Clients’ Emigration Stories
Decide to make the move.
You couldn’t call this a sudden decision, because I’ve been thinking about moving to Australia for the past 30 years! I have relatives in Adelaide, and my brother moved to Melbourne about 25 years ago. He’s been telling me for years that Australia is a great place to live, and that once I visited I’d never want to go home again.
Sally and I have become parents rather late in life – I also have three daughters from a previous marriage – and we’re very aware that we need to stay fit and healthy for the sake of our little boy. We’ve been looking for a change of lifestyle for a while, and about a year ago we started thinking about moving to Australia, although at that stage neither of us had been there. To be honest, I wasn’t optimistic about our chances of getting a visa at our age, but we decided to go to OE and talk to somebody.
We met with Richard Gregan, OE’s director, and were immediately impressed with him. He’s a really direct bloke, and I sensed straight away that he would give us an honest opinion – he’s not the sort to string you along. He told us that he’d be able to tell us within ten minutes whether we qualified. He fired dozens of questions at us about our personal circumstances and our financial situation. When he said that we had a good chance of getting our visas, we were absolutely thrilled. We stayed on for over an hour, chatting with Richard, and when we left we felt as if we were walking on air.
Lodging (and waiting) for their visa
Richard told us the process would take at least a year, and it was almost a year to the day that our visas came through the post. OE seemed pleased with the speed of it, but we were so keyed up over the move that it felt pretty slow to us! Once you’ve started things moving, it’s always there in the back of your mind. There was a mountain of paperwork to get through, but luckily Sally is good at that sort of thing. I found it very frustrating at times, but OE helped us every step of the way. It was a great feeling to know that we had someone on our side, who would be upfront about everything, and would guide us through the whole thing. The worst moment was when a legal matter which I’d completely forgotten about came to light. I hadn’t mentioned it on the paperwork and I was sure that I’d managed to blow the whole application because of it. Richard was very reassuring and told us how to handle it, and he was right.
Four months into the application process I went out to Australia for the first time. I went to Melbourne to see my brother, and travelled all over the place. When I got to Perth, the place just blew me away – it’s so beautiful. I met Richard Swarbreck, OE’s accountant, and he was great. I spent hours with him, getting his advice on things like pensions, banking and property brokers, and his help was invaluable. I spent a lot of time looking at property and I’ve got my eye on a house with a pool and…
– The Kaskonas, Perth, Australia
Teacher Alison Dunbar, 28, and her husband John, 33, emigrated in 2003 from Lauder in Scotland to Brisbane. Here, Alison tells of the highs and lows of the process, and how Overseas Emigration Visas was able to help.
We are sitting in the living room of the house we have just built. It’s raining outside as usual, and we have just come home from a holiday with a friend who lives in Majorca. We are talking about all the different things our friend has done, places he has seen and the people he has met, and we can’t help feeling that somewhere along the road we have missed something. John and I have been so focused on getting job security, a house and a mortgage that we have somehow missed out on the life-changing experiences.
Suddenly John turns to me and says: “You know Queensland police are recruiting overseas officers?” My response is: “Let’s do it,” even though I’ve never been to Australia! It’s Saturday night and we decide to go and see OE Visas on Monday to see if we are eligible to apply. I’ve seen OE’s website while browsing on the Net and I like the sound of them. OE seems more honest and down-to-earth than the rest.
It’s Monday now and after the longest day at work we go for our meeting with OE. Turns out that as a teacher and a policeman we meet all the criteria for skilled migrants. After about 30 minutes with the consultant we decide to just do it! I am so nervous that I try to sign the cheque for the first instalment three times – in the end John has to write it and I sign it. We are asked to go and get all our documents as listed in the information pack from OE – very easy to follow as it’s just a tick list. OE will do all the other nasty paper work. Just as well as we later find out that if you do it yourself and make a mistake, you have to start all over again!
OE Visas get our visa documents in order
Ross, our OE consultant, tells us that it’s up to us how quickly we get our stuff together – once they have it all, it will take about three months until we hear anything. It take me two weeks to get references from employers, birth certificates, marriage certificates etc. Ross tells us he is always happy to chat if we need him. Each time we call he says the same thing – no news yet – but we need to hear that it’s still being worked on.
A visit to the OE office to make a payment to the Australian immigration department, and the next payment to OE. We are invited to a seminar in Edinburgh about support services for people who are emigrating – it’s a help as it makes us feel we are doing something towards our goal. The waiting is hard; you have to get on with your daily routine but inside your stomach is doing somersaults every time you think about it. We haven’t told anyone yet so we have to keep all this emotion to ourselves.
I’m suffering from homesickness and we haven’t even left yet! I’ve been…
– The Dunbars, Brisbane, Australia
Carpenter and joiner Douglas Scott, 43, and his wife Lesley, 38, a disabilities nurse, emigrated from Scotland to Perth in Western Australia in February 2005. Here Douglas looks back on the experience and reflects on their new life in Australia.
