10 days ago I got the email casually in my inbox that I had finally been approved to stay in Australia. The glorious electronic communication that will forever change the course of my life. Now I know that I am able to stay here with my family, in the home, in the reality that I’ve purposely crafted. There isn’t the fear that was looming before that I would be asked to leave. I guess it’s still there until I get citizenship, which I will apply for when I have met the new requirements, which are 4 additional years of waiting after gaining PR to apply to take the citizenship test. This citizenship test is apparently so difficult that when Media people have taken it, they have even failed despite living and growing up in Australia and working here their whole lives. I’ll worry about that later.
It had almost been a full three years since we applied. The application was submitted after my husband and I had reached our three year anniversary as being an exclusive couple. The immigration representatives that we spoke to on the phone before applying all said it would be faster if we just waited until the 3 year mark, then it would only take six months and I’d have PR. We qualified after one year of being in an exclusive relationship, 5 years ago I could have applied, but listened to the authority and went along with what they suggested, after all, they know best, right? The political winds changed, immigration became a very sore subject for Australia with tons of refugees trying to come to the country, and immigration around the world due to wars, had created a big division amongst the people in western countries. England closed it’s borders and left the European Union over it, Trump was elected president in the United States with his claim that he’d build a wall to keep the Mexicans out, and Australia elected one of the most right wing, anti-immigration ministers Pauline Hanson, lengthened and delayed their processing times. Australia also has kept refugees essentially prisoners on some islands outside of the country in order to send message. I’m not sure where and how common decency and the humanity left these western countries, but it’s a sad sight, and horrible to be caught in the system, even when I’m doing it willingly.
After the six month mark came and went from after applying, then a year later, they requested more information, then more time passed, and a year later more information was requested, and finally one last time, again a year later, more information being asked, and I was approved. The information was always the same information. It was always about references from people we know, it was how our relationship began, what we do together and how we are building our lives. It was always about character and police reports, and official documents. I get it, I understand all of it. When we didn’t get the approval straight away, we were scratching our heads, it didn’t make sense. Tony Abbott had recently become the Prime Minister in Australia and the Labour Party no longer had the majority. Liberals, strangely that they are called liberals, are pretty much anti-immigration, and seemingly anti-women, as we watched Tony Abbott become the Minister for Women, and for Aboriginals’s Indigenous Affairs while he was in office. The liberals have nearly completely undercut the government funded science branch CSIRO, nearly put out the Australian Broadcasting System which is truly the only for-Australia station on radio and television, and reduced funding in schools and universities. It was a crazy time, it still is. There’s a new PM, Malcolm Turnbull, but he’s just the same, he just presents better at face value.
Being an immigrant during this tumultuous time, has come with a lot of hardships. Honestly it’s nothing compared to the people who are kept at Manus Island. It is nothing compared to Syrian refugees searching for a new home. My hardship has been an emotional one. Not knowing that you have a base, being told one thing and then years going by before you actually know what’s going on, has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and in my husband’s as well. The first time when the application didn’t go through they basically said that we needed to have started a bank account or had some kind of authority confirmation like buying real estate together, from the day we started our exclusive relationship, in order to count as that being our “start” date. It would be so suspicious if when entering into a relationship, on the day you have the all important exclusive talk about being committed to one another, that you then say, “okay, now lets share a bank account”, who would do that? It’s so far from what is normal that we were appalled that this was the requirement. We had tons of support from multiple articles posted in the paper about us, to starting our own business, but apparently that wasn’t enough. Since we lived in a share house, there weren’t any actual receipts saying that we both lived there, and although we honestly could have forged them, we didn’t because it’s not the right thing to do, even though it was true, we both did live at the same address even in those early days.
I’m glad that I’ve been granted PR, and if anything it makes me want to, in the future, run for council or get involved in politics, specifically because of immigration, and to humanise the process again. The emotional toll is so big, and the rule makers obviously don’t understand this, or rather they don’t care. I am also certain that my health was impacted because of this. Having to carry that stress for so many years, with a newborn, impacted me, how could it not. Now I need to somehow brighten this thought, move forward in a new way, and start life again knowing I can be here. This includes taking some classes so I can reskill to create new opportunities for this new life. Six years after starting a life with my now husband, we get to start again.
If I were to do it again, and I know that this isn’t possible, but I would have applied straight away, as soon as we qualified for the visa, because looking at that old timeline, I would have already had citizenship. I can’t do anything about it now, but that is exactly what I would tell someone else now, don’t wait, just do it, do it now, you never know what the future holds, you never know how the political climate can change, and you have to think about you and your family first and foremost, and take the least risky way.