Last week was a huge milestone in our journey to start a new life and church in Australia. One of the big hurdles for anyone wanting to move overseas is obtaining permission from the foreign government to do so (a visa). Many people inaccurately think you can automatically go if you are married to someone from that country (like I am).
I applied for a partner migration visa back in October. After a month-long process of gathering documents including a notarized stack of birth certificates, marriage certificate, copies of passports along with obtaining about 4 new passport sized photos for each family member, my application and the $2200 was mailed off to the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. I still had to wait on the state of Texas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to reply with a piece of paper saying I had no criminal history on record. The process also included a trip to Dallas with the kids to obtain medical checks, chest x-rays, and blood and urinalysis to declare us all healthy. I accomplished each of these final application pieces mid-December. And the waiting began.
Everything I had researched said the provisional visa takes anywhere from 5-12 months to be approved. I would be able to stay in Australia and work legally as well as acquire health insurance. After two years, I could then apply for a permanent visa to live there as long as I want. Then, I could even apply for citizenship (I would be a dual US/Australian citizen).
After checking on the status of my application in January, I was told the same 5-12 month timeframe from when my application was received (October). Our entire future plans rest on this visa being approved.
Well, (drumroll please)… I am thrilled to announce that my visa was approved last week! Yes, only FOUR months after I applied! What a relief! Not only is my visa approved, but I have a deadline for entry which is October 10. Meaning, I MUST move by October or my visa is void.
Secondly, an unexpected blessing is that the type of visa I was approved for is a PERMANENT migration visa. This means the two-year waiting period has been waived. I can apply for citizenship, work legally as soon as I arrive, obtain medical benefits from the Government health plan, and even receive free English language tuition (which I might need!).
God is so good. He is faithful. He is never late and never early. He is always on time. The fact that my visa took less time than expected means we have work to do and he is paving the way for us to get there and get started.