IMMagine Immigration Case Studies
So much has happened in the year and a bit since we have been here. I imagine tho, that the start question would be: Are we happy here, and did we do the right thing? The answer to both would be a YES.
We mulled over immigrating for 8 years before we actually decided it was now or never.
Career wize Gav and I were stressed to the max. Altho we had never personally been affected by the violence, we seemed to be surrounded by it. With Gav working at Independent, and so bringing home 2 papers every day, and because I was an avid reader - I just knew that we had to try a build a safer place for us. It was a leap of faith. We were both going to be giving up good careers, families, our home....but when we started planning, it seemed the right time for us.
Because Seth was in a Remedial school, we had to try and time the flights, the sale of the house, the immigration process - everything, in short - to tie in with the end of the 2nd year of Seth's schooling. Gav is a worrier, so it was quite something to see him take such a huge risk - because it is a risk.
I was a lot more philosophical - we had had friends move, and they seemed to be happy, so I could not see any reason why it would not work out for us. And I must say on looking back now, I am hugely grateful that it all worked out so well. Yes, we did give up a lot. Leaving your family behind is not the easiest thing, but it was also an adventure for us.
I would say that for us, using an agency was a major help. Gav was concerned about his qualifications, and IMMagine Immigration took most of the worry about that out of the picture for us.
After we got here, we spoke with a few people who had done it by themselves, and for the most part they seemed to have sweated blood when dealing with the immigration dept. I dont know that it would have been easy for us, as it was, had we done it by ourselves.
Gav seemed to bond with you in an instant - so it really felt like we were dealing with a friend whenever we had something to be sorted. Financially, we were fortunate in having good pensions that we cashed in. (of course I am still rather twisted about the huge chunk of tax that we had to pay) to play with the markets, and the Rand fell like the proverbial stone!!
We paid for our container, and moved money out the country when the Rand was at about R4.80 to a NZ$ - and that really burned!
I think the hardest adjustment in the end was for Seth - he left behind a very strong network of friends, and of course relationships like that are built over time. I do still have concerns for him, altho he does seem to be a lot more settled now than he was before. We let him sign up at a Karate class, and that has really boosted his self-confidence.
I think tho that he misses the easy relationships that he had, and being 14 now and having to start again has been hard on him. I think if we said that we would go back to SA - he would start packing immediately! With regard to Gav and I tho - this really was the best thing. Gav is taking a bit of strain with the business - but he does have options, and the learning curve has been very good.
For me - altho I dont have the most glamorous job, I get to go home at 2pm - and not having to do a 12 hour day, as I did in SA, has totally saved my sanity. I am also extremely grateful that Gav and I have what we have. Since arriving in Feb 2002, we have been fortunate enough to be able to travel a bit, and have bought our own home. Our house is just gorgeous, and I do appreciate that we were able to buy so soon.
Things I love about NZ must surely be the safety factor - ask any ex-South African and they will agree with you.
And it is soooo clean. We overlook the Manuka Reserve, and there is nothing better than the smell of forrest in the morning!
Things I dont miss about South Africa, must surely be the car guards, beggars & street sellers. Every 2 weeks I would go into Durban City to the Library; running the gamut with the aforementioned car guards, beggars and street sellers! I was delighted to discover when I got to NZ that I was able to park my car entirely by myself - with out it costing me 2 bucks...who knew?!?
Things I do miss must surely be my family & friends. I also dearly miss the Pavillion. Bloody hell - NZ architects have no idea when it comes to shopping centres. The parking lots are diabolical! I miss Maizena Cornflour, and the 5L cask of Claret that Drosty Hof were master at making. But you do find substitutes, and FoodTown is a pleasure to shop at.
I have learned to relax about the enormous traffic problems that Auckland has - again the highway architects out here ought to have been shot! but you learn to take it in your stride.
Gav and Seth love the cold weather; I'm still learning to adjust, and thank the maker of thermals every winter night in my prayers. I love op-shops. The Libraries are small, but good. We have made new friends. And are looking forward to holidaying in the Snow soon.
I would not dream of going back to South Africa - except to visit.
I remember quite clearly the Sunday morning I saw the advertisement for IMMagine Immigration in the newspaper. It was a picture of a child walking down a road all alone. I thought to myself "if only?" but put that thought in my long list of dreams.
Both myself and my husband had enjoyed many wonderful years in South Africa but over the past few years - the ever-increasing crime, lack of work, general disregard for human life and downward spiral of quality education had prompted us to look at other living options. We then approached Helen at IMMagine Immigration in Durban in December 2001 and started the process of exploring a new life.
I remember sitting in front of my computer and looking at the long list of stuff that I had to get together for our paperwork and bursting into tears. I thought we would never get it right - but then I took a moment and decided just to work through it all bit by bit. We had some difficult moments - like getting my original birth certificate out of Zimbabwe!??
The thing that made it all so much easier was the constant support and advice from Helen and Gail from IMMagine Immigration. They walked us through every step of the way and at no time did I ever feel like things were out of control. We had constant updates as to the state of our paperwork and they also managed to connect us to all the relevant parties we needed to do different things.
At last - the time came - our house was sold - our furniture was on the water - and this was it. Gavin went ahead as I was waiting for passports for myself and the kids. We arrived in Auckland on 20 August 2002 - 8 months after we first saw Helen.
I was in the country for a week and heard about a brand new Christian television channel starting on Sky. I went in for an interview - and am presently the producer of all of the local programmes on Shine TV.
I love my work - I am probably working harder than I have ever done before but I love every minute. In the past 11 months of work I have managed to build up a whole new infrastructure and life.
My daughter is absolutely thriving in the school system here and her favourite part of New Zealand is that there are not gates at the end of peoples driveways!
My son is about to turn 2 in September and has found a wonderful caregiver through Barnardos - She looks after 4 children and he feels like he is a part of her family. She is also extremely understanding with our strange and sometimes long work hours which is wonderful.
We have also made some wonderful friends here - and love the fact that we can walk to the shops without fearing for our lives. We have travelled all over the North Island - done white water rafting, flown over volcanoes - and I am aiming to jump off the Sky tower!
Gavin and I often think back to the whole process of immigrating and believe that our decision to use an immigration agent [and in our case IMMagine Immigration] was the wisest choice we made and the entire process as a result was effortless and enjoyable .
Editor's note: When Lauren talks about "jumping off the Sky Tower" she is referring to bungy jumping......... we thought it important to give you the context!
The applicant is a 37 year old British citizen who had lived in the USA for the past 12 years. A registered nurse he had grown up in New Zealand from age 3 and only left as he found it difficult to secure work during the economic restructuring of the early 1990s. Unfortunately he did not renew his Returning Resident's Visa and had not like the rest of his family become a citizen of New Zealand. Now married with a 15 month old son he had a job lined up in New Zealand and filed an Expression of Interest as a Skilled Migrant.
In due course the EOI was selected from the pool as he had a prima facie claim to sufficent points. He was after the initial verificationand credibility checks invited to apply for residence. He filed the application expecting there would be no issues as the case looked "straight forward" (how I have come to detest that word) and as he had been invited to apply, what could go wrong?
Just as he thought his case was about to be approved the Immigration Department dropped an absolute bombshell. Just weeks before he was due to take up the position in New Zealand he received a letter from his case officer advising that the Medical Assessor attached to the Department was recommending that his application be declined on the basis that his young son had a 'hole in the heart'. Won't bore you with the medical term.
The family was devastated. As a registered nurse and on the advice of the toddlers pediatrician he knew there was no serious medical issue in terms of ongoing "cost". Most babies born with this condition (and it is very common) simply grow out of it. The prognosis was exactly the same in this case.
They sought our assistance and we obtained medical evidence proving the fact that contrary to the Department's advice that this child would present an excessive cost (upwards of $25,000 over four years) for his 'acute' condition nothing could be further from the truth.
We won but it took five weeks of sleepless nights for this client.
- The EOI form gives the impression that if you don't answer "no" to any of the questions on the form you are in the clear medically.
- The EOI form states that if you are selected from the pool you "may" be asked to complete a medical. The reality is quite different - you will always need to complete a full medical.
- Just because your Doctor or medical experts tell you that there is no real problem the Immigration Department may well not agree and force you to prove what you are claiming which can involve expensive specialist visits and reports not to mention serious lack of sleep as you worry about the outcome.
This case had a happy ending but is a sad indictment on a process that misleads its "customers" on so many different levels.
Well, finally I have managed to write a proper letter if it hadnt been for Andrea's letters we would probably have been presumed dead by now. My apologies, and Im also sorry if some of what I'm writing below is old hat to you.
