I had applied for a Skilled Independent Migrant visa. In Australia this is a path to getting permanent residency. The way the points based migration system works in Australia is, you have to tell the Department that you meet their criteria which add up to x number of points via something called an ‘expression of interest’. You go into a queue of everyone else who has expressed their interest and then you wait. The Department take an indeterminate amount of people off the top of this list every round (every 3-6 weeks) and invite them to apply. Once you get invited, you then have to send in all of your evidence to prove how you reached the number of points you claimed to have. You get points for things like speaking English, having a particular degree, having experience in your chosen field, being of a certain age, etc.
I’m a Social Worker by trade so one of the pieces of evidence for me was a skills assessment. Now, for Social Work, once you qualify and receive that degree at University, you’re done. There is no provisional status or probationary period. Of course you have to keep up your professional development but that’s irrelevant for visa purposes.
I had already had a skills assessment for my Temporary Graduate Visa so I was absolutely positive I would get a positive assessment for a skilled migrant. It’s the same assessment in the Social Work land. Here is what I didn’t know. You MUST have that little piece of paper in your hot little hands BEFORE you lodge your expression of interest. And because I didn’t have my assessment ‘for migration purposes’ at the time I lodged my expression of interest I received that dreaded letter we all hope to never receive.
I was at work about to go into a workshop hosted by my supervisor. Sitting at the table my head dropped and out came words I wouldn’t ordinarily exclaim in a work place. My supervisor knew I was awaiting a decision and immediately asked what had happened. I just read her the one line.
‘Application for Skilled Migration Visa Refused’
We both sat in shock for a few seconds. Then she told me to go away and sort out anything I needed to sort out. That is exactly what I went to do. Once I composed myself I read the entire letter which outlined that I would have 35 days to get my affairs in order and leave the country. My current visa would no longer be valid past that date. I did have the right to appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Lucky for me at the time, I worked in the same building as my partner so I went straight to his office. We decided we needed an immigration lawyer. So after work we started straight it on it. We were absolutely devastated but we weren’t going to let one error get in the way of our ambitions. After all, we knew that I was perfectly eligible and we loved Australia!