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Orphan

NEW THREAD - 143 Contributory Parent (Migrant) Visa - Tips and Other information

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Orphan

Hi All,

We have recently joined this website, and spent many hours trolling through the numerous contributions for things which might help in our great adventure to Australia. Because we have experienced some difficulty finding things which relate to our specific visa, and as some of these posts go back many years, and are now outdated, we thought perhaps it is time to start a new thread, specifically and uniquely for those of us applying for the 143 - Contributory Parent Visa (Migrant).

To start this thread, I thought I might offer some insights and tips we have gathered along our journey to date, which you may find useful. Hopefully others in the same situation will also contribute. And if you have questions related to this particular visa, please ask, and we (or others) will try to assist you.

#1. PLAYING THE WAITING GAME

We are currently in limbo (or as someone has aptly coined it "the waiting room") while we await the appointment of our Case Officer ("CO"). Our application was registered on 17 May 2013, although confirmation of this was only received by us on 15 July 2013. Initially, we were advised that the delay in processing our application would be "less than 12 months", but this has gradually moved out over the intervening months to the current official delay of "18 months". This waiting game has proven to be the most frustrating part, particularly as there is no way of knowing quite where you stand.

For those of us in this visa class, there is no official queue, as has been created for the Non-Contributory visa classes. But we can still get an idea of what is going on from other sources.

Firstly, I suggest you send an email at month-end to parents@immi,gov,au. You don't need to write anything, as this will generate an automated response which provides you with the latest update and information on every class of parent visa. About halfway down the email, you will see which month the authorities are currently processing for the 143 visa class. Note that this date does fluctuate - for example, in the beginning of June 2014, the delay it was reportedly down to "16 months"; but by the end of that same month it had returned to 18 months again.

The next place you can visit is a website at www.gainwave.co.uk, which publishes a "CPV Progress Tracker". Here other visa applicants are posting their timelines, and you can get a good idea of how long it is taking to complete the whole process.

Finally, there are other websites similar to this one, where people are posting their time lines - such as www.pomsinoz.com and www.perthpoms.com

Now that the Australian authorities have permanently closed applications for all other classes of parent visas (since June 2014 only Contributory Visa subclass 143 and subclass 173 are being accepted) we are hopeful that more resources in the Parent Visa Centre will be allocated to the processing of our visas, and that the lead-time will shorten

I hope this has been helpful, and I shall continue to add to this thread in time

Orphan has kindly collated all his posts below into one place which can be read here

GUIDE TO THE 143 PARENT VISA

Edited by Jordy
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Bronwyn&Co

Wow thanks for an informative post!

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Mara

Orphan, as a first post this is exceptional! Must say I love your "handle"

Welcome to the forum, trust we will have a lot more of your wise advice!

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Renny

Will be keeping an eye on this as my parents will be submitting their application in Oct/Nov as they need to wait for us to be in Aus for at least 3 months (we are not the sponsorchild, but just the balance of the children for the family balance test)

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Orphan

#2. WHAT ABOUT THE VISA MONEY?

For most emigre's, the decision on whether to move to Australia is probibly the most difficult and traumatic. For us it was simple - with both our children and all of our grandchildren living there, there isn't too much keeping us here in South Africa.

Equally simple was our decision to go for the Contributory Parent Visa - we couldn't wait 23 years for a visa (which was the official delay back in early 2012, before they allocated more visas to this category). The only problem here was that we certainly didn't have a spare million rand lying around to pay for our 143 visas! (But if you do, then you can stop reading now!)

So ultimately, the most difficult decision we had to take was WHEN to sell our house to raise the money needed for the visas?

We decided to do so immediately upon submitting our application, for two reasons:

Firstly, at the time of submitting our application, the official delay in processing 143 visas, was "less than 12 months". Coupled to this, was the presence of a very clear, and quite threatening instruction appearing on the immi.gov.au website:

"If you are applying for Contributory Parent visa, you should note that processing times can vary. It is important that you ensure you have funds available for the second visa application charge at all times during the application process, as payment may be required at an earlier date than was anticipated at the time of visa application lodgement." Not knowing when you may be called upon to fork over a million rand is a recipe for sleepless nights.

