We came here under a Business Sponsorship visa (Visa 457) in which my husband was sponsored by his employer.
Due to a few ups and downs and constant changes in the Immigration process, we managed to get Permanent Residency (PR) in March 2016, and then we could apply for Citizenship one year later as we had resided here for over 4 years.
I started uploading our mountain of documents and as luck would have it, the day I finished submitting our last document (an affidavit from a teacher (or Doctor) that knew us for over 1 year) the Immigration Minister announced that he was introducing new laws from that day on, so that people could only apply for citizenship once they had their PR for 4 years and not just 1 year if you had lived here for more than 4 as in our case.
Plus the Minister wanted to introduce another English Exam to the process.
Generally to achieve PR you have to write a not too easy 4 part English exam (IELTS) so I can't figure out why you would need another exam to prove that you could still speak English 4 years on? For example my son wrote two IELTS exams - one before entering University here in Perth, because he hadn't studied in English, even though he spoke English fluently, and the second when he applied for PR.
Many protests and petitions ensued, but this Bill would have to be wait for approval by Parliament. It took a while, but finally in November we heard that that the Immigration Minister's proposal had failed approval by Parliament.
But by then Immigration had received 120,000 applications, so they were heavily backlogged and we received an email saying to expect a 10 month wait.
Last week we received an email to say that our Citizenship exam was booked for the 20th of February, a lot less than the 10 months we expected which is good news.
I've downloaded a few training tests, and I've been practicing. The test consists of 20 questions about Australia, which have to be answered within 45 minutes (I've done the practice ones in 5 minutes) and we need 75% to pass.
Apparently the test can be repeated as many times as needed until you pass, but this will change for all new citizenship applications made from 1 July 2018, so that after 3 test failures you have to wait 2 years to retake the test.
And talking about citizenship, on the 13th of November 2017, friends of ours that arrived 5 years ago invited me to attend their Citizenship ceremony at the South Perth council.
This couple had stayed at our house with their little girl when they first arrived from Portugal, so it was wonderful to see them achieve their dream.
It was a lovely ceremony, where we were first welcomed by an Aboriginal elder who spoke in English and said a few words in Noongar too, then the vice-mayor spoke and then the Mayor of South Perth - Sue Doherty - conducted the rest of the ceremony.
Over 40 people of about 12 different nationalities took the pledge, and then we were all invited to go into the hall and get something to eat and drink.
The mayor and vice-mayor congratulated all the New Australians, issued them their certificates and took photos with them.
A small pot with a native plant was given to all the new citizens.
|The Mayor, Vice-mayor and the Aboriginal elder at the ceremony|
One of their friends had made them a very original cake shaped like Australia, including Tasmania too :)
After the ceremony, another couple invited us all to their house where a bottle of bubbly was opened and we had some snacks in the back yard. It was already dark by the time we all left.
Can't wait for our turn, it should take another 6 months after the exam apparently!
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In November the streets of the southern suburbs of South Perth, Mount Pleasant and Applecross were awash with jacaranda's purple blooms.
They are mistakenly thought to be an Australian native, but they are in fact native to Brazil and Argentina.
They can be found in many parts of the world - I remember we had lots of jacarandas in Mozambique where I grew up, and in South Africa, the city of Pretoria is known as the "Jacaranda city".
I love that time of the year!
|Jacarandas in bloom in Applecross - an Ibis in one of the gardens|
You might enjoy this song - Jacarandas in November sung by "Junior" a group from Adelaide: