Having decided I loved Melbourne, and that it wouldn’t do if I didn’t live there for a bit, I began wanting to apply for my Australian working holiday visa. This visa is offered to British passport holders under the age of 30 as a way to travel around Australia without breaking the bank. The process can be completed entirely online with the only major catch being that you cannot apply whilst in Australia. As a result, quite a bit of my time in Auckland was dedicated to visa logistics.
Normally visa approval is incredibly fast owing to the online automated system used by Australian immigration. You fill in the form at http://www.immi.gov.au, pay the several hundred pounds fee (£227 for mine I think) and within a day have your visa authorised. Unfortunately, mine was not this hassle free.
I had no idea that Hong Kong was a high risk area for tuberculosis and, as I’d lived there for 8 months, I required a chest x-ray to go along with my application. The Australian immigration folks only have two approved centres in Auckland which are able complete this as part of the online system. Luckily one of the centres was in the CBD and therefore not too far away.
You can go to any centre you like but if they’re not on the immigration approved list, you have to courier the films to Tazmania in order for the officers at immigration to assess them. I didn’t fancy that so I registered for the online service and popped on down to the authorised centre in Auckland CBD.
The x-ray process itself was very simple. I handed in my form, passport, paid approximately $70 NZD and got x-ray’d. The results were registered online there and then by the radiologist and I left thinking “Fantastic! It’ll l probably be cleared tomorrow.” because the website had told me it takes 24 hours for online medical results to be processed.
The next day I was disappointed to see that my application status still listed me as requiring a chest x-ray. I wondered if someone hasn’t pushed the required button yet and decided not to panic.
After the weekend, I receivd an email notifying me I was required to get a chest x-ray to support my application. “Uh oh” was my initial reaction. I thought I’d probably confused the computers because I got the chest x-ray before receiving the relevant email (I’d taken my prompt from the application status checker on the immigration site). Bugger. Time to speak to a human.
After a decent amount of time spent on hold (about 25 minutes. It’s a good job Skype credit calls are so blooming cheap) I got through to a very lovely lady and explained the situation. She assured me it did not matter that I had completed the chest x-ray as they are valid for a year after you lodge your application. Phew. The kicker was that she advised it can take up to 2 weeks for medical information to be loaded into immigration systems. The 24 hour assessment period only applies once the info has been received. This wasn’t great news.
I’d planned to go back to Australia within a week of getting to New Zealand and to just see Auckland in that time. Instead, I was confronted with the prospect of 2 weeks and not much cash to play with.
I spent the rest of that day deciding how I would spend my time. I settled on a week in Auckland, diving at Tutukaka and then visiting relatives for a week in Wellington. I made all the necessary coach bookings and settled back resigned to the fact that I may as well enjoy myself and spend lots of non existent money.
I spent the rest of the day booking and paying for things to see and do in each place. At about 7pm New Zealand time I received an email from the Australian Immigration service. It advised my via had been granted. I was delighted and then I swore.