Everyone has their own visa story and this isnt an account of how to do it, just how we did it! We are quite lucky really, from start to finish ours look just under 3 years (and only technically 7 months). This includes:
- Gathering Defacto Evidence
- Skills Assessment
- English IELTS Test
- Expression of Interest
- Police Checks & Certifying Documents
- Grant Date
…and of course saving the £4k it costs for it all and enough money to be able to emigrate!
We came back from Australia in December 2012 and decided there and then we would be going back, regardless of how. We found jobs in the UK, moved to Lincoln and found out what we needed in terms of work experience and skills, IELTS etc in order to have the maximum chance of being granted a visa. As Rachael (the other half) was a Teacher she ended up on the SOL1 list so it was best for us both if we applied in her name, with me as her DeFacto for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189). This means we are not sponsored by a state, or a job – so we have freedom to move around the country as often as we like and change jobs if required. This visa would allow us to sponsor family members, sign up for Medicare and after 4 years, apply for dual Citizenship. We spent a year reading up on the Visa process, gathering evidenceand started the ‘Australian Fund’.
Gathering Defacto Evidence
This was trickier than we thought, because we are in a same sex relationship (that is not recognised in Australia) we really had a lot to prove in order for me to be granted a DeFacto Visa. We had to gather as much evidence of our ‘Love’ as possible (puke). Now we have been a couple since 2008, so its not like there wasn’t plenty of it – but we had to have photos of the two of us at events throughout the years, cards written to us both, evidence that we have supported each other financially, invitations written out to us both, Facebook posts (yes it’s true…nothing exists if it isn’t on Facebook!) and letters written from family and friends that state how it is clearly evident that we live together as a couple and plan on staying this way. We luckily have some very lovely friends and family who were happy to help! In the end, it wasn’t a problem and they accepted the DeFacto with no problems, but it was quite worrying for us with their current Anti Gay issues!
Once the evidence was gathered, it was time to book the skills assessment…this was the first ‘real’ piece of the puzzle we had to arrange. Before we could do this, a DBS check was required from the UK and Australian Police – so this held us back around 3-4 weeks. Whilst this was happening, Rach started to gather information about her degree, teaching career, have statements from her head teacher and show evidence of her teaching certain skills to send off to be Assessed for recognition by AITSL – this is to decide whether she can teach the equivalent in Australian schools and will determine the points. Now there is a reason why we waited until 2014 to process this…if you have 5+ years in the job, you are entitled to claim more points for it – so 2014 hit the 5 full school years and off it went! It took 12 weeks to process, cost around $635 (plus an extra £30 to post) and finally came back as a Yes. We were lucky it wasnt another agency like VETASSESS as some of them cost double what this did, but it was over…Our official Step 1 was done!
English IELTS Test
Being a UK Passport Holder gets you a mark of 6 on the IELTS without a test, however to secure enough points for the Visa we needed a mark of 7 (65), and to overachieve our points (to get 70) we needed an 8. Now something you won’t know about my lovely better half is that Rachael is a brain box – first class degree in Chemistry of all things, and knows many weird and wonderful things… so I had a feeling this was going to go well for us. We got the study pack off the internet and booked an appointment. £150 and 2 months later and the test was done. We had to wait another 2 weeks for the results and then wait for the test certificate to come through (another few weeks due to complications) but we were finally ready to submit our expression of interest. She got a 9 by the way… #nailedit
Expression of Interest
This was the part I hated the most, it was terrifying. Once we had confirmation of how many points we were eligable for, we had to fill in the online Skill Select EOI form and basically let Australia know that we had the points, what we had them for and that we would like to apply for the 189 Visa. We submitted this in May 2015. Then we waited…
Once you’ve submitted an EOI you can wait anything from a few days to 2 years, and we had our hearts set on it. We submitted it the first week of May 2015.
Every day we checked and then suddenly, 13 days later…there it was. The Email that told us the news….we had been invited to Apply. Like actually apply!
Police Checks & Certifying Documents
This is the part we never accounted for, in order to Apply, you have to both have (new) Police Checks from UK and Australian Police Forces (approx £160). Not only that, but every document had to be certified in order to be processed. This was EVERY document – the DeFacto evidence, the letters from family, the Police checks, the Skills Assessment, the Passport Photos, the ID documents, the Passports and Drivers Licenses…the lot. We had a box full of paper and each and every piece required a signature. So, we left it with an accountant – £120 and 12 days later, they were ready!
In June 2015, we applied.
Now we were worried really because at this point Rach had promised her current school another full year there and we thought ooh if it goes through straight away then we may have to go mid year. So we waited for 1 month before we actually applied, and filled out the online forms, paper forms, paid for the visa ($4400 – £2300) sealed it all in an envelope and sent it to the Australian Government, recorded delivery (£60). Then….nothing. We had to wait for a minimum of 3 months before we would be assigned a Case Officer. We finally got the email in September with nothing more than ‘you need to get medicals’.
Now, without going into my medical history I must firstly admit here, I’m not a skinny minnie in any sense of the word. I’m size 20, plus size, curvy…call it what you will. This could be an issue right off the bat, plus I have a large medical file full of issues that were all potential risk factors, so I was personally DREADING it. I couldn’t stand the thought that I may be the reason we weren’t allowed to emigrate. But, we booked the appointment, paid £350 each for the privledge, travelled to Birmingham and had the tests.
Hearing & Eye Sight
and then we waited……again. A week until the results were registered as submitted, then for 3 months to be viewed! (See a reoccuring theme here?)
Christmas was coming up, I had my 30th Birthday in December and I’d had a week of celebrating back in Liverpool with family and friends and although we hadn’t forgotten about it, we honestly didnt think we’d hear anything before the New Year…
We headed back to Lincoln, went back to work (I didnt work Mondays anyway) and then I got a phone call from Rachael. She’d had an email… the call went something like this:
Rach: “We got in”
Me: “To….? Wait….”
Rach: “WE GOT INTO AUSTRALIAA (jumping screaming sounds)”
So, I bawlled my eyes out. About 4 times that day (I’ll post about this another time), I called my Dad, called my Mum, called my Nan, called my best friend, told anyone who’d listen to be honest. WE GOT IN!
We have to be in no later than 21st September 2016, which is PERFECT.
So, the flights are booked from Manchester – Sydney, 5th September.
Australia…here we come!