Our Story

This is the edited version of our journey to get the Visa that allowed us to come to the Land of the Long White Cloud!

Click here for the unabridged version.

Why move?

So, looking back you might wonder quite where the journey began.

For us it probably began at Dower House campsite in Thetford Forest, where the kids were roaming freely and safely with hardly a care in the world. Alex and I were able to sit out in the warm evening sunshine (yep they do still have those in the UK especially in 2002/03) and relax…..the thought was why not more of this…..then we thought about what the UK stood for at that time, what the future appears to hold for our children (then aged 11, 6 & 2), what our future was with work and taxes and government etc and how safe did we feel.

The conclusion we had was that we were largely dissatisfied with a large number of things….we appeared to be working harder to go backwards, the future did not appear bright for the kids and we were concerned for our own and their safety both from terrorism and from daily life (drugs etc).

With the decision made to move the next thing was where too? We looked at Europe, but of course Europe has its own problems and the language barrier was always a concern (having seen those great TV programmes of people doing such moves) so that was counted out fairly early on.

We then looked at all the traditional areas - Canada (too cold for the wife!), USA (too complex to get Visas), The Caribbean (concerned about educating the kids), Australia (too many deadly bugs and extremes of temperature) - finally NZ.

This seemed like a good compromise…...same language, similar scenery, similar schooling and a good mix of weather--i.e. still seasonal changes--and a potentially greater degree of safety both from terrorism and within. Click here to read more….

A feeling of being in the 'haystack/needle' syndrome hits you - just where to start?

The Internet is enormously useful - it led to numerous sites about NZ. We recommend accessing Outbound Publishing who issue the Emigrate New Zealand 'newspaper'. This was an invaluable source, which helped us with internet searches and in taking the first step of tracking down an Emigration Agent to get some basic information.

Keeping lists of your thoughts and what to do next is critical as it helps you stay focussed and retain your sanity.

Money, Agents and Fairs

Money is obviously important and you do need a very good handle on how much you have to hand as cash and how much you will have when you emigrate if you sell things (houses, cars, household items etc)...BUT….in my opinion if you have decided to do this move, this is the time when you have to put the blinkers on and not get stressed by the potential costs. If you cannot deal with that then you are probably not going to make it…...you have to be absolutely focussed on getting to your goal and nothing should be allowed to distract you.

I recommend an agent to assist you, as they are close to the subject and have the knowledge you need. I suggest you try and research the Agent(s) you are looking at on the net, have a chat with them and see if they will give you some clients to talk to or, find people who have used an Agent and are happy to recommend. Also I again strongly recommend that you subscribe to an Outbound Publishing newspaper and keep abreast of what is happening and you absolutely MUST get to one of the Emigrate Fairs that they organise. These are brilliant--you get to see so many people and get a heap of free advice and also have an opportunity to attend seminars to learn more about a number of things…….this show, in our opinion is a must do thing….put it on your lists!

Business Visa

We opted to use an an agent and from the meeting with our Agent I learnt I would be unsuccessful getting into NZ using my UK financial qualifications. So, we took away from the meeting the fact that the only way in would be to either set up or buy a business and go in on the Business Visa. This Visa is only temporary in nature and after 2 years you need to prove your business plan and assuming you can do that then you move onto a permanent residents Visa…...until then you must prove you can afford to buy /set up the business and support yourself financially on the assumption that you take no income from the business (yes it does/did seem bizarre but that is our understanding of the rules) and you have no recourse to the State for anything.

What now?

After a trip to NZ a business was found and a deal struck, with all parties happy with the shape and content and with the formal signing sorted (via our NZ lawyer), it was time to put in the final paperwork and get the medicals done. I must admit that it took us a considerable time to actually press the button that would allow the contract to be sent back to NZ by fax as it seemed such a momentous thing…..the kids were extremely positive about the whole thing and that was a great help in the whole process.

The medicals proved difficult to arrange partly because we were trying to keep costs down and they did seem to vary and partly because they were seemingly so busy and partly because the weather intervened with blizzards closing roads. In the end, we found a doctor to do the medicals. We were also waiting for the police checks to come back so it was all a bit tense trying to pull all the pieces together….but this we managed to do. Once they were all together we sent the lot off to our agents to check all the paperwork - they suggested a number of alterations most of which seemed to require me to duplicate information but we complied and eventually all was ready for the courier to take it off to NZ.

