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Forums » Smalltalk » AMA: Immigration Experience

I thought I’d throw my hat into the AMA Ring with my life experience with my immigration from my home country (United States) to my adopted country (Australia). Making a decision to uproot ones life from one country and move to another country can be an intense and stressful experience. The process took me a few years and required extensive paperwork and a fair amount of money. The requirements were quite intricate and I had ‘an easy path’ as my immigration was voluntary. I was moving to be with the person I loved. I am now a dual-citizen of both the United States and Australia.

At the beginning, there was a possibility that the path would be reversed and my partner would move to the United States. I therefore have a whole file drawer of U.S. immigration requirements and experience in dealing with the INS there as well. To this day, the United States considers my wife as ‘NRA’ ... Non Resident Alien.

These experiences has made me much more aware of the trials and tribulations that immigrants experience in their quest to make a new home for themselves bot in Australia and the United States. In the last 15 years, I’ve come to know some lovely people who have had experiences of their own. Some I met during my process, and some I knew before who were very helpful in giving advice on potential roadblocks based on their experience. Others I met in internet discussion groups that focus on immigration. No one story is the same, but much of the experiences are similar. If anyone has any questions about immigration (mainly pertaining to the USA and Australia) and/or my experiences, feel free to ask.

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Have you lost your accent yet? How do people react when they find out you're American, and has that changed in the past few years? What are some small and weird differences between the two countries?
Rogue-Scribe Topic Starter

Claine wrote:
Have you lost your accent yet? How do people react when they find out you're American, and has that changed in the past few years? What are some small and weird differences between the two countries?
Good questions :)
  • Have you lost your accent yet?
    I have not... much. Being from the Pacific Northwest USA, I have that west coast laid-back accent that is often mistaken here in Oz as Canadian. Sometimes I play that up saying I'm from 'South of Vancouver', and sometimes I will say 'Seattle'. When I visit family in Seattle, they all say I sound different.
  • How do people react when they find out you're American, and has that changed in the past few years?
    Reactions have been varied. For the first few years, it was more a curiousity, especially when I was off the beaten track living in Tamworth, and going to places like Orange, Warialda, and Coonabarabran. Sort of a 'is this Yank lost' sort of vibe. Living in Brisbane was more confrontational as there was a history of trouble with American soldiers in WW2 and I was often asked to 'explain what's going on in the USA with guns' every time a mass-shooting occured. Also, I gave up trying to explain the electoral college around election times. Sometimes it was just easier to say I was Canadian in certain situations.
  • What are some small and weird differences between the two countries?
    Some basic stuff is Tomato Sauce. Here in Oz, it's basically ketchup without the vinegar in it. In the states it's a thin tomato paste in a can. Meatlovers Pizza seems to 'require' BBQ sauce here in Oz, where BBQ sauce has to be requested in the states. Of course, there is the whole issue of driving.... Australia it's a righthand drive car on the left side of the road, and in the states it's a lefthand drive car on the right side of the road. I spent so many years looking over my right shoulder when I was reversing in the states that when I first tried backing my wife's car into the driveway here in Oz, my neck didn't want to flex to my left and it cracked so hard... it made my ears ring. And swearing... the whole forbidden language thing that is prevalent in the states (especially in the midwest) isn't really a thing in Australia. That is a few things.
Rogue-Scribe Topic Starter

I was able to come to Australia on an 820 Partner Visa, and the application fee paid to the Australian Immigration department at the time (2008) was just under $3000AU. A coworker of mine said he had to pay over $6000AU last year for his Phillipine wife’s 820 Visa application.

Other costs I incurred was for a health check, complete finger and palm printing at a police station, having said prints sent to the FBI in Washington D.C. for clearance check, a migration agent (lawyer) to help navigate the shoals of government immigration bureaucracy, and a lot of time waiting.

Also, one’s Citizen partner sponsor has to have the financial means to support their incoming partner. The process is similar for the United States. Basically if you have financial means you can legally emigrate. The experience has given me a deep sympathetic outlook on all those who try to come to a great country like Australia and the USA without the means.

Living library week is nearly over but I’m open to answer any questions and give advice to anyone who may be planning such a big life move.

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