Visa Dramas: Chapter 2: “Femke migrating to Oz”

Well it has been a while since I have updated the old blog. So lets see what’s been happening Visa wise.

As you all know Visa Dramas: Chapter 1: “Matt staying in Holland” ended badly with me having to leave the country due to some stupid stupid Visa conditions.

So instead of Femke and I working and travelling around Europe for the next year or 2, we are having to skip that and go straight to the next stage which was to get Femke to migrate to Australia to live with me in sunny Brisbane.

At the ending of Chapter 1, I had this following high level list for getting Femke to Australia.

After several chats with immigration,  we both formulated the following basic (high level) plan :

  1. Matt will fly back to Australia. Femke will stay in Holland and continue work at her current job.
  2. Matt will need to get a job in Brisbane.
  3. Once I have a job we will finalise all the paperwork required. I will have to send “certified copies” of papers and general copies and forms to Holland.
  4. Fem needs to call the German Australian Embassy in Berlin to arrange an appointment (Netherlands has an Australian Embassy but they don’t have Visa capabilities – sigh)
  5. Fem goes to the appointment with all the papers. If everything is in order, then she will be granted a temporary spouse visa that same day. This is valid for 2 years.
  6. Fem organises and executes her move to Australia!
  7. After 2 years, we supply additional paperwork to immigration for that period to show us still being together etc and the temporary visa is upgraded to a permanent spouse visa.

Step 1.

Well, this step was pretty easy. There was some drama though. 😛

Step 2.

The first thing I needed once I returned was a job. Thanks to good timing and my previous work history I was able to secure a permanent role working for EDS/HP with the Bank of Queensland being our client.  I have now been working there for the last 3 weeks, and it’s going well so far.

Step 3.

So with the job established and finally some income to refill my depleted coffers, it was on to step 3 which is to go through all the paperwork that is needed for a Spouse Visa. Femke is collecting papers she needs. I am collecting papers from my end and then I will have to send them to Femke.

My list of papers, while daunting, is not too hard to get. They are basically:

  • Main Form of sponsorship from immigration
  • Proof of who I am
  • Proof of Australian citizenship
  • Proof of work and income for the last 2 years
  • Proof that Femke and I are in a relationship
  • Statutory Declarations (stat dec) from other witnesses (friends/family)  who can state and verify that Femke and I have been in a relationship.

Of course for each point listed above they break down to several different forms as well, but I don’t want to bore you with the extreme details. A lot of the papers need to be copy certified by Justices of the Peace (or equivalent) so I have been finding out a lot about them recently!

The stat decs took the longest to accumulate and I got the final one last night. I am very grateful to my father, Eva, Kasia and Allison for all their effort to help us out there.

Pending some copy certified tax papers which should be arriving this week, I will have all the documentation needed to send to Femke. I am hopeful of sending off all my papers to her this week sometime. Of course this package will be registered and with full tracking to ensure it never gets lost!!

So with my paperwork sorted out, lets look at what Femke has been doing.

She needs to supply similar items as per my list above, but also with:

  • Police check
  • Health checks

Femke has completed the health checks, no dramas there. But the police checks are proving to be an issue.

The requirement for the Police checks states: you will need a police check for every country you have stayed in for 12 months or more, within the last 10 years.

Now for most people that would just be a police check from their own country. Something not too difficult to get. But since Femke has travelled a lot in the last 10 years, this means she will need to get police checks from Holland, Australia, New Zealand and China! Yikes.

The Dutch check has already been completed. The Australian and New Zealand checks have been processed in the mail and we just need to wait for them to be sent back to Holland. (they are expected in about 1 or 2 weeks from now). So far so good…

However the China check is proving difficult. There is no way to request a police check via mail or internet, in fact, the only way is either to go there in person or get an authorised person to do it on behalf. Double Yikes!

Femke has been in touch with her employer at the horse school where she worked to see if they can help us out. Luckily they have agreed to help us! Phew! We were indeed very grateful! We are now just working out the details for how to process and handle it all. Our worry is that it’s going to be a time consuming process. Fingers crosses we get a speedy resolution to it all!

So our initial high level plan looks like this as of today:

  1. Matt will fly back to Australia. Femke will stay in Holland and continue work at her current job.
  2. Matt will need to get a job in Brisbane.
  3. Once I have a job we will finalise all the paperwork required. I will have to send “certified copies” of papers and general copies and forms to Holland.  – in progress
  4. Fem needs to call the German Australian Embassy in Berlin to arrange an appointment (Netherlands has an Australian Embassy but they don’t have Visa capabilities – sigh)
  5. Fem goes to the appointment with all the papers. If everything is in order, then she will be granted a temporary spouse visa that same day. This is valid for 2 years.
  6. Fem organises and executes her move to Australia!
  7. After 2 years, we supply additional paperwork to immigration for that period to show us still being together etc and the temporary visa is upgraded to a permanent spouse visa.

Stay tuned for the next part of Chapter 2! 🙂

Journey back to Australia

I am now back in Australia.

I am glad to be back, but I just wish it was under better circumstances and that Femke was with me. 🙁

After a great weekend at Scheveningen, sadly it was time to go. 🙁

On Sunday the 1st of Feb, we all drove out to Amsterdam airport. After checking in the bags we had a final lunch at the airport. Fem and I spent some time together at the lookup at the airport when it started to snow lightly. It was like Holland was saying farewell.

We met up with her parents again and we all had a tearful goodbye. I then went through customs and eventually I was on the plane to Bangkok. We left about 2:30pm Amsterdam time.