Strangely, it is difficult to know what is worse….the trying to pull all the pieces together or the waiting for confirmation that the paperwork has all arrived safely in NZ.

The one major criticism of the NZIS and the Business Visa Unit in particular was the almost total absence of information and feedback--customer service must be an alien concept to them--this was magnified as we did not feel able to push too hard as these guys are deciding our future and we did not want to cheese them off too much, but then again we were spending a considerable amount of money and this was our lives! Just before Easter, having chased them ourselves and having had our NZ lawyer raise questions with them as to timing (we were locked into dates on the contract for the business) we finally heard back from some chap in Wellington that our application had been declined.

Obviously this was gutting but I do recall that the reasons given were not based on our business plan but rather on the fact that we had not owned a business before and they questioned whether we could maintain ourselves on the funds available assuming that we would take no income from the business!

We immediately started to search out our NZ lawyer (who was on his travels in Asia) and when we finally found him started to put together yet more data for an appeal--both on points of interpretation of the then NZIS policy/law and on the more emotive points in the application. This again was not straightforward--it transpired that had we been sitting in NZ then the appeal would have been automatically allowed BUT as we were in the UK they reserved the right to refuse the appeal! In any event, we managed to persuade them on the appeal and to pull together a significant amount of further information and comment as to why we felt we could own a business, why at this point in our lives and how we would support ourselves. We worded everything as strongly as possible without being over the top and with the help of couriers got the appeal papers to NZ just before their deadline.

Despite being assigned a person in the NZIS to conduct our appeal review and them being aware of the contract dates, no rush was made. During all this time we were getting closer to our exchange date on the business. We managed to negotiate an extension to these dates but we then had to make the contract void as we appeared no nearer to having a decision made by NZIS.

Solution

By this time we were feeling very disappointed and disillusioned. However, we had been told by our emigration Agent that they had seen someone with my financial qualifications get them approved and rated by the NZQA and had subsequently applied for a Residents Visa, so the game was on again but in a slightly different direction.

We managed to get all the necessary NZQA paperwork together and download the application form from the net and send it all off via a courier to Wellington. We had paid for the express service which meant we should get a reply within 10 days…...you get used to the tension of waiting...honest!!

Unfortunately we did not hear back within the allotted time. However, as we progressed we had the surreal experience of everything falling into place as we needed it, sort of made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck!!

The long awaited moment

It was the day we were setting off on our Devon holiday (we ended up leaving later than planned as kids/mum couldn't get their backsides into gear) I happened to be loading final bits in the car when the postie arrived and there was the letter from the NZIS confirming that we had been granted a Visa (I can feel the emotion of it even now as I write this)…..my heart was thumping and I had to re-read it to make sure it was true. I bounded up the stairs and dragged Alex out of the shower to read the letter….whilst she did that I sat on the loo and cried….too much tension over too long a period and we had finally made it….we were just so elated!

We then thought about cancelling our holiday but as Devon was so very special to me we decided to go ahead and start saying goodbye to places and people. Everyone we told were so pleased for us and really shared our relief and excitement, albeit that there was a hint of sadness as we would be saying goodbye to them at some stage.

Mike (August 2003)

 

 

Unabridged Version of Our Story

This is the FULL version of our journey to get the Visa that allowed us to come to the Land of the Long White Cloud!

Where did we start?
Money, Agents & Fairs
Business Visas
What Now?
New Tack
The Long Awaited Moment

Where did we start?

So, looking back you might wonder quite where the journey began.

For us it probably began at a campsite in Thetford Forest, Dower House, when the kids were roaming freely and safely with hardly a care in the world. Alex and I were able to sit out in the warm evening sunshine (yep they do still have those in the UK especially in 2002/03) and relax…..the thought was why not more of this…..then you think about what the UK stands for at the present time, what the future appears for your children (ours were aged 11, 6 & 2 at the time), what our future was with work and taxes and government etc and how safe did we feel.

The conclusion we had was that we were largely dissatisfied with a large number of things….we appeared to be working harder to go backwards, the future did not appear bright for the kids and we were concerned for our own and their safety both from terrorism and from daily life. We were living on a new development in Essex and already the insidious nature of the drugs culture was rearing its ugly head.

