COLOURFULWORLD

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Thinking about our future citizenship

On the 7th of January we celebrated (we actually forgot) the 11th anniversary of our arrival in Perth, Australia.
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

My friends with the Vice-Mayor, their certificates and their gifts, top left with me
A very original cake

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:


43 comments:

  1. Oh, what can I say!
    On one hand Australia is doing the right thing not letting just anybody in. But they make it really, really very hard.
    I wonder if we did go for it in 1999 (we had the IELTS test taken already) if it would have been easier?
    We didn´t have enough points due to me having no work experience whatsoever and money wasn´t there enough, either.

    I´m happy for you, though, it must be a very great relieve!
    To a great party soon!

    Love those trees also! So beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Iris. I'm sure that over 10 years ago things were easier. It's getting more and more difficult to come to Australia, plus the process is very expensive.

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  2. Oh Sami, I am so excited to hear this. The other day was Martin Luther King day here and in many places it was also a citizenship day when new citizens were sworn in. Things are such a mess here with immigration and our loony tunes president and so seeing and hearing stories of these new citizens who still want to be in America these days was especially heartwarming. I loved the photos you shared of your friend's ceremony and I know you will be sharing even more and better ones in another six months! Makes my day happier reading this!

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    1. Thanks Jeanie. Here many ceremonies are held on Australia day which is the 26th January.
      Hope to share our ceremony soon.

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  3. You will have then a dual citizinship, right?

    That will be a wonderful day, I am sure!

    : )

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    1. Yes, we are entitled to have dual citizenship. Just makes it easier at the airport when travelling and of course we can then vote which we can't as just Residents.

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  4. Exciting times for you! Perth looks like a wonderful place to live and those purple jacaranda trees are gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Christine, I'm very excited indeed. We love living here, a great city, beautiful river and beaches and year round good weather too.

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  5. Gosh it certainly is getting harder Sami, mind you it was over forty years ago when we arrived! They still make it a really nice experience though.. if you pass all the tests 😀 you must be looking forward to it all becoming official.

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    1. Thanks Grace, yes looking forward to the end of the paperwork and renewals, etc, etc.

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  6. Dearest Sami,
    Excited for both of you!
    Yes, it is quite a process for going through this.
    Here in the USA it was even harder in 1993 when we finally managed to apply for it.
    The problem before was that once applied for, you had to be on hand for at least half a year. We never could do that with both of us being International Mushroom Consultants...
    But we had to study the book with 100 questions about all USA legislature and constitutional aspects. That meant you had to study it.
    As for me, as was so scared for not being able to write my looooong name around the white edging of my pass photo. Such was the rule then. Pieter warned me about it and I did practice to scribble in smaller letters. Pieter had witnessed a lady in front of him who ran out of space to write and she had to apply again; starting all over!
    Felt rather proud on December 3 in 1993 when I managed all and got my certificate.
    It took Pieter and me about 2 pounds of documents and a lot of money as we had to travel to our country of birth to obtain documents and get screened for good health. Also we had to give proof of no criminal records in all cities where we ever did reside.
    We also had to pay a hefty sum as a fee.
    Therefore we always feel discriminated big time by all those dreamers that claim ALL rights, based on emotions. That is WRONG and we feel proud for having a strong President at the moment. We are convinced that the Democrats are playing politics trying to import as many votes possible!
    No doubt you both will pull this off and than can celebrate and settle this.
    You know, it makes you instantly young as you are allowed to start all over, being a Citizen!
    As for me, just turned 24 last December...
    Big hugs and oh, how I love those Jacarandas and on the video it is a dream!
    Mariette

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    1. Thank you Mariette. It's also a long process here, documents have to be translated (if not in English) and certified by the Police, health exams have to be done, police certificates from all countries where you have lived too, English exam, and a lot of money and time is spent in all of the paperwork. The end result is almost here, so I'm looking forward to not having equal rights and not having to spend any more money!

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    2. Sami, sounds indeed similar to what we had to go through! Ours took about half a year... So glad that is behind us! Good luck and you mean of course looking forward to having equal rights...?!

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    3. Yes of course, didn't read the reply :)

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  7. I had no idea it was so complicated, Sami, but congratulations on persevering. I guess you'll always be Portuguese as well as Australian. Does this give you more security, having citizenship?

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    1. I suppose nothing is easy when you emigrate to another country paper wise. Always a lot of bureaucracy involved. We can keep dual citizenship. Always better to have citizenship as you can vote, can work in certain Government jobs, which you can't if you're not Australian, but the main thing is if you don't take up citizenship you have to renew the Residence Visa every 5 years, which makes things expensive, and who knows the immigration laws here are changing so frequently that sometime in the future it might affect us negatively. And we can always leave the country, move somewhere else and always return if we want.

