Melbourne: The Road to Residency VI: At last!

So.

I got my CoC back from Singapore after a month, dropped it off at DIAC Melbourne the very next day (Mar 15).

Tip: Mornings are a good time for this, the queue is short and clears quickly.

Unbeknownst to me, my application was finalised and granted on Mar 16. I was blissfully unaware until the visa grant letter came via registered mail on Mar 22. And the best part, it was a grant for subclass 801 aka permanent residency! Life is good.

So, to sum it all up.

  • Application for subclass 820/801 submitted 07 Sep 2011
  • Case officer assigned 13 Jan 2012
  • Visa granted 16 Mar 2012

Not too bad I’d say, and this finally brings to an end the vague gnawing uncertainty that was always in a corner of my mind about my life in Australia. Cue huge sigh of relief, at long last. I have to thank V for helping me to organise the application to begin with, and my case officer Natalia for getting through my case so quickly.

To all the other applicants out there, my best wishes and I hope you guys get through soon!

Links to The Road to Residency series:
Part I: IT residency options
Part II: Tips and tricks on subclass 801/820 visa application.
Part III: Case officer assigned!
Part IV: Information on preparing for police clearances in Australia and Singapore
Part V: Clearing the fingerprinting.

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Melbourne: The Road to Residency V: Fingerprinted!

So.

If you had read my previous post, I was last seen preparing for my COC application..

Here’s an update on how things went:

Bank draft: much thanks to Bill, who helped with the HSBC bank draft. No rocket science involved here but remember folks, you need:

  • A HSBC account holder
  • Cash – $50 draft + $18 fee x SGD-AUD exchange rate 1.33 = GREAT SAVINGS!
  • Get to the teller before 3pm during Daylight Savings Time.

Fingerprinting: called Victoria Police and managed to get an appointment in early Feb at Wangaratta, which was a good three hours’ drive away from the city. Much thanks to Stan and V for driving up together, we had an unexpectedly fun road trip!

Waited in the station for a bit, and the friendly female constable came around. We headed over into the work rooms, she filled up my details on the fingerprint record sheet, then proceeded to get my hands all inked up. One would think that modern technology allows scanning and printing of the fingerprints, rather than the time-honoured tradition of inking but whatever works I guess.

The remaining ink smudges on my hands were taken care of by these awesome mechanic’s wipes she had; my hands were probably cleaner than they were before the inking. The sergeant on duty signed the sheet after that, and that was it!

According to the constable, a lot of people head over to Wangaratta for fingerprinting (surprisingly), so I would advise that you get an appointment booked early.

Tidied up my documents, made sure everything was ready and sent them off. I had wanted to send it via express, but normal mail costs $3.30 and express cost something to the tune of $40 so nah. I’m in a hurry, but not in that kind of hurry.

And the bomb’s away, all that’s left to do is to cross my fingers and hope it comes back soon.

Update: Mailed the application off on Feb 10, got my CoC back from Singapore on Mar 14 via registered mail. This should give you a benchmark on time frame.

Melbourne: The road to residency IV: Police clearance

So.

Police checks for Australia and Singapore, to make sure I’m clean.

The Australian check is a breeze; I completed and mailed that one out the same day.

(I suspect it’s largely because of the fact that the groundwork for my police check was done on the Form 80. The troublesome part of filling out countless entries and exits and duration of stay et cetera was all done there.)

  • Filled up PDF form for police check, printed and signed. Remember immigration check is code 33 with no fingerprints requested.
  • Printed deed poll, driver’s license and certified them.
  • Attached bank cheque thanks to V.
  • Stuffed ’em all into an envelope, slammed it shut.
  • Went over to the post office, stuck a $1.20 stamp onto it. Dropped it off at the post box.

Now, Singapore.

I need to get my Certificate of Clearance (COC) from the Singapore Police Force (SPF). And the more I read, the more it looks like a heavy duty PITA.

Reference: DIAC’s official guide for obtaining police clearance certificates – all countries

To begin with, I cannot apply for it online and must send it via mail to Singapore – I hate mailing important documents overseas. Step right up, PITA begins right here ladies and gents.

For someone obtaining the COC from overseas, here’s a checklist:

  • The SPF COC application form – bit of a PITA because I can’t fill the PDF up before printing it, crap handwriting ensures.
  • Two recent passport photographs – easy.
  • Evidence of the request from immigration – easy.
  • A photocopy of the passport particulars page – easy.
  • Application fee ($45) plus return postage ($5) on a bank draft issued by a Singapore-based bank. How the hell was I supposed to do that? Did a bit of reading up on the net and it seems like HSBC is an eligible candidate; I’ll try that out next week.

