Archive | November, 2013

820 Visa Update: Request for More Information

29 Nov

 

Hey everyone! Just thought I’d post a quick update. A few days ago I received an e-mail from immigration requesting the information I hadn’t yet supplied (Australian police check, US police check, and medicals). For reference, it has been about eight months since we lodged our application for our 820 Partner Visa in Brisbane.

This request did not come from a case officer, but from the admin team. I asked around on a few forums and it looks like this could just be an automated thing rather than an indication that the application is on its way to being approved. Regardless, I was happy to hear something. This was my first communication with immigration since I received my acknowledgement letter.

That said, I’m now a little stressed out. The e-mail said that they need the information in 28 days from receipt of the e-mail (“or your application might be decided upon without the information”), which means I’ve got about 26 days to get my medicals done (shouldn’t be a problem) AND hope that my FBI check actually shows up. I was watching for the mail man like a little kid watches for an ice cream truck this past week. If it doesn’t arrive on Monday, I’m going to call–it’s been just over two weeks since the money left my account and I’m getting nervous that it’s been lost in the mail.
 
That said, I AM able to e-mail immigration if it’s impossible for me to get everything in on time, but I don’t want to do that–I want to get this sorted! It would be amazing if I could have my visa by Christmas. What a fantastic present that would be.

How is your visa journey going? Let me know in the comments below! If you’d like more information on how my visa has been going, follow these links.

 

820 Visa Applicants: Did you know you can enrol in Medicare?

20 Nov

When I submitted my Partner Visa (820 onshore), I received an acknowledgement letter that granted my BVA, a receipt, and another document that went over some information. That document said “some partner visa applicants may be allowed to enroll in Medicare.”

I’m blaming my American (read: no government-funded health insurance) background here, but it never crossed my mind that I could possibly be eligible to enroll in Medicare while I was still NOT a citizen and NOT a permanent resident. My eyes must have just passed over that sentence and disregarded it. So I thought I’d put this information out there for anyone else who might be in the same position.

People applying for the Partner Visa (820) ARE eligible for Medicare!

It’s just so crazy to me, I had to read over the Medicare website about ten times before I believed it. Here’s what the website says. You are eligible if:

  • You have applied for a permanent visa.
  • You have permission to work in Australia
  • OR you can prove a relationship to an Australian citizen.

As all of those apply to me, I filled out the enrolment form and took it to my local Medicare facility (in this case, in the shopping centre just down the road from our house). For supporting documentation, I brought my passport, a copy of my acknowledgement letter, and our marriage license. There weren’t any issues–just waited for a few minutes, presented my documents when I was called up to the counter, waited a few minutes for all of the information to be put into their database, and I was given a receipt that has my Medicare card number on it–the physical card will be in the mail in a few weeks. Easy!

So what does Medicare do for you? Quite a lot! Most relevant to me at the moment is that it covers optometry tests, but not the actual glasses or lenses, from what I can understand. It also covers many doctors visits, public hospital visits, x-rays, etc. A list of what Medicare does and does not cover can be found here.

If you haven’t gone out and enrolled in Medicare yet, I definitely recommend that you do so. It’s fast, easy, and it can’t hurt to have some extra coverage if something happens.

If you’re interested in finding out more about my partner visa journey, check out the following links.

FBI Police Check Update!

15 Nov

This is more for my personal records than anything else, but hey, some of you might be sitting in Australia twiddling your thumbs as you await some sign that the FBI actually got your record check request. Here’s a bit of a timeline for you.

Today, November 15, payment left my US account for my FBI record check.

That’s the record check that I sent off on September 24. So, from the time it left my hands at an Australian post office to now, it’s a bit over seven weeks. The FBI website claimed that processing times are around 5-6 weeks, but keep in mind that my application likely reached them the day the government shut-down started, and they weren’t processing requests at that time. The shut-down lasted what, three weeks? Which puts this application somewhere around the 4-week processing mark. Not bad.

