Australia is a very desireable place to live, so it makes sense that the government needs to limit who can stay and who needs to go. There are certain visas, and if you meet the criteria, then you can stay for an allotted amount of time. If you're lucky, you can stay longer. Let me take you through my journey with my Australian visas.
To be eligible for the Work and Holiday Visa, I needed to:
- be in the age range
- hold a US passport
- have graduated from high school or equivalent
- not bring dependent children with me
- be able to prove that I had sufficient funds to support myself if they asked me (which they didn't)
- be healthy (I could have been asked to get a physical examination)
- agree to be kind to Australians and respect their culture
I applied for the visa online, and the immigration department approved it a few days later. After that, I knew it was okay to buy my plane tickets and get ready to head over there. That visa was a piece of cake. Even better, my passport info was stored in their system. I never had to bring around documentation with me showing that I had the visa.
The De Facto Visa (also known as the Partner Visa)
- an Australian citizen
- an Australian permanent resident
- OR a New Zealand citizen
Here were my requirements (including requirements for our relationship):
- I had to be 18 years old
- Al and I could NOT have a parent in common (oh, darn!)
- We had to live together for twelve months by the time we applied, although they didn't have to be consecutive
- I needed a medical check-up that invovled testing my blood for HIV and a chest x-ray. It had to be from an approved doctor, and I paid for it out of my pocket. It was not cheap.
- I had to meet character requirements. I needed a local police check from whereever I had been living for the past 12 months (I went to the Norwood police station in the Adelaide suburbs for this) and TWO federal police checks: one from the US and one from Australia. For the US, I had to get finger prints and send them in. America doesn't accept computer hand prints from other countries, so I had to use the ink. It was impossibly hard to get all of the ink off of my hands.
- I had to present several bank statements to show that I could support myself (Al had to do the same).
To show that our relationship was genuine, we turned in old correspondence between the two of us when we first met and every time that we were apart. We printed many, many pictures of the two of us, including photos with each other's families (all of the photos on this post are ones we used for our application, plus many more). All needed to be dated and captioned. We also needed friends and family to fill out forms saying that we were in a loving relationship. In otherwords, I wasn't using Al to stay in Australia. In addition, ALL official documents needed to be notarized. They had to be signed by an "important" and honest person, such a doctor, teacher, lawyer, and they had to give all of their details in case the goverment wanted to check on our source. Yikes! I'm sure I'm missing a lot things that we had to do, but I hope you get the idea that it was a lot of work.
Regardless, we got everything done ourselves. We could have hired an immigration lawyer to look over all of our paperwork, but we instead chose to save the money and do everything right. We had been researching for months before we turned in my application, so we felt confident that we knew what we were doing.
Also, applying for this was not cheap. I won't say exactly how much it was (you can find out on the website), but Al and I split the cost down the middle. He paid for the whole thing, and then I sent weeks paying him back. I could have flown home and back with that money.
Bridging Visas A and B
I applied for my De Facto visa in April of 2010. My Work and Holiday Visa expired the following month, so I got Bridging Visa A. This meant that the conditions of my first visa (W&H) still applied to me. I could still work, and I didn't have to leave the country. As a matter of fact, I could NOT leave the country while they were still making a decision on the De Facto Visa (if I applied for the visa outside of Australia, I would not be able to enter the country until it was approved). If I left, I would not be able to get back in the country.
I did not know this at the time, and I had reservations to come home for a month in June. I probably would have cancelled my reservations or begged the government to free me for just a little while, but then my grandma got really sick. She had to have surgery during the time that I was supposed to be home. After a signed note from my grandma's doctor along with details of her sickness and leaving endless contact information so that the immigration office could get answers to urgent questions regarding my application, Australia gave me ANOTHER bridging visa that allowed me to leave and come back. I got Bridging Visa B. Whew.
I had a great time at home, and they let me back in. In October, my De Facto Visa was approved.
The advantages of my new visa
- I can stay in Australia as long as I want
- I can leave and come back as much as I want
- I can work and study whatever and as much as I want
- I am on Australia's Medicare system, which is government healthcare. That means that I am covered for things like emergencies and get money back for doctor's appointments. Some things are even free for me. I could also purchase private healthcare if I wanted, which would get me better healthcare. It's still nice to have something that only Aussie citizens, residents and people like me are entitled to.
Also, please feel free to ask me questions about Aussie visas if you have any. I'll answer them the best that I can (and then will probably direct you to the website).