Secondly, the local house market was, according to our estate agent, going through a "slump" (don't they all say that?!) and we had no idea how long it would actually take to sell it. As it was, it took precisely 10 days, (and for cash nogal!) which then meant that we had to rent something in the interim.

The wrong decision? Not at all - I would do the same again! Firstly, for the reason that we sleep better at night knowing that the money is in the bank. And secondly, because we sleep better at night knowing that the money is now sitting in an Australian bank!

Using our foreign exchange allowances (R1,0 million per person per annum, renewed 01 January each year) we have been able to (legitimately) move most of our money out of the country over the past two years by transferring this to our children. More importantly, we have been able to spread these transfers across a range of exchange rates, starting at below R9.00 to the AU$, and amortising at around R9.40. As the exchange (buy) rate is now over R10.20 to the AU$, this has proven to be a pretty good investment in its own right. With the deteriorating state of the Rand, and your limited allowances, the sooner you can start this process, the better.

And the great news is that not having a house to live in and look after, is not a bad thing at all! All of our stuff is sitting in storage (more about this aspect later) and we are now living out of suitcases (good training for when we arrive in Australia), and travelling around the country saying goodbye to friends. We are currently in Ramsgate, on a seriously extended 4 month holiday - how tough is that?

That's all for now. Thanks for the positive responses above, and feel free to ask questions.

Edited by Orphan
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Jordy

This is just an awesome post! Looking forward to the remaining installments of the saga!

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Mara

I just love it when forumites are prepared to share in such a gracious and instructive way!

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shannonc4

Following ☺

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Orphan

#3. THE D.I.Y. VISA APPLICATION

The impression I have gained from reading posts on this and similar forums, is that there is a tendency towards outsourcing the Visa Application process to an external Immigration Agent.

We didn't.

Rather, we elected to go it alone, for the simple reason that the 143 Visa is expensive enough without having to pay someone commission on top of it all; and, more importantly, because the whole application process is actually quite straightforward.

One thing I shall definitely give the Australian authorities - they provide a very clear set of instructions on what you need to do. Therefore you don't need to be a Literary Major, Red Tape Engineer, or an experienced Interpreter of Bureaucratic Double-speak in order to undertake thistask. For this reason I would strongly suggest you give it a go yourself before rushing off to an outside agency. After all, who can look after your own affairs better than yourself?

Your starting point is to download a copy of "Booklet 3 - Parent Migration" from the Australian Government website at www.immi.gov.au/visa (I see that the link to this booklet is not working at the moment, which is probably due to the booklet being updated to include the recent changes to the non-contributory Parent visa classes. But keep on trying!) This booklet is really comprehensive, and covers just about every question you may have about the visa application process. Because it covers all the Parent classes, you may get a little confused at first; but after reading it twice, and even a third time if necessary, you will get a very clear picture of what is required. Keep a copy of this booklet on file, because you will probably need to refer to it quite often while you wait, particularly if you start having doubts about whether you have done the right thing, or perhaps you have read a blog containing some misinformation which has put the wind up in your sails!.

BUT, if after all this you still have a question, or want a more comprehensive answer, or need to discuss your specific situation, you can send an detailed email to the WA Parent Visa Centre at parents@immi.gov.au . This will trigger an automated response, but if your question is not covered in this generic email, expect a written response from someone at the Centre in two weeks. They are a really helpful bunch!

Filling out the various forms can be pretty onerous and time consuming. But this does have the advantage of forcing you to get all your ducks in a row - like renewing your passports and digging up long-forgotten documents. You need to start early, because some of these forms may be difficult to acquire. particularly if you have lost one and need to apply for another copy. Remember too, that at the time of completing the application, you are looking about two years down the road before actually leaving for Australia, so diarise things like when best to renew your driver's license (because you can automatically convert a current SA license into an Australian driver's license.)

