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Another new guy (Tobold)


Tobold
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The guidelines said to not be a lurker, but rather to contribute, so here is my story so far...

I am a 37 year old computer programmer working for the Absa group. In June 2006, I lead a team of four programmers to Melbourne to initiate joint software development with an Aussie software company. I was there for 3 weeks and fell in love with the place from the very first day. When I returned, I couldn't stop talking about it, but my wife resisted the idea of moving, until early December last year (2006), when she stunned me by suggesting it herself. She had done much soul-searching and came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do.

We decided right away that the Permanent Residence visa was the way for us. We have an 8 year old boy, so schooling and medical is important. I immediately set about finding out what I could, and decided to enlist the services of a migration agent. Admittedly, December was not the best time for these things, but I managed to get some response from the first agent I contacted - "www.tri-australia.com". When they failed to contact me early in January (as promised), I tried a different agent - "migrate2oz.co.za". They have been fantastic! Ray (Welthagen) called me around 10 minutes after I had submittted their online assessment, and amazed me with his IT knowledge. He assured me that I had enough points (130), and that my application ought to go very smoothly. They claim to have a 100% success rate so far. Given their professionalism, I have no reason to doubt them. Nonetheless, I am pessimistic by nature, and keep imagining a myriad of reasons that we could be declined.

I have faxed through my application for the IELTS English test to the British Council. I followed this up telephonically and have been assured that my application was received. It is currently being processed, so I have not yet been allocated a test date. I am hoping it will be the 29th of March, or even the 16th of February (if I am insanely fortunate), but I think April might be more realistic. As you are probably aware, as of September 2007, the English test is mandatory for the permanent residence visa, unless you hold a passport from Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, the USA or the UK. I think you can skip it if you have studied English (not just IN English) at a suitably senior level. Anyway, these tests are only held once a month and, although I feel I have adequate command of the language, I am prone to nerves, which could cause me to slip up and make a horrible mess of it all.

My application to the ACS (Australian Computer Society) has gone off too. This is crucial, as I need points for having experience in the programming language C#, which is on the MODL list (occupations in demand). Without the 15 points for C# experience, I have only 115 points. I have 17 years programming experience, having started out in 1990, programming in COBOL on big old Burroughs V-Series mainframes. Since then, I have programmed in several languages, and on several platforms. Back when I began, degrees (much less relevant degrees) were very rare among programmers. To a large extent, they still are. I decided to study Computer Science in 2001, and completed my BSc in Computer Science (with distinction) in 2004. Along the way I have picked up a few IT certifications, such as an MCSD, MCSE and Lotus CLP. I got a wonderful reference letter from my boss, and now just hope that the ACS deem my experience sufficient. If this all sounds very boastful, please chalk it up to my insecurity. I am desperate for this to work, and list my credentials merely to persuade myself that I am eligible. I want to believe it.

I didn't realise how much I wanted this, until my wife finally agreed. I signed the contract with the migration agency on the 4th of January (2008, of course), and in two weeks I have got this far. I thought that getting all the documentation for the ACS, such as university transcripts, reference letters, and then certified copies of the lot, would be a major problem, but it turned out to be alright. I bought the poor police inspector who certified all 16 pages a Coke for his troubles. It looked like such a chore! The agency helped me quite a bit. For example, I was not sure how I was going to obtain a reference letter from the first company I worked for, that I left back in 1994. I called up the agency and they said I only needed references for the last 4 years. Well, I've been with the Absa group for 11 years now, so that's sorted. The ACS forms, however, say no such thing, merely mentioning "references for all the places you've worked". It's logical, I suppose, that you can't be expected to go back some 14 years. However, being a programmer, I don't make any assumptions.

I am so paranoid, that even the medical exam intimidates me, presenting one more "point of failure". I suppose they aren't that interested in my fitness levels, which is a good thing, as some of us programmers lead rather, um.., "sedentiary" lives. :ilikeit:

So, that's where we're at. I'm now waiting for the ACS to give the thumbs up (or down) to my computer skills assessment. The agents estimate this will happen by the end of April. In the meantime, I need to get that English test behind me, with a suitable "band score" (I say that like I know what it means). Given that the permanent residence process is supposed to take 9 to 12 months, we don't think we'll be going over to Australia until 2009, some time in the first quarter, hopefully February (when the airlines apparently run specials). This suits us fine, as the wife and I are off to Bali/Vietnam/Singapore on holiday in April, and she is off to Greece with her sister in August/September, so we could use the time to save up a bit. At this point, the trip to Aus will be just to activate the visas and look around. We will return and then start sorting things out for the final move. We have also considered that I might stay behind and find work and get settled, while my wife and son come back to finalise things. If we decide to go this route, we will sell the house and close off most things before then.