I have been in New Zealand since the beginning of February and Andrea and Lara joined me at the end of February. Initially we lived in a two bedroomed flat/house in Browns Bay, one of the north eastern seaside suburbs of Auckland. Our furniture only arrived at the beginning of May, so until then we lived with just the few sparse furnishings I bought before Andrea arrived a mattress on the floor, some plastic patio furniture, one pot and some crockery and cutlery. Some friends lent us a baby cot and a fridge. It's amazing how little you really need.
We lived like that quite happily, and were beginning to wonder why we had paid R16 000 to have another 11 cubic meters of possessions shipped over here. But it was very nice to have some of our things like a microwave oven and our CDs again once the container finally arrived. Nothing apart from one bottle of wine was broken in the move, but we had to wash all clothing and linen as it was a bit musty some of the Durban humidity exported to NZ!
I set about looking for a job, as I thought it would be best to get to know a new country at someone elses expense rather than to do it on my own account if I bought a business. But although I sent off over 50 applications for specific jobs and to personnel agencies in general, without being fussy about the level of jobs I tried for, the response was underwhelming. Out of all the applications I was invited for only one interview!
I can only speculate as to why this was as there are several possible reasons. One factor is probably that my experience was in a specific field in which there are few opportunities in NZ.
They seem to be very set on specific relevant experience, and ones overall abilities dont seem to count that much. But I did apply for two or three jobs for which my experience should have been quite appropriate e.g. a Service Manager for the Perkins, DDC and MTU agents and a Sales/ Application Engineer for CAT but no response, and when I phoned I was basically told dont call us, well call you!
With the job that I actually went for the interview for, and presumably some others, the problem was that they were pretty low level jobs, and the guy who interviewed me said that although I probably had the best capabilities of all candidates, it would not help him if I used that job a stop-gap measure for a few months until I found something better, and then theyd have to start recruiting and training all over again. Fair enough.
But apart from all that, it seems that here in NZ there is a definite bias against foreigners or South Africans specifically - I don't know which it is, described variously as mistrust of foreigners to downright xenophobia. Not that you would ever get the impression when talking directly to people, they are all as friendly as you could wish for, but talking to many ex-SA's we have consistently been getting the message that everyone struggles to gain acceptance.
Maybe the fact that the Springboks have an almost 50% record against the All Blacks is the root cause of this dislike, although on current form they should be feeling sorry for us. But don't get me wrong, we are happy to be here, it's just that one has to be aware of factors like this slipping into the equation its not all plain sailing.
Anyway, after about six weeks I decided that this was getting us nowhere, so we decided to look for a business to buy. In order to minimise the fact that we were new to the country and did not know local conditions, we decided to look at franchises, as these at least had a concept proven to work in NZ and there was a backup that one could rely on when one had questions or problems.
We looked at a wide variety, and it was a time consuming process, as we often waited for days or weeks for information and drove all over Auckland and even beyond, only to decide that this was not for us, and we went back to the drawing board and started again.
But we did not want to rush into things, as this was a long-term decision. Initially we had put ourselves under pressure to reach a decision, as we were living off our capital and wanted to start earning money as soon as possible. But then we realised that that would just have to be part of the cost of emigrating, as the decision would have greater financial implications by far than the cost of living for a few weeks or months off our savings.
We looked at even the most unlikely options that seemed to conform to a basic set of criteria we had formulated. After quite a few weeks of doing this we were advised by a Franchise Consultant to whom a friend had referred us to also look at non-franchised options.
Finally we came across a business just starting up in which shares were being sold. It will press olive and avocado oil, mainly from other growers but it will also own some olive groves. As this is a new business there was and unacceptable risk in it for me, so we could not invest a major portion of our capital in it. There was obviously no guarantee of an immediate or regular return.
But the major shareholder offered me a job to run his factory, so I have accepted that and just bought a minor share (4%) in the company. I will start there in September/October, once the installation of the plant (from Alfa Laval in Italy) commences. I feel very positive about it and view it as quite a challenge, even though there is an element of risk, as it is a completely new venture with unproven markets. But no risk, no gain. I'm just holding thumbs that it will work out. The salary is not fantastic just enough to live off, but I hope that that will improve as my experience and the companys cashflow picks up
The business is located 250 km north of Auckland near Kerikeri, which is situated at the tip of an inlet on the Bay of Islands, which is one of New Zealands most beautiful spots. That alone says quite something, because just about everything here is beautiful. The bay is great for fishing, diving and sailing, so hopefully we will be able to get some kind of a boat quite soon so that we can join the action.