My final suggestion is to appoint one of your Australian-based children as the designated recipient of written communications. You will find this section in Part L of the application form. (It does require yet another form, but I think the advantages outweigh this!) I did this in order to speed up the process, and have someone over there who could respond immediately to any issues. For example, I couriered my application and (irreplaceable) original documents directly to my son first, just to make sure that these didn't get lost in the bowels of the South African Post Office. Once in Australia, these documents could then be safely posted onto the authorities.

Finally, and without wishing to cause offence, I recommend that you be absolutely truthful in your application. Resist any temptation to downplay, or even fudge some of the information you are submitting, particularly in respect of your health and character assessments. I believe that the Australian authorities are very positive about granting Parent Visas, because they recognise and appreciate the value of the family unit, and the contribution parents can make to society and the economy. They desire to find in our favour; not to prevent us from being reunited with our children. Therefore, we are the only ones that can mess this up by being less than honest at all times.

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Jordy

When did this for my mother-in-law, my wife was appointed the contact person. It really works well because we got the all the emails from DIBP and could act on them quicker. Good advice above!

Looking forward to your post on how to pay the Assuror of support Payment. That is a another process in itself. Your child who is sponsoring you will have to endure the applciation process to Centrelink which is very intimidating. Orphan, perhaps you might ask your child to write up that section when they get to it.

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Orphan

#4. GETTING THE POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE

Our 143 visa application (Form 47PA) arrived at the WA Parent Visa Centre on the 17th May 2013. One month later the first VAC payment was deducted from our credit card, and another month later we finally received an official acknowledgement of receipt. To our relief, these delays did not impact our visa lodgement date, which was officially recorded as 17th May - something which gains increasing importance as we wait our turn for our Case Officer (CO) to be assigned!

This acknowledgement letter provides a five-point "Applicant Checklist", with critical action dates, and a no-nonsense injunction to "ensure you follow all the instructions provided in this letter carefully". Erring on the side of caution, we have done exactly this - carrying out tasks, submitting or retaining documents as and when instructed.

I mention this because there seems to be great deal of confusion among UK (and possibly SA) applicants as to when to undertake these tasks. This appears to be due to immigration agents advising their clients to "hold back because of processing delays", and only start actioning things "once the CO has been appointed". My problem with this approach is not only that it goes against the written instructions of the Parent Visa Centre, but also because once your CO starts your assessment process, you have a limited amount of time to respond to his/her requests. As I certainly didn't want to apply for a police clearance certificate from Pretoria if there was a deadline in place, I went ahead and applied for our PCCs on the date specified!

Number I on the Applicant Checklist is the "Personal particulars for character assessment" - otherwise known as Form 80. This requires a great deal of information about everyone in your family, which takes quite a bit of time and research, and is probably why they call for it to be completed and submitted immediately.

Number 2 on the Checklist is your Police Clearance Certificates (PCC). For this we were instructed to commence the process 10 months after our visa lodgement date, i.e. March 2014. However, we were also instructed to "Retain until requested by our case officer", and so we continue to hang on to these for dear life. The thought did cross my mind whether this clearance certificate had a shelf-life, but I have subsequently learnt that these are valid for 12 months from date of issue.

The actual process to follow in obtaining your PCC is not complicated, and you can read all about it on the Police website at www.saps.gov.za/services/applying_clearence_certificate.php. You can get your fingerprints taken at your local police station at a cost of R59.00 per person, payable in cash or by EFT (take your proof of payment). At which point you should advise the officers that you will be submitting this application yourself, and get them to fill out all the necessary forms, which you take with you.

The actual PCC is issued by the South African Criminal Record Centre in Pretoria. If you happen to live there, you can drop off your documents at 271 Frances Baard (Schoeman) Street. For the rest, I strongly suggest you use Postnet Pretoria CBD, who have set up a PCC delivery, tracking and return service. The owner is Philip Opperman, who can be contacted at (012)322-2419, or ptacbd@postnet.co.za We did it this way, without any hassles, and got our certificates back in only three weeks at a cost of R850 for both. (I understand that Postnet has now got a Postnet-to-Postnet special at only R99.00, which should reduce this cost to around R500).