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  8. Replies
    1. It is very cute, the lady that baked it is very talented.

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  9. I understand that the test is quite difficult, even for an Australian born person. I must try a sample one day. I went to a citizenship ceremony once when my adult English students became naturalised and I found it very moving.

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    1. I've been doing a couple of sample tests, some seem easy, others a bit tricky, in fact the wording of some questions is strange. I've showed it to my boss and he said the same. I think the Ielts exams is certainly a lot more difficult and trickier too. I also felt the ceremony I attended very moving.

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  10. Sete anos para ser Residente Permanente de Macau.
    Para mim.
    Porque a minha mulher e as minhas filhas nasceram cá.
    Já pertenço a esta terra há uns bons anos (a caminho de 23).

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    1. Aqui o normal e 4 anos para Residencia e 1 ano mais para Cidadania, mas tivemos imensas mudancas pelo meio o que apanhou o meu marido com 50 anos que significou que ele tinha que ficar mais 4 anos a espera de residencia....leis malucas!

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  11. I had no idea there was so much to becoming a citizen of another country. Although there are times I badmouth my country, I would never want to live anywhere else. I'm so glad you will hopefully become a citizen soon, since I assume this is where the two of you want to live out the rest of your life.

    That certainly looked like a moving ceremony. I'm looking forward to seeing one with your name on it. I sincerely hope you are able to pass the test. I often find written tests can be tricky since oftentimes two answers are so similar it's hard to determine which is the correct one. But you write so well (on your blog), I can't possibly imagine you would have trouble with it.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. The test questions seem a bit tricky sometimes, actually their wording is a bit off. But I have a booklet to study so I become a bit more acquainted with some of the aspects, mainly political area.

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  12. Gostei do seu blog, por isso
    o estou seguindo.
    Espero você para seguir o meu.

    Beijos,

    silvioafonso



    ,

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    1. Obrigada Silvio, ja vou fazer uma visita.

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  13. Citizenship is quite a process isn't it? Toes-crossed everything goes smoothly.
    Beautiful pics.
    Elizabeth wanted me to let you know I have street art up today.

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    1. Thanks Sandra, I'll go over shortly.

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  14. Goodness, citizenship is quite a process isn't it! Hope the process and everything goes well ... I'm sure it will.

    I thought your pictures were great.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks for the good wishes Jan. I just need to read the booklet and be a bit more informed about the Government structure.

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  15. I suspect by the time you pass that test you will be better informed that a lot of native born Australians. I hope it all goes smoothly for you - and quicker than expected.
    Love the jacarandas. Another import to Australia that we value.

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    1. Thanks for your visit and vote of confidence E.C. Jacarandas are so beautiful, glad they were imported.

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  16. Uma cerimónia muito interessante e gostei da originalidade do bolo.
    Os jacarandás quando estão em flor são um espectáculo.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Andarilhar
    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

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    1. O bolo estava muito engracado. Os jacarandas sao lindissimos quando em flor. Bom fim de semana Francisco.

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  17. Sami I noticed there were some of the dolphins on your side of the river.. one near the zoo on Labouchere Road, and two on South Perth beach.

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    1. Thanks Grace, will check them out.

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  18. May your weekend be filled with sparkle and sunshine.

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    1. Thanks Sandra, have a great weekend too.

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  19. That's quite the process to become a citizen but pretty soon you'll be standing at your own ceremony. The Jacarandas is beautiful. I've never seen them before except in photos. They must have a lovely aroma.
    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. Thanks Bill. Yes a long process but we can almost see the end.

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  20. Looks like it's quite a tough process (loads of papers, the waiting, the exams) but at the end you can forget all about it in a nice ceremony. I hope it goes well with your exams and interview. Soon you will be one of them ;)

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  21. Good luck with your journey towards citizenship, I was lucky we completed ours 10 yrs ago and it was easier then. Just for the laugh I studied for my exam and when I went in for it found myself in a room full of Chinese, it was quite stressful even for me a native English speaker, I could only imagine what non native speakers were going through. One by one we went up for our results 'congratulations you got 100%', 'congratulations you got 100%' everyone of them was told. Me, congratulations you got 96% What????? I have never got 96% on any exam before but was devastated haha Apparently it was one wrong question! Anyway study hard and we look forward to hearing you got 100%!!!
    Wren x

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