Now, here’s hoping that I get a little sheet of paper that says “you have not committed any crimes” rather than a sheet of paper that says “please submit more fingerprints, yours were not of good enough quality” like last time.

For those of you who haven’t been following my “Woe Is Me Requesting FBI Record Check” saga, it’s gone something like this:

MARCH: Sent off first record request with just one set of fingerprints. Did not send via registered post, but payment went out of my account shortly thereafter.

APRIL 22: Received papers in the mail from FBI. “Sorry, we need more fingerprints, but don’t worry, you don’t have to pay an additional fee. Just send the fingerprints in.”

APRIL 26: Get fingerprints redone at the police station; send in one set of fingerprints with paper saying no further pay necessary. Did not send via registered post. FBI waiting time estimate: 8-10 weeks.

MAY – AUGUST: Waiting game. Did not hear anything at all from the FBI. Have no idea if fingerprints even reached them. Couldn’t find phone number to call to check (don’t worry, I’ve since located it!). Waited a little extra while, then gave up on them and made the decision to get fingerprints redone. Again.

SEPTEMBER 24: Get two copies of fingerprints done. The very nice people at the police station, who at this point are getting sick of seeing my face, give me the second set for free after I explain how fail-tastic my government is at communication. I finally think to send the things via registered post. However, I was confused about which envelope to use, so I went up to the post office lady and said, “I need to send some sensitive documents to the FBI and need to know that they get there. Which envelope will show me where my package is at all times and inform me when someone signs for it at its destination?” Post office lady points to envelope. I send documents off.

SEPTEMBER 25: I learn upon attempting to enter the tracking number that this envelope doesn’t actually have any tracking or confirmation of receipt. Great.

OCTOBER 1: Government shut down. Add three weeks. Do not pass go.

NOVEMBER 15: Payment for request leaves US bank account.

Fingers crossed I get an envelope from the FBI within a week or so. Fingers crossed it does not arrive on a Thursday during a thunderstorm (our mail box is not that big, and that is the only day I’m not at home). Fingers crossed it contains an actual record check rather than a request for more fingerprints. If the latter, I will a) cry b) finally fork over the money for 10 sets of fingerprints and say, “If this isn’t good enough for you, FBI, I don’t know what is.” (It costs $25/fingerprint card at the local police station, or I would have done this already.)

Meanwhile, my Australian police check, which I requested in March and which arrived within a week, is going to expire in four months.

What’s your FBI record check story? Or police check story in general? Leave tips and tricks to speed the process up here! If you’re interested in seeing more updates from me about my partner visa, follow these links:

NaNoWriMo 2013: Day Eleven

11 Nov

Okay, so I don’t feel like doing my survey today. You can probably guess I didn’t feel like doing it the last few days, either, but then there was very little to report. I wrote 100 words here, 100 words there, adding up to a whole lot of nothing. One day I asked myself, How many words does cheesecake-baking make? (The cheesecake was good.) That said, Day 11 proved to be a lucky one; I finished both my articles for the day before 1:00 in the afternoon (a record for me), watched a bunch of TV, and STILL managed to write over 2500 words. It was like my fingers hit the keyboard and ran off without me.

That said, I’m just over 10,000 words now. Again, not on track for NaNo, but just about on track for my Rebel-goal. I am feeling very confident that the words I’m writing are better quality than those I would be writing if I was aiming for the full 50k this month, which was the whole point of my being a rebel anyway.

I still haven’t made much of an effort to do research. I can see me overhauling this novel hugely later because of it, but I think the main thing right now is to get the plot down on paper and flesh it out with accurate details later. We’ll see where that takes me–hopefully at the end of January I won’t be beating my head against a wall thinking I have to rewrite the entire thing!

