Our Timeline

As I’ve said time and time again, you’re a the mercy of the Immigration System.
Flawed or not, there’s a reason Australia is such a desirable country to move to, and that is in part due to the rigorous immigration systems they have in place.

Looking back on everything, with the benefit of that 20/20 hindsight, we were so lucky that our process was as smooth as it was. Our timeline was incredibly efficient in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve still not forgotten how lonely I felt in Auckland and how frustrating the process felt when we were right in the heart of it, there’s nothing better than sitting in my house in Melbourne writing this post.

The hardest part for me was the uncertainty, of not having a timeline I could work towards, of not knowing how everything was progressing, because ‘no news is good news’.
Your timeline will not be like ours, but as a guide for how long you might expect everything to take, here’s our visa timeline.

'Social Media - by Becky Kadansky [Infographic] copy

 

Personal Statements

I was going to rewrite this post, but after reading through it, there’s not a lot I’d change.
Yes, this was the most time consuming part of the process, but it was also my favourite part. We’d never really taken the time to sit down and think about our story, our meet-cute and to enjoy it.


Just as an aside, I think this is without a doubt one of my favourite photos of us.
How ridiculous are our faces?!
It was taken when we went to the Edinburgh Dungeons at the end of our anniversary trip to Scotland.

take your marks. go.

This part is possibly one of the most time consuming elements of the whole visa process, because you’re mostly relying on other people who aren’t working to the same emotional, panic driven schedule as you.

For us, people are so supportive and excited about the prospect of us coming back that we didn’t really have to nag anyone too much to get their statements back to us. I would say, however, to start thinking about this part first.
This element can be ticking over in the background while you’re getting the rest of the documentation ready.

Perhaps the strangest part of these statements is writing down, in tangible terms how I felt about Zac, and seeing his version of what he feels for me.
Even stranger is reading that from an outside perspective.
You never really get to hear what people think of your relationship (weddings aside); usually you’re not hearing people’s real

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Police Checks.

It’s very easy, from my relatively zen place having done all that nearly a year ago, to say not to stress about these checks.
But they’re possibly the most straight forward pieces of evidence you’ll need to collect, I’ve had countless DBS checks done for my jobs over the years and never batted an eyelid, it’s just when the emotional value is attached that it suddenly becomes a concern.

There are a lot of elements of this process that are out of your control.
You’re surrendering your fate to the will of the visa gods and quite often, the best you can do is to simply be on top of the bits you can organise.

Looking back on the timelines, nothing takes as long as it feels.
I’d heard horror stories of the Police Checks taking months to come back, but the reality of it was mere weeks.
It’s also not as hideously costly as you think it might be, but I’ll go through all of that.

To confirm, you’ll need two police checks (4 in total).
A UK police check for both of you, found here.
An AU police check for both of you, found here.

The forms themselves are pretty self explanatory and really easy to complete online, but make sure you have your evidence ready before you start the application.
We’d already been scanning things in, and naturally I had everything organised in folders on my desktop (that’s right, I gave this desktop significance) but it’s really helpful to have everything together before you start applying.
The other thing to note is save your files as JPEGS – for some reason the forms can’t handle PDF copies of documents!

AU Check: $42 each (accurate as of 2016)

Applied: 9th May
Received: 23rd May

I don’t know if I went slightly overboard with evidence for this one, but having already lived and worked in Australia for a year, I used documents such as my Working With Children Check and AUSTSwim qualification towards the application.
For my proof of address I included both our Aus address and our UK address.
I used a utility statement from our house in Chadstone, as well as a wage slip from my previous job in Melbourne and then bank statements from the UK.

Don’t get caught up in worrying about having 100 points of evidence – but I wanted to make sure there was no way they couldn’t grant my certificate.
As long as you have all the basics, you’ll have more than enough.
Naturally it was a little easier for Zac to provide 100 points of evidence, his birth certificate and drivers license were enough.
The key thing is to just make sure you have one form of photo ID and another form of ID to corroborate that.

The only things that threw me when I was doing the AFP check were seemingly trivial looking back, but at the time significant enough that I wanted to mention them.

First thing was: do I have a case worker?

Even though we’re going through an immigration lawyer the term ‘case worker’ seemed really ambiguous and I was momentarily concerned about how to answer this.
Eventually, we went with ‘no’.
As far as we understood it, if you’re working directly with someone in the department: that’s your case worker, more immediate immigration cases with trickier dealings. Yes, we’re using a third party, but all that really means is they’re checking the paperwork and sending it off for us, they’re not ‘working our case’.
Is that enough of a distinction?