This first leg of the journey was 10 hours and I was in a comfortable seat. I could not really see the main TV screen which ended up showing chick flicks back to back (including the movie “The Women” where Meg Ryan has interestingly almost completed her metamorphous into the Joker from Batman), so I spent most of the time reading.

We arrived in Bangkok and then had to wait about 1 hour before the transfer to Taipei. Then it was another 3.5 hours to Taipei. I was in the same comfortable seat and the seat next to me was vacant. Yes! So I enjoyed that part of the flight as well.

We arrived in Taipei and I confirmed that I had an exit row seat on the isle for the final leg, and then had to kill time for 9 hours. I walked around the Terminal 2 and had some Subway. It was nice to see that Subway’s order to put as little food on the subs as humanly possible was a global one. I was going to object to the 2 tiny strips of lettuce that was put on my foot long sub, but decided not to out of pure apathy.

There were some free internet terminals so I was able to check my emails on there. My internal body clock was now at 5am in the morning and I started to get very very tired. I didn’t want to go to sleep on the couches in the main concourse as that meant someone could steal my bags or put something in them. So I decided to go up to the Evergreen Hotel and paid about $AU80 for a room for 5 hours. I went into a deep sleep which was very good.

Thankfully I woke up in time and freshened up and went down to wait for the plane.

I boarded the plane and went to sit in my seat and realised immediately that I could not fit properly width wise.

“WTF?” I thought. I had come over on this same plane when I had first come to the Netherlands and I was fine? I asked the air stewardess if I could change seats and she said the plane was full.

“Oh… so what can I do?” I responded.

“Just stay in your seat for take off and we’ll sort it out in the air”

So for the next 30 mins I was very uncomfortably crushed into this damn seat. Once the plane levelled out, I took of the seat belt and just stood there reading a magazine. After a little while a stewardess approached me and said that no-one in the isle rows wanted to swap. I remember thinking “You have asked everyone? Hmmm I don’t think so”. I said that I was been sitting on the seats on the other side of the isle on the way to Europe without a drama. We asked the passenger there to get up while I tried his seat and I realised I fit ok in that one. “ahh so I just need to be in this seat.”

But the fool didn’t want to swap with me. I didn’t catch his reason. I think it might have been something like “Because I am a stupid moron”.

We checked with the other passenger on the other isle seat and he didn’t want to swap either. “Sigh”.

I said how about I just sit on the floor in the emergency row where there was a lot of room? Not ideal, but way better that my initial seat. This lasted for about 15 mins before the head stewardess came over and said I had to move as I was blocking the exit row. I was starting to get annoyed now.

“So where can I sit?”
”How about your seat?”
”I don’t fit there.”
“I’m sorry but there is no-where else, try sitting on the edge of the seat.”
“I would rather just stay here, I’m not in the way.”
“I’m sorry sir, but that’s against the rules.”

I eventually relented and tried sitting on the seat edge and that was also very uncomfortable. I tried to alternate between standing up and sitting on the edge of the seat. I could see this was not going to work too well either.

I started getting desperate and I began to think “Hmm this is a early morning flight, most people will be asleep soon so maybe I’ll just sit in the toilet they had from time to time.”

After one hour after take off, I got a tap on my shoulder. There were two American twin girls of Indian appearance. They had been watching this whole thing for a while and they were frowning.

“They can’t treat you like this!”
“I know! but what can I do? I know I’m a big guy but this is just horseshit.”
“Can’t they find someone to swap with you?”
“They said they have asked people. But I don’t think so.”
”Ahh that’s crap. We’ll ask around!”

So these girls then asked some people on the isles if they wanted to swap. The first two said no, but the girl directly behind eventually agreed after a lot of persuading.

Ahh a breakthrough at last.

So we swapped and I was able to put up the arm rest to be seated in relative comfort. My leg room was not the best, but I was able to just fit in. I was then sitting directly next to the two Americans. I gave them my deepest thanks for their efforts, they said they would have gone all around the plane if they needed to. This brought a big smile on my face and my respect for yanks went up one notch.

They both then went soundly asleep and while I was awake after my 5 hour rest at the Evergreen Hotel so I just watched 3 movies back to back to pass the time.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. We landed in Brisbane 9 hours later.

The total flight time was 22.5 hours, but I was now back home.

My mother was there to greet me at the airport and so was the now infamous Brisbane heat and humidity. I was very glad to see my mother again, but not too glad to experience the humidity!

I am back.

Back in Australia (for now)

Fem and I are now back in Australia. we are now in the last week of our three week stay here until we travel to Holland!

I do admit I have neglected the blog a bit since that last big post about the Whanganui River trip. We have been extremely busy and just have not had a chance to spend time on it.

I have created a best of gallery of all the photos I took while in new Zealand. You can view it on my smugmug site here. This will show all the great photos taken since Napier.

We have been catching up and friends, relatives and family for the last two weeks. I have also had to sort out tax, insurance and now car issues which are not always fun but need to be done.

Looking back, the entire New Zealand trip was definitely the greatest adventure I have been on. Now we are on our way to do it all again in Europe!

The basic plan is for us to go to Holland and spent Christmas with Femke’s parents. Then before my 3-month tourist visa is up, she will find work. This will allow me to stay there on a residency permit (still needs to be applied for) which will give up to 1 year of time in Holland.

I will then (hopefully) find local work and we will both work and save for around 6 months. We shall then travel around Europe and explore the history, the sights, the castles, the architecture, the cultures and plenty of fine European beers!!

If all goes well, we will be in Europe for 1-2 years. But if it goes badly (residency permit rejected), I will be back in Brisbane in 3 months.