The movies got it wrong….you do not fall in love with a foreigner and then automatically get to stay in the country you fell in love in. I found this out the hard way.
I did not think that I would run into the obstacle of working with the government to be granted a visa to stay in another country permanently, nor did I anticipate the waiting and expenses involved. I am thankful to have so many people around me for support during this time because I definitely couldn’t go through this process alone. But I thought it may be helpful to post a blog about my experience and hopefully help other understand it better.
Last September 19 I went on my first date with Alex, I had not come to Australia to find a boyfriend and definitely did not come to find a husband but God had different plans for me. I thought my year in Australia was going to be one of adventure I just thought that this particular adventure had an expiration date.
After falling in love and talking at length about getting engaged it was time to turn our attention to my visa situation. I came to Australia on a one year working-holiday visa which would expire the day before I arrived in Australia. We started looking into my options for how I could be granted a new visa in order to stay.
There were a few options for me, I could have tried to find a company to work for that would sponsor me. This would mean that whatever company I worked for would have control of my visa, and if they felt I wasn’t pulling my weight they could let me go and then I would no longer have a sponsor and would have to leave the country. We looked into this one for a little bit but ended up deciding that we did not want my visa to be in the hands of anyone but us.
We then started looking into partner visas. There are three options for this, but the two we looked into most were the potential marriage visa and a de-facto visa. With the potential marriage visa I would have to be out of the country to lodge it. With the de-facto visa it just means that Alex and I are dependent on each other financially and otherwise. With all this information we were very thankful that Alex was living with a roommate that worked for immigration (see Gods hand was in every part of our situation). She advised us to file for the de-facto visa so then the process began.
The first thing we did back in January was start to register our relationship with the New South Wales government. You see with de-facto relationships they require that you have been living together for a year before the approve the application, obviously that wasn’t an option for us so we had to register our relationship so that the government would wave the 12 month timeline. It took us four trips to the justice of the peace and two different types of paperwork to get it done, then for months later we got our relationship certificate. Yippee! Thankfully this part of the process only put us out around $200 dollars…if only the costs would have stopped there.
Since then we have moved into Alex’s parents house, I am living in the back with my own little part of the house equipped with a bathroom, study, living room, and bedroom. Now that I am getting mail sent to the same address as Alex it will help a great deal when we have to send in the mountain of paperwork to prove that our relationship is legitimate.
I had finished my online application about 3 weeks before moving to Brisbane but couldn’t submit the application until we were ready to spend the $4600 it cost to file our application. OUCH! With the help of my parents and my life insurance policy we got the money put on my visa credit card for my visa but it still made me nauseous pressing that submit button. Now I have been granted a Bridging Visa while my application is being reviewed. This visa gives me the right to work and live in Australia until they have made a final decision about my application which can take 12-15 months so we are in the waiting game. In the mean time we have to start to gather our proof of relationship things like call-logs, emails, texts, we opened a bank account together, mail, I need to get an FBI background check, and numerous other things.
Despite all the paperwork and money my life still feels so much like a fairytale because I have the greatest man I could have imagined at my side, holding my hand through this process. Sounds funny to say but I cannot wait to go through the other headache of changing my name and all my documents after we are married!