In spite of being such a small town (pop. 4000), it is not your average Kiwi one-horse town, and the general attitude and intellect is much more big town. A large percentage of the inhabitants have moved here from Auckland to get out of the rat race, but they have created a market which has enabled a whole range of coffee shops, restaurants etc to open up.
Andrea also likes it although I think she would have preferred to stay in Auckland. She had made quite a few friends there already, and there are many shops, goodness knows what that has to do with it, as we don't have any money in any case!
Packing for the move from Auckland to Kerikeri was a doddle - we did an hour or two on Sunday afternoon and spent about half the day on Monday, as we hadnt unpacked most of our things from SA and just stored them all in the garage. The movers didn't pack anything into boxes - in fact, it was just one man and his truck. So I had to help him load - I could have hired another man for about 100$. In the end he helped me carry the heavy things like the washing machine, fridge, dishwasher, tumble drier and couch, but all the rest I loaded and offloaded myself whilst he packed and unpacked the truck. I discovered some muscles that I had forgotten I had ever had, especially the next day, but another day later I was ok again!
We are living in a rented 3 bedroom house- very nice even if basic, and it's a stone's throw from everything else! The house has beautiful wooden floors, but suffers from a common NZ malady in that the built-in-cupboard space is quite pathetic - there are one or two pokey little hanging cupboards in every room. One is supposed to have chests of drawers, which we don't.
Since I will only start work sometime in September or maybe even at the beginning of October, I decided to use the opportunity to sand down and revarnish most of our furniture, as its all a bit jaded. Apart from that I am doing a lot of research about olives and olive pressing on the internet. I will also buy a couple of books to study the subject more fully.
Our internet connection is free, but unlike when we were in Auckland, not the telephone, as there is no ISP available by local call, and trunk calls aren't free (all local calls in NZ are free once you have paid the basic phone rental). In order to minimise these costs we have opted for a Favourite City plan from Telecom, which means that for a flat rate of 29$ per month we can call to a nominated city for as long as we like in off-peak time (weekdays 1800h-0800h + Fri 1800h - Mon 0800h).
We nominated Auckland, as in that way we can also use the phone to call our friends in Auckland at no additional cost. We are also using the internet for voice calls to South Africa. This is a very good feature whereby you can speak to anyone else with an internet connection, and it costs no more than the respective internet and local call charges. So we now speak for hours on end at no incremental cost. The NZ off-peak time works out quite nicely, because it means we can be online 0800h-2200h SAST.
Lara is coming along in leaps and bounds. She is a joy to us and is talking quite a bit now, and actually asks for things of her own accord - yesterday she didn't like our supper, so she pointed to the kitchen and said ya-ya, which is what she calls yoghurt. Up to now she would at best demand something else that she could see in front of her. I suppose she will next start demanding things which we don't even stock at home - go to MacDonalds and get some chips!!! She is very determined and has a very strong will very stubborn in fact, which she undoubtedly inherited from her mother!
Every cloud has a silver lining, and it has really been very nice for me to have been at home so much during these six months to see her grow up and to interact with her. Its an opportunities very few fathers probably ever get.
Andrea is now having to make new friends for the third time in a year after having had to do so in Durban and Auckland, but I am sure that she will manage she has already made some contacts through Plunket (the baby clinic).
All in all we a very happy in NZ. The people are very friendly, its clean, things work, and above all there is not the big wealth gap and the associated problems. Its not perfect, but one can compensate for the minor blemishes. At times its almost boring, because nothing ever happens well the issues that are blown up in the newspapers and TV for days on end wouldnt even make page 5 in SA. Very little violence, corruption and skandaal! Economically its a bit of a backwater- there just isnt any industry worth talking about here. It seems that as soon as a company grows big they move their head office to Australia and the manufacturing to Indonesia or Malaysia. Something like 92% of all Kiwis work for themselves or for companies employing less than 10 people. You have to work hard to make it, but there are enough people who live a very good lifestyle, even by old white SA standards.
SA friends of ours have just emigrated to Canada and it is quite nice to exchange experiences with them. We find that most people in SA can't understand why we've left, and most immigrants we talk to here can't understand why anyone stayed behind in SA - so it's good to talk to someone who is going through the same process as you are.
The weather - we have almost survived our first winter, and where we have been, it hasnt been bad. No worse than a Cape Town winter, in fact, very similar but without the wind and the biting snow air. Of course it gets much colder south of Auckland, but we didnt go there! Maybe well go there one winter for a few days to ski!
As to our properties in SA- thank goodness we have finally sold all three - what a schlepp. We sold the Kloof Street flat four times before it finally worked out! Even so we had to drop our prices substantially. But we realised that the market in SA and CPT is going nowhere, so there was no point in hanging on for a fancy price, whilst all the time we were paying bond interest, rates, levies etc, and the value of the rand was sinking lower and lower. I had to just about have the Camps Bay house rewired. The deterioration could not all have taken place in the past 5 years that I have owned the house, so the guy who made out the certificate when I bought it obviously did not take the matter as seriously as they did this time around (even a tame sparky friend of ours wouldn't pass it off as is).
Thats just about all I can tell. Keep well and please drop us a line its always good to get mail from our friends.
Early in 2002 we were at a crossroads in our life, following a number of different strands that asked us as a family to take a check up from the neck up! The previous summer I had been ill for the only time in my working life. This shook me considerably and made me re-evaluate how I wanted to work and live (it seemed to be becoming a choice rather than a combination). We had lost Sues mother at Christmas; she had been a mainstay in our lives. We wanted a change.
To want is easy, to achieve more difficult. Living in the affluent Southeast of England was a double edged sword, employment options were there, but the cost of living extreme. Trading down from our period cottage to a more modest dwelling in a less desirable area almost seemed unfair, but it was the only way to remain in the same job and cut expenditure.
Asking Sue to work commercially again rather than follow her dream as a Dance Teacher and having lots of time for Scott didn't solve the conundrum either. I didnt want to lose the parts of our life balance that worked in order to solve the ones that didn't. A move seemed to be the only logical alternative.
But where to?
To move to anywhere else in the UK seemed filled with issues. We could become mortgage free(r) if we move Southwest, it is beautiful, the weather will be pretty good, but there arent many jobs. The same would be true of the North of England (and its colder). Are the West Midlands any better than the Home Counties? Scotland offered more of the same.
We wanted it all I guess!
I was 41 and like many of my friends seemed to be at a life changing stage. Nick had sold his business, Dave wanted to be an actor, and Andy was disillusioned after 12 years loving his job. So I knew I wasn't alone. Somehow that didnt help!
I wanted a job that challenged me but one I didn't need to work 70 hours a week just to keep. After 20 years of hard work I deserved a nice home. I didn't want Sue to have to accommodate me by having to take a job she hated after just fulfilling her ambition.
My concerns with the lifestyle of the UK were still latent but there a dinner party with some friends moving to Spain spent much of the evening debating what the nature of Englishness was and whether it was changing irreparably. My local supermarket was suddenly held up at gunpoint twice in three months. Right there in my sleepy Buckinghamshire village. We wanted our son to have a childhood and education without stress and pressure of 11+ exams, SATs etc.
Then Epiphany! May Bank Holiday 2002. (The one formerly known as Witsun.) Sitting around a Sunday lunch with my family, the three of us and my mum and a friend Chris (who was staying with us at the time). I asked a question as much to keep Scott involved with the conversation as anything.
Where would you go if you could visit anywhere in the world? From all parts of the table the answer came New Zealand, New Zealand, New Zealand, New Zealand.
I announced somewhat flippantly that we had better all go and live there then. There followed a conversation of how one could and the ups and downs of such a move. All pretty light hearted and not serious on any conscious level. Recounting this story to our best friends Nick and Lynn the next day seemed to cement something Lynn said I couldn't just go to New Zealand. A challenge! We went onto the Internet and looked at the New Zealand Immigration Service website. Pretty clearly I had a chance to get in but needed to really understand the points situation and how to qualify, or what about the entrepreneur visa, or the talent visa? Where to go from there?
I decided to telephone Yellow Pages New Zealand as a likely employer. That night I girded my loins checked the time difference (about eight times) and made the call. I was lucky. The personnel officer at Telecom suggested I talk to an immigration agent first to establish if I could really emigrate, but to come back to him if it worked out! Suddenly I'm emigrating?!?!