Secondly: which option do I tick?

Now the reason this threw me was, for immigration purposes, you need to have a really thorough police check. When I clicked ‘Option 33’ it was saying ‘Name Check Only’.
I didn’t want my name checking! I wanted a full police check!
Option 33 is the correct option for immigration purposes, and the ‘Name Check Only’ simply means we don’t need to have our fingerprints checked and scanned as well.

Zac’s check came back within the week, mine took slightly longer, but as an Australian citizen, his was inevitably going to be a bit quicker.

UK Check: £45 (accurate as of 2016)

Applied: 3rd May
Received: 15th May

The UK checks have a few more steps online, and require you to input a lot more of the details yourself as apposed to simply providing copies of evidence.
It’s a little more time intensive, but at least you know it’s all in accurately.
I’m not sure which one I prefer!

The biggest stumbling block for our UK police checks was finding someone to endorse our application.
Our endorser just had to be someone who will vouch that you are who you say you are, the only kicker is they have to have an occupation from an archaic and obscure list. The assumption being everyone knows a Doctor or Lawyer or Judge…
Thankfully I know a few bloody good nurses and teachers, who are suitably qualified to say my face is my face.
Zac fortunately knows some teachers and policeman from umpiring so we were covered in that sense and as far as we know, those people were never actually contacted to endorse our application – I think it’s just one of those formalities to catch out the sneaky ones.

let me reassure you, from my pillow fort of zen: these are the least of your worries.

The most important thing I need to say is: don’t worry if something goes wrong…
Between us, we managed to input Zac’s birth month incorrectly on one of the forms, so his police check came back with his birth month at one end of the year at the top of the form and at the other end of the year at the bottom.
The check was still approved, even with this minute error and because all the documents and the birth date at the bottom (which was apparently more important) was accurate, they issued us with a new (correct) certificate within the week, free of charge.

It’s very easy, from my relatively zen place having done all that nearly a year ago, to say not to stress about these checks.
But they’re possibly the most straight forward pieces of evidence you’ll need to collect, I’ve had countless DBS checks done for my jobs over the years and never batted an eyelid, it’s just when the emotional value is attached that it suddenly becomes a concern.

Memories Box

This was without a doubt the most fun part of collecting our evidence and by the time we’d got here, I’d got in to a rhythm.

The ‘memories’ box part of collecting our evidence was by far my favourite and by the time we’d got to this point, I felt like we’d got more of a handle on what we were doing.
We were in a rhythm almost and it wasn’t a chore, so much as a fond exercise in togetherness.

This section of the evidence is to prove the social aspect of your relationship, so we also threw in invitations we received, screenshots of messages to arrange meeting up with friends, FB check ins, Instagram posts.
All those things you do without thinking, they’re time and date stamped and they’re great to include. Neither of us really use FB either, so when we did have a check in to include, it had been posted by our more social media savvy friends.

You’ll probably find you do more things as a couple than you realised. Not that I didn’t already know we are basically inseparable, but invitations from friends always included Zac without prompting.

memories box.

I’d been collecting ticket stubs and paper momentos from our dates, days out, little things that would have a lot of meaning to us (like the instructions I left for him for cooking dinner the first night I was working and he was in charge of food).
I always keep things like tickets, but even after a few dates I wanted to get a shadow box frame to fill with these keepsakes as a present for Zac for our 1st Anniversary together.

My rare sentimental gesture meant we already had all of those ‘key’ pieces of evidence on hand.
Train tickets, cinema tickets, flight tickets, parking stubs and a beer voucher from London when we woke up at 3am to Hawthorn win a three-peat Grand Final.
We normally had photos from all these dates as well, so after prising open the frame again, it was just a matter of finding the photo to go with the ticket and getting a digital copy.

make friends with your PDF viewer.

I’m working on a Mac, so use preview, but whatever platform you’re on, get familiar with PDFs.
Remember back when you were gathering your financial evidence? I’d already turned the digital copies in to PDFs, so I just picked a month and then attached the relevant ‘fun’ evidence to that document.
I know there are limits on the number of pages/documents you can upload to a visa application, so I think this is possibly an excellent way of getting around that.
I also felt it gave a tangible context to the memories.

I hope you can see from those screen grabs.
Each file starts with the bank statement and then there’s ticket stubs, receipts (the receipts we actually used were for things like gym memberships, restaurants etc. but there aren’t any shown in those grabs) and some pictures to go with it.