    Update: HSBC does it with an $18 surcharge if you are debiting from an HSBC bank account, have to get bank draft before 1500hrs in summer.

    Update 11 Dec 2012: Brother confirmed this via a phone call to SPF: Commonwealth (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Citibank, ANZ bank drafts are acceptable as well.

  • Get fingerprinted. So, I have a few options.
    1. Australian Federal Police (AFP):
      Only found mention of fingerprinting as part of the national police check, not for the SPF. Fee is $145. According to this post you can head over to their office at 383 La Trobe St Melbourne, I would suggest calling 03 9607 7777 to check.
    2. Victoria Police:
      Call 1300 881 596 from 0800hrs to 1600hrs, Monday to Friday to make an appointment.
      Fee is $137, no cash but EFTPOS, credit cards accepted so no problem.
      City branch is at 637 Flinders Street, World Trade Centre.
      Updated: no charges involved, you have to bring your passport along and slots are heavily booked, be prepared to get an appointment that is months away.
    3. Public notary:
      According to this post it sounds like a PITA – create own template, find a notary and pay up to get him to sight the thing. Last option if I have to do it. The Notary Locator (this link is pointing to Melbourne VIC 3000) should come in handy at this point.

Problems with the COC?

  • Give the SPF a call at (+65) 64358275 or (+65) 64358277 during office hours or
  • Email to SPF_CID_COC@spf.gov.sg

*extracted from the SPF COC page.


More updates to follow on my adventure with the COC – I suspect things will not go smoothly on this one.

Australia – The journey to a subclass 457 work visa

This is pretty good news actually; as of 20 May 2008, I have qualified for a subclass 457 work visa that will allow me to work in Australia. It’s not exactly better than a PR (Permanent Residency) visa, but I don’t qualify for that anyway so who cares? One step forward in the great plan, woot!

What a long wait it has been, and it sure was a great relief to have the visa label on my passport at long last. You don’t count your chickens until they hatch, and this bloody chicken certainly took its time about it.

Incase anyone’s curious about how one goes about getting the 457, here’s a brief summary:

#1 You find a company who is willing to sponsor your work visa.
This is the first hurdle, because the visa involves a great deal of paperwork and waiting. You would probably have to think hard about why the company couldn’t just get another bloke off the street in the first place. The shit starts right after this.

#2 Your company has to be an eligible sponsor.
This means that the company has to be screened and approved as a sponsor for the work visa, in terms of finance mainly. In short, they have got to have the moolah to pay your salary. (Which brings us to the next point..)

#3There is a minimum wage imposed on the visa.
Which is a good thing actually but cuts both ways. Sure, you’re definitely assured of a decent salary, but your employer has to be willing to fork the money out (when he could probably hire someone else at a cheaper rate).

#4 Your company has to nominate your job and get it approved.
This means providing details of your job, and probably reasons why they have to get you and no one else. After this is approved, we finally come to the final step.

#5 You have to submit the visa application.
It is usually faster to submit the nomination and the visa application simultaneously. The only downside to that is if your nomination application gets screwed, so does the visa application (and the application fees of course). The visa application involves submitting copies of the following documents (including, but not restricted to):

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Educational certificates and transcripts
  • Passport-sized photographs

And it took me almost four months to get this thing done. Thanks to Sylvester for his tips on doing the 457, ZM for helping to scan my birth certificate at short notice, and every single one of you guys who have been listening to me rant about the visa. And of course, thanks to my boss who made this all possible.

Friends over in Melbourne: July edition (or better known as NZ and MS’s trip here) #3 – Great Ocean Road

[sneaking a bite of breakfast] – V’s Flickr, 13 Jul ’07.

I made (and salvaged) one of my biggest mistakes since coming here, so read on and remember this, especially for those people who’re planning to study in Australia.

So my student visa expired on Aug 31, but Singaporeans could actually apply for an Electronic Travel Visa or ETA, which is an instantly approved e-visa, paid up via credit card. So hell, I thought there was no hurry in the extension of visa and took my time.

.. until three days ago when I realised the ETA could only be applied when you were outside of Australia. I thought I was fcuked. So I tried to apply for the visa extension via the immigration website, but couldn’t do so for some reason. Called the immigration department the next day, and ooh I had to make an appointment, go down in person and present my documents to them before I could get the visa. Lucky me, I was planning to fly down to New Zealand and do my ETA as a last resort if things came to extremes.

So for people looking to stay on for their graduation after the degree basically, you have to fill up form 601 on the website.

Also, you have to provide the following:

– proof of graduation i.e. your academic transcript. Get a copy from your school.

– proof of reason of stay i.e. a letter from the school stating your graduation ceremony details.

– proof of financial support i.e. a bank statement showing you have sufficient moolah to booze your way till the ceremony at least.

