For many reasons I have decided to bring my girlfriend back to Australia. Rather than providing a long-winded and graphic account of our relationship, I want to talk about the mechanics of bringing your girlfriend home and some of the problems you may face. I am also only going to talk about bringing your girlfriend to Australia rather than other countries, since I have no first hand experience with countries other than Australia. So if you aren’t interested in Take-Away and you aren’t Australian, I think you may find this a little boring, but I am sure that there are some lessons to be learnt.
I am also assuming you are bringing your girlfriend home to have a genuine relationship with. If you want an unpaid servant and prostitute, I think the effort may be a little difficult.
Absolute Basic Documentation….
If you are in any sort of a relationship you need to do two things now, and if you have started already, all the better.
1…. Make sure you keep every piece of correspondence you have with your partner, be it email, snail mail, sending money (Western Union receipts), anything, and the more, the better. This also includes phone calls, so you need to keep your telephone bills. If you don’t have contact with your girlfriend how can she be your girlfriend the embassy will ask.
2…. Every time you visit your girlfriend make sure you have plenty of photographs together. Go to the crocodile park, the temple, outside her apartment, at the beach, on each trip, try to get about 3 or 4 photographs together in different surroundings, and hopefully wearing different clothes. So if you visit your girlfriend 3 times over a period of 6 months, then you should have about 10 12 photographs. Make sure you talk to your girlfriend about the pictures, so that every picture is significant… She should be able to remember why they are significant like “oh yes, I remember when I went to Phuket with Jim… and can add some trivial anecdote to talk to the embassy about.
Be your girlfriend a Bargirl of an office worker or in fact any occupation, leaving Thailand for a prolonged period of time is a big step. One of the biggest things you need to do is get the family supporting you. There are many stories floating around about what happens to Thai girls after they leave Thailand. The range of them is great, but they stretch from getting great fortune to being sold into prostitution. I am sad to say there are many more first hand stories about girls being sold into prostitution than being on the path to fame and fortune. With this in mind, please remember your girlfriend’s family will be concerned with her welfare. I suggest strongly you make every effort to meet and somehow talk to your girlfriend’s family at least twice before she goes for the visa. If she does not want you to meet her family, you should consider that to be a big alarm bell. Also ask her to let you have a look at the family book. This is a quick way to see how genuine she is as well. I would approach it from a point of being interested in her family. If you don’t read Thai, ask her to translate for you. Ask who each person is and show interest in the story. You will also find out at this point if she has a registered baby or not. The embassy in Bangkok will need to know all this stuff. If she lies to you about babies then you can worry. If she is from the country, consider also asking her family for “Good Luck”, and a blessing. This involved generally a gift of 10,000 baht cash and for me a Litre bottle of whisky and 2 cases of beer, so probably about $400AUD or about $250-US. Really, it’s a gift to the family and it is only looking for a blessing for good luck. In turn they will tie white cotton around your wrist and only your wrist and your partner will tie a 20 baht note as well…. NOTE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PHOTOS OF THIS…. On your return to her home (I am assuming somewhere in Issan), you will get yellow/orange cotton tied around your wrist. This is to welcome you back. This is also nice and a good photo opportunity. This is great for the embassy, to see this sort of stuff. When you leave, you might want to float the idea, if you have not done before that you want to take her on an extended holiday to Australia. At this point you really want the support of Mum. Don’t worry about dad too much, a few bottles of whisky will get his admiration, but mum is the one you need to get the agreement with. Generally you will get a conceded yes, but, this is a good opportunity to talk to mum and the family about exactly how you are going to take care of their daughter in Australia. Remember she cannot work, and don’t fool yourself she can get some cash work, and also your girlfriend will have been sending money home to Issan, so they will be concerned that they are not going to get some money. They will like to know how often she will call, does she have a ticket, where is the nearest temple, are there any other Thai’s in your area. You also need to let them understand that you have a good job and sometimes work overtime. It seems to be a big thing if you work o/t, and you get respect. Tell them also where you can get Thai food for your darling to cook etc. The bigger the package you can present to the family the better they will feel. I also suggest you learn the Thai word for disgusting. And don’t say lar-mock, so when the inevitable questions of “are you going to sell my daughter” you can use that word. (Nar-gliiat). Eventually you are going to need mum to write a letter to support you taking darling out of the country, and are known to her family village, local shops etc etc.