Lesley and I had actually been talking about emigrating for ten years before we got around to doing anything about it. I’d been to Australia twice when I was younger and always wanted to live there; I used to tell Lesley about the ‘no worries’ attitude in Australia, and the constant sunshine. She loves the beach, and seeing pictures of Australia’s beautiful beaches made her think that she ought to give it a go. The real spur for us was the feeling that we needed a change in life. Our lives were stagnating in Scotland, and we were very aware of the fresh opportunities that Australia could hold for us. We did some research on our own, and OE Visas later confirmed it – with our particular qualifications, there were good job prospects for us there.
Doing the paperwork
The whole process of emigrating turned out to be less stressful than we had anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, there were still times when we thought: ‘Oh, no, what will they ask for next? How many more pieces of paper can the authorities want from us? Are we ever going to get there?’ And, of course, we had our moments of uncertainty. Once we found out from our initial interview with OE that we would be eligible to emigrate, and started the ball rolling, I was much more excited than Lesley. She felt that giving up everything and moving so far from our families was going to be a huge wrench. Suddenly, we were doing something about emigrating rather than just talking about it, and for a while she found the idea overwhelming.
The whole process took 19 months, from initial interview to the visas landing on the doormat. Looking back on it, it all seemed to go remarkably smoothly, each stage following automatically from the last. The worst of it was the endless waiting; every week we seemed to be on tenterhooks as we waited for some document or other to come in the mail. As we were both working full-time we would have struggled to complete the process on our own, so the help and support of OE Visas in Edinburgh was essential. It gave us great peace of mind to know we could pick up the telephone and speak to friendly staff who would be able to answer our questions. And having a personal agent who was dealing with our case meant we didn’t have to repeat ourselves to everyone we talked to.
And we’re off!
We left Scotland in chilly February and landed in Australia in the middle of summer. Unlike many people who emigrate, we were moving to somewhere where we didn’t know anybody and had no family contacts, and initially life in Australia seemed very strange and new. However, we were absolutely determined to make our new life work. We had spent…
– The Scotts, Perth, Australia
We’ve been thinking about emigrating for about a year. The problem is, you can’t make money from agriculture in this country any more. There are so many rules and regulations, everything is ruled by the EU, and we felt there was no future for us here. I got in touch with Overseas Emigration Visas and had a long conversation with Richard Gregan, the director of OE. After hearing my circumstances, and my plans, Richard put me in touch with Eric, OE’s associate in Canada.
A few weeks after speaking to Richard, I went out to to have a look round. Sarah wanted to come but she couldn’t make it because of family commitments, so I was on my own. As soon as I landed in Manitoba I thought – this is the place for me. It was love at first sight, really. It didn’t look the way I imagined; I thought it would be mile after mile of wheat fields, but there are actually lots of trees as well. There’s this amazing feeling of space. If you ask people how far it is from A to B, they tell you how long the drive will take. And if you ask, ‘What if there’s a traffic jam?’ they just laugh at you. There are apparently no traffic jams in Manitoba!
The people are incredibly friendly, too – they take it as a bit of an insult if you go into a café and sit down on your own without talking to anyone. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble making friends. And all the people I’ve dealt with, like the solicitor and the bank manager, have been fantastic. It all seems far less bureaucratic than here.
I went to see Eric and I knew straight away he was someone I’d get on with. He’s an absolute star, totally switched on. He’s like me, we both go at things hell for leather. I went home and started gathering all the information OE needed for the immigration forms, which wasn’t much fun, but then I hate paperwork. There were a lot of forms and documents, and having Eric to point me in the right direction was invaluable – I don’t think I could have done it on my own. He knew exactly what the immigration people would be looking for and although my file was bulging with hundreds of different pieces of paper he has a great eye for detail and was able to spot when there was a document missing. Within two months, the forms had all been sent off and now six months later, having passed a medical, we are eagerly waiting for our entry visas which will make us Permanent Residents once we actually set foot in . I’m told that six months is something of a world record! After we have been there for three years, we have the option of applying for Canadian citizenship.
I’ve found a farm to buy – it’s 1,250 acres, about twelve times the size of our farm in Suffolk – and the owner is quite happy to wait until we have all our paperwork sorted out before we complete the sale.
I’ve been to three times in the last year and I’m sure I’ve made the right decision. Sarah has still not been there, which some people find odd, but she trusts my judgement!…
– The Wilkes, Manitoba, Canada
Three years ago today I made the phone call to OE that would change our lives for ever. We’re loving Perth, living in the North in Butler, children were at Somerley Primary but are now starting at East Butler Primary and Butler College on 4th of Feb. James is working very hard as an A Grade electrician in Malaga but mostly working on the new builds in the North. I’m looking for a teaching post after registering with the TRBWA.
Loving everything about Australia and feel very privileged to be here. Thank you again for all your help in getting us here. If we can help anyone else please let us know – its nice to pass on advice after taking it for so long.
This is us on Key West Beach, Mullaloo on Christmas Day and enjoying the beautiful Skyline that is Perth.
Thanks again and again OE.
– The Kirkpatricks, Perth, Australia
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We have all settled in well in Oz. We have now been here a year and loving it. Thanks.
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