On Mother’s Day, we got the best news: I was granted my hella goddamn PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA. Continue reading “5 years and a permanent resident”
Yesterday, we got the big news we’ve been waiting for since… basically the moment in 2013 that we decided to live together.
I GOT MY VISA!
All the stress, all the worry, all the paperwork, all the days off from work to stand in line at various government agencies and all the thousands of dollars spent, and it all came through. And in possibly a year (not the 2 years I originally thought) I’ll be granted a Permanent Residency – and we’ll never have to worry about my visa status EVER. AGAIN. The fact that we don’t have to worry about it anymore has brought so much relief – but the idea that now we have more security, it makes planning for the future so much easier.
Like, it’s not insane to think about buying a car, now. And I can arrange for my books to be shipped here. And maybe we can get a pet. You know – the important things in life.
I thought that there would be a lot more pomp and circumstance when I found out – with all the effort that went into getting the visa, I was at least hoping for a kangaroo holding to deliver the visa in the form of a bronzed plaque and a hand full of balloons saying WELCOME!! Instead, it arrived in an innocuous email that I at first thought was asking me for more information. Ah well, however it happened, I’m glad that it did. We thought we were going to have to wait until July at least – if not December, before we found out. And that we found out Monday when our third anniversary was on Saturday – that’s just sweet timing.
Also it gave us another excuse to celebrate with cake. And that’s basically why I do everything in life – for the possibility of cake.
So happy days – happy visa-ing, and happy anniversaring. Joel, there’s no one I could ever imagine doing this with… every day, you show me that I made the right decision. Thank you for always going above and beyond, for listening, for counselling, for making the best punch drunk chicken this side of the meridian, for always knowing. I love you more than I love sweatpants. Even if you do love Suspect Zero more than you love me.
I woke up this morning at about 6 AM, first because the entire right side of my body had fallen into a deep coma sleep and woke up with an intense pins and needles feeling when Joel lightly brushed me in his sleep. My second thought, after OMG I’M ON FIRE, was AW RIGHT IT’S SATURDAY LETS WAKE UP AND DO STUFF!
Of course, by ‘do stuff’ I meant, get my finger prints made to send off to the FBI for my identity check. Because, HOORAY, I was notified on Wednesday that my visa application was received, and that I was granted a bridging (temporary) visa that allows me to work full time while they’re processing/approving my partner visa. And they outlined my next steps for me, which are:
1. Get fingerprinted and submit the prints for an FBI Identity and Background check
2. Get a medical exam, chest x-ray, and HIV test (which makes my anti-discrimination senses prick up, but what can you do.)
3. Submit both reports
4. Wait for final word on my visa
A condition of the bridging visa is that I can’t leave the country while my partner visa is processing, unless I apply and pay for a separate travel visa. But you have to be in the country when they make the decision on your visa. And it’s a slim chance that it’ll happen, but if an interview was needed and I wasn’t here, it would be bad news. So the whole thing makes me too nervous. Looks like I’ll be sitting tight for the next 12-15 months. Which is a bit of a bummer, since I was day dreaming about Joel and me visiting the States for Thanksgiving next year. Grr.
Anywho, I left the house early, armed with my completed FBI forms and my FD-258 print card. I got the bus on time, made it to the station without getting lost, and I was the first in line! woohoo, I’ll be out so quick and home by 10:30, I thought! And that’s when I realized I forgot my self addressed, stamped envelope. Because I’d read online that I’d need a SASE and I’d written it down a bunch of times but of course I didn’t remember to do it. So I walked to 3 convenience stores, a grocery store, and finally to the office supply store, before I found envelopes that were the right size. It was only 5 or 6 blocks, but 5 or 6 blocks is a lot when you’re trying to get something done quickly.
So I get back to the station an hour later, and it takes about 20 minutes to get my prints done because they are done electronically now, and the sensors couldn’t get a decent image of any of the fingers on my right hand. All I could think was Could I be a right handed bandit? Getting away with shit because they can’t lift prints off my right hand? And then I thought that I shouldn’t be thinking of my future as a crime villain when I’m standing in a police station being finger printed by a cop and standing under a CCTV. I will say though, besides my shifty right hand, the staff and officers at City Central Police Station were really helpful and quick, so if you need finger prints and you’re in Sydney, hit them up.
