you pay the Doctor for the appointment and claim it back which I have heard can be a hassle. I’ve also heard that some Doctors charge more than you can claim back (about $90) and so you end up out of pocket. I haven’t experienced that but that is what I have been told.

There seems to be lots of bulk billing places around so should be easy to find.

Tax File Number
This is crucial if you plan to work as, you can work without one but then you pay higher tax and have to claim it back etc. I applied online here and it took about 2 weeks to arrive. I just filled in my details and visa/passport details and they sent it straight through.

Then when you start work you give them the number and they set everything up for when you get paid. It also links to the Superannuation (like a pension) which everyone has. With the click of a few buttons it was all sorted out.

Banks
I found opening a bank account relatively easy to do. I just looked around for the migrant bank accounts each bank offered, applied online with my visa details and then received confirmation online shortly afterwards by email. They then ask you to make an appointment to go down and show them your passport and visa and arrange for your card to arrive. I tried doing this by email before I arrived but it became very convoluted so I just turned up at the bank one day (ok two as the first time I forgot my passport) and they opened the account for me.

My problem was I applied had applied for the account to soon before I arrived in Australia, so the bank in Darwin had returned my card to the main bank. They quickly sent a new one direct to my PO Box and it took about a week (probably not helped by living in the rural area so everything takes much longer).

I have found its a bit inconvenient not having an Australia credit card here, especially to buy things online as the bank card I have is not a debit card like we have in the UK. If you use foreign cards here you attract the charges as well so its a bit of a pain, especially when you want to do something like book a cinema ticket.

Paypal works but I didn’t want it running from my UK bank account and I was eventually able to set up an Australian account but as I don’t have a credit card that means I have to transfer money from my bank to Paypal account in advance to pay for things, unless I am doing something wrong.

I have now just applied for a pre pay credit card and when it arrives will give that a go.

Travel Insurance
I thought I would just be able to buy a travel insurance policy which would last me for a year and I would be fine. However when I read the small print I found that these actually limit the length of the trips that you take in that year. I did some research and found that gap year insurance was the best deal for me as it has good coverage and you can use it if you venture farther afield as well depending on the level of cover.

My policy cost me about £300 in total and was easy to set up as there are lots of comparison sites like this one.

PO Boxes
As I mentioned before we use PO Boxes here as lots of places don’t have street delivery.

There are lots of places around where you can apply for a PO Box and then its really easy to use but you have to have proof of your address in Australia, usually via your Australian driving licence which is tricky. If you can prove that then its just a case of filling in another form and they give you a key for the box.

Lots of information there and I hope some of it was useful! To break up the text here is a picture of a kangaroo from my garden

Kangaroo