Visa Dramas: Chapter 2: Part 3

It’s been over 2 months since my last update,  so it’s about time I gave a  status update:

We were waiting for:

  • the New Zealand Police check
  • the Chinese Police Check.

In the last week of April we got the NZ Police Check, so that was good! We just had to wait that out.

Thanks to Ebe and Maggie we were able to find a place to get the official Chinese police check but it was going to take a month. Since we had no other choice we went ahead with it. So the whole month of May was spent just waiting for the police check. We had all the other paperwork that was needed. Since nothing much else was happening, we were both working and saving, there was not much need to blog about anything!

Our patience pays off in the end, and by very early June, Ebe has both the Chinese and English translated versions of the Chinese police check! Wahoo!

Ebe sends the paperwork back to us via trackable courier. Fem received the paperwork last week. Yes! It was ours! We finally had everything we needed!

She spent a few nights going through it all and finalising the whole package to send to Berlin. She sent the package yesterday and about 1 hour ago it arrived at the Australian Embassy in Berlin! (we kept a close eye on via the trackable courier!)

So that officially ends the paperwork and information gathering stage of the whole migrating of Femke to Australia. We now just have to sit and wait for Berlin to review it all.  Overall they say it will take from 1 to 6 months to complete. I am hopeful since we have all the documentation there and we have been through the checklists and requirements with a VERY VERY VERY fine comb that the processing time will be more closer to the 1 month rather than 6 months!

So what happens now? Well Femke really wanted to be here for my birthday on July 28th so she is coming over to Australia as a tourist from July 24th for three months.  With any luck the visa will be approved during that time and she will be able to stay here! She will have to leave the country to get the visa itself, but this can be accomplished by going to Auckland, New Zealand.

It is now exactly 6 weeks until she arrives in Australia, so I am hopeful the visa processing will be a significantly well underway or nearing completion!

After all these setbacks both in the Netherlands and with China we are now nearing the end of all this and can start to feel some rays of sunlight coming through the clouds!

Visa Dramas: Chapter 2: Part 2

Time for a little Visa update.

As you can recall from the last update, our list of things to do is this:

  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.

There has been some developments since then, which I will now attempt to explain.

I have now put together all of my documentation that I need to send to Femke. This was mailed to her 2 weeks ago and she has successfully received them all. Femke has also received the Australian police check in the mail as well. Yes! All good there. So as far as paperwork that we need there is only two items left.

  • New Zealand Police Check
  • China Police Check

New Zealand Police Check

Femke has sent off both the requests for the New Zealand and Australian police checks at the same time, so it was assumed she would get them back at around the same time. A week after she received the Australian police check, she sent an email to the NZ Justice department just checking up on the progress of it. We were informed they had a large backlog to process and we would just have to be patient. We estimate that she should have the NZ police check in about 2 weeks from now. Nothing too major, just need to wait a bit.

Chinese Police Check

This is where the fun starts. We had a few delays with getting Ebe (Femke’s friend in China) to help us. It turns out we have contacted her at one of the worst times possible. She currently has a lot of major work and personal issues she is currently dealing with which take up most of her time. After a few weeks she was able to help us out for which we were very grateful for.

We all followed the process for obtaining a Chinese Police check and she ended up at the local police station. There she was told that they don’t handle those kinds of requests. So we have hit a brick wall. Ebe and her friend Maggie ring around and try to find out another way to get the police check with no luck.

Fem and I are starting to get concerned. Fem then emails both the Chinese and German Aussie embassies asking for how we are to proceed now. They both respond and say that they acknowledge that some documentation required is very hard or impossible to obtain. If we cannot get the police check, if we show proof that we tried then that would be acceptable.

Yes! A way through this we thought! However there was a catch.

Initially step 4 of our master plan involves Femke going to Berlin for the interview while they process the papers. If everything was correct, she would have been issued the Spouse Visa that same day. But now that we are most likely not going to have the Chinese police check, this means that we would not be able to do the same day processing. The German embassy would have to do some additional enquires through their channels. They recommended the best option would be for Femke to mail in her paperwork and wait for them to process it through their standard queue. This means step 4 has gone from taking 1 day to possibly months. sigh.

Yes there is still a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Late last week Ebe and Maggie said they might be able to get the Chinese police check by going to a bigger police station, but they are continuing their enquires and will get back to us when they can. So we are still hopeful that we might still be able to get it.

So that’s where we are right now. Amazing how an entire visa process now hinges on two sub papers from the police check section! Funny how it all is! Well keep your fingers crossed!

A Dutch life

Several people have asked me what it was like in Holland. How it was different to Australia. So i thought I would do up a blog post highlighting the main differences I found.

Country
Basically it’s flat. Very flat. The only time I rose up was when we drove over a bridge occasionally. It’s a little strange at first but you get used to it. There are some hills to the very south eat of Holland around Maastricht, but that’s it.  The Dutch call themselves “Nederland”. “Neder” in English is “Low”. Makes perfect sense. Australia should be called “HotandHugeLand” by comparison.

Weather
It does vary a lot between summer and winter and I (unfortunately) was only there for their winter. Most of the time it’s overcast, and the sun is not up for very long during the day. Sunrise was around 8am each morning and sunset was around 4:45pm. During midday it never got any higher in the sky that what Aussies usually think is about 3:30pm. In summer it is the opposite and you get large amounts of sun. But alas, I will have to find that out for myself some time in the future. While I was there I also experienced one of the coldest winter in Europe for about 20 years. Which was great for me as I did want to check out snow as I saw so little in New Zealand the previous year. It snowed a few times and there were frozen lakes. These were all good experiences for a Queenslander! The temperature was generally around 0 degrees outside most of the time. I found out I had to really watch my ears in the cold. They tend to stick out a bit due to my hearing aids and if it was 0 or less, my ears would go numb or start stinging if I didn’t have a big beanie on.

