Friday, March 19, 2010

FBI & State Police Clearance Complete

This morning we went to get our fingerprints taken for the FBI and State check required for our visa. In California we can use the new LiveScan fingerprinting system which digitally sends our finger prints to the State for review. What a great time saver. We just went to our local UPS store who are certified to perform the scans, and everything was digitally transmitted. It cost us $36 per set, which goes to the State, and then about $18 extra for the fingerprinting fee.

For the FBI prints, we needed to get inked fingerprints. Luckily the UPS store also performed this service. We followed the instructions from the FBI website, filling out a cover sheet, and the necessary payment information. We submitted these along with the Fingerprint cards we obtained from the UPS store. We put a 'expedite' date on the envelope stating we needed them by May 1st, hoping that it will speed up the processing. Although, we have heard that they completely ignore these requests now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Medical Exams & Police Checks

In order to qualify for our Australian Visa, we need to pass 2 main checks, Medical & Police. They need to make sure that we are not only in good health,  but also have what they consider 'good character'. Normally we are not required to undertake these test until we are assigned a Case Officer for our visa,  however in order to speed up the process people often 'front load' these.The biggest risk here is that by the time you are assigned a Case Officer, they may have already expired since they are only valid for one year.

We decided that with the strong possibility of  moving into a higher processing priority mid-year, it would be worth taking the risk of doing the medicals and police checks early. This means once a Case Officer is assigned, they will have all required documents in hand, and should be able to rule quicker.

On Thursday we made an appointment for our Medical Check, which will involve X-rays, blood tests, and general health checkup. Luckily we have no pre-existing conditions that would raise red flags in Immigration. The appointment is scheduled for the 25th.

We also need to go ahead with our police checks. There are 2 parts. One is the California State police check, which requires LiveScan fingerprinting. Being digital, this is a quick process and results can be back in as little as 3 days. The second check is FBI clearance. This requires ink-rolled fingerprints, which are then mailed to FBI headquarters. Results from this can take 8-12 weeks. We will begin this process this coming week.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Taking Dogs to Australia

Our two dogs, Sophie & Lulu, are our life. They are our kids. We couldn't imagine leaving them here, so when we started planning to emigrate to Australia, we had to make sure that we were able to take them with us.


Upon research, we found out that Australia requires a quarantine process that can take from 1 - 6 months if bringing your pets from the US.  The amount of time the spend in quarantine depends on when you begin the procedures such as rabies testing. If you have things planned in advance you can start procedures 5 months before your departure, meaning they would only need to spend 1 month in quarantine. 

We are a little concerned as to how well they will cope with being away from us for an entire month. As I said, they are our babies, and a little spoiled. We will only get to visit them twice a week, which will be really hard. Probably more so for us. The quarantine facility in Sydney is very much like a kennel,  which is an environment they are not used to at all.

 Eastern Creek Quarantine - Sydney - AustraliaEastern Creek Quarantine - Sydney - Australia 

We had a lot of thinking to do when we were talking about moving to Australia. As well as quarantine, they would also face a grueling 13 hour flight from SFO to SYD. In the end
we decided that the improvement in our lifestyle by moving to Australia outweighed any of the risks. 

The quarantine situation leaves us with quite a dilemma with regards to timing. Obviously we want to minimize their time in quarantine to 1 month, by starting the procedure early here in the US. However, with the current Visa madness we have no idea when we will be moving. We have to try and estimate when we may get the visa, and hope that our guesses work out. We already made the mistake once of starting the Rabies testing  back when we first applied for the visa. Those results expired, and we were back to square one. With the potential for moving up in Processing Priorities for the visa, we decided that it was probably worth starting again, so we took the dogs last week for their Rabies (RNATT) test, which determines their rabies antibody levels. I'm confident they will pass this time, as they passed it the previous time. We should get the results in a couple of weeks. 

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