Finally (and I am happy to put money on this) I guarantee that the moment you receive your Police Clearance Certificate back from Pretoria, you cannot open it without a little twinge of anxiety about what it contains!

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Jordy

Just to add to the above, that your date of acknowledgement is important because the fees you pay for the second installment will be calculated according to the fees applicable as per that date. We got ours in just in time to miss the July 1st increases and because the process went across two visa fee increases (July each year) we paid two year old fees. ie fees from 2012 rates. It goes up about 10% a year so that that is about $4000 on the $40 000 fee per year.

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Orphan

Quite right Jordy - your visa lodgement date, which appears on your letter of acknowledgment, plays a critical role in determining the overall price of your visa.

Here are the 1st and 2nd VAC prices since 01 January 2012

1st VAC 1st VAC 2nd VAC 2nd VAC TOTAL

Main Applicant 2nd Applicant Main Applicant 2nd Applicant

01 Jan 2012 $1,995 Free $ 40,015 $ 40,015 $ 82,025

01 July 2012 $2,060 Free $ 42,220 $ 42,220 $ 86,500

01 Sept 2013 $2,060 $1,030 $ 42,220 $ 42,220 $ 87,530

22 Mar 2014 $3,520 $1,185 $ 43,600 $ 43,600 $ 92,935

What is important to realise about this is that the authorities seem to have moved away from increasing the visa charges at the start of the new tax year (01 July). Thus, new applicants should not delay their application unnecessarily, or in the belief that can avoid an increase by submitting during June month

Edited by Orphan
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Orphan

#5. TAKING THE MEDICAL

Number 3 on the checklist provided is an instruction to undertake a medical examination.

Your acknowledgment letter provides a reference number for this purpose, known as your "HAP number". Each applicant receives a personal HAP number, which one must present to the examining doctors. You also get an action date on which to undertake the examination; in our case this was exactly 12 months after our lodgement date, namely 17 May 2014.

If you are anything like my wife and I, you will approach the compulsory Medical Examination with a fair degree of trepidation. At our age, most parts of our bodies seem to creak and leak a lot, and there are all sorts of strange lumps, bumps, flaps and thingamabobs which defy description, but could potentially sabotage our chances to qualify for our visas.

In preparation for our medicals, I went online and found the official examination form used by these Doctor (Form 26 : Medical Examination for an Australian Visa) at www.immi.gov.au/allforms/application-forms/forms_alpha.htm#m Filling in all the required information before the event not only saves you and the Doctor a great deal of time on the day, but also helps keep everyone in a good mood (which has to be an advantage, right?). It is also helpful because there is a great deal of information required on all your previous illnesses and operations, which can necessitate going way back into your archives and memory banks. My wife for example has had so many operations in her lifetime, I should have married two of her and used one for spare parts!

For your medical, you cannot simply pop down to your long-time family doctor. Rather, you are required to see the limited number of Australian-approved GPs and Radiologists who practice in the six cities only. You can get their names and contact details online at www.immi.gov.au/Help/Locations/Pages/South-Africa.aspx If you happen to live outside Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, or Port Elizabeth, you will have to travel.

The medical itself is pretty straightforward, and comprises a physical examination, eye test, height and weight measurements, and blood and urine samples at the one location, followed by an X-ray at the radiology practice nearby. If they pick up anything out of the ordinary, you may be required to undertake more laboratory tests. Note that these local doctors are there only to collect information, not to pass judgement. The final decision rests with your Case Officer, who will either approve the result, or refer it to the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) if there seems to be a problem.

Unfortunately you don't get to see your medical results. It is requirement for these to be immediately posted online the Australian "eMedical" electronic health processing system by the doctors themselves. Your results are stored here in your personal visa folder for future use. What I found rather strange however is that your acknowledgement letter instructs you to "Retain (your medical results) until requested by your Case Officer", which obviously doesn't happen, and is outside your control. A useful tip if you have any doubts whether or not your doctor has actually sent off your results, is that you can go online and check it for yourself at www.emedical.immi.gov.au/eMedUI/eMedicalClient

If you are concerned whether you might fail the medical examination, you can get some indication off the government website about the sort of things the Australian authorities are looking for. According to what is posted there, to meet the health requirement, you must be free from a disease or condition that is "considered to be a threat to public health...", "likely to result in significant health care and community service costs..." and "likely to require health care and community services...which are already in short supply..."