After my walk about morning, I decided I’d stop at this cool looking restaurant for brunch. But all the tables were full and the menu was a bit too expensive for me, when all I wanted was banana bread with ricotta cheese and honey (my new obsession). So I changed my mind on brunch. But, as I was walking back to the bus, I passed a cafe called My Sweet Memory, which boasted coffee and stationery. Both of which are.my.jam. I walked in and the bakery case was full of pies and rolls and scrolls and yum, and they had banana bread. I asked the lady behind the register if they had ricotta cheese, and if I could have it on banana bread. She said yes. I went to pay for my order which was $8.50, took out my wallet and remembered I’d spent the last of my petty cash on Tuesday. And of course, they had a minimum card charge of $10. Instead of just saying, “sorry, Thanks though,” and walking away, I panicked under pressure and ordered a chocolate muffin to split with Joel later. I just realised now that I should have ordered a Nutella scroll. Fuck.
I went to the bathroom, since it was now close to 11:30 I’d had to pee for the last two hours, but someone was in there having a really unfortunate bowel issue. And she didn’t leave the entire time I was there. There wasn’t much stationery and what was there wasn’t interesting (besides a photo album that had a funny Japanese to English translation quote on it), which was really disappointing. I got my coffee, and it tasted like I made a bad choice. The banana bread didn’t come with ricotta, because they don’t have ricotta. It tasted good, but it was nothing to write home about. And they were playing some tragically bad 90’s R+B and easy listening over the loud speakers. And I still had to pee. Overall, a pretty lame brunch experience.
Before I got on the bus, a very sad homeless man asked me for change, so I gave him the .60 or so cents I had. I felt good about that, but a little shitty that I couldn’t give him more, because I really, really, want to believe that he’d use it to buy a sandwich, and not meth.
I got home, about to burst, and put the clothes out to dry in the sun.
10 mins later, brought them back in because it was getting cloudy and blustery like it was about to rain.
10 mins after that, I put the clothes back out because it was sunny again.
20 minutes after that, it looked cloudy. I gave it some time, and they clouds cleared again and it was blazingly sunny.
5 minutes after that, I looked up and it was a bit grey.
2 mins after that, it was raining all over my clothes. DANG IT.
At the same time that I saw it was raining, I was on the phone with my US bank, trying to figure out why my credit card with a $0 balance and an expiration year of 2017 was declining a small purchase. Turns out the bank sent me a new credit card which would be active on July 1, and I didn’t get any notice of this new card beyond an email sent to me in April. I didn’t even receive the new credit card. The rep told me it was more than likely an address mix up (different address for primary and credit card accounts, long story) on their part, but there was nothing they could do to extend my “expired” card. Normally, it wouldn’t be a huge deal, except I put that credit card information down on my FBI forms as payment.
I jumped off the phone with the bank since there wasn’t anything they could do and ran to bring the clothes in before they got soaked. And as I brought the clothes dryer in for the 800th time that day, it fell apart. Hello, last straw. So I had a minor moment of anger hysteria where I cried a bit and texted Joel and Leah an angry rant because I’m on a relatively tight time frame with the Identity check and just too many little things had gone wrong today.
Sometimes you just need to kick rocks for a bit. And swear at them. But, I got myself together, fixed the drying rack, sat by the heater and figured out 2 back up plans for the finger prints.
I feel better now, but I also feel like I could kill a bottle of red wine tonight.
Lessons Learned this Saturday:
1. ALWAYS check and double check your check list
2. Don’t order pastries under pressure.
3. DONT bring the clothes in until it starts to rain
4. Buy an electric dryer when move into your new place
5. ALWAYS read the emails your bank sends, even when they look like the blanket announcement emails that don’t involve you
6. STOP rushing. You mess up when you rush.
Alright, now I’m off to make bolognese. I hope I don’t cut my fingers off in the process.
After 10 months of form filling, document acquiring, sorting, filing, collecting, copying, certifying, advising, nagging, collecting, copying, certifying, proofing, and double proofing, about $7,700 spent in applications and various administrative tasks, and various anxiety attacks and stern discussions, we finally finished my visa for partnership migration, and today I sent it to the Dept. of Immigration to be lodged.
