Visa drama fizzles out. A new chapter begins.

Well. the last few weeks have been fun.

With all the paperwork in place, the only thing that was needed was for Femke to get a job with a 12 month contract. After the few remaining possibilities closed off to us one by one (some to our surprise too) we were out of options. I have to go back to Australia. 🙁

So why did this fail? Basically it’s very hard to sack an employee in Holland. There is a lengthy process to follow so employees are keen to get the right person for the job at the start. By offering a 6 month contract it gives them a get out of jail free card by being able to remove that person if they are unsuitable for the company. Other than that, it’s not like Australia where you can say “Sorry, but we have let you go” with relative ease. So giving someone new a 12 month contract from the start is rare unless you know the new employee well.

Another reason we think, is the current economic crisis. Companies are not hiring as much as usual. Most companies seem to be shedding staff worldwide and a lot are also going under. Not really the best time to be looking for work!

<rant>

The thing that really annoys me is that I can understand the requirement for a 12 month contract job in the “typical” case for a couple who are living by themselves and would probably be having trouble making ends meet. But in my particular situation:

  • Femke had a 6 month contract
  • We were living with her parents which are more than happy to co-sponsor me as well to guarantee I would never need the welfare system here.
  • I had a job waiting for me.

I really feel that the combination of those three factors should have made the IND more lenient on the 6/12 month job contract length issue, since I would not have been a burden to the government in any way.  But they would not budge an inch, even after multiple calls pleading our case.

</rant>

I had to inform the company who offered me work that I would not be able to make it. The job was still there, and they were sad for me, and did say to keep in touch if I ever come back to Holland. This was nice to hear.

Back to Australia

So instead of now relaxing and enjoying Europe for 1 or 2 years, we now have to look at the visa situation for getting Femke into Australia. Thankfully the immigration website is rather well put together and they have booklets and checklists you can use for your paperwork. The bad news is they require a hell of a lot more paperwork that what was needed from the Dutch point of view. So what’s going to happen?

  1. This weekend I will fly back to Australia. Femke will stay in Holland and continue work at her current job.
  2. I will need to get a job in Brisbane.
  3. Once I have a job we will finalise all the paperwork required. I will most likely have to send some “certified copies” of papers 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 (hopefully within a few weeks) she will be granted a temporary spouse visa. 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.

It sounds so simple when you look at it at a high level! 🙂

Steps 2 and 3 will be the tricky/painful ones. But other than that, it looks pretty good. Here we go again. Round 2.

Immigration Dramas – Part 3

Well the latest news is not very good.

I am still waiting on the two stamped certificates. They are currently somewhere between Brisbane and Holland. But I should have them in a day or two.

After getting the initial bad news about Fem not getting the job last Thursday, she has put in her resume for 6 more jobs. Yesterday we received a knock back for 3 of those 6.  So we have 3 more to wait on.  There is a chance, but it’s getting slimmer with each passing day. Fem could apply for more jobs, but most of them have cut off dates for applications which are beyond next Friday so they are not an option. The IND interview is for Friday of next week, so we reckon that if there are no possible leads by Wednesday of next week that it will be the end of it and I will be returning to Australia.

We will most likely go to Cologne in Germany this weekend to have a nice relaxing weekend and try not to think about all this. This way I can say I have been to Holland, Belgium and Germany! 🙂

A setback

We were very lucky with all the paperwork that was needed from Australia. Thanks to my mother racing around Brisbane in melting shoes on Thursday and helpful government officials, we were able to get all the required certificates in a few hours and mum was kind to express post them to us in Holland. They should arrive here early next week. “Yes! Some good news at last!” I thought on Tuesday morning.

However on Thursday afternoon we found out that Femke did not get the job which has the 12 month contract and right amount of pay.  This was a crushing setback.

We are now exactly 2 weeks away from the interview with immigration in Den Bosch and we are back to square 1 regarding Fem’s job situation. We will need a signed 12 month working contract within the next 10 working days otherwise I will be returning home. Given the current economic climate, the usual resume perusal and general multiple interview process this will be very difficult to do. To complicate matters even more, Femke has also been very sick for thee last three days. There is a flu epidemic currently going though Holland at the moment. Marijke has it and now Fem. Thankfully I don’t seem to be affected by it (touch wood).

So what happens from here? Well. first Fem needs to get over the sickness. She is nearly there. Then we look for more work. At the moment we both are really drained over this whole saga. You have to remember for Fem this has stress been going since about the 10th of November 2008. There just has not been any release.