The following are listed as being "the most common diseases to result in the failure to meet the health requirement for a permanent visa"-

Intellectual Impairment

HIV infection

Renal disease or failure

Cancer

Alzheimer's/dementia

Diseases which are considered to be "Threats to Public health or a danger to the Australian Community" are:

Active TB

HIV

Hepatitis

Yellow Fever

Polio

Ebola

On the other issue mentioned, "significant costs" are assessed for a permanent visa "over a five year period" (or three years for those aged 75 and older)

You can read about these three aspects in more detail at www.immi.gov.au/allforms/health-requirements/threats-public-health.htm and at www.immi.gov.au/allforms/health-requirements/significant-costs-services-short-supply.htm

Finally, and I stand to be corrected, the cost of our medical examination was around R1600 per person. On a happier note, your Medical Examination also has a 12 month shelf life. So if you are experiencing the same delay we are, there is still quite a bit of time before we could be asked to go through the whole process again.

Edited by Orphan
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Orphan

#6. PACKING UP

I read somewhere that packing up and moving is the second-most stressful event in one's life after Divorce. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say; but I do know that packing up and moving to a completely different country is seriously traumatising!

Worse still, because Australia is so strict about what you can take in with you (as anybody watching Border Patrol will know), there is a great deal of pre-removal preparation needed which requires much time and effort.

What follows below are some of the general importation issues which the two of us were faced with, but of course everyone is different, and you may have other things such as pets and motor vehicles to worry about. Therefore I suggest you go online and upload some of the many publications which the Australian government has provide on this subject. The most useful publications can be found at the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Daff); in particular, they provide a comprehensive list of just about any item you can think of at www.daf.gov.au/publications/biosecurity_australia, and an online search engine known as ICON, at www.apps.daff.gov.au/icon32/asp/ex_querycontent.asp where you can find out about the import conditions of more than 20,000 items.

Based on our own experiences, here are our Top Ten must-does for you:

1. Start Early!

The sands of Time run out very quickly while you aren't watching, and you don't want to be trying to sort things out when the packers knock on your door. We started two months before then, and still could have done with another week.

2. Clean Everything!

This is not because your things are going to be in little boxes for a very long time, but because the Australian authorities demand it. To quote, "Before packing, the Department requires that any items that have been in contact with food, soil, plants, animals or their products are thoroughly cleaned and free from any contamination"

3. Remove the Rust

A good sign that your machinery, tools and equipment have been "thoroughly cleaned" is to remove all the rust. In particular, take care that your garden tools, lawnmowers, outdoor furniture and planters have been properly attended to, because these do come into direct contact with grass and soil. We dumped anything we couldn't restore to almost a new state, and even went as far as de-rusting and repainting our garden spades and forks, and wrought-iron garden benches.

4. Treat the Wood

You need to check every wood product to see whether there is evidence of infestation, such as wood borer holes, sawdust piles, tunnels, chewed timber, or cracks wide enough to harbour insects or larvae. In addition, the Australians are very concerned with untreated wooden products, particularly indigenous Art,such as African statues, carvings, masks and suchlike. For these we varnished anything that appeared to be raw wood, and sanded down and re-varnished everything that looked rough or weather-beaten, such as my workbench, wooden shelving and garden bench slats. Anything with signs of infestation was burnt.

5. Steam-clean the Camping gear

My wife and I are serious campers, and have over the years collected a lot of camping and fishing gear which we were loath to leave behind. We were warned however that these types of items are high on the Australian radar, and advised to steam-clean everything we have. Fortunately we have a small high-pressure steam-cleaner which was ideal for this purpose. But if you don't, you can always take your stuff down to the local car wash to have it done. Once completed. I made out an affidavit listing everything that had been cleaned in this manner, and had it witnessed and stamped at our local police station. One other thing, be careful to wash your freshwater fishing tackle really well, as apparently there is some sort of bacteria that infects used hooks and line.

