Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 2

21 Nov

For Part 1, click here.

Yesterday, my lawyer finally submitted my application for residency to Immigration, two days before my visitor visa expires. While it is incomplete, still missing the results of my police checks from the US and Australia, they did accept it as a valid application and I was granted a Bridging Visa C (or BVC).

Usually, BVCs are for people who are in the country unlawfully and want to become lawful before they come to DIAC’s attention. I got a BVC because my visitor visa was about to expire and, obviously, I would like to stay in the country while they process my application for a spousal visa. The BVC is an electronic visa, so you won’t get a a stamp in your passport or anything like that.

It’s kind of a crappy visa, although it’s certainly better than no visa at all. You can’t work with a BVC, unless you can demonstrate financial hardship. You also cannot travel out of the country and re-enter on a BVC. As soon as you leave Australia, the BVC expires. So I’m hoping there are no family emergencies in the next few months!

Today, I went for the required health check. There is only one place in Melbourne that does immigration health exams and that is Medibank at 501 Swanston St. You can book over the phone or online at medibankhealth.com.au. I booked online and it was pretty simple. You do have to pay at the time of booking and it’s $332. I’ve heard it’s a lot more expensive to get the health check done overseas and that sometimes, even if you do the health check overseas, you still have to do it again in Australia

When you go to health exam, you’ll need to take your passport and forms 26 and 160. Fill it out before you go because you’ll be expected to have them completed when you check in. And bring something to read because you’ll be there for about two hours and spend a lot of time in waiting rooms.

The first thing they will ask you to do is give a urine sample. If you’re stupid, like me, you might have peed before you left the house because you were worried you’d wet your pants on the tram if you didn’t and won’t need to go right away. If that’s the case, you can always do it at the end of the exam, but they like to get that out of the way first.

Fortunately, eye exams these days are a bit more civilised than they used to be. You won’t have to worry about someone jabbing a buttonhook into your eye.

Following that, they will check your height and weight. Then they will give you a brief eye exam where they just ask you to read the letters on a chart from a distance. They made me read the very bottom line of the chart. I have no idea how well I did.

Next is a blood draw for an HIV test. They give you a form to read about what HIV test results mean and you have to sign a form saying you understand it. I told the nurse that my personal rule is that she gets three sticks with the needle and if she can’t do it in three tries, I’ll scream for someone else. She assured me that she could do it on the first try, but that they only get to try twice before they are required to get someone else. She got my vein on the first try, which was impressive, because I have roll-y veins and most nurses need at least two sticks to catch one of them. And if you are prone to passing out from blood draws or needles, they even have a bed you can lie on while they do it. I’m fascinated by medical procedures, though, so I opted for the chair so I could watch. 😀

After that, you’ll be called in by an actual doctor who will ask you about any prescriptions you are taking and what they are for. Then you get sent behind the curtain to strip to you underwear, lie on the bed, and cover up with a sheet. The doctor comes and takes your blood pressure, listens to your heart, feels your abdomen, and looks at your feet. Then you can get dressed and go queue for your chest x-ray. The whole thing is so non-intrusive that you can probably even skip shaving your legs beforehand.

The chest x-ray is to check for tuberculosis. And obviously, you should tell them if you are pregnant or might be pregnant because then you’ll need to reschedule the x-ray for another time. I’m pretty sure I don’t have tuberculosis, but if I did, I’ve been in Australia for almost a year, coughing all over people, so if I had germs to spread around, believe me-

You have to check in again with the chest x-ray people and when they call your name, they take you to a small cubicle where you undress your top half and give you a gown to put on. Then you’re supposed to wait in your cubicle until they call your name. Someone got yelled at for coming out of his cubicle when it wasn’t his turn! I guess that’s for privacy reasons. When it is your turn, you’ll be taken to the machine and you press your chest and shoulders up against it where they tell you. Then they tell you to take a deep breath and hold it. The machine goes off and then you’re done and can go get dressed again.

And that’s it! After that, you can go home and they send the results to you in the mail.

Lastly, I’ll just mention Australian National Police Checks, because I don’t think I mentioned them in the last post. You only need to do this if you’ve been in Australia for a year or if it will be a year by the time they get around to processing your application, as is my case. You’ll want to visit this link for information about the police checks.

