Sunday, March 27, 2005

Back in Brisvegas

I've been real busy in the last month. Short reason: a short trip back to Australia. Extra reason: my fianceé is coming back with me.

Getting a Vietnamese national into Australia is difficult for several reasons. The government (and the public behind them) don't like illegal immigrants, especially those from Third World countries. (Especially especially especially those from Muslim countries, but Việt Nam is not one of them.) In the back of every DIMI bureaucrat's mind is the suspicion of said visitors cutting and running once their visa expires. But there's another reason: does your average Vietnamese have the cash for an Australian holiday? Nope. The airfare alone (at about 900 USD) would be enough to wipe away most people's life savings. Then calculate... oh - say 1000 to 1500 USD minimum for accommodation, tours, tacky souveniers, etc. That's why DIMI asks for stuff like "evidence of land ownership". It seems insulting and unnecessary - but these things indicate that the visitor has the cash.

So things didn't look good for Ms. Down and Out - basically, she's quite skint after paying off a lot of debt. But I had a few tricks up my sleve. Firstly, I helped her with the form, and wrote on it that I helped. I also had the money for the airfare. What was better was that I had the support of my parents. For example, they gave us a place to stay, which helped cut down costs.

I have to thank my dad for good advice: write a covering letter for all the documentation asked of her. The letter is not one of the official 8 or 10 requirements for a tourist visa (passport, CV, ID, house certificate, etc.), but my father thought it was a good idea. So I wrote it. Basically, I wrote myself as the man supporting her in Australia, with the aid of my parents. In there, I mentioned that I was betrothed to her, and was over to meet my parents. I can't remember exactly else what I said, but I think it was about 2 A4 pieces of paper.

Did it work? Well, we were told that the turnaround time for a "Yay" or "Nay" was 10 working days. We got the thumbs-up in three. The covering letter seemed to have done the trick.

Of course, once Ms. Down and Out got the visa, it was time to buy the ticket. And pack bags. And there was some last minute work back at school. And move house... although that isn't traditionally part of flying to Australia on a holiday. But we're here. First time for her. And it's good.