Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Geekman 2: Bureaucracy 1

One of the most excellent things about this new two-year contract of Geekman's is that it lets him apply for permanent residency even though he doesn't score enough "points" under the standard Australian immigration system.* So he has started gathering the ninety million pieces of documentation they require for an application.

Among the harder things to get hold of are a birth certificate (since Swedes don't have birth certificates), and police records from every country he has lived in (including countries that state clearly on their police website that they "do not provide police records for immigration matters", countries that require you to drop into one of their police stations in person to collect it, and including one from Australia, because heaven forbid that their immigration department and police force might actually communicate with each other).

Anyway, today we got two steps further along in the process and took one step back.

The unqualified success was the (extemely extensive) medical examination, which took up most of the day. But Geekman now has a piece of paper that states, among other things, that he is free of tuberculosis, of "normal intelligence"**, and has blood pressure of under 140. (Because Australia presumably has a problem with hordes of intellectually impaired immigrants suffering from borderline hypertension. Or maybe it's a cunning terrorist identification ploy: terrorists lead a stressful life, so high blood pressure is a dead giveaway.)

The "one step forward, one step back" moment was with his police record from Germany. It arrived today (hooray!), but has his name misspelled. We suspect this will not be acceptable to the Australian authorities, who don't give a toss whether "Greekman" has ever been convicted of a crime, so we needed to contact the Germans to request a reprint (which will no doubt take another three weeks to arrive). Unfortunately the department responsible for police records REALLY does not want to be contacted by telephone, so it took us almost an hour to locate the number. They do now promise that a new record is on its way, which means it's time to locate an official translator. There are only two German words on the entire document -- the ones that say 'no criminal record' -- but official translators tend to charge by the page, so I suspect we are about to have the most expensive per-word translation fee ever.

But it will hopefully all pay off in the end*** since permanent residency will mean that when Geekman's contract does eventually come to an end he won't automatically have to leave the country immediately afterwards. Plus with permanent residency, he will finally be eligible for real health insurance (like wot real Australians have). So it's worth it, right? Right?


* "Physicist" sadly gets you way fewer points than a "real" job like hairdresser or postman. Because, you know, they wouldn't want any dirty academics messing up this wonderful country.

** He took exception to this, but the doctor decided that the immigration authorities probably consider a tick in the "abnormal intelligence" box to be a bad thing.

*** Unless they reject his application and keep the (multi-thousand dollar) non-refundable processing fee, that is.


Miss M. said...

Ah yes, the Grand Australian Immigration Challenge!

At least when all the rounds of paper chasing are over you get a funky prize (well, health cover could be funky, depends on the blood pressure I guess).

Are you thanking your lucky stars for special category visas (or whatever they call them these days) so you don't have to do it all twice?

StyleyGeek said...

Not exactly. It's actually kind of frustrating that precisely BECAUSE of special category visas, very little provision is ever made for the possibility that New Zealanders might want to get permanent residency or citizenship, so it is extra hard for us to do so (since around 2001 -- before that it was easy. Sigh.)

Because, why would we want to do that when we can live here indefinitely on our special category visas? Well, because of a little matter like HEALTH INSURANCE, perhaps?

NZers are only covered by Medicare for emergencies, so if your doctor suggests that you should get something checked out, but that it's "probably nothing", you have a difficult (i.e. expensive) decision to make. Plus I don't think we are covered at all for costs associated with pregnancy and birth (not that I'm planning on that, but you never know...). I've also struck situations where a certain type of birth control is "only $10, oh wait, you're a NZer? $350 please." And pap smears? Costing me a lot more than they are costing you.

Miss M. said...

That's crazy! Wow, all the things I never knew. I moved here when I was 3 so I guess I never had to think about things like health cover until recently (but I did the Aussie citizenship thing last year because Uni is way cheaper).

My Dad gets sent a form every few years asking if he's still in the country and whether or not he'd like citizenship yet (he's British). It always seems to me like the Aussies (read:John Howard) can't make up their minds whether they actually want people to move here or not - sometimes its easy, other times its really not, and most of the time it seems like there's no real pattern to it whatsoever!

turtlebella said...

Immigration insanity!!! I have friends going through the same thing were in the US, she is a US citizen and he is from New Zealand. They got married, thinking this would help the process (plus they, you know, wanted to get married!) but turns out this made it worse (huh?!). Now he has to be out of the country for six months! Six months after you've just gotten married! He also has to get this whole police reports from every place he's lived ever which include California, New York, Indiana, Australia, Germany, England, and a few other assorted places... sheesh.

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