House hunting

Femke now has her residency visa, so now we move on to setting up our own lives together.

First was getting joint bank accounts all sorted out. We reviewed all the major banks and decided to end up with Bankwest for our needs. So far we are impressed with the services and the internet banking side of things. Hopefully it will stay that away and we’ll be with them for a while!

Fem then got her Medicare, drivers license and health insurance sorted out reasonably quickly.

Fem is also looking for work. Given the GFC (Global Financial Crisis), jobs are hard to find. But she is working hard and I am sure she will get something soon.

Next was house hunting. We have decided to rent for a few years while we get a deposit ready for buying a house. Turns out a lot of people are also renting as well. The favourite houses from our first list of options were already taken. So we knew we had to be quicker! We are now currently mulling over two houses at the moment with a decision to be made tomorrow.

We also bought a king sized bed yesterday from Bedshed as well. Wahoo! A lot of bedding shops are having big sales on in September so we though it would be ideal to take advantage of them. The store will to hang on to the bed until we are ready to move into our new place.

Fingers crossed we get the housing sorted out soon… stay tuned…

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 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!