Sky
Since we are in Europe which is so heavily populated, there are always at least 2 contrails from aircraft up high in the sky. At anytime of any day (provided there was no cloud cover) you could look up and see several planes.

People
The Dutch people are pretty much the same as the general western people. I didn’t have any issues with anyone. There is a stereotype that the Dutch are sometimes arrogant or rude/blunt. I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I can’t say the same thing for French occupied Belgium thou.

Television
I reckon about half of all Dutch programming is English shows with Dutch subtitles. This is only a rough guess as I did not watch a lot of TV. This is  one of the reasons why almost everyone speaks English. They have the same sort of shows as we do, but curiously they also have shows from the 80’s such as the original Knight Rider and the A team. These were indeed a blast to watch! They are so crap they are funny! They also had Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares at 7:30pm on weekly totally unbleeped which was great! My ears were getting sore from the constant high pitched bleeping on the censored version. It’s also refreshing to be somewhere where censorship is not so noticeable. They can tolerate people saying “fuck” and “shit” occasionally without causing a big uproar like you get here in Australia from small minded but highly vocal minority groups.

Language
Just about everyone speaks English very well in Holland. As mentioned above, about half of the TV shows are American or British. A lot of the advertising in billboards and in shops as you walk around is in English too. It’s the same in music shops. Sure they have Dutch singers but most of it is the popular US/UK artists. So basically, a Dutch person would need to understand English to some degree in in order to understand all the labels and ads around then.

I did make a bit of an effort to learn Dutch. It was mainly the different types of food! :) (Bosche bollen! Oh they are so yummy!) I was going to enrol in a Dutch speaking course once I got a job there, but that ended up not happening. :(

Traffic
Most cars in Holland are small. This is absolutely vital since there is hardly any space on the roads! It’s always very narrow in the towns. If I was there with my Holden Commodore I would have sheered off the side mirrors before the end of the first day! A lot of the traffic signs are printed down on the roads rather than on signs on the side of the road. This was a little confusing for a simpleton like me. When you throw in the fact they all drive on the other side of the road (compared to Australia) I was glad I didn’t have to drive anywhere. The first time I was driven around a round about I felt so uncomfortable as it felt like I was going the other way!!  There is also not a lot of car parks in towns/cities either. This leads to most people using bikes to move around.

Bicycles
Pretty much everyone in Holland has a bike. They are an awesome way of getting around. Since the land is so flat and there are hardly any car parks it’s just the ultimate solution! No impact on the environment and everyone gets a little exercise as well. You can also cram hundreds of them in a small space. The road network also caters for bike riders very well. A lot of intersections are areas reserved for bikes and there are a lot of bikes lanes next to the roads or on the footpath next to them. I was very impressed. You also don’t need a helmet. It was great to have the wind in your hair (what little hair I have left anyway) as you cycled down the street. Except for when it was very cold. Then it got painful!

Food
Fast food is not as noticeable in Holland as it is in Australia. Sure they still have McDonalds, KFC, Subway etc but no-where near as many as we do here. To make up for this shortfall the Dutch have gone all out on pastries, meats and cheese. They have incredible foods in these areas! From the absolutely yummy Bosche bollen that you can only get from Den Bosch to the many varieties of cheese to the many different cuts of meat and sausages you can get. With all this yummy food, you don’t really find yourself craving a Big Mac. :)

There are the occasional cheese speciality shop in Australia. In Holland this is the norm. Even their standard supermarkets have a massive cheese section filled with rolls and rolls of cheese. Ice tea is also a major drink. Soft drink is not. Most supermarkets have coke, a sprite, but only one or two other flavours and no-where near as much as the varieties of ice tea. Which is great as I do like ice tea that does not taste like crap!

I think this will do for now.. I might do some more blog entries on other topics of life in Holland if there is any demand. Is there anyone out there? ……

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! :)

The joys of playing with beta software on beta operating systems.

Like a lot of other technical people out there I have installed the Windows 7 Build 7000 on my main PC. Overall it’s been a refreshing experience and I am happy with it. I do look forward to the final release apparently later on this year. I installed the trial of of Kaspersky Anti Virus 8.0

However over the last week or so I have been getting a lot of the dreaded Blue Screens of Death (BSOD). It was always with the error IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL and Stop code 0x0000000A. This randomly appearing BSOD usually seemed to occur during heavy network activity such as Skype calls (much to the frustration of Femke) and network file copies.

After trying different drivers and rolling back newly installed drivers with no result, I looked into issues with the Windows 7 supported anti virus applications. There were lots of forum posts saying about how Windows 7 was blue screening with most anti virus apps installed (not just Kaspersky). It seemed to be more frequent when network access was performed. This seemed rather similar to my symptoms so I tried to uninstall it but it would not uninstall? WTF? I  googled more and was lead to this page which offered a separate application to uninstall the Kaspersky Anti Virus.

It did not say anything about working with Windows 7, but I figured “What the hell. Give it a try”.
I ran it and worked and the AV did disappear from my system. “Cool!” I thought as I rebooted. Then my USB devices would not respond (mouse and keyboard) which meant I could not log into my PC. 

After trying in vain to repair my installation, I realised it was hosed and reformatted and put Win 7 back on. This time without Kaspersky! So far so good, but the real test will come when I do some video Skype calls.

Moral of the story 1: Installing beta software on a beta operating system can be a bitch sometimes!

Moral of the story 2: Don’t install Kaspersky Anti-Virus 8.0 on Windows 7 Build 7000!

If anyone else out there has had experiences with the dreaded IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL BSOD please let me know of your results!