As for plot, it’s taking some surprising twists and turns. For instance, I knew that my MC had some magical ability but I hadn’t quite figured out what that was yet. Yesterday I decided that she is a liar, which means that words that come out of her mouth are believed without question by most people, with the exception being truthtellers (our dear Mr. Ashley) and sometimes seers (the lovely Mrs. Miller). Her abilities are a bit more than that, though, and it makes the rest of the plot (which I also worked out yesterday) go much more smoothly.

Anyway, I’m feeling much more confident about the whole thing now. Hopefully the word will come as easily today!

NaNoWriMo 2013: Day Six

6 Nov

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Today was brilliant. Perhaps not in terms of word count, but in terms of getting things done. I wrote two articles again, totalling 2000 words (a bit over actually… they were both a bit long). The great thing about them today was that I was interested and there were some fantastic sources, which makes the writing go along superbly.

As such, I finished them by 3:00, allowing myself time to write NaNo–more than I’ve had in a while. Of course I distracted myself with chores, and then it was time to make dinner, then eat dinner, then shower so I didn’t have to do it tomorrow, and it was 8:30 by the time I actually sat down to write.

That said, I did a bit of outlining today as well, and as such I sat down to write an actual planned scene so I felt as though I had some more direction than in previous days. An excellent start. This weekend, I have literally nothing planned in terms of Going Out And Doing Stuff. So I’ll be dedicating my days to researching and outlining. Fingers crossed.

1. How many words did you write today?  1018 (are you sensing a trend?)
2. How long did it take you to write them? About an hour.
3. How many times did you use Write or Die? None.
4. What is the most interesting thing you researched for the sake of plot today? Were trenchers a 1700s thing? When did bowls come into play? (Trenchers: more medieval. See below for bowls.)
5. What didn’t you research today that you probably should have? Bowls, plates, forks, knives… when were they used? I just plopped them in pell-mell in this breakfast scene today. Who even knows.
6. What unexpected turn did your novel take today? It’s becoming more planned. That’s something.
7. Best/Funniest novel moment today? Mr. Ashley took Mr. Miller’s paper to read for himself. Mrs. Miller blew a gasket.
8. Total NaNoWriMo Word Count So Far: 7043
9. Words Remaining: 42,957
10. Days Left: 24
11. Today’s Excerpt:

Following our conversation that evening, Mr. Ashley could be found on the balcony overlooking the dining room during his meals. That is where Mary found him, sitting at a small table with a single chair that he had moved for the occasion, reading Mr. Miller’s paper. Even she had been too taken aback to say anything—dazed, perhaps, by his good looks or the dazzling smile he gave her in thanks for his tea and extra rasher of bacon.

            I was tending the porridge at the time, lifting the pot off the flames in the fireplace, when Mary bounced next to me, whispering excitedly, “Mrs. Miller’s going to be in such a tizzy! Reading Mr. Miller’s paper! And here she was hoping to hide him from the town for however long he’s here.” She pointed toward the rafters. “Well, that’s done now, isn’t it?”

            Shrugging, I set the pot down on the table and started doling the mush into bowls. “I don’t know, Mary. I think we ought not nose into Mr. Ashley’s business. Whatever he’s doing here, it isn’t good. We’d do best to keep our heads down and avoid his attention if you want my opinion.”

            “Your opinion,” Mary said, sticking her nose in the air, “is always the boring one.”

I’d love to hear about your NaNoWriMo journey! Let me know how you’re doing in the comments below, or use this survey for your own blog and send me a link. I love following fellow Wrimos.

NaNoWriMo 2013: Day Five

5 Nov

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Remember, remember the fifth of November… because you should be at 8,335 words!

Well, I’m not. Once again, the day did not go as planned. A trip I was expecting to take an hour, maybe two, ended up taking seven. The fortunate thing about this is that all the details will probably be excellent novel fodder one day. Getting lost in a foreign land, taking a chance by jumping on a passing cart, stopping by a pub that looked popular with the locals, counting and recounting your coins to make sure you have enough…

Okay, modernize that a bit but you get the gist.

