Nomad Problems: Immigration

Oh, Immigration. A necessary, unavoidable, MASSIVE, pain in the ass. When moving to a new country, dealing with immigration is just one of the many wonderful things you get to worry about. Fortunately for me, moving to 3 countries in 2 years means I’ve had buckets of experience with various immigration offices.

I don’t think I’ve announced it on here yet, but as of August 25, I’m hopping on a plane to New Zealand to work as an au pair for a year. I’m insanely excited to live in a new country again, and the family I’m working seems fantastic. So of course, I had to get myself sorted with NZ Immigration.

For those of you who weren’t around last year when I was getting myself ready to move to England, figuring out my student visa was probably the most confusing thing I’ve ever had to do. First of all, the website with all of the information was horrific. Links would always take you around in circles, the little information given was all very cryptic, and I couldn’t ever figure out if I was understanding things correctly. Just as an aside, my other Canadian friends have said the exact same things. Combine poor information with extremely strict immigration policies (apparently lots of people want to move to England – who knew?) and I was a ball of stress.

Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to yet another brush with immigration. To my surprise, the whole process seemed fairly straightforward. That is, until I submitted it and was told that I would need to get a chest X-ray and send it to New Zealand. If you spend more than 3 months in a country not on the low-TB risk list, you’re a liability, and as it turns out, Tanzania isn’t on the list.

No problem, right? There’s a hospital in Exeter, right? I wasn’t worried.

Until 2 days later, when I recieved an email telling me I had to get my Xray at one of their panel approved doctors and send it to New Zealand within 15 days of my application, or it would most likely be rejected. The panic set in, and I seemed to hit snag after snag after snag.

First: The closest panel-approved hospital was in Plymouth, an hour away. Well, that’s inconvenient, but it’s not impossible, right? I had 12 days left.

Second: I was told that week was too busy and I would have to call after the Easter weekend to make an appointment. My panic was slightly increasing. So I waited until Tuesday. I had 8 days left.

Third: After finally getting an appointment and taking the train to Plymouth, I got my scan with little issue. HOWEVER, as I was informed, the x-ray recorder was broken, so my scans couldn’t be processed for at least a day. Don’t worry, they would call me. (They didn’t. I had to call them – I had 6 days left).

After many back and forth phone calls, I had finally set up a courier to send my scans to New Zealand (It cost about £80. I don’t even want to talk about it). I was told it would arrive on May 1 (my deadline), but I’ve learned that postal services OFTEN hit speed bumps.

After sending many panicked emails to my immigration officer with scans of hospital receipts and invoices and pleas for an extension (which I read would be granted if proof of a ‘reasonable attempt’ to get my xray in time was provided), I was very worried. Immigration offices are notoriously strict. Who knew what they would say???

Turns out, New Zealand is uhh, pretty chill. I got a very calm email saying it wouldn’t be a problem to wait for my scans to arrive. My heart rate returned to normal, and that night I didn’t have tense dreams in which my scans get lost somewhere in Asia. My experience with UK Immigration had sort of ingrained me with the idea that immigration always has to be a headache. Of course, I’ll take any excuse to work myself up into full-fledged panic mode. Thankfully, New Zealand is seeming much less complicated. However, I don’t doubt I will have many immigration headaches to look forward to in the future. Such is the life of a nomad.

Fingers crossed my scans make it to NZ and my visa comes through!!

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