• 20 . 03 . 07
  • Since I decided to stay here and my company agreed to sponsor an application for a business visa, I’ve become reacquainted with the many and varied joys of trying to gather disparate items from various authorities. The requirements for a 457 visa application aren’t unreasonable, but there certainly are a lot of hoops to jump […]

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Making A List, Checking It Twice

Since I decided to stay here and my company agreed to sponsor an application for a business visa, I’ve become reacquainted with the many and varied joys of trying to gather disparate items from various authorities. The requirements for a 457 visa application aren’t unreasonable, but there certainly are a lot of hoops to jump through. And given my recent country hopping-status, those rings are beginning to approach Olympic proportions. There are lots of forms to fill in, an up to date CV is required as well as a letter confirming my intent to stay here. So far, so mundane. I have a chest X-ray on Thursday, to make sure I don’t have tuberculosis, which apparently is pretty normal. I’ll be glad of the health check in any case.

The first difficulty comes with the request of my degree certificates and birth certificate, none of which have been seen for years. I’m sure I have a folder of important things, holding all this stuff, but Mum has a habit of ‘tidying’ things into the loft or garage and being on the other side of the world doesn’t help any. I can’t exactly rummage through old videotapes, boardgames and teddy bears from here. Luckily, these can be replaced and Mum, in the manner that Mums do, is bailing me out and doing all the legwork to get those sent over here for me. Thanks Mum!

The entry that made my heart sink when I first saw it was job references. I have two positions on my CV that require references, one for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in England, where I worked for a few months whilst completing my masters, and one for Nova. In Japan. I was expecting the Nova one to be the most challenging, having encountered Japan’s staggering beaurocracy first hand on many occasions in the couple of years I lived there. (Having to cancel your gas bill in person, anyone?). So imagine my surprise when I was given a phone number to call, which gave me an email address to send a request to and then received an acknowledgement to my request almost immediately, with the promise that it would arrive in a couple of days. I’d forgotten that once you got past all the beaurocracy, things actually happen very fast.

This left me with one more task to complete – getting a reference from the HR department of the Home Office IND for the 3-4 months I worked there over Christmas 2003. I find it ironic that to get a visa to stay in this country I have to get in contact with the immigration department of my own country. It’s even more ironic that I used to work in the HR department, in the recruitment section, so the place I need to be contacting is the exact office I used to work in. I might even end up calling my replacement. If I ever get in touch with them. You see, the Home Office is about as massive an entity as you can get. Never mind the left arm not knowing what the right arm is doing, in some cases the index finger doesn’t even recognise the ring finger.

The website was obviously no help at all and the only half useful-looking number I could find was for Immigration and Nationality General Enquiries. When I phoned this, it was of course an advice line for people wanting to live in England. The woman kindly forwarded me to the Home Office switchboard, who bounced me back to the first advice line. When I called the switchboard again, I was informed that I’d have to call the Home Office, which was pretty funny, because I was sure that’s what I was doing, but I ended up getting another number down in London, which tried to give me the first number again. When I’d patiently explained again what I needed, I was finally given a number in Liverpool. Apparently, there’s no office number on file for somewhere in Manchester, which is strange as there was an entire office block being built to house them when I was working there. Anyway, the number in Liverpool went straight to an answerphone, which kindly informed me not to leave a message unless I was applying for a job. Hmm.

I was only there for 4 months or so and I’m sure it can’t have that great an impact on my application, but when Juan Antonio says jump through the hoops, you go for all 5. But I find it exasperating that trying to get a reference from the Home Office will probably end up taking longer than I worked for them.