Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Red Tape, Form Filling and Paperwork

As you may be aware, Jim and I have spent the last little while putting together an application for a partner visa for him.

It is a long, tortuous, drawn out process filled with frustrations, blind alleys, twisty turns and complications.

I spent the better part of a day filling in the online form for him.  Fortunately, we had already gathered together all the information we needed.  Each page had to be saved before you went to the next one.  It was therefore EXTREMELY frustrating when the website crashed and it took me back to a page before I had filled in ALL the details of his parents, siblings and offspring and all mine.  I had also filled in all the personal statements he needed to have put together.  I would swear that I had saved all the family details.  I hadn't saved the personal statements - the site crashed while I was doing that. But no.  It was all lost and had to be done again.  Finally the form was filled in, submitted and the application paid for.  Many, many, many dollars left my bank account and headed to the Australian government.

The following day I suddenly realised that I had paid for it not with my Australian bank account, which had many, many Australian dollars in it but with my British credit card - which did not!  Another morning wasted while I tried to transfer money from Australia to the UK.  I knew it shouldn't be as complicated as it seemed to be.  I have transferred money internationally before without trouble.  Eventually I gave up on the live chat on the internet and actually rang the bank.  The nice lady I spoke to said there was no need to worry at all about IBANs, Swift Codes or anything else (none of which had worked) and just to put my personal bank details in.  Worked like a charm.  As it should have done :-D

Then we faced the daunting task of adding all the supporting evidence that the government requires.  We have spent the last few months gathering it all together.  Birth certificates; tick. Marriage certificate; tick. Passports; tick. Statements from friends and family attesting that our relationship is genuine, long lasting and enduring. Tick. Bank statements, mortgage statement, passport photos, stuff, more stuff, even more stuff.  Tick, tick, tick, tick.  And always, just when we thought we had it all, we found more stuff that they wanted.  It all had to be copied, certified, scanned and added to precisely the section of the application that was relevant.  It took all weekend just to do the scanning and adding.        

I am extremely grateful that I speak English (no need for English tests for migrants in my view - filling in the form is all the evidence you need that someone can speak and read English!!). I am grateful that I have access to computers, scanners, printers and that I know how to use them. I am extremely fortunate that I had the money to pay for the application and the support of family, friends and colleagues in putting it together (many, many thanks to the practice nurse who certified a mountain of documents - almost as many as our friend Ginger had to certify when I was putting together my application to have my residency restored but he at least was rewarded with Sunday lunches after the bouts of certifying !!)

And let us all give thanks that we are not displaced, homeless, refugees or anyone else who has lost all their paperwork, identity documents and all the other things that make navigating bureaucracy and red tape possible.  I was reminded of this after the bushfires in Victoria in 2009 and again after the recent Grenfell Tower block in London when so many of the people who survived had lost everything, including the things that proved who they were, gave them access to government agencies, access to money and access to information.  I must once again put our documents in a safe place and remember to keep my phone and wallet somewhere where I can grab them if I have to leave in a hurry.  I have been a bit slack about that recently.
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