– pay up $215 for the visa application fee (EFTPOS is accepted, as are credit cards). Ouch.

It’s instant approval over at the office (well mine was), so it’s pretty easy. Just be sure to do it earlier; I’m an extremely negative example.

-~-

Weekend activity recount:

– shopped at Kathmandu ‘cus there was a 60% discount on stuff over there. I bought a pair of berms, a long sleeved roundneck, microfiber towels, and V got her Tech Amphibian at twenty dollars lesser, sheesh.

– outrageous prices at Queen Victoria Market; a great bunch of broccoli and pak choy, several honeydew melons, spare ribs and minced pork didn’t even come up to ten bucks. Every bloody thing seemed to be going for either a dollar or two dollars; the killer timing’s after 1430hrs on Saturday, heh heh. And we discovered that only because we were late (shopped too long at Kathmandu).

– Fabulous brunch today at The Pancake Parlor; a stack of three fluffy buttermilk pancakes with icecream and warm Bavarian sliced apples, slurps. V’s cottage fries (excellent baked baby potatoes actually) tasted great as well. They cost a bomb but I reckon the prices were worth it. Pictures to follow in future posts.

– bought The Matrix trilogy DVDs at JB Hi-Fi, $12.98 each but at an offer of buy two get one free. Comes up to about eight bucks or so for one DVD, cheap deal.

– rewatched The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy on DVD, thanks to Quickflix. Now I’m all prepped for The Bourne Ultimatum ;p

– read The Bourne Identity (novel), and became slightly disgusted at the extreme difference between the film and the book.

– watched The Pursuit of Happyness with V in the evening; I thought it was seriously a great film, showing the depths a man goes through to survive for his son.

-~-

Well, this Great Ocean Road trip was my first, and there’s only a few words to describe it in my memories.

Wet. Winding. Sleep. Puke-inducing. Ugh.


First stopover in the morning; this was an early trip -_-


Lunch was at the Apollo Bay Hotel; good food I say.


Fish and chips spelt with a K. There’s no K in fish and chips, is there? ;p


NZ and MS’s lunches; swordfish and hrmmm I forgot the other. Was it dory?


A kid MS caught on her camera, trying to defy gravity. Well, he tried pretty hard heh heh.

We headed over to the actual Great Ocean Road after lunch, and it was then that I belatedly realised my mistake. Too much food is no good on windy roads. Very, very no good, not when the bus was going at a pretty good clip. Well, to cut things short I went pale, decided throwing up was something to be done in private and thereafter barfed in the bus’s toilet. What a waste of food.


Over at the Apostles, post-barfing.


Well, you could see what a lousy day it was.




Pictures where I seemed to be the background drop.


Wet, through and through.

And that was about all for the trip; because it was too wet to take good pictures of the scenery. We walked around acting tourists, talked on the bus back, took turns to play on NZ’s DS for abit, dozed off, and it was quite a while before we finally got home.

-~-

Addendum:

– I thought this software’s pretty well-designed; meet Heatseek! Ultimate protector of men and their porn manly secrets. Encrypted files with password protection access and customised browser, what could be better?

Friends over in Melbourne: July edition (or better known as NZ and MS’s trip here) #2 – Phillip Island

[untitled] – V’s Flickr, 12 Jul ’07.

Finally cleared enough shit off the daily tasks to write this entry up. Oh well, I hope I do finish this entry and post it up on the same day ;p Work’s been pretty crap lately, what with two jobs and the work visa issue.

What visa issue? To summarise things:
– I’m still on a student visa right now, and it’s expiring on the 31st. Hmm shit, I need to apply for the tourist visa.
– I don’t qualify for Australian PR due to various reasons.
– I’m waiting for my employer to sponsor me for a work visa.

Well, we’ll see how things go for now. Every day brings changes, truly.

-~-


Breakfast on this day was at The Quarter, over at Degraves Street as well. HOTS (Hot Off The Skillet) style yet again, smaller portion but tastier IMO.

And of course, this trip’s itinerary was exactly the same as the previous trip with SJ jie and her mum. Kangaroo farm, koala reserve, penguins thereafter. Insert long sleepy bus journeys in between.


NZ with the neoprint kangaroo pose.


This was me on the previous trip heh heh. Looks familiar?


Ice cream on a cold day is goot.


Different perspectives; taking and being taken.


A pregnant koala actually came down from the tree this time, so we could pose for a close up photograph. Under the eye of the watchful keeper of course. Note how the koala turned away when I was supposed to snap one with her -_-


Dinner of fish and chips over at Phillip Island.

No photos of penguins this time round, because MS and I got caught by one of the keepers. No flash, long exposure photography also against the rules heh. Oh well.