I had always been keen to travel and live and work offshore and now we began to seriously look at the process. The concerns were of course where to go and how would we deal with leaving family. My parents had both passed away but I had a sister in the UK and one in Australia and Alex had both parents and siblings in the UK, so going was never an easy option but we had decided it was time to get out the rut and face some fears.

We spent a glorious 2 weeks in Portugal thinking (away from the everyday stresses) about the whole concept, where to go and how we felt the kids would cope.

Having decided that we really were serious about this process we had to put concerns over how the extended family would react to the backs of our minds….we were comfortable with our decision to look at depth into going so we began to think of where to go.

We looked at Europe, with an eye to doing something in the holiday arena but of course Europe has its own problems and the language barrier was always a concern (having seen those great TV programs of people doing such moves) so that was counted out fairly early on.

We then looked at all the traditional areas - Canada (too cold for the wife!), USA (too complex to get Visas), The Caribbean (concerned about educating the kids), Australia (too many deadly bugs and extremes of temperature) - finally NZ.

This seemed like a good compromise…...same language, similar scenery, similar schooling and a good mix of weather--I.e. still seasonal changes--and a potentially greater degree of safety both from terrorism and within.

It is interesting that once you target an area you then have a feeling of being in the 'haystack/needle' syndrome…..just where to start.

Of course the Internet is invaluable and it led to numerous sites about NZ. We also found that we were suddenly coming across people who had information about NZ. Early on we were very fortunate to get pointed towards Outbound Publishing who issue the Emigrate New Zealand 'newspaper'. This was an invaluable source and helped us with internet searches and in taking the first step of tracking down an Emigration Agent to get some basic information.

It is really at this point that notebooks and lists start coming into their own as there are so many thoughts flying around your head and you do need to be a bit orderly. This is also the time that people start asking for money.

Money, Agents & Fairs

This is obviously important and you do need a very good handle on how much you have to hand as cash and how much you will have when you move if you sell things (houses, cars, household items etc)...BUT….in my opinion if you have decided to go this is the time when you have to put the blinkers on and not get stressed by the potential costs. If you cannot deal with that then you are probably not going to make it…...you have to be absolutely focused on getting to your goal and nothing should be allowed to distract you whether it is finances (find a way around the problem) or family (live your life for yourselves and remember why you have decided you needed to move on) - be totally and absolutely one tracked!

We looked at a couple of Agents before deciding on one. There is an issue with using Agents which is fundamentally money….BUT….remember they are close to the subject and have the knowledge you need. I suggest you try and research the Agent(s) you are looking at on the net, have a chat with them and see if they will give you some clients to talk to or find people who have used an Agent and are happy to recommend. Also I strongly recommend that you subscribe to an Outbound Publishing newspaper and keep abreast of what is happening and you absolutely MUST get to one of the 2 Emigrate Fairs that they organise. These are brilliant--you get to see so many people and get a heap of free advice and also have an opportunity to attend seminars to learn more about a number of things…….this show, in our opinion is a must do thing….put it on your lists!

We opted to use an immigration agent and went to their offices for a meeting to discuss our options. We could have seen them in London but were impatient to get going and as we had friends living close to Chester we opted to go there rather than wait. I have to say there was a good deal of nerves as we arrived for the meeting as we had still not quite decided for ourselves that we could get into NZ.

It was put to us in the meeting that, at that time, I was unlikely to be successful in getting in using my UK financial qualifications. So from this meeting we took away the fact that the only way in would be to either set up or buy a business and go in on the Business Visa.

Business Visas

This Visa is only temporary in nature and after 2 years you need to prove your business plan and assuming you can do that then you move onto a permanent residents Visa…...until then you must prove you can afford to buy /set up the business and support yourself financially on the assumption that you take no income from the business (yes it does/did seem bizarre but that is our understanding of the rules) and you have no recourse to the State for anything.

This is of course where it gets a bit scary but my feelings were that if we were going to the other side of the world why not change my occupation and perhaps go out and be my own boss so we saw this as a brilliant opportunity.

There was an option to contact the NZQA to have my UK qualifications verified and graded for Visa purposes but that again was a cost and we were being reliably informed we would not get anywhere--in addition I had e-mailed the relevant professional body in NZ and whilst there was not a problem with me working they also could not shed any light on whether I would get a Visa. We opted to hit the net in search of businesses to buy as we believed this would be the easiest option…..look for a going concern that showed the potential for improvement.

