I have been avoiding starting this series of stories because by writing about Australia I will be poking into some memories, lots of them actually, some good, some bad. It was the time when the family was still one and I didn’t know what was coming. It was a dream come true to be able to live in a foreign country where it’s sunny always and people are so happy and smiling. It was though not all smiles being overseas, so far away with three (later four) children. Getting there wasn’t “a piece of cake” either. It was hard paperwork, very hard for 3 years from the time we first printed the “manual” on how to apply.
Where to start
But let’s start from the beginning. It was around year 2005. At that time applications were still done by paper so the application instructions were also on paper. If I remember correctly it was 52 pages long. First few times we just looked at the pile of paper and put it away, but after about half a year we actually started reading the papers through figuring out what do we need to do and in what order. For example if you were on a certain occupation list you were able to apply directly for a permanent residency Visa. Luckily both me and my ex husband were on that list so either one of us could be the main applicant.
It wasn’t though enough that you have your occupation on the list, you also had to pass the language exam and for different occupations the exam demands are different. We first tried it so that my ex-husband would be the primary applicant because his occupation was on this “fast track list”. Then after a few months we changed it so that I would be the primary applicant because other demands for him were different like language skills for example.
Because I do not have a university degree I was required to write 30 pages of my whole entire career what I have been doing for work and a couple of project examples of how I have been applying my skills in my job. This took about 2 to 3 months to create (while pregnant with the third…). After creating the 30 page long document I could send in the application for my occupation to be qualified for the occupations on the demand list so to speak. Then it was waiting game until they assess your application. I would estimate few months if I remember correctly.
I am qualified!
Oh the happy day when the letter arrived verifying me as the system administrator that I already knew I was! So now we were able to put in the final application for the PR (permanent resident) visas 21st of December 2007. For the actual application you needed to have photographs and doctor certificates of each members of our family.
Those alone cost around 400-500 per person. Approximate cost for the PR visa was somewhere between 2500-3000 something euros per applicant. So it was not cheap, but then again we sold our house, furniture and all our belongings pretty much so we could fund going there. You also needed to be able to show that you can support yourself for the first two years so…
When the hard part was done and the application submitted we needed to wait for almost a year before we got the actual PR Visa so in this time we sold most of our stuff (and I had sold my cloth diaper and baby sling business)t and started looking for jobs and places to stay in Australia. We ended us choosing Brisbane because we had met some lovely people from there earlier and talked a lot with them online and the climate seemed nice, city not too big, but still big enough to have job opportunities and less competition maybe than in Sydney or Melbourne.
Leave as tourist arrive as permanent resident
My ex-husband managed to get a job before we even arrived so we informed of this to the immigration agency and they promised to accelerate our application. They said that we could enter the country as tourists and then once they are really, really close to finalising our Visa we should just leave the country for a few weeks while they process it to the end and voila we would return as permanent residents. We had always thought of visiting New Zealand so took the opportunity to go there for those two weeks.
So we left to Australia as tourists on the 7th of August 2008 with all of our belongings in just a couple (very many) of suitcases and that was all we had. The small few square meter container that we sent only had books important photographs couple of important toys and things like that memories from Finland no furniture. Thinking back to it now. Wow, did we really do that and with three small kids? Yes we did twice! But more about that later…
Next episode – Arrival: The first days in a foreign country on another side of the globe Coming up once I got time to write and dig into photos !