GIVING VOICE TO VISA LIMBO

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As we waved farewell to the truck carrying all our precious cargo, we hold each other tight. A mix of feelings rise up; apprehension, uncertainty, heartache for the loved ones we are leaving behind; but mostly excitement.

With an Aussie hubby and daughter, both Australian citizens, our dream of moving to Australia was fast becoming a reality. I applied for an Offshore Partner Visa months before our moving date. I entered Australia on a 12-month tourist visa with the aim of travelling interstate to visit family and friends and make an informed decision on where to live. Little did I know that visit would be the most important trip I have made. Long story short – we were on the last flight into Melbourne before the borders closed.

As time went on, not only were we battling COVID fatigue and the significant losses experienced by so many, but my tourist visa was also about to expire. Like most, I was seeking to find security in uncertain times. I investigated applying for an occupation skilled visa as I identified the need for my professional skills. Hitting a wall, I tried a bridging visa option as my offshore Partner Visa was now in progress. With none of these options available to me I applied for a second Tourist Visa.

In the middle of a pandemic, during lockdown, this made little sense as it’s now unsafe and near impossible to travel. When I pressed submit on the application form, I felt that familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Almost instantly an email landed in my inbox stating a bridging visa had been granted. A month later my second Tourist Visa was approved but along with the conditions of no work and maximum of 3 months study, there was an additional condition – no travel. And instead of the 12 months I applied and paid for, I was granted a 6-month Tourist visa. With no entitlement to work and on-going studies, I was experiencing a loss of identity, with my skill sets declining. 16 months on and still no sign of my Offshore Partner Visa, I find some comforting news. Offshore visa applicants are now entitled to remain in Australia if their visa is granted. A change in policy that previously stated an applicant was to leave Australia for their offshore visa to be granted and then return to Australia on their active Visa.

With my 2nd Tourist visa about to expire, and with border closures and the current situation in Europe, I am faced once again with scraping for a way to remain lawfully in Australia. At this point, we are very much settled but I remain in limbo, on yet another bridging visa awaiting my third Tourist visa. This time I had to pay a subsequent fee on top of the visa fee. A process now stemming over 24 months and upwards of $10,000. I feel positive that one day I will be delivering my therapeutic services around Inner West. Moreover, I feel grateful to be living in a community that continues to prove obstacles can be overcome with positivity, connection, and goodwill.

(The contributor wishes to remain anonymous.)

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