I was excited and terrified to drop the application off at the post office today (registered, signature confirmation, express post – basically one step away from having a secret service member deliver it). My heart was racing and my hands were shaking as I wrote the address on the giant envelope. We’ve both been waiting so long for this day, and it seems unreal that it happened. And it’s going to be even weirder to sit in my study and not see the massive binder full of us staring back at me, and even weirder to not have “well, we need to save for the visa” trailing every monetary thought in my mind. If Joel hadn’t put in for half of it (THANK YOU), it would have been the second most expensive thing, after my car, that I’ve ever bought. Even then, it still stung the ol’ savings account. As Joel said, “Loving you is very expensive.” *
So now we play two waiting games. 1) Waiting for the confirmation letter from the Department of Immigration with all my bridging visa details, and 2) the 12-15 months it will take to process the encyclopaedia of Joel-Audrey (so many pages). And before anyone asks, no, it would not have been easier for us to “just get married.” We would have had to fill out the same huge amounts of paperwork and evidence, on top of the added pressure of getting married before either of us are ready just for the sake of a visa. Even I’m not that impulsive. Yeah, it would have saved us a few grand in application costs, but we probably would have spent that money on a wedding (and by that I mean flying my family over to our Australian JOP ceremony and McDonald’s reception).
It’s all done. I’m relieved, I’m scared, and I’m ever hopeful all at the same time. Actually, I think I’m so anxious, I’m ready to have a stroke. I love the life that Joel and I have created here. And I’m crossing every crossable appendage I have that we get to continue it.
*he has no idea.
If you had asked me when I was 20, where I thought I’d be at 30, I’d never respond “Filling out an application to live in another country.” And yet, here I am, staring down check lists and paperwork.
I’m on a Work and Holiday visa at the moment, which is only good for 1 year, and you can only have 1, ever. So we knew going into this that I’d need a second visa, and that visa is a Partnership Visa. This visa will allow me work for any employer for up to 5 years, and allow me to be eligible for Medicare and other social benefits. We knew it would be a lengthy, expensive process to get this visa, and it’s been looming over us since we started talking about me moving to Sydney. And every month since I moved here, we’ve taken a step that will help show we are an established, committed couple. Linking our bank accounts took no time. Getting my name on the utilities took a little more time. Applying for the De Facto certificate took a lot more time. Getting me on the lease took a really long time. All in all, this whole process has taken a long time.
I look at this application and I think, “wow, this–this–determines the course my life will take in the next year.” And that’s heavy. If my application isn’t accepted, I’ll have to be sponsored by an Australian employer in order to stay in the country. Which is possible, but not guaranteed, or even likely. So, if I don’t get this visa, I’m headed back to the States, where we will face a whole other ball of shit-wax trying to bring Joel over. /yay
So there’s a lot riding on this. It’s not that I don’t want to move back to the States, it’s just that I don’t want to move back so soon. And I really don’t want to move back without Joel. And all this is making our anxiety go a little into hyper drive. As in, I have 3 checklists and a time line to make sure everything is completed. I’ve placed at least 4 calls to the Immigration Agency. I’ve had to re-print pages of the applications many times because I keep making spelling errors. Everyday I nag Joel about something visa related. There have been a few times where the hugeness of everything has kept us awake at night. Like I said, there’s a lot riding on this.
But, this process hasn’t been all bad! Not that I needed the reassurance, but Joel’s worry over this has reminded me just how invested he is in our future, and how much he wants us to be together. I’ve written 4 essay style answers to the nitty gritty and day-to-day functionalities of our relationship in order to prove we are a legitimate couple, and I got to see just how well we work together. After all, it’s one thing to just know you work as a couple, and it’s another to prove it. I also think of how fortunate I am that I get to be in this situation. There are a lot of people who can’t travel outside of the States, let alone move to another country. This process has definitely made me more thankful and aware of how lucky I am. And there’s nothing wrong with gratitude, right?
So I’ll accept the stress, the anxiety, the dragged out process, and the expense. It’s all working toward something bigger and better. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to gather photos and important documents and maybe re-work my checklist one more time. Because I figure, if there’s anytime to be anal retentive, it’s when I’m submitting a $5,000 visa applicaton. Amirite?