Sorry for the long essay. I thought it best to be thorough. In truth, I think the combination of excitement and nerves had me rambling on. It's worth talking about, because it's such a massive decision. I just hope we get there. The same hope goes out to all of you. May we all end up safe and happy down under. :whome:

Edited by Tobold
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Welcome Tobolt!

Hope you have a wonderful time on the Forum.

Don't worry too much about the medicals and IELTS. There are plenty of people who can help give you advise. However, I completely understand...as I too am very prone to nerves! Just thinking about the IELTS makes me feel slightly sick! :ilikeit:

But that's another great thing about the Forum, there are always plenty of wonderful people to lift your spirits and encourage you on.

Best of luck with your application!

Michele

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It is interesting to read what I kept in my head when we applied. There was no SAAustralia forum then and so I just kept this to my self. I suggest you start walking or going to a gym and get fit for your own well being and longevity, even after you have migrated. Get your blood pressure and heart rate tested.. Make sure your BMI is less than 35. Under 30 is even better. I dont even think you needed an agent, but if youve signe one up so be it. :whome:

All should be OK :ilikeit:

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welcome to the forum. You are lucky you found it so early in your application. We are 3/4 through our application (also skilled independant MODL) and I only found this forum recently. It is a life saver.

I have also used Ray and Reuven at Migrate2Oz. They are very professional and on the ball. You won't have any trouble with them. Don't worry, your skills assessment will go wonderfully. You have a skill that they really want in Aus. And as for the IELTS - by your essay I can say you will score a 8/9.

Then the medicals - just went last week. Don't worry about being fit!. They check your blood for HIV and if you have had any tatoos then they will check for Hepatitis. the chest x-rays check for TB. Then the dr checks your eyes, breathing, spine, blood pressure, ears etc. Really not a big thing if you are healthy.

Good luck and ask as many questions as you want to. Keep us updated with your progress.

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Welcome to Forums. But be warned they can be quite addictive. Its so nice to hear that others are all in the same boat as us.

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Hi Tobold

Welcome and happy landings! As you fell in love with Melbourne I guess you will be heading our way?

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Hi Tobold

As the others have said "Welcome"

Buckle up and enjoy the roller coaster ride.

:)

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Wow! Thanks for all the replies!

LeeInOz, I will start excercising, just to give myself a better chance. I am not overweight at all, rather tall and skinny in fact, but I could use some excercise. My one passion is adventure motorcycling, hence my avatar, but you don't really work that much doing that! :)

Mara, Melbourne is indeed my preferred destination. I made a good friend at the Aussie software company there. He has been out to SA twice since then, and spent time with my family. He would appreciate a mate to go and watch Aussie rules with him. I became an instant fan over there, after watching a game between his club (Collingwood) and the Melbourne Demons. I am wearing a Collingwood t-shirt as I type this. He also said he would like to have me join his software team, so I may even end up working with/for him. That would be nice.

Thanks again to everyone for the wonderful replies. This really is a wonderful forum! :D

Edited by Tobold
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Welcome I am sure you will find most if not all of your answers here and I know you will make lots of friends.

I would be interested to hear when you get your ACS assessment back I hope to submit ours in the next week or so MODL. We write our english test on 16 Feb and we will lodge online asap.

Good Luck and keep us posted

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A big welcome Tobold... This is a wonderful place to be..you will experience many emotions while waiting through the various stages.. Talk about them, we all understand and help one another.

Also, consider putting a timeline in your signature, it will give an indication to all of us.

Keep going, you have a wonderful journey ahead with a fantastic group of people.

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Hi Tobold :D

I see you have also joined the site :ilikeit:

Thanks for the forms you sent me the other day. I couldn't open all of them as perhaps my Adobe is a later version. From this you will have worked out who I am :blink:

My nickname is an easy one to work out, but yours is a little harder....probably some insane gamer handle?

Regards

Your mate in Cape Town

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Thanks Mupersan. What is considered appropriate for placing in your timeline, or is there some room for personal perference? Also, what size and type of font are you using for yours?

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I dont think that there is any specific criteria, but that looks good so far.. look at few if you want ideas.. As to the font, as long as its legible its cool.