It is truly amazing what you can find on the Net these days and Alex got to work tracking down the types of businesses we thought we'd like to look into…..there were loads of different things from picture framing to campervan hire to florist etc.

We knew we would like to be in the recreation business and initially looked for a camp site to buy but at the time the ones we found we thought were too expensive (perhaps not in hindsight). So the alternative we came up with was to look for a camping shop as this covered the area of interest. We eventually hit upon the concept of a Camping and Kayak business and started corresponding with 2 such businesses--one in Hamilton and t'other in Whangarei. At the same time I was busy looking on the net for help in sorting out a business plan and found an excellent e-book from the USA which gave a really good picture of the buying process and how to value a business and the different ways in which to finance such an enterprise--the publication was from the Diomo Corporation aka The Business Buyer Resource Centre. The e-book was called "How to Buy A Good Business at a Great Price" by Richard Parker [who is available to you on line once you have purchased and who was extremely helpful). Look on www.diomo.com .

Whilst we wanted to inject a degree of urgency into the proceedings we were somewhat thwarted with the Whangarei place by the owner being away and by the Hamilton place but an incredibly obstructive Agent who would not supply information requested. Perseverance pays off in the end and we gathered in information about the businesses and their accounts etc. Interestingly we met with a weird problem over confidentiality which we eventually managed to overcome but to us in the UK knowing we couldn't get into NZ it seemed odd that the Business Broker was getting so uptight about the whole process…..I think we should have been forewarned about this chap at that time -- he proved to be a nightmare!

We did as much research as we could on the net but it became unavoidable that we needed to go and visit these businesses for ourselves. Here we had a problem in that Alex's mother did not feel she could look after the kids for 10 days so only one of us could go--the expense of taking the whole family was prohibitive plus we did not really look at this as a holiday so kids in tow was not going to be appropriate. In November 2002 I came out to NZ to see the businesses in Whangarei and Hamilton.

I decided on visiting Hamilton first as this seemed the more likely shop to purchase on basis of size and location. This meant dealing both with the owners and the Business Broker [BB] (what a pain in the A he was!) - the owners were really nice but through all my meetings it was obvious that the BB had not grasped the nature of the business…..Also on walking into the business the first time, (having traveled half way around the world) I was greeted by the owners saying that they were amazed I'd come and surprised that I had shown interest as they had believed that the business had been taken off the market…..apparently BB had forgotten to take it off the internet!!!! Things were not looking good at that point and were further complicated when, after spending a full day with the owners, the BB said on dropping me back to the motel that the price was now higher, albeit that this had not been mentioned in any previous e-mail correspondence!

I managed to also have a good look around Hamilton and the surrounding area and also take a kayak trip with the owner down the Waikato River on a sunny warm November evening!!!

In the middle of the week I took a trip to Auckland to meet our NZ lawyer and Business Planner to talk through the issues with Visas and how to structure the deal and to see what the legal paperwork would look like….this was invaluable--and it was good to meet the lawyer and see some of Auckland! On my return to Hamilton I queried the current valuation with the owners as I was leaving to head toward Whangarei, north of Auckland, and was reassured that the price was as quoted on the net.

The journey to Whangarei was a nightmare caused by an accident on the only bit of motorway south of Auckland the Police being incapable of traffic direction. Anyway, I managed to get there eventually having driven through some outstanding scenery and up and around some truly amazing mountains and around huge logging trucks.

Whangarei is not actually on the coast but has a deep-water harbour area, which is taken over by a plethora of yachts of all descriptions in a very tranquil setting. The town itself is not huge but well laid out with housing rising up the hills or running along the river and multitude of bays.

I was very late in meeting the owner of the camp and kayak shop up there but he had hung on and so we at least managed to have a beer or 2 and a bite to eat, whilst arranging for me to meet up with him at the business next day.

We had decided that on this section of the trip I would stay in a New Zealand Homestay accommodation, which was out in one of the bays heading toward the coast. As it was dark on the way but it was not difficult to see it was in a wonderful setting. The beauty of Homestay is that you get to meet real Kiwis and also others staying with them--I can highly recommend trying this type of accommodation and if you are ever in Whangarei area then you absolutely have to try and get into the Parua Homestay and Olive Grove in Parua Bay as the house is beautifully located and your hosts Pat and Peter are delightful.