Normally I’d be sweating it out about how far behind I am, but like I said, I’m really aiming for 30,000 words this month (and the next month… and the next month…) and as I’m a day ahead of THAT goal, I’m feeling pretty good. Well, except that I have no idea where my novel is going and I’m REALLY starting regret not putting more time and effort into the outline and research before this!

1. How many words did you write today?  1002
2. How long did it take you to write them? About an hour.
3. How many times did you use Write or Die? None.
4. What is the most interesting thing you researched for the sake of plot today? I didn’t research anything today… very rushed job.
5. What didn’t you research today that you probably should have? I used “tacks” as markers on a map hanging on a wall. Differently colored tacks. Yeah, I don’t know if tacks were even things back then, let alone with different colors. So… there’s that.
6. What unexpected turn did your novel take today? Mr. Ashley is a messy person. Who knew.
7. Best/Funniest novel moment today? Cora is astounded that Mr. Ashley is a messy person.
8. Total NaNoWriMo Word Count So Far: 6025
9. Words Remaining: 43,975
10. Days Left: 25
11. Today’s Excerpt:

According to Mrs. Miller, Mary lingered too long at the door of Mr. Ashley talking sweetly at the keyhole, so she sent me to take his dinner the next evening. I knocked softly and bent to set the tray on the floor, and was fully unprepared for the response that followed.

“Come in.”

I’d love to hear about your NaNoWriMo journey! Let me know how you’re doing in the comments below, or use this survey for your own blog and send me a link. I love following fellow Wrimos.

NaNoWriMo 2013: Day Four

4 Nov

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Well, today was a test. It was the first day of NaNo that I actually had a few articles to write as well. To stay on track, I had to finish two–that’s 2000 non-NaNo words. As I actually get paid to write these, they took precedence over anything else. I finished the first one with some time to spare but got caught up in YouTube (again) and only finished the last one around 9:30 this evening. Granted, I had a lot of cleaning and cat-tending and dinner-cooking in there as well. Ah, the distractions joys of working at home.

Nevertheless, I’m determined not to fall more than a day behind schedule. Therefore, I pushed past the sleepiness and threw something on to the paper. Mostly I’ve been fueled by half a chocolate bar and two cupcakes (having husband’s birthday in November was useful for something!) and I’m on a bit of a sugar high. It occurred to me that adulthood is a wonderful thing. You can stay awake however long you’d like by whatever means necessary, even if you might regret laying on the cream cheese frosting doubly thick later.

I’m honestly not even sure what I wrote today. My apologies.

1. How many words did you write today?  812
2. How long did it take you to write them? About an hour.
3. How many times did you use Write or Die? None.
4. What is the most interesting thing you researched for the sake of plot today? I didn’t research anything today, unless you count my articles! But somehow I don’t think United States massacres in 1968 and 1920 have much at all to do with the American Revolution.
5. What didn’t you research today that you probably should have? Would inns even have chicken coops?
6. What unexpected turn did your novel take today? If I knew what I was writing, I’d tell you.
7. Best/Funniest novel moment today? Throwing MC into a chicken coop which may or may not actually exist in later drafts.
8. Total NaNoWriMo Word Count So Far: 5023
9. Words Remaining: 44,977
10. Days Left: 26
11. Today’s Excerpt:

The man must have paid for a fair few nights, or perhaps Mrs. Miller simply didn’t want to confront him again. She walked around in a huff, snapping at bystanders for being idle—even those who didn’t work for her—and grumbling on about men who thought rather too much of themselves and never thanked her for her good cooking. I knew Mrs. Miller was well aware that a lack of compliments was the least of her worries, so I kept quiet.

I’d love to hear about your NaNoWriMo journey! Let me know how you’re doing in the comments below, or use this survey for your own blog and send me a link! I love following fellow Wrimos.

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