Sue and I had a sit down talk and found we both wanted to see this further. There seemed so many plus points. Great exchange rates meant good house prices, the kiwi work: life balance seemed a little more in order than the UK. A possible good life for us all.
Having looked at a couple of websites, I chose to try IMMagine Immigration (formally Protea Pacific). They had an online basic questionnaire to see if you had any chance, followed by a paid for more in depth one if you were still serious. Also heaps of information and frank realism. I telephoned IMMagine and spoke to Lynn who was incredibly helpful and friendly. She advised I fill in the questionnaire it cost about 35 pounds. I then waited a couple of anxious nights for the answer.
The answer was a cautious maybe. If I could get a job that matched my job experience, if I could find a qualification that matched by Sales Management experience, or if I could find an employer that would offer a talent visa, then I could try. Or I might have a go at starting my own business or buying into an existing one. But not a no so I decided to take it one stage at a time. So who to tell?
Certainly not at work as there was every chance it wouldnt happen. But how about my mum? Having made plans to visit New Zealand to check it out that summer holiday, Id better say something. My mum was the brilliant lady I always underestimate. She was supportive and but I could tell oh so upset. We decided to tell a select group of friends, those who we didn't want to present a fait accompli if we loved New Zealand as much as we expected to. The overall reaction was a common one, surprise, but there were extreme differences in the communication of that surprise. Lucy simply cried (we were on the telephone) and her puzzled husband took over the call. Allan & Tracy were almost angry and the discussion was hard. Looking back, I'm not sure we could have done it any more appropriately. It was strange that a decision so personal to us became such a discussable item! Like anything major the gild fell from the lily as the story of the dining table was retold again and again.
Next I needed to investigate the dreaded points situation. To get in under the most popular General Skills category you needed the right number of points. This amount changes monthly, and was 25 when I first looked, but seemed to rise every month! Age, Work Experience, Relevant Qualifications, Money, and a Job Offer all scored, with lesser amounts for the secondary applicant. Lynn at IMMagine quickly helped us to decide that the application would be in my name rather than Sue, and that Sues hard won Dance Teaching qualifications didn't score any points.
The NZ Immigration system have ratified many qualifications but Sales Management wasnt covered anywhere. I looked around and found a qualification that seemed to fit the bill.
Unfortunately the NZQA will only test qualifications you possess, so it was all a risk. But first I had to get the qualification! Study at my age!! I was lucky (again) and found a great tutor in a small company who understood me almost immediately. Anne put me at ease and led me logically into the world of learning again. I was the worst student ever and found starting the most difficult thing to do. I couldn't concentrate and decided that I would kick on after our trip to New Zealand.
So after a relaxing holiday in Devon with Nick and Lynn and family (the first of many last times) we jetted off for 2 weeks in New Zealand. The flight (via Los Angeles) was long but strangely not too tiring, and we arrived with hearts pounding with excitement on a Monday at 6.00am. Auckland airport has to be one of the friendliest I have been to; there was even complimentary tea and coffee whilst we waited for our bags! Having got our hire car (and complete directions to the hotel from the Avis girl) we set off for what was to be a life-changing fortnight.
Part holiday part can it be this good, where are the bad bits, this was truly a voyage of discovery. We shopped for food, looked at Estate Agents and got a feel for areas. We first looked at Parnell* and gasped it was so expensive. Mortgage free(r) was so appealing, but not there certainly, as the prices seemed to match the UK. Our concierge Matthew let us into the secret Parnell was the place to live in Auckland. Phew.
We covered the North Island pretty extensively, but missed out on the beautiful south purely a time issue, I wish we had come for three weeks or more, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I met up with Lynn at IMMagine and she was as nice in person as over the phone. One thing was certain though IMMagine couldn't represent me until:
- I had a qualification worth at least 10 points.
- I had a job offer.
Professional to a fault both Myer and Lynn whilst I was at IMMagine laid out the way ahead, get the qualification, keep my options open as possible with Yellow Pages New Zealand and cross my fingers!
Having met with the personnel manager at Yellow Pages, he was impressed with my presentation and told me to stay in touch as the process took shape. He couldnt however see how the new talent visa could be employed by Yellow Pages to get me in straight away. As I wasnt a sports hero or a ballet dancer the talent visa wouldnt apply! I knew different, but I couldn't seem to get my point across.