My Dad was in Melbourne recently, and absolutely loves it.. He cant wait to go back and explore the country more. Mandy and I are heading to Sydney.. and are nearly there. It gets frustrating and exciting all the time... what a ride so far.

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Guest mrs mupersan

:blink: Welcome Tobold :D

This forum has been a lifesaver!!! Waiting for visa approval is hell at times. When you really start to doubt yourself and whether the visa will ever be approved, the amazing people on this forum will always be able to re-assure you and lift your spirits again. Where alot of your friends and family who are staying behind just will not "get" your highs & lows through this process, your fellow forumites are all going through the same process and can totally relate to your excitement/frustration/etc.

SO happy that you decided not to just lurk! :ilikeit:

Get your wife set up with a PC/laptop and let her join under her own name. We'd love to meet her and she'll probably have loads of questions too and just reading through the forum may help to allay some of her many fears.

Cheers,

Mandy

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Hey brisbound!

Yes, I think I know who you are. :ilikeit:

My handle (Tobold) is from Tobold Hornblower, the hobbit who discovered pipeweed in the Shire (Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, of course). One of my hobbies is painting 28mm figurines, Lord of the Rings figurines for wargaming, to be precise. I got fed up with all the Gandalf's and Aragorn's already being taken, so I went for a lesser known handle (I don't even smoke). I have been using it everywhere for the past few years.

Thanks Mupersan's! My wife is writing the last of her exams for the 2007 academic year this week. I am sure that from next week or so she will be active here. She has a lot of questions, far more than I do. She always thinks of things I don't, and plans better too, without getting fixated on one small detail at a time. I think this is a general difference between men and women. The ladies are invaluable in these situations. Ermm..., especially invaluable that is, as they are always invaluable, of course. <_<

This is going to sound really silly, but what are "unabridged" documents? Why not call them "original"? In what way are they different to original documents, and do Home Affairs know what "unabridged" means, or do I use a different term when requesting documents from them? Sorry to throw a question like this out during all the nice welcome chit-chat, but I think (hope) it's a simple one. :ilikeit:

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Hi Mark,

You should feel welcome by now!! <_<

Know what you mean by analysing everything and thinking about everything that can possibly go wrong (Occupational hazard :ilikeit: ) No, I am not into programming but Accounting.

I didn't want to acknowledge to myself how much I really wanted to go to Australia until I got a positive skills assessment back - upon my second try... :ilikeit:

The unabridged birth certificate states your mother & father's birth date/id and place of birth as well as your own. Same added details for the unabridged marriage certificate.

You get them at Internal affairs (same place you go to for Passports, ID / Birth registration - so mind the queue)

They cost R50 each. They say it takes 3 months but it is possible to get it sooner, have a look around the threads.

The form is the same one you use to apply for a birth certificate; you just underline, circle the unabridged part and state it is for visa purposes.

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Thanks maraai,

I certainly do feel welcome! :blush:

I will set about getting those birth certificates tomorrow. I imagine that I will need our ID numbers (mine, wife's and son's) for that, so I will make sure I have everything with me before I go near the queue. :thumbdown:

I wish I was as far down the line as you are! It feels so very far away from where I'm standing, but I'm hoping that time will fly. It certainly has these past years. I can't believe I was in Melbourne 18 months ago! It feels like yesterday. Aahhh.... Melbourne. I'll see it again.

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My handle (Tobold) is from Tobold Hornblower, the hobbit who discovered pipeweed in the Shire (Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, of course).

:lol: I should have known you would have chosen a character from the rings trilogy!

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and do Home Affairs know what "unabridged" means, or do I use a different term when requesting documents from them?

It's unbelievable, but Home Affairs actually knows what unabridged documents are - it's on the form! :(

Go to their website and download the documents (you have to complete form BI-154 for birth certificates) - it saves a lot of time when you can complete it beforehand:

http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/documents/bi-154.pdf

And for a marriage certificate go to (form BI-130):

http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/documents/bi-130.pdf

It takes about 3 months to receive your documents, and it costs "only" R50 per document.

If you are in a hurry for your documents, rather try http://www.bunnyhop.co.za They charge a lot more for the documents, but can get it for you in 10 - 14 days! I think they use the extra money you pay them to bribe the officials at home affairs ;)

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Thanks Maritze!