The next morning was spent with the owner of the business, looking at what he did and how he did it. Tellingly, he commented that if we did not buy he would wind up the business--unfortunately to my untrained eye it looked as if he already was doing so. This seemed to me to put an enormous challenge in front of us as we would have needed to have moved the shop as the location and space were poor. So decided almost immediately that unfortunately this would not be for us…...unfortunate as I really like Whangarei and the coast….there was something very calming and spiritual about the place (and having been back since we arrived I am of the same impression!).

So it was back to Hamilton. Amazingly it took me literally only 20 mins to drive from the north end of Auckland, through the centre (right past the sky tower) and out to the south end…...try that through London/Birmingham etc….and the Kiwis think they have major traffic problems in Auckland!!!

Back in Hamilton it was time to look at business again and put in a written offer, as Alex and I had decided during one of many phone calls that this seemed top offer the best opportunity.…..this in the morning with me flying out in the evening from Auckland!!

So off I go to talk things through with the owners and to give them my formal offer with an explanation of how the offer was structured and what we would need to do to get a Visa and the likely timeline. I left them with it whilst I went to pack and pay for the motel and take a wander around the town. On my return they seemed to be OK with the price and the terms and agreed to the deal. The problem was that the BB arrived as I was about to go and insisted that the price was too low…..the owners did re-assure me that they would stick to their word and do the deal at the agreed price!

On my return to the UK it was all systems go for getting the Business Plan finalised and to start drawing up contracts and to start the completion of the Visa application forms. Unfortunately, during this period the vendors kept calling and e-mailing forcing the price up and their solicitor kept messing around with contracts. It got to the point where we seemed to be being pulled further and further over the barrel and felt we had little option other than to threaten to walk away. At one point the Vendor decided that they wanted to discuss the issues at 3 a.m. UK time and were curtly told to call back later!

Ultimately the deal was struck with all parties happy with the shape and content and with the formal signing sorted it was time to put in the final paperwork and get the medicals done. I must admit that it took us a considerable time to actually press the button that would allow the contract to be sent back to NZ by fax as it seemed such a momentous thing…..the kids were extremely positive about the whole thing and that was a great help in the whole process.

The medicals proved difficult to arrange partly because we were trying to keep costs down and they did seem to vary and partly because they were seemingly so busy. In the end we found a doctor to do the medicals. Unfortunately they had to be postponed due to a blizzard shutting the M11 and making travel all but impossible. Thankfully the doctor decided to do extra days in an effort to catch up so we were only delayed a few days. We were also in waiting for the police checks to come back so it was all a bit tense trying to pull all the pieces together….but this we managed to do. Once they were all together we sent the lot off to to our agents to check all the paperwork - they suggested a number of alterations most of which seemed to be requiring me to duplicate information but we complied and eventually all was ready for the courier to take it off to NZ.

Strangely, it is difficult to know what is worse….the trying to pull all the pieces together or the waiting for confirmation that the paperwork has all arrived safely in NZ.

Thankfully, during this time work for me had been slow which had allowed me to put a fair bit of effort into doing paperwork for NZ but by now the market was turning and so I needed to concentrate on my full time job….well it took the mind off the waiting for news.

The one major criticism of the NZIS and the Business Visa Unit in particular was the almost total absence of information and feedback--customer service must be an alien concept to them--this was magnified as we did not feel able to push too hard as these guys are deciding our future and we did not want to cheese them off too much.

Just before Easter, having chased them ourselves and having had our NZ lawyer raise questions with them as to timing--remember we were locked into dates on the contract for the business--we finally heard back from some chap in Wellington that our application had been declined. Obviously this was gutting but I do recall that the reasons given were not based on our business plan but rather on the fact that we had not owned a business before and they questioned whether we could maintain ourselves on the funds available assuming that we would take no income from the business!

