|The sun peeked out for a few hours while we were in Manly making our way to the ferry.|
When we left the Australian Immigration office in Sydney nine days ago, we were told to watch for the Bridge Visa we’d received via email by the end of the day. The officer at immigration had given us a phone number to call if we had questions in the interim. We had many questions when we’d had a difficult time understanding the vague and complicated instructions given to us by the immigration officer who, with the best of intentions, was unsure as to how to handle our case.
Later in the day the email arrived stating we had another appointment at the same office on March 27th at 10 am. That was clear to us. Thus, we didn’t call the phone number which we’d left on the kitchen table which continued to nag at me. Should we call? Or should we wait until our appointment?
Yesterday morning, we decided to call to see if there was anything additional we could do or prepare for the upcoming appointment on Monday. After waiting on hold for 20 minutes in the queue, finally a friendly rep came on the line.
|Sailing on a windy day.|
In reviewing our file, she adamently stated we needed to apply for Visitors Visa #600 before our appointment on Monday. When we asked this same question to the rep at the immigration office “Should we apply for the visa online?” the she wasn’t sure if we should or not, leaving us confused when we left.
Calling might provide us with an answer. There was no way we wanted to show up on Monday having failed to do something required in this complicated process. Yesterday, we were relieved we’d called when we were told we better not show up on Monday without having applied online for Visitors Visa #600, a necessary adjunct to our Bridge Visa which was in place for only two weeks (ending on March 27th).
If we didn’t get the Visitors Visa, we’d be in big trouble next Monday when the Bridge Visa expires at midnight. The phone rep immediately sent us the link to apply for the Visitors Visa.
|An appealing candy kiosk in at the Manly Ferry station.|
We each followed the link in the email deciding to complete the form simultaneously on each of our laptops in order to aid one another in ensuring accuracy. There was no margin for error in this process and lately, as error prone as I had been (you know…wrong day at the opera), following along together made sense.
Before we could even begin the 20 page process, we had to sign up for an online immigration account which required a series of seven or eight security questions.
Having to deal with answering security questions can be a tricky process. If an answer is off by only one letter, one number or a single aspect of the answer, it may result in total frustration when trying to recall what was originally intended.
|Manly is a charming beach town with shops, restaurants and water activities.|
We didn’t want to make a lengthy handwritten list for each of us. We’d already written down the complicated passwords including all types of characters, capital and lower case letters and numbers. You know how that goes.
It ended up taking at least a half hour to getting our individual accounts set up. As we’ve mentioned, its been very rainy and humid since we arrived. When we were 10 minutes into this process, I suggested we turn on the air con. We were both drenched in sweat. Oh, I don’t like this stuff.
Immediatey Tom turned on the air conditioning. Besides, we’d done two loads of laundry hanging it indoors on the portable rack making the humidity all the worse in our little apartment. The air con was a welcomed relief.
|Yummy looking mounds of interesting flavors of ice cream at the Manly Wharf.|
Once we’d established the accounts, we proceeded to begin the 20 page online document. It was a slow process when we continually received error messages for entering words in unacceptable formats. We plodded along.
Once we completed page 4 and hit the “continue” button for page 5, we both received an error message, “You cannot continue from this point based on your current status. Call the immigration office immediately.” Oh, oh.
We called again, waiting on hold on Skype for another 30 minutes only to be told, when a different rep came on the line after looking up our file, that were not supposed to fill out this form. We were to wait and see what transpires on Monday. Oh. She was very kind and apologetic that we were told otherwise. We asked her to note the conversation in our file which she promptly handled.
|After dark this cruise ship headed out to sea from the Sydney Harbour. Hopefully, that will be us one month from today on April 22nd.|
In one way we were relieved to avoid completing the remaining 16 pages but in another way, we were further concerned as to the outcome on Monday. There was nothing more we could do at this point.
Worse case scenario…we could be told to leave the country immediately and not return for three years, missing our cruise on the April 22nd, forcing us to fly to New Caledonia, book a hotel for almost a month and wait for the ship to arrive at a port of call three days after the cruise begins and then have to load our bags on a “tender boat.”
Best case scenario…we’ll get another Bridge Visa, good until April 22nd when we’ll board the ship in Sydney. There’s another possibility that we’ll have to leave the country, fly to another country and return a day later. Also, there are possible fines, penalties and circumstances we aren’t aware of at this point which by Monday, we’ll be well informed.
|Kookaburra atop the roof of neighboring house.|
We’re surprised how we’ve been able to still enjoy our time in Fairlight, Manly and Sydney based on our concern over this situation. We’ve taken many photos, seen so much and have been out and about reveling in this beautiful area. Also, we’re still able to laugh and maintain a hopeful and positive perspective.
After all, the results of this scenario whichever way it goes, won’t cost us more than money, time and inconvenience. In the realm of things, as we always say, “If we have our health, we’re safe and we have one another, we can handle it.”
So it goes.
May you have good health and be safe with those you love.
Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2016:
Many farms in New Zealand have ocean views adding another layer of beauty to the scenery. For more photos, please click here.