6. Check the Christmas Decorations

You cannot take a Christmas tree into Australia - whether real or artificial. In addition, you need to go through all your Christmas decorations and turf out any with pine cones (which may carry seeds) and plant materials such as grass and holly.

7. Clean the Dust Collectors

Make sure that your vacuum cleaner is really, really clean and bag-less when you send it, because we all know what lives under the bedroom carpet, don't we? Similarly with your brooms, brushes, and dustbins. This might also be a good time to vacuum the mattresses and clean the fluff collector in the tumble dryer.

8. Dump the Grass

You will need to get rid of anything made of grass, such as floor mats and yard brooms. My wife was devastated to learn that her beautiful modern display of coloured rod-like things were in fact made from a type of hollow grass, and had to be left behind.

9. Eat the Food

You cannot take in any food products in open packets, or anything which looks suspiciously like something home-made. More importantly, eat or dump the spice, herbs, curry powders, cereals, rice and flour. Don't know what it is about South African manufacturing and storage, but every bit of dry food we buy today seems to be infected with weevils or bugs of some description

10. Empty the Washers

Before packing up your washing machine and dishwasher, make sure you empty out all the water in the reservoir and pipes and dry everything well. Apart from the mess, you really don't want your machines to arrive with the smell of brackish water.

Finally, there is a good financial incentive for doing all this preparation really well. When your stuff reaches Australia it will be subject to a quarantine inspection at port of entry. The charges for this inspection are based on the length of time it takes to inspect your goods. Thus anything you can do to shorten this event will be of benefit to you; and clear evidence that you have taken the time and trouble to eliminate the possibility of contamination will satisfy the inspectors and weigh heavily in your (pocket's) favour.

Edited by Orphan
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DXB2OZ

Orphan, first of all, loving this post. Thanks so much for the tons of useful information. We were advised that artificial Christmas trees were not a problem, as long as they were clean. Did have to ditch my collection of line cones, unfortunately, but all the artificial trees (we are slightly Christmas mad) and decorations were fully declared and came through with no problem at all.

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Orphan

Hello DXB2OZ,

Glad to hear that you are enjoying my ramblings!

We were given this advice about the artificial Christmas Trees by our movers, which I found a little puzzling at the time. So just to make sure I went on line to www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/travel/moving-emigrating/items_of_quarantine_concern_in_personal_effects and found that the artificial types are indeed prohibited.

Either you did such a good job cleaning them, or yours missed the eagle eye of the inspectorate? Enjoy, nevertheless!

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Bronwyn&Co

We also brought our fake Christmas tree, photo albums, picture frames etc. I guess they are more likely to look in a box labelled as such. They won't necessarily have a problem with all those things (eg used tools), they just want to check them carefully.

Obviously anything with biological material in it should be left behind.

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Orphan

#7. MOVING DAY (or rather, Moving Week!)

Moving Day arrived on 17th June 2014.

I remember this date specifically because the 16th is a public holiday in South Africa, which fell on a Monday. And so, having enjoyed a refreshing long weekend, our team of Movers arrived with all the energy and enthusiasm of a pack of Jack Russells. We, on the other hand, were ready to collapse from exhaustion, having spent that weekend feverishly preparing for their arrival.

The choice of which Moving Company to use is really important, because you will be entrusting all your possessions into their hands for quite a long time (In our case, up to a year) . Also, as you cannot keep control over the 10 or so people wandering all through the house for five days or more, you do need to have faith in their integrity.

Although I went out and got three quotes, my choice of Company was less based on price, and more on reputation, testimonials and personal experience. We have over the years used a number of different movers; but because we have enjoyed good experiences with Pickfords Removals on four separate occasions, and their price was the most competitive of the three companies we invited to quote, we ultimately selected them. (Allow me to say at this point that I have absolutely no affiliation with this company or any of their staff, other than as a client).

