Over the course of the last year, Erik and I have been taking the necessary to steps to ensure that once our visa ends next August, we will not be kicked out of the country. We want to have options - either staying in Oz or moving back to America, and we did not want to leave that decision in the hands of the Australian Government. We could have applied for a visa similar to the one we are currently on, however, we decided to go a bit further and apply for a permanent residency visa.
The process of applying for this visa was tedious and required a fair amount of effort on our part. We had to get heaps of documentation from the States regarding Erik's previous work, transcripts, and proof of graduation/degrees. We applied under his name because fortunately the state of Victoria is in need of people with PhD's who study science. Both of us had to be fingerprinted for an FBI background check and we had to have police checks in Australia as well. The hubby had to get numerous letters from employers here in Oz and had to show proof of previous and current work. Erik also had to take the English test, where he spent an entire day proving that he has sufficient English reading, writing, and speaking skills (normally he would not have had to do this, however, due to our ages, we needed more "points" for our visa, and the English test helps with that). We spent nearly an entire day getting medical exams that required bloodwork and chest x-rays. I organized these things on my own (rather than using an immigration agent) to save money, as this process is not a cheap one. Fortunately I crossed all of my t's and dotted all of my i's and on October 21st, 2013, we received an exciting email.
Ironically October 21, 2003 was our first date. Ten years to the day that Erik took me to Outback Steakhouse (an Aussie-themed restaurant for those readers who are unaware), we were granted the rights to stay in Australia permanently.
|Taken over 10 years ago...just a few nights before our first date!|
At this point, we are unsure as to what will happen when Erik's contract ends next August. He will be applying for jobs in the States and in Australia, and now that we have the flexibility to stay or go, we can choose the best option for us. There are many reasons that we would love to stay in Oz and there would also be advantages to moving "home", so there will be lots of big decisions to make in our house over the next few months! There are no restrictions with permanent residency, and the next step would be to apply for Australian citizenship. However, to become a citizen you have to be living Down Under for at least 4 years, and time spent out of the country (including holidays to the USA, New Zealand, Thailand, etc.) does not count towards those 4 years, so we have some time before we can think about the option of dual citizenship.
If there are any readers out there who need advice or assistance with applying for PR, please don't hesitate to contact me with questions!