Because we were making use of Dropbox, I’d create the PDF with the bare minimum I thought was needed for the month, but within the Dropbox file, add more photos, ticket stubs, receipts, screenshots, etc. and leave it down to Ana’s infinite wisdom to decide what she wanted and what she didn’t need.

make a night of it.

You’d be hard pushed not to enjoy looking back over photos and love notes, reliving the past few months, or years.
With most of the hard work done, we set aside a bit of time each night and tackled a couple of bank statements each. Zac picking his favourite memories for one month, me picking my favourite memories for mine.

It also made me realise just how much we’ve done together.
That’s one of the things I love about Zac – he’s as wide eyed about the world as I am and wants to try everything once. Some dates were a huge success (pizza and mini golf in Nottingham) and some were a huge disaster (Water Theatre Puppet Show in Ho Chi Minh City), but it was so much fun to look back on them and laugh about an evening well spent.

Be Patient.

There’s a reason they say patience is a virtue, and right now, it’s your best friend.

I’m writing this post in a futile attempt, to
a) remind myself to be patient and
b) to offer kind words from the future that things do turn out.

what’s that? don’t think about it? oh, but that’s the only thing on my mind!

I know, I know, as soon as I tell you to put it to the back of your mind, you’ll be consumed with questions and won’t be able to stop thinking about your new life in Australia.
Doesn’t help that every other channel is showing reruns of Relocation: Down Under all day.
Before you judge my daytime TV habits, I’m a swimming teacher: there’s a lot of day time down time.

Hopefully, you’re not working to a schedule.
If you’re sensible you won’t have already booked a flight.
We are definitely not sensible, and we were working to a schedule.
Zac’s umpiring career would only allow for a season off, meaning he had to be back in the country by pre-season in January.
His working holiday for the UK would run out before then and to be honest I was homesick. I couldn’t bear to be away from him while we were waiting and somewhere in the middle we decided to go travelling for a few months, because when were we going to get a chance like that again?
While I clung on to that return date like a beacon of hope on those long winter nights, I was also terrified I was pinning my future on an overinflated concept of happiness that could never live up to my expectation.

I can be a little dramatic.

The point is, there’s no ‘end date’.
You don’t get given an anticipated return time, other than the promise you will know something within a year or so.
I was expecting to feel excited when the visa application was finally submitted and the money was taken from our account, but instead I was anxious, wracked with a sense of ‘unfinished business’ – for want of a better way to describe it.
We were in Cambodia at the time and I remember sitting on the paper thin mattress in our room at the school, reading and re-reading the confirmation email and then staring blankly at the wall.
Repeat.

you’ll drive yourself mad with ‘what ifs’

I’m not saying you won’t have questions, and if you’re like me, you’ll need a 4th and 5th and 17th opinion or version of events.
Everyone’s case is subjective.
Everyone’s visa comes through on a different timeline and I’m still working out if immigration do things in dog years or human years.
A close friend is going through the same process, but she’s 2 years ahead of me.
She did it by herself, all credit to her, so her story is completely different to mine and the time lines she was working with are vastly apart from our experience.

I spent the first few months, when we were gathering evidence, holding her as some kind of almighty immigration guru, but that was worse than just sitting up all night googling everything.
I had to take a step back, take a deep breath.

If you want to consume stories of people going through the process, avoid the forums.
I’ve found that largely they’re full of misinformation and it can get heartbreakingly confusing.
The thing I found most frustrating was not being able to connect with someone who was going through the process, who was living the wait, or who had lived it, someone objective enough to lay out the information in a way I could understand, that didn’t make it feel that all hope would soon be lost.
That’s why I was so excited to be a part of this blog, in the hopes that I could perhaps be that person.

i think too much.

My biggest problem is I’m a worrier.
It always comes from a place of love and passion, from much more red, fiery emotions, but at the base of it, I’m a worrier.
Perhaps because of the worrying I’ve become incredibly patient.
It might be more to do with the teaching, but I’ve often been commended on my patience.
And oh, I feel such a fraud typing that.

I’m not patient.
I’m the most impatient person you’ll meet (other than Zac, who always manages to ruin surprises, because he’s too excited to tell you about it, because he knows how much you’ll love the surprise).
Combined with an overactive imagination – something I was always commended and condemned for as a child – and I’ve spent too many sleepless night concocting every possible scenario.
Sometimes it helps.

In the end, the best thing we did was forget about it.
We just enjoyed the adventure we’d decided to take together.
We kept busy at work, busy with friends.
We went for long drives and spent weekends in Wales, or Scotland, or Amsterdam.