In addition, there were four other factors which influenced our choice of Company:

- Pickford's sales executive, Greg Schreuder (083-6250988) is a real professional, knows what he is talking about, and has a good understanding of Australian requirements;

- Pickfords has its own sister company in Brisbane (Allied Pickfords); and so you are dealing with one company from start to finish, and the Australian inspectors are interfacing with local lads;

- Our furniture and boxes are not sitting on some warehouse floor while we wait for our visa. Instead, they are being stored in two dedicated 20ft storage containers, both secured with my own locks, for which I hold the keys until shipping. Everything will have to be repacked into the actual 40ft container used for shipping it across, but that will be the only other time my stuff is handled.

- Pickfords can store our furniture at their premises for an indefinite period of time, and at a good monthly rate, (which is approximately half of what I would pay for the same service in Australia). Therefore I can delay my shipping date until I have found where I am going to live.

Like everything else, you need to start preparations for Moving Day early, because once the team arrives, you don't have time to think, never mind attend to unfinished tasks.

One of the things we started way before this event was to keep all the original packing materials for our electronic and kitchen appliances. We could then pack these correctly into their cartons using the proper styrofoam fillers. The movers then wrapped their bubble wrap and cardboard around these as well, thereby providing double protection. If you haven't done so, try approaching the supplier or your local appliance retailer for spare cartons. We found Hirsch's in Fourways very helpful in this regard.

We also made sure that our major appliances were properly serviced before being packed. Mainly because its cheaper here, but one never knows whether there will be spare parts over there for some of the locally made products, such as Defy. An added advantage is that these usually come back from the service agents squeaky clean.

We replaced those appliances which we knew wouldn't survive the journey, or were looking too long in the tooth. But you do need to plan carefully here, because one of the requirements for avoiding import duty is that these must be at least one year old, and Used. In our case we discovered at the last moment that our double-door fridge/freezer was not "CFC-free" and needed to be replaced. Fortunately our stuff will be in storage for most of the stipulated period of one year.

Neither did we bother to export either a motor vehicle or trailer. For one, these would have taken up too much space, and required us to take a second container at great expense. For another, there was also the headache of having to contend with police clearances, import duties, and even more forms. So we sold all these on OLX, which only took a couple of days, and without any hassle.

My wife is undoubtedly the best packer (and gift wrapper) I know, and insisted on personally attending to all her china and other valuables. Pickfords graciously accommodated her by providing wrapping material and a pile of old boxes about a month before the event, so that she could get started. All that was left for the packers to do was to transfer her carefully wrapped goods into their correct transportation boxes, and seal them. This did save at least half-a-day, thereby reducing the overall price, as well as cutting down the possibility of breakages.

What also saved us some money was to dismantle as many things as possible in advance. Our large wooden patio table and twelve chairs, for example, disassembled into a pile of wooden slats. As too our dining-room furniture, headboards, dressing tables and garden benches. Whatever you can do to shorten the number of days it takes to pack you up, will reduce your bill.

There are certain things, like original paintings and ornate mirrors, which need to be specially crated in wooden boxes. On our second attempt, we found it best to have them assemble these on site, item by item, rather than prefabricate these back at Pickfords. The reason for this is simple - the arrival of a couple of dozen wooden crates of various dimensions creates a great deal of confusion, and inevitably something gets packed incorrectly, requiring sealed crates to be reopened.

As previously mentioned, there are also number of things like African carvings and wooden products which are high on the Australian watch list. These need to be put to one side and packed separately from the rest, as well as being clearly marked. I would imagine that your quarantine inspection will start here; and if done properly and deemed safe, the rest of the exercise will go a lot smoother.

On the question of Price, it is of course difficult to apply our situation to yours. Except to say that on a 40ft container, with insurance, storage, shipping and forex, you are not going to get much change out of R150,000.

Edited by Orphan

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Orphan

#8. BACK TO THE WAITING ROOM

Our 143 Contributory Parent Visa saga is now up to date, and for those who have been following our progress, we can go no further until our Case Officer is appointed sometime in mid-November.