We had yet to tell our 9 year old, Scott, our plans, having decided not to unsettle his world before we were surer. I finally broached the topic with him over a mans dinner at out hotel in Wellington.
To my incredible relief he was excited and wanted to tell everyone he knew as soon as we got home! Not a good idea I thought in case it doesn't work out and he agreed to keep it to himself.
Once home it was into the strange phoney war of living for the present and having two futures to plan for. In December I took my finals, having crammed a years part time course into three months. In January I sent my thesis into for the final assessment. The Institute was aware of me and processed the results as quickly as they could. Later that month came the answer a pass with merit. IMMagine came into their own again and although I changed consultants to Meg the service if anything improved! Iain also helped out, and gave me the low-down on the vagaries of the NZQA who needed to ratify the Diploma now. The options were simple, pay a fee and wait or pay more and get it inside 8 weeks. We wanted to know as soon as possible and elected to take guaranteed turn around time. Iain was extremely clear there was no guarantee regarding the qualification. I had found an MA course as a contingency, but really didnt want to work through another period of intense study. So now we had to wait.
All this time we had been selling our house, experiencing for the last time the English legal system at its worst. Also having to delay the sale against our news, not wanting to lose our buyer, but not wanting to sell our home in case something didn't happen. To move from our home, and not emigrate would be the worst of both worlds.
On March 5th Sues birthday the email came through from Meg. We had been awarded 10 points. We were there or so we told ourselves. Meg helped us total the points:
Age 4 points
Experience 7 points
Funds 2 points
Qualification 10 points
Total 23 points
Pass Mark 29 points. I needed a job offer. Fortunately Yellow Pages had been very warm and ready to talk seriously when my qualification came through. This would give the 8 points I needed, and the benefit of keeping my funds for the best exchange rate.
Disaster! Duncan at YP has handed his notice in and is leaving the company. 9 months rapport had gone in one phone call. Finding a replacement contact was difficult and frustrating. My goodness was did it seem unfair. Were the gods against us? What to do. Back to Meg for support, help, advice, a shoulder to cry upon.
Once again she gave good counsel. Getting a job from the UK, particularly in my speciality, Sales Management, was next to impossible. Why not come across and try in Auckland?
Did we split our family and I go first followed by Sue and Scott. Or do we go for broke? My wonderful wife came into her own and provided that days reminder of why I had married her.
Lets just go she said, Youll get a job and then were in. The worst that can happen is we have a brilliant holiday! Her ability to see right to the core of any issue always moves me, and the decision was made.
Then we had so much to organise. We made a couple of good choices I would recommend to anyone. We chose a corporate relocation company, Sterling, rather than just a shipper. This meant not only was our house packed in 2 days, all our plugs were changed and the contact during the whole procedure was great. It cost about 500 pounds more, but for peace of mind money well spent. Although I wish I had listened to Sue; we needed to start sorting out the house earlier. Also get some helpful friends to get involved. It was so stressful. Eventually Manda came over to help us get through Scotts toys and stuff. I was ready to throw in the towel.
Also we arranged our New Zealand bank account via the ASB in London. We would arrive and cards and funds would be waiting for us. Again do it no queuing no worries day one you can function in your new country.
We completed our house sale on Friday 9th May and left the UK on 11th.
But boy did we make a boob! We had far too many clothes with us, and although the overall weight of our luggage was fine, two of our bigger cases were too heavy. So it was repack, reweigh and lots more unnecessary stress!
All's well that ends well and we arrived, I got a job inside 10 days, IMMagine worked their magic and my working visa was through within the fortnight they promised. Importantly I could promise this timing to my employer, this was key to their confidence in hiring me.
Now we live in paradise, and await our Permanent Residence later this year.
I would recommend:
- A reputable immigration agent who can give you in writing the process you will go through. They will lead you by the hand through the police checks, medicals and everything else involved.
- Dont scrimp on your shipping. Others I have met over here have regretted saving at the beginning only to pay later.
- Make sure you investigate the way houses are sold over here. It is different.
- Check your travel arrangements carefully. Being told you cant go does help the blood pressure!
- Pack in enough time. A recommend a week or two before your packing company arrives.
- Once you decide how much you will take on the flight halve it!
- Organise a bank account before you leave.
- Read as much as you can to decide where you want to start you new life.
* Parnell is the most expensive suburb in New Zealand - Ed