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

– Joyce Meyer

As I write this, I’m in New Zealand and Zac is still in Melbourne – the final part of this phase of our journey.
I think this is the worst part, the part I’m least willing to be patient with.
It’s hard for me to explain.
I’ve always been a solitary creature who needs constant social interaction, an introverted extrovert, some days I hate the fact that he’s all up in my space, but the second he leaves I want him to come back.
For most of my close friends (particularly those who lived with me at Uni) the fact that I haven’t had a moment to myself since we met is testament to our relationship alone.
It’s not just that with this temporary long distance I’m relearning how to be an individual, more that he’s as much a part of my identity as my obsession with coffee, or how I always smell like chlorine.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Mine has grown restless and as I bumble into a semblance of routine, my patience is growing thin.
I just have to rest assured that everything is still ticking over in the background, the cogs still turn, and while each week drags out when this is all done and dusted, I’ll comment how quickly it all seemed to pass us by.

Let’s Start At The Very Beginning…

If we ignore the fact that I’m terrible at introductions, this is a great introduction. In summary, I’m Becky, and I’ve been exactly where you are. Trust me when I say, it gets better.

I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start.
Fellow musical enthusiasts, I hope you’re also singing about female deer and drops of golden sun, now.

I don’t think I’ve ever been great at introductions.
I’ve been described as quirky, kooky, eccentric, but the overriding consensus is I’m weird, quickly followed with “but the good kind of weird“.
I’ll take it.
As in turns out, in Melbourne, ‘the good kind of weird’ is basically a little bit hipster, perhaps that’s why I fell in love with the city.

I’m slightly ahead of myself, shall I start again?

In my natural habitat: down a lane way in Melbourne with a coffee in one hand and something sweet in the other

just a coffee snob who fell in love with the right city.

My name is Becky.
In September 2014, I got on a plane to Melbourne, Australia on a working holiday visa.
A swimming teacher by trade, Australia seemed a sensible place to be.
I bought a one way flight, certain that anywhere had to be better than the little market town in the Midlands I called home and figured I’d work out the rest of the details when I got there.
I had work lined up for the first 6 months and blinded by optimism and a whole lot of excitement, assumed I’d do such a great job, they’d sponsor me to stay and I could teach swimming forever.

Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out that way.

My 6 months flew by, and despite the best efforts of the staff, friends and enthusiastic 6 year olds who were going to send a petition to the Government on my behalf, council policy prevailed.
I hadn’t really planned for things not to go my way, and started blindly applying for jobs, buying time in the country to work out how I could stay.

Thankfully I was only out of work for a few weeks, during which time I nearly made a permanent escape to Byron Bay, but feeling overwhelmed with my options to make Australia home, I was just glad to settle in to a routine again.

Classic Snapchat screenshot – he can actually grow a beard now, none of that ‘teen stubble’
In April 2015, I met Zac.
I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight.
It’s certainly not your conventional love story, but I’m an ‘all or nothing‘ kind of gal and after some pretty disastrous dates during the previous months, there was something about Zac: I just couldn’t stop smiling.

First date: kissed in the rain.
Second date: met the family.
Third date: moved in together.

All or nothing.

then and now.

We knew from the start we were serious about each other.
We knew from the start we wanted to build a life together.
We knew from the start a solution was being presented to us.

Meeting Zac just made me more certain that Melbourne was where I called home, was where we were going to start our family.
The ‘how’ was now just going to take some time.
We decided to apply for a Partner Visa and while I wanted to be there in my own right, on my own visa, there was no doubt in my mind about making this commitment together.

But it’s an incredibly long winded process.
Research and stress and an overwhelming feeling of ‘it will never get done’.
I was drowning in a sea of paperwork, forms and blogs, online and offline help, and so much conflicting advice, and then I finally stumbled upon a company called’Let’s Go Global’.

I showed Zac and we made the second best decision of our lives together so far.
(The first being crazy enough to pursue an international love affair)
An email and reassuring phone call later and we put ourselves in the very capable hands of Ana and George.

The rest, as they say is history.

This is just our story, my version of events. Going through the process, I know how difficult and frustrating and emotional and overwhelming it can be.
If you look online, you find a rose tinted version of events, there’s an abundance of information and it’s usually conflicting and confusing.
Like anything worth having, it doesn’t come easy, but you can believe me when I say it’s worth it and having Let’s Go Global supporting you each step of the way makes it a hell of a lot easier.