What Now

We immediately started to search out our NZ lawyer who was on his travels in Asia and when we finally found him started to put together yet more data for an appeal--both on points of interpretation of the then NZIS policy/law and on the more emotive points in the application. This again was not straightforward--it transpired that had we been sitting in NZ then the appeal would have been automatically allowed BUT as we were in the UK they reserved the right to refuse the appeal!!!!! In any event we managed to persuade them on the appeal and to pull together a significant amount of further information and comment as to why we felt we could own a business, why at this point in our lives and how we would support ourselves. We worded everything as strongly as possible without being over the top (but having been declined you tend to loosen up on your 'be nice' attitude--further enhanced when it transpired that the chap who had declined us had not been in business himself and had only just moved from Social Welfare--i.e. even less business experience than ourselves!!) and with the help of couriers got the appeal papers to NZ just before their deadline.

We were assigned a particular person to conduct the review and we phoned her to check she had all the original papers and all the appeal papers and reminded her of our contractual dates (which were looming) and her commitment to a timeframe--or so we thought.

Time marched on in its inevitable way and about a week out from our supposed exchange of contracts date still nothing so back on the phone in the middle of the night we went but could not get any commitment from NZIS or our contact as they were busy! Our NZ lawyer started to crank up his contacts in Wellington and we tracked down the e-mail address for the head of the Business Visa unit so a lengthy note was sent to him explaining what had happened so far and setting out our contract dates and asking for comment back what to expect when. It took 4/5 days to get a response which basically said he was having problems staffing his area but that he was interviewing the following week and would hopefully be able to crank up the response time 2/3 weeks later--so no actual acknowledgement of our situation.

So bigger guns were employed including approaching one of the most senior Immigration officers in the service who was based in London. He sympathised big time with us and commented on how frustrated he felt that Business Visa applications from the UK were not dealt with in the UK--and he agreed that even though done in NZ that should not have stopped them picking up the phone and talking to us about the business plan, the economics and our intentions etc--in fact he believed that all Business Visa applicants should be 'interviewed'. In any event he asked for copies of everything we had sent to Wellington and thankfully it was all stored on the computer and so off it went with a little prayer!

With still no news coming out of NZ we bumped up against the exchange date. We had kept the vendors informed of the problems as had our lawyer and they agreed to extend the date by 4 weeks or so. We again chased NZIS but got no response--by this time this was the expected customer service level!

Life in the UK was tense to say the least because no matter that you know things are going on and that we had done everything asked of us we were still living the tension every breath of every day and feeling so hopeless. We even discussed one of us jumping on a plane and sitting in the Business Visa office until we could have a face to face!

The extended exchange date came and went with nowt from NZ and the vendors getting a bit restless, which was understandable. We had a completion date on the contract of end of June and with that time upon and still now response fro the Business Unit to any of our e-mails (even from the Head of the Unit) we decided to declared the contract voided (as was our right in the terms) and come back and renegotiate the contract once the Visa was granted. We believed that this was the fairest and most sensible approach as it allowed the Vendors certainty and took some pressure off us.

Regrettably there was one more kick in the bum from the Vendors (who, you will recall, had been 'difficult' throughout the negotiation once I was back in the UK) when we received a letter from then asking for money! We had e-mailed their solicitor to say what had happened and to ask her to send our deposit to HSBC account in NZ. The next thing we know (having had no response from the lawyer) was an e-mail letter from the Vendor suggesting we pay all their legal fees and setting out why. Unfortunately at this time their letter was the straw that broke the proverbial back and I sat down and gave them what for with all barrels. Thankfully I was controlled enough not to send it in that heat of the moment and left it on the screen all day and reviewed it that night when calmer. It was still a hard hitting letter and provoked the response from the Vendor that a 'simple yes or no would have sufficed'….maybe for them but not for me! I also had to write and threaten their lawyer with interest payments as she would not move the funds into my account….thankfully she did move them without further ado!

New Tack

Thankfully, during this time we had been told that someone with my financial qualifications had just got points via the NZQA and had subsequently applied for a Residents Visa…...so the game was on again but in a slightly different direction.

We managed to get all the necessary NZQA paperwork together and download the application form from the net and send it all off via a courier to Wellington. We had paid for the express service which meant we should get a reply within 10 days…...you get used to the tension of waiting...honest!!!