You might look through that page a few times before you figure out where you can go to download the application form, so I’ll save you the trouble: it’s here. You can do it online or print it, fill it out by hand, and post it to them. You will need certified copies of 100 points worth of the documents they ask for proving your identity (a passport, for example, is worth 70 points). If you do the online application, you will need a way to scan those documents, convert them to pdf files, and email them in. I chose to do it by hand and mail it because I don’t have a scanner. (It was mailed last week by Express post and they have already sent me an email saying my results are in the mail.) The cost is $42. For immigration purposes, you generally do not need to submit fingerprints, so only do that if you are asked for them.

For Part 3, click here.

For Part 4, click here.

*Disclaimer: None of this is legal advice. If you have questions about your own visa application, you really should talk to a licensed migration agent. I’m not an expert. This post pertains solely to my experiences and circumstances- yours will probably be different.*

10 Responses to “Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 2”

  1. julesdownunder November 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    I realized while reading your post that I’ve basically tried to block out my whole visa/residency process, even though it was within the last year. You are bringing back some exhausting memories for me! Good luck with everything- may you be able to block it out in time too!

    • housewifedownunder November 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Was it that traumatic, lol? So far the worst thing about it was a huge screaming match I got into with my lawyer. I’m hoping nothing about the bureaucracy tops his temper!

  2. Cosette November 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. I’m wondering if I should get a lawyer. How has having one been helpful?

    • housewifedownunder November 22, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      Basically, he checks everything and makes sure none of it sounds suspicious or fake or just plain bad. He’s given me all kinds of instructions about how to go about doing such-and-such, things that I might not have necessarily known to do on my own. He makes sure nothing is missing from the submission and he writes the covering letter to go with all the submissions. A lot of this is stuff a person could do on their own, but the benefit of having a migration agent to help is that they know the law, they know what DIAC is looking for and what would cause red flags, and if the person is a reputable agent (there are plenty who aren’t), having their name attached to your application means it’s likely that they will not go over your submissions with a fine tooth comb because they trust that that particular migration agent doesn’t submit fake or faulty applications. And if any problems come up, they know exactly who talk to and how to take care of the issue.

      That said, they don’t come cheap. We’ve paid ours about $8000 so far. You can find an agent at all different price ranges and that’s probably on the higher end, but there is still a cost attached to it no matter who you go with. But most don’t charge for a first consultation, so it never hurts to go and ask and see what they have to say. I know people who have done it themselves and didn’t feel like they needed any outside help. I’m of the opinion that bureaucracy isn’t worth messing around with and I’d rather just pay someone to do it right so that I don’t lose sleep over it.

  3. Dee Pryor November 24, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    My experience has been pretty much the same — the only hang up has been getting the criminal check from the FBI (US) I had a terrible time trying to get fingerprints done for that – apparently, the Australian legal system doesn’t do the inky prints anymore LoL. Finally got them done and sent off and so now this is the only thing they are waiting for – So far the process has been fairly uncomplicated, just slow – I SO want to go back to work so hoping it all be done soon :))

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

      Yeah, I have to go some special fingerprinting place and they told me to bring the form the FBI wants the fingerprints on. I assume that means they will do them in ink. Although I think the FBI will accept some types of electronic ones. I didn’t really understand about that, though, so I figure traditional ink ones will be safest.

      I was told that DIAC is very overloaded with processing refugees and asylum seekers that anything that looks like an legitimate application gets the cursory once-over and a stamp of approval. They just let it sit there for 3 or 4 months to make it look like they are doing something more substantial, apparently. I hope it doesn’t take that long after I submit my FBI check to them because I’d kind of like to get a job to help offset some of the costs of this stupid application.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 1 « Housewife Down Under - November 28, 2012

    […] For Part 2, click here. […]

  2. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 3 « Housewife Down Under - December 17, 2012

    […] For Part 1, click here.For Part 2, click here. […]

  3. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 4 | Housewife Down Under - March 24, 2013

    […] For Part 2, click here. […]

  4. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 5 | Housewife Down Under - April 11, 2013

    […] For Part 2, click here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: