Stickman Readers' Submissions September 26th, 2013

My Aussie Visa Rant

Regards that submission about an Australian visa – the short and very simple solution to the problem would have been for the boyfriend (assuming he had adequate funds in Australia and evidence of them) to write a letter of guarantee taking responsibility for his girlfriend's stay in Australia. A simple letter and a simple solution – I have done this before (a few times). It does work (if all else is in order). That would have been better than putting 200k into the account a month earlier and making it look ‘odd’.

Now for my RANT:

mens clinic bangkok

The reason things like this happen is because of IDIOTS. That is IDIOT Australians. There is no other way of saying it. And frankly it makes me totally ashamed to be an Australian. It goes way beyond ‘policy and process’. It is out-right abuse and intimidation. Let me tell you a few stories about cases I have had:

The first time we applied for a visa for Australia (to go to Perth like this couple) was in 2005. At the time my wife was my then girlfriend. Because the Australian government opened a “visa application processing centre” you cannot go to the embassy and talk with a decision maker. You have to go the processing centre and submit your papers and wait. They say this is more efficient and ‘customers’ prefer it. NONSENSE. It costs more because you have to pay the processing centre a fee to post the papers to the embassy, and you cannot talk with an immigration official. It is about the worst system imaginable.

Anyway, we submit it all, and it gets rejected.

Reason: No ‘evidence of relationship’.

I finally get hold of an immigration official at the embassy (on the phone) who explains – you need to send copies of emails or letters to show an ‘evidence of a relationship”. WTF! I tried (calmly) to explain that this was simply impossible. I had met my wife in Bangkok. I lived and worked in Bangkok at that time. Consequently I had never written a single letter to her or a single email to her. We lived in the same dam city for god sake. The dear immigration lady noted the point, but said that my reason was besides the point – with out letters or emails there was no evidence of a relationship.

After a long conversation she finally noted that an acceptable alternative could be SMS messages. We certainly SMSd each day.

However, similar to the submission on your site, I could re-apply, but of course I would have to pay another fee. The Australian system in it’s great wisdom could not ‘legally’ review a case after a decision is made, and there is no right of appeal. And the immigration lady deemed the decision correct and legal based on the information in the application.

wonderland clinic

At that point I was so worked up, I was ready to tell the official to get stuffed – we would holiday elsewhere. But with 2 daughters in Perth and a mother coming for Xmas and New Year, I had little choice other than to ‘play ball’. So I wrote a VERY long letter going into huge detail, provided references of friends in Bangkok etc and went off to the friendly processing centre to re-submit.

At the processing centre I handed over my mobile phone, complete with SMS messages, as part of the application. But she would not accept it! No, we can’t take your mobile phone. At that point my blood pressure went WAY UP. I explained to the robot-idiot-lady at the processing centre that I had spoken to the immigration official at the embassy and evidence of relationship was required and that in the absence of letters or emails, that the SMS messages were required. I said that I did not need the phone for a few days, and she WAS GOING TO TAKE THE DAM PHONE AND SEND IT WITH THE APPLICATION, if it was the last thing in life that I ever achieved. Finally, very very reluctantly it was sent off.

Three days later the phone came back, along with the passport, included with a visa – valid for 1 year, allowing multiple entries, and up to 3 months on each visit.

Frankly, it was WAY more trouble than it was worth. But we went to Perth twice – one in Dec 05 and again in Jan 06.

By the next time we needed a visa (end 06) we were living in Singapore. Things in Singapore were better in that you went to the embassy itself and spoke direct with the immigration official. However this was 2006. my wife was still my girlfriend and had only visitor status in Singapore.

Nevertheless a visa was issued – on the spot – in less than half an hour – after I wrote a short letter providing a guarantee. Interestingly though, the visa was issued for a single entry, for just 2 weeks, when the previous one had been multiple entry for a year. Anyway not for a mere mortal like me to ask why – I am sure there was a very good reason a mere mortal could never understand.

The next time was the end of 2007. By this time we were married and my wife was also a Singapore PR. We bowled into the embassy with the application form filled and bowled back out with the visa 20 minutes later. Back to 1-year multi-entry. However we still had to show bank account statements and evidence of funds. I am an Australian. She is my wife. What on earth do I have to provide our bank statements for? It is intrusive.

Every year following, the process repeated. And it was the same. I remember one year saying to the lady in my somewhat sarcastic tone, whether the bank balance which was over $500k was enough for a 1 week holiday in Australia – but immigration officials do not have a sense of humour. Two years in a row, the immigration official actually asked us whether we wanted to apply for partner migration. In both cases I asked what was the point when we lived in Singapore had no intention of ever living in Australia, and if we jumped through all the ridiculous hoops and paid the ridiculous fee, she would loose the visa after a year or two anyway, because of the requirement to spend at least 2 years (I think it is) in Australia to get the renewal. We would go from being in the situation of applying to get in, to having to stay in and not go out!!!!!!!! In one case the lady tried to say that it would not work that way if I could show I had a job in Singapore – but again I said – what is the point when we will never live in your over-priced, over-regulated, over-xxx country. I think she got the message.

Anyway, all went well until 2013. We were about to go to the embassy in February this year for a visa when somehow (forget how now) I found out that the dear Australian embassy in Singapore had decided that in the interests of improved customer service they had open an Application Processing Centre in Singapore. My heat sank. Improved customer service? That is the biggest joke of a life-time. It would be funny if it were not so DAM stressful. So we go to the new processing centre to find the costs have risen (an extra $40 for the processing centre for their value they add to the process!). What is more, rather than walking out with the visa on the spot as had been done in every one of the last several years, it now takes TWO weeks! And you cannot talk with an immigration official so you are back at the old Bangkok issue – prove your relationship blah blah.

So we spend a weekend preparing all the documents. The Australian embassy has more copies of our marriage certificate than I care to count, but of course we have to prove we are married again every year. Also this year I had to write a letter addressing the point in the application on her “incentive to return to her own country”. I mean WTF! She has travelled to Australian around 10 times in the last 7 years, and she has returned EVERY other time. She has a husband and a Condo and a life in Singapore. Duh! Why would she NOT return to Singapore? Not that immigration know, but actually she does not like Australia one little bit – she only goes to accompany me on occasion, and to see her mother-in-law when she is also in Perth. But anyway, I write the letter and try to justify why she has an ‘incentive to return to Singapore’. The whole process is onerous, invasive, intimidating, and out-rightly insulting.

After 2 weeks the passport does come back with the usual 1-year multi-entry visa.

As I say, it disgusts me that my country treat people in this way. I am sure there are dodgy people that are trying to break the rules. But for GOD SAKE – lighten up and apply some dam COMMON SENSE! But I give up. If there was any such thing as common sense, I would not have been in a bind being told the only way I could provide evidence of a relationship was to produce emails and letters back in 2005.

Because the Processing Centre was new, they were asking people to provide feedback on it – and I filled out their form and SLAMMED them. Not that it will change anything. I also had an email exchange with the head immigration official at the Singapore embassy (attached) as well. You can see in that email the attitude – Oh, it must be you – you are the first complaint we have had! Well, most people actually don’t complain because they are too dam scared it will impact the application – at this juncture I am way past that – if they don’t give my wife a visa to Australia I no longer care – we just won’t go there. We can spend our money elsewhere to countries who welcome high net worth individuals from Singapore who are spending their money!

And to cap it all of the New Zealand embassy has joined with the Australian one, and the application processing centre is a joint one. You now cannot walk into the New Zealand embassy in Singapore either. And if you want to take a trip to both Australia and NZ, then getting the visa takes 4 weeks. Two for the Australian one, and another 2 for the New Zealand one! What I also fear is the day when I need to make a trip to New Zealand in a hurry – like my mum being ill or something. What will happen if my wife does not have a current New Zealand visa? No doubt we will be told that it takes 2 weeks and if your mum dies in the meantime and you don’t get to see her – that is just to bad. After all them is the rules and the process!

Sorry for the rant, but that submission got me going!

nana plaza