Other Bits and Pieces……
You are almost ready. If your teeruk has a regular day job, she needs to get a letter from her employer saying she is allowed leave (paid or unpaid) for the period you want the visa. She also needs to have a bank account with $1000- per month you want her to stay. So if you want her to stay 3 months, then she needs to have shown she has saved 75,000 baht this is a really good effort for an office worker, and I think a particularly large hurdle. If you are in employment yourself and make about $45,000 or more, and have a few grand in the bank, then that will be ok. The best way to do this is apply for a credit card and take a cask advance of some number just below $5000-, put this into your savings account. Go to the bank and ask for a statement to be mailed to you. Wait until your pay is credited, go back to the bank and ask for a statement to be mailed to you. This is the statement you want to show the embassy. This statement will show an opening balance of about $5000- and your pay being credited. After that you can take the money from your savings account, pay off your credit card and probably cop about $25- in interest…. Make a few copies of your bank statement and get a JP to certify them as true copies. You will also need a letter from your employer…. If you have a good boss, and he knows the only use of the letter is to get your girlfriend over, they will write almost anything. The best you could hope for is a letter stating you earn about $45,000 dollars (more the better but don’t be silly) a year and the company has employed you for over 10 years. This needs to be on a letterhead and also you need to provide a certified copy. Finally, you need to write a letter yourself. There is a statutory Declaration form on the Immigration website. http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/forms_num1.htm and you will need to fill this one in. You need to say you will provide assurance that the following will happen:
1. Cover all her living, travel and medical costs.
2. You will provide an assurance she will leave at the end of the visa.
3. She is on a holiday and will not work.
You also need to talk to her like it is a letter from you to her and also include some idea of what you are doing, Melbourne Cup, Great Barrier Reef etc is all good stuff. If you call the help-line free call 131881, they will tell you almost word for word what to say. They are very helpful. So you bundle all this together, and you get teeruk to go to the embassy and get form “48RTH”. This is what she needs to fill out honestly. If she is divorced, she needs to say, if she has a baby, she needs to say. The only problem may be her employment history. If you are “rescuing” her from a bar, you have a small problem. You NEVER want the embassy to know that she has had anything to do with a bar. If she has tattoos, which are common with bargirls, make sure she wears clothes that cover the tattoos. This is where your support from the family is so important. When you get her mum to write a letter, you should also get her to talk about your girlfriend’s employment. She should never say she has worked in a bar, but the story has to resemble the truth. Usually in this case if Mum or Dad says in the letter that teeruk works for mum in a shop then that will be enough.
Finally, the Embassy, the Embassy…
When you deal with these people, you will discover they are possibly not the most clever people you have ever met, and the concept of lateral thought is not commonplace. The embassy staff have a process to follow. Unfortunately, they also have a lot of discretionary power. So if they don’t like her or you, there may be problems. Their biggest concerns seem to be either your girlfriend will overstay or will end up working up as a prostitute. She needs to be confident that she well be well treated and is looking forward to a nice holiday. She will also need a passport photo and the fees for the embassy etc as well as filling out the application form. The first hurdle is the processing officer, they will point out all sorts of problems with her application and to come back again. There may be any number of reasons. My suggestion is to comply with this request. Often what they are asking for in the big picture is trivial. It will be trivial in nature generally, once you have produced the volumes of information I have told before. Also phone the info-line at the embassy a few times, let them know your voice, and go through the documentation with them. So by the time they are ready to process your application, they will be bored with it.
Finally, be prepared to stay there all day, and be patient. Remember these people are public servants and don’t like their tranquillity interrupted.
Finally Good luck and I hope your girlfriend enjoys her holiday in Australia
A friend of mine who works in an embassy here in Bangkok gave one piece of VERY strong advice. Don’t lie about anything. If you lie about something and they become aware of this lie, they will almost certainly turn the application down.