Visa Dramas: Chapter 2: Part 5: The conclusion for now

After getting the official go ahead from Berlin a few weeks earlier than expected we were very happy she was able to go there and pick it up!

Femke was a little cautious and concerned that something else might go wrong. I did my best to re-assure her but I was a little concerned too. It all had suddenly become so easy…

It ended up being rather anti-climatic to be honest! (in a good way!)

Back to New Zealand

fems visa Femke flew out to Auckland on Sunday morning. She received an email from Berlin on Monday and was told to go to the Australian Embassy on Thursday.

She then just has to kill time until Thursday.

When Thursday came (yesterday), she was at the Embassy bright and early. They asked for proof that she had left Australia, and showed it. 2 minutes later she had the sticker/stamp in her passport which was the official 2 year temporary residency visa!

That was it. The hard part is now officially over!!

I will be picking her up from the airport tomorrow night and she will now be an Aussie temporary resident!

So what happens now?

Femke can now legally stay and work in Australia for 2 years. The only limitation is she can’t get access to government benefits (like we need them :P).

The next and final stage is in 2 years time when we have to show the government additional proof that we have been together for the previous time. This will involve showing joint bank accounts and joint names on leases or big purchases etc. But that should all be significantly easier than what we have been through since February of this year. When that is all approved and sighted and stamped, then her temporary residency visa will become permanent.

Starting next week we can now finally get on with our lives together in Australia!! We have been waiting for this for so long! This means getting joint bank accounts, Fem looking for work and both of us searching for a place to live closer to the city! All the things other people can sometimes take for granted. It’s gonna be a lot of fun!

Visa Dramas: Chapter 2: Part 4

Time for another update I think!

Back together again!
Femke successfully arrive in Australia after a very long flight on the morning of the 24th of July. We were happily reunited at the airport after me waiting very impatiently. We then set off for four days of relaxation at Lillypillys cottages which is located near Montville.  They have several isolated cottages with fireplaces and romantic settings plus stunning views (as shown below).

We spent the time relaxing and checking out the nearby sites such as the Eumundi markets and Underwater World at Mooloolaba. Lillypillys also catered our breakfasts each morning and one dinner during our stay. All the meals were great! We also went to a few local restaurants and enjoyed them all. We were both surprised how quickly we were able to pick up from where we left off in early February. It was as if we were only apart for a few days rather than six months!

View from the deck of our cottage one early morning

We had an incredible time and can highly recommend Lillypillies for couples who want a great weekend getaway with privacy and wonderful meals brought to your room.
Fem was able to be there for my birthday which I was very happy for!

The ongoing Visa saga…
We heard from Berlin who said that they were currently processing Visa applications from May and our submission was received on the 15th of June. So we knew we still had a bit of a long wait ahead of us. Fem was able to stay in Australia for 3 months and we thought the visa process might take 5 to 10 months from June (based on what they said on the website)
We looked into the possibility of extending the tourist visa for Fem up to 6 months in case our visa case got delayed. There was a lot of paperwork which we could do but we really didn’t want to. We decided to wait a bit longer and hopefully once the embassy assessed the case we would have a better idea on how long it would take…

Some good news at last!

On Tuesday the 11th of August we finally had the good news we were waiting for! Weeks earlier than what we were expecting, we got a response from Berlin saying that the visa was approved and for Femke to make arrangements to leave Australia to pick it up!?!? Wow what wow what!!
We continued to email the contact at Berlin back and forth a few times, and worked out that Femke needs to leave Australia for 5 working days and she can be in Auckland to pick up the Visa itself.
Still in a happy shock and daze, we booked a flight, confirmed the dates with the embassy and now from August 23rd til 29th, Femke will be in Auckland. When she returns on the night of the 29th of August she will have her visa and will be able stay here for 2 years!! (First part is a temporary residency visa which is 2 years long)
In the space of a single day, the hardest part of the entire visa process was finalised and before the end of this month (August) she will have the Visa!!  We were both ecstatic and very very grateful to the staff at the Berlin embassy for coming through for us!

The Land of the Great White Cloud
So now Femke is preparing to return to New Zealand again. We were wondering about accommodation, as Berlin said it would take about 48 hours to get the paperwork through to the Aussie embassy in Auckland. Luckily our friend Jason (also known as “Pepe”) and Amy have allowed Femke to stay with them for a few days and she will stay in a hostel in the city for the last few days when she needs to be close to the embassy.

Looking ahead…
Yes we have already started to look for some places to live and bank sites for joint accounts and everything :)
We both are so glad this long process (started in February of this year) is coming to an end and we can now properly start our lives together!

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!

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! :)

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.