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.

What Happened Next?

So how did we actually find Let’s Go Global? Extensive researching (and getting distracted looking at marble and rose gold coasters) And why did we chose them? To be honest, we did what we always did and went with our gut.

Obviously, it wasn’t quite as simple as: ‘we find Let’s Go, we got our visa’.
I’d spent weeks, months even, looking at ways to get back to Australia.
I’ve always wanted to become a ‘real’ teacher, in a classroom, not a pool, and it was one option to get back.
But it was expensive.
I was at a loss as to what to do.
And it was raining.

After finally settling on using an agent to decide for me and filling in enquiries with what felt like dozens of immigration companies (and not getting an immediate response, because of course that was going to happen), I was second guessing the decision to even use an agent.

It felt like I’d not quite done my research right online and I was flicking between tab, after tab, not able to focus on anything for longer than a few minutes.
I kept coming back to ‘Let’s Go Global’ because they were advertising about helping teachers emigrate, and being a teacher of sorts (if P.E. and Geography still count, swimming sure as hell does) they seemed to fit.
Besides which, I got the nicest ‘feel’ from their website.

But still nothing.

Then I got a call from an unknown number in London.
I have the same phone anxiety all millennial’s have (only I’ve had it forever) and can’t make or take calls unless I know who I’m calling, and even then it can sometimes feel like a huge achievement just to press dial.
My best friend used to dial numbers for me and then thrust the phone in to my hand as they answered just so I’d actually ‘life’.
Zac, who was on his way out to the gym, picked up the slack and answered it for me, and then thrust it in to my hand.

“He…hello Becky speaking.”
“Hi, hi is that Becky? Hello, it’s George from Let’s Go Global here, you placed an enquiry online? I’ve just seen it and couldn’t go for the weekend without having a chat to you, is now a good time to talk?”

I mouthed frantically at Zac, who, despite being a dramatic mouther himself is terrible at lip reading and instead shuffled up to him, dragged him down on to the sofa and put the phone on loud speaker, praying he hadn’t taken his pre-workout yet.

a reassuring voice.

I’ve worked in sales, I understand how a pitch works and I also appreciate the artistry of selling, while always remaining entirely skeptical.
That being said, I love being sold to.
Not that George was being ‘sales-y’ – look, we were a hot lead, I get that, but I also felt like he genuinely cared what the outcome was and really wanted to help us get back home, to Melbourne.

We were struggling with how much to tell him, not in a ‘we have something to hide‘ kind of way, more in a ‘we’ve already bought the flight back is that going to be a problem‘ kind of way.
Zac umpires with the VFL, he’s hoping to make it to the AFL and he could only take one season out without having to start again from scratch. He’d done it to come back to England with me, but it meant that he had to be back by mid-Jan at the latest for pre-season.

(To the uneducated, AFL is apparently a pretty big deal in Australia, it’s sort of like Quidditch, without the broomsticks or hoops and less flying. I say less because some of the marks they take are insane and the 360 element of the game is…aaaaand now I sound like I know what I’m talking about)

George went through the process with us, asked us more questions about our relationship, how we’d met, standard background info to assess our case.

By the time we’d hung up the phone, we’d agreed to let George and the Let’s Go Global team take our case.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief and despite my mind running at a million miles an hour, felt in control of the situation for the first time since we’d been in England.
We happily bounded upstairs to tell my parents the good news and I sat and waited on their email.

when you refresh your inbox a thousand times, knowing that sheer will alone isn’t enough to control the internet.

I tried to put the conversation to the back of my mind, but I was so keen to get started and knew what a huge task we might have evidence wise so couldn’t help but feel disappointed when the weekend went by with nothing.
After what felt like an eternity that email finally landed.
I immediately printed everything out, started annotating, reading and re-reading, preemptively gathering what evidence we did have to hand before signing the agreement and emailing it back over to George.
We were told our agent helping us in Australia was called Ana, and she’d be in touch shortly with more details.

And then we waited.

If there’s one thing this whole process has taught me, it’s that’s Zac’s unfading resilience and optimism is no match for the might of the Australian Immigration system, my patience however goes a long way to making it bearable.

You can’t rush this process.
You can only do your part as quickly and efficiently as you can, there’s no point rushing it wrong – something Ana taught me after the third time I sent her ‘not quite right’ evidence!
Besides which, between timezones and office hours, you’re always a day away from a response.
Patience, patience.

knowing someone’s in your corner makes all the difference.

One thing I can’t press enough is that Let’s Go Global are in your corner.
I’m not going to pretend that every step of the way there wasn’t a part of me that was convinced it was all a ruse, the George was a charlatan, Ana a devious femme fatale and we’d frittered our savings away on a whim.
But just when it was getting a bit much, when I was wracked with doubt, they’d drop an email to check in, give us a call to talk us through options and our progress.
They don’t babysit you, and you’re not the only case they’re working on, but they make you feel like you are.

With immigration, it seems to follow the age old adage that no news is good news.
Don’t worry if it’s been a few weeks since you last heard from them – there’s no point getting in touch until something happens.
At those crucial moments, at the points where they need a response, they’re there.
Even at the points they don’t need a response they’re there, and I’ve always been incredibly grateful to Ana taking time out of her schedule (and sometimes personal schedule) to put my mind at rest again.

We’ve spent part of the process travelling and even while we were away, George was in touch to offer kind words and a much needed morale boost.

I’m not saying it’s not a stressful, emotional process.
I’m certainly not saying it will be hassle and hurdle free.
What I am saying is you’ll have the best people looking out for you.

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.