As mentioned in my first post, this time of waiting for all parent visa applicants is the very worst part of the process. There is some comfort in the fact that we are not as badly off as the Non-Contributory parent visa classes, who are having to wait 15 years and longer. But that in essence is what the one million rand is buying us - a place near the front of the queue.

We are also fortunate not to have to meet any of the most-wanted skills criteria, or pass English language proficiency tests in order to qualify for our Visa. Our only requirement is a Balance-of- Family test, a satisfactory medical examination, and of course, money-in-the-bank.

That being said, nothing is guaranteed, and this for us represents a monumental Walk of Faith. We have sold up, packed up, and set our faces towards Australia, in the sincere belief that this is where we are meant to be. We have no Plan B if the visa is not granted, and refuse to think along those lines. Our place is with our children and grandchildren, end of discussion.

And so we sit in the Waiting Room and await our turn to be called. But this won't be an idle time, because there is still a great deal which can yet be done. Our sponsors will be starting the Assurance of Support process with Centrelink at the end of this month, and I still need to establish how best to deregister with SARS, close my bank accounts, and transfer my retirement annuities.

And then there is the fun of planning just how we are going to get to Australia. Unfortunately because my wife has watched the film Titanic too many times, it looks like we shall be flying; but I shall persevere nevertheless....

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Bronwyn&Co

Orphan if I may ask - I know your visa type is very expensive. I've also heard that the wait time has blown out to 18 months (it used to be 2-3 months). How much of your cash is already handed over to Immigration, and are they paying you interest on that sum?

If not, I would venture to say that there is a big problem with the way these visas are processed.

I can only imagine the riches flowing their way while everyone's visa applications are mysteriously delayed...

Edited by Bronwyn&Co

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Orphan

Hello Bronwyn,

At this point in time, the only cash we have paid over is the first instalment of our Visa Application Charge (VAC). In our case this amounted to $2,060 for both of us, but this has since increased to $4,705 for two people. This fee is non-refundable, even if your visa application is unsuccessful.

The next payment will be made in November, when we are required to lodge our Assurance of Support (AOS) Bond, This will amount to $14,000 for the two of us. As the name suggests, this money is held in trust for ten years by the Commonwealth Bank, on behalf of Centrelink, and is used to refund the Australian Government for any social services (excluding Medical) which we may draw upon during that period. At the end of the 10 years, whatever remains of this money is returned to us with interest.

The final payment - namely the second instalment of the VAC - will be the last thing we pay before being issued our Visas, which we anticipate will happen in December, This is the bulk of the fee payable, which in our case will amount to $84,440 for both of us, but currently stands at $87,250 for two new applicants. This fee is only payable if your visa application is successful.

On your second point, the income being derived by the Australian Government from contributory parent visas is indeed significant. According to the latest information published, there have been 8,675 visas allocated to Contributory Parent and Non-Contributory Parent classes for the 2014/2015 year. Of these, 1,500 have been allocated to the Non-Contributory sector, and 7,175 to the Contributory parent visa class.

Doing the calculations at today's visa prices, it means that EACH YEAR the Australian government makes $346,6 million (R3.6 billion) out of Contributory Parent visas alone!

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Bronwyn&Co

Yup and they are earning the interest on everyone's money! I'm glad to hear that they don't get to hang on to the bulk of it for too long before applicants get the benefit ;)

I heard somewhere that immigration is Australia's biggest earner after tax. But I don't know where so I can't reference that stat. I can easily believe it.

Edited by Bronwyn&Co

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Jordy

The next payment will be made in November, when we are required to lodge our Assurance of Support (AOS) Bond, This will amount to $14,000 for the two of us. As the name suggests, this money is held in trust for ten years by the Commonwealth Bank, on behalf of Centrelink, and is used to refund the Australian Government for any social services (excluding Medical) which we may draw upon during that period. At the end of the 10 years, whatever remains of this money is returned to us with interest.

Don't forget to make sure that your sponsor must declare the interest annually on his tax return. ATO will pick it up if he doesnt and audit him.

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Orphan

Thanks Jordy - a useful piece of information which we shall keep in mind

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