Unfortunately we did not hear back within the allotted time so back on the phone at the dead of night to find out what was happening. Thankfully the NZQA were very efficient and confirmed that they had done everything and sent it off by courier. They managed to give us all the tracking details and so we were then able to get hold of the UK section and track down our papers. It transpired that the courier had actually tried to deliver the package to us but we'd not been in and then he'd recorded us as not against someone else's name. Needless to say we were not impressed but again the courier company were excellent….not only did they send the package they also refunded the costs of the courier service...not bad particularly as the NZQA had given us a huge points rating. Someone was really looking out for us as I felt that my qualifications should not have rated quite so highly but hey you need some luck at times…..and hey it was great to think I was more intelligent than I had previously thought!!!!!

So, nearly max points on the qualification and along with other points we were almost there….just needed a job offer. Alex put on her internet surfing anorak and worked late into the night searching out jobs in NZ in financial services.

Initially we kept bumping up against employment/recruitment companies who wanted to know my Visa status. When we told them we didn't have one yet they said they couldn't help……...boy were we in a Catch 22 position…...no visa no job/no job no visa. As you can imagine I was rather pissed off with the seemingly intransigent attitude and let one or 2 companies know my feelings….here was a huge untapped market and they seemed to be saying they could do nothing about it. This has to a degree intensified on reflection as we are meeting people who found jobs and then got a work visa or a work to residence visa so why was this not offered at the time we were on the search!!!

Eventually we knew we needed to rationalise our search pattern and try and hit companies directly. To do this we found a list of advisers on the NZ Financial Advisers Association web site and then turned to the internet yellow pages. I scribed a letter and we attached that and my CV to e-mails and quantified my qualifications according to the one given to us by the NZQA.

We further refined the search by thinking where we'd like to go and here we thought of Taranaki/New Plymouth as we'd seen their stand and video at the Emigrate Fair and had listen to the Mayor and met him….so that formed one of our initial search centres.

It was not long before we got a reply and so off we went to the phones again and started talking about a job. We were now able to submit a general skills permanent residency application…..yipeeeee all that hard work and stress seemed to be coming to an end.

Having been here once before with application forms we pulled the appropriate one off the net and completed it and then sent it off to our agents as they had offered to check it all again for us prior to submission. There were one or two things they suggested we add. Whilst all this was happening we were calling in favours to see if our now just out of date medicals and police checks could still be used (*they could be thank goodness….particularly regarding the medical as we did not want to fork out another £500!!!) and also we were looking for a key person in London as I was insistent that we do this in person as I didn't want anything else to go wrong. The Senior NZIS officer in London came up trumps and I spoke to the Head of the London Visa Unit and we booked a time to go up and see her.

We got all our papers together in a presentation file as we thought that would be a big plus in that everything would be really clear and in some form of order. We also took a briefcase full of all and any paper we thought they could conceivably want--this proved a good foresight as they did ask for a couple of things which we had with us. We were introduced to a Unit Manager who had a brief look and then introduced us to the Officer who would take our application all the way through. We had a lengthy chat with her and took her through our file. We were pleased that we had taken the opportunity to take it there ourselves and that we had the video along for the diary we were creating. We left knowing we had done the absolute best we could and so were back in the wait zone...expected to be about 4 weeks.

On returning home we found a message waiting to say that the credit card payment had been declined….on phone the credit card company we found that they were cracking down on payments by postal addresses which NZIS were classed as and as they had not gotten hold of me to verify the payment had declined it…...so told them what to expect and went back to NZIS to get them to re-do….they had appreciated the reason for the decline and were cool about it.

The conundrum then was what to do next as by now we were very suspicious of doing anything ahead of time just in case it put a jinx on things! In any event I needed to sort my other work out as we were off to Devon the following week for a holiday.

The Long Awaited Moment

The day we were setting off on holiday we ended up leaving later than planned as kids/mum couldn't get their backsides into gear and I happened to be loading final bits in the car when the postie arrived and there was the letter from the NZIS confirming that we had been granted a Visa (I can feel the emotion of it even now as I write this)…..my heart was thumping and I had to re-read it to make sure it was true. I bounded up the stairs and dragged Alex out of the shower to read the letter….whilst she did that I sat on the loo and cried….too much tension over too long a period and we had finally made it….we were just so elated!

We then thought about cancelling our holiday but as Devon was so very special to me we decided to go ahead and start saying goodbye to places and people. Everyone we told were so pleased for us and really shared our relief and excitement, albeit that there was a hint of sadness as we would be saying goodbye to them at some stage.