We’ll see what happens.

Immigration Dramas – Part 2

This is part 2 of the first immigration drama post from about a month ago. If you have not read that first, you should to get the basic background info.

We thought that all Femke needed was a 12 month contract for her job and we would be set. After working at her current job for a few weeks, she asked her boss for the possibility of an extension for her contract. They said they would think about it because it’s against policy and apparently there is a fee associated with breaking a contract. Fem’s work understandably did not want to pay that fee. We said well.. maybe we could pay that fee? That might make your decision a bit easier?

After a few days (now early Jan 2009) they come back to us saying they can’t do it as it’s against their company policy. Even our offer to pay the contract renewal fee was denied. Sigh. So what happens now? Femke needs to find a new job ASAP and it needs to be a 12 month contract. Ok.. Hmm my tourist visa runs out on the 1st of February so time was starting to be against us. We thought looking for work on the usual channels would have a very very slim chance of getting a 12 month contract.

The chances of me staying in the Netherlands after February were starting to look very slim….

Marijke called up Immigration again to complain about the whole situation and also to see if there was any other option. There was one possibility which was to get a work permit through an Australian company. But we would have had to provided a reason for the Australian company to send me to the Netherlands to work (and in great detail too) so that ended up being a dead end. Even with me working through my own consultancy was an option not allowed.

With looking for jobs in the paper or the internet or agencies not really an option we turned to people we know. Thanks to Fem’s aunty, there was a job going at a local school where she works. Fem applied for that role, but the initial salary was too low (for what need as a minimum for the residency permit). Fem applied anyway with an email explaining the situation. Ok we’ll see how that goes.

A few days later, Auke also checked with his old work and they also had a job possibility that had both the right salary amount and a 12 month contract. Awesome! Fem met up with them on Monday the 12th of January and while there is a good chance of getting that job we are currently still waiting for the official response.

I also checked with the company that offered me work to see if the job was still available and thankfully it is!

While waiting to hear back from that company I knew this was going to be cutting it very close. My 1st of February deadline is looming fast. I thought it would be a great idea to go through the residency permit paperwork very VERY carefully to ensure that all other documentation we needed we had or could easily acquire.

It turns out there were some things we missed. I thought we could get a registered partnership to streamline the paperwork needed for the residency permit. But it turns out in order to get the registered partnership you need a residency permit?? Talk about a catch 22… Sigh.

So we had to go for the paperwork heavy option. I needed a “No record of Marriage” certificate that can only be received from Australia and also my full birth certificate (which also had to be issued within the last 6 months). These two certificates also need an official apostille stamp of authenticity from the Australian department of foreign affairs and trade. Realising that this all should have been done in Australia before I left, I cursed my own stupidity and blind optimism at believing the NZ initial phone call saying that all we needed was Fem to have a job. Righto… so we have a 2.5 weeks deadline and I have to get documents from multiple Australian government departments AND get them shipped to the Netherlands in time. Sounds like a challenge!

Things I have learnt from this so far:

  • Assume nothing. Cross reference all requirements and paperwork. The Australian “she’ll be right mate” won’t work here.
  • if you are going to immigrate, check what papers you need BEFORE you leave the country.
  • Murphy’s law is very strong here. If an issue has two outcomes and one is bad/costly/inconvenient, then that will be the outcome that occurs.

So for the last 2 days now I have been reading web-pages and scrutinising PDF documents. This has also all occurred the day after I installed the Windows 7 beta as my primary OS on the laptop. (hey… I felt bored stupid daring). Luckily Win 7 is holding good promise as a worthy successor to Windows XP (I ignored Vista).

I am very lucky to have a very helpful and co-operative mother who is able to handle the running around to several government departments over the next week. After a few chat sessions and a lengthy Skype phone call things are progressing smoothly. Thanks very much for that! Also today Femke has made the official appointment with the Dutch Immigration on  January 30th for the residency permit interview. (my flight out of Holland is on February 1st) We also don’t have any final word yet on if Femke has the 12 month contract job yet. So we are cutting this incredibly close.

Today we were able to get two of the six pieces of paper that are needed. My two certificates from Australia will be the hardest. The rest is just filling in forms so that’s not too bad.

We have both been in tough situations before, often avoiding disaster by the skin of our teeth. So wish us luck and hope that the document gathering that’s happening over the next 2 weeks goes smoothly and that Fem gets that job!

Fingers crossed! (again)