I went out at lunch time and got the forms, only to find them available online, as you so kindly point out. I am in IT, have been for 17 years, and yet don't check online before heading out in the rain (on my motorcycle) to get forms in person. Well, as they say, there are no pills for stupidity! ;)

I think I have lots of time, while waiting for the English test booking and my ACS assessement, but I might go with bunnyhop anyway, if only to be certain that I actually get them! I will view it as an investment in my sanity (what little I have left). :)

Edit: I see bunnyhop require the ID numbers of the mother and father of the applicant (birth certificates). The standard form does not, only their names. My mother passed away when I was young, and I know very little about her. I certainly don't have her ID number. I'm not even certain of her place of birth. Seems I'm in for some excitement. :(

Edited by Tobold
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If you are in a hurry for your documents, rather try http://www.bunnyhop.co.za They charge a lot more for the documents, but can get it for you in 10 - 14 days! I think they use the extra money you pay them to bribe the officials at home affairs ;)

A bit more? :(:):) Try a lot more! But then the fact that your blood wont boil is worth it.

EDIT: Oh I see you did say "A lot more".

Edited by Jordy
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  • 3 weeks later...

Just saw your bit on the PR Visa - thanks! A reputable agent is fantastic.

What is the general vote though - is this easier? does it take longer? any implications?

We are exactly where you are - huge decision behind us, dying to go, finding out the best ways possible.. but

like you said "may we all end up safe in OZ" right?

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Just saw your bit on the PR Visa - thanks! A reputable agent is fantastic.

What is the general vote though - is this easier? does it take longer? any implications?

We are exactly where you are - huge decision behind us, dying to go, finding out the best ways possible.. but

like you said "may we all end up safe in OZ" right?

One of the bigger problems we have with our agent (hasn't been mentioned in this post) is that they're pretty slack with keeping us informed of what is going on. We have to pester and beg and even threaten before we can get them to say even "oh. no movement yet." One of the downsides of using an agent is that you're only in the loop when it suits them, and they can make you wait or make life difficult for you if you p*** them off. And if you're an average joe, you don't need one, this forum is more than good enough. The agent really doesn't do much in that case, except act as a middleman for the documents, so in my opnion it does actually slow things down.

Tobold: that was a very introspective introduction. With that quality of English, you won't have any problem with the IELTS. Trust me on this. And they give you more than enough time. So much so that you'll be bored in the listening and comprehension tests. As for "unabridged", you know it means "unshortened". Tho it's such a small piece of paper it makes one wonder what the abridged version would look like :whome:

Edited by wislon
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The guidelines said to not be a lurker, but rather to contribute, so here is my story so far...

I tried a different agent - "migrate2oz.co.za". They have been fantastic! Ray (Welthagen) called me around 10 minutes after I had submittted their online assessment, and amazed me with his IT knowledge. He assured me that I had enough points (130), and that my application ought to go very smoothly. They claim to have a 100% success rate so far. Given their professionalism, I have no reason to doubt them. Nonetheless, I am pessimistic by nature, and keep imagining a myriad of reasons that we could be declined.

Hi Tobold ... I have joined about a week ago, and I can not believe how many people are joining daily!

We started the process today ... went to Home Affairs :whome: (Need I say more)

Have not decided if we should use a agent or do it ourselves ... can you give me an idea of how much it is going to cost you?

Any way, Welcome and hope to chat some more ...

Adele.

Edited by Adele Marais
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Sorry guys, I missed all these new posts! :blink:

Batiss, I am very happy with my agent, and they really do keep me in the loop. I find they respond instantly (like within 10 minutes), and will even phone me in response to my emails, to be able to explain and discuss things. I have had no problems with delays. In fact, they shuffle me along! :)

Thanks wislon! Very kind of you to say. I feel a bit better about it. Congratulations to you! Nice to have it behind you, I'm sure!

Hi Adele. Sorry for the delay. The agent is costing me between R18, 000 and R19, 000 (including VAT). They don't take this all at once though. I completed the online assessment (free) and was then sent a contract to review and, if I wanted to proceed I needed to sign it, pay R5 500. The next payment came when my skills assessment was submitted (this one was around R9, 000). It is a significant amount of money to be sure. The people who urge you to go it without one have your best interests at heart. It seems to be something that some people need (insecure, worry-warts like me) and some people don't. B)

I am having trouble not giving into panic thesedays. Everywhere I turn there are depressing articles about horrific crimes, corruption and despair. Once you make the decision to leave, but still have the long wait ahead of you, it feels like you've bought a plane ticket and are sitting in the plane, wondering why it isn't going anywhere yet. ;)

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