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Columnists

Columnists > Randy Barnhart

Randy Barnhart

Moving To Australia From The USA, Hopefully!

  Posted Sunday January 26, 2014 (19:24:58)   (3405 Reads)


Randy Barnhart

Australia! The name has a magical sound. The Outback. Down Under. They have the flavor of adventure and the Old American West.

Now we might actually live there. That will depend upon the progress of this protracted visa process. After submitting the many required forms, we are at the last step, we hope, in a tortuous endeavor. We need to get the FBI’s ok.

As you U.S. expats in Australia already know, we are required to have a criminal background check by the FBI, partly based upon their review of our fingerprints. We mailed our fingerprints last September, just a few days before the U.S. government shutdown. That set us back at least two weeks.

After waiting what seemed to be forever for the results, one Friday we received two different envelopes from the U.S. Department of Justice. One was a normal-sized number 10 business envelope addressed to my husband Jim. In it was a notice saying that he passed the FBI requirements. The other, addressed to me, was a large manila envelope. It contained a letter saying my fingerprints were illegible and a form for resubmitting my prints.

I was re-fingerprinted. The readout said my prints were still hard to read. So the clerk stamped the form saying something like, “this is the best we can do.” We mailed the prints in mid-November. That put us right before the Thanksgiving break. Then there was Christmas and New Year’s. Now we hope my prints will be ok’d within the next couple of weeks.

We are applying for an aged contributory parent visa, a designation probably unfamiliar to most of you. Jim just turned seventy-one and I passed my seventieth birthday last month. Our move might seem like a pretty ambitious undertaking for people our age. Actually, making a permanent move to the Land Down Under is at once a daunting and exhilarating experience at this stage of our lives. It certainly spices up a humdrum existence.

The impetus for this whole adventure was the move of our daughter to Oz. Eight years ago, as a third-year college student abroad, she met an Aussie boy. A very nice, bright, funny, considerate one. He also speaks this great-sounding English. The only negative is that he lives on the other side of the world. Even his parents are wonderful. They reside in a town with the funny name of Woolgoolga. You say it just like it’s spelled.

I had spent at least four of the now seven years bemoaning such an unfortunate fate for a mother--and father--of an only child. Then, as our annual Australian visits began to accumulate, the people seemed so friendly, the lifestyle relaxed, and the American political quagmire a blessed world away, Australia has become increasingly attractive. If we couldn’t have our girl at home, we would have to make her home ours. The idea wasn’t met with unreserved enthusiasm. She thought living so close to her hovering mom might be a bit suffocating. Her boyfriend said he’d known other kids whose parents moved to be nearby, only to have the children themselves relocate far away for a job or some other reason.

Now that they see our intensions are serious, our daughter and her partner seem to have come to accept the idea. I hope that my good behavior once we move will reassure them that this whole undertaking isn’t going to crimp their style. I plan to make as independent an existence for myself as possible. I know Jim, who is very self-contained and always busy with some project or other, will be perfectly happy and no threat to their lifestyle at all.

Among our current concerns is the move itself. The prospect of emptying a house full of 30 years’ accumulation of stuff is daunting. Our two-car garage is bursting with so much junk there’s no room for the vehicles. The garage, like an attic I would guess, has become the repository of everything outdated or unable to fit in the house. Our daughter’s old soccer cleats lie in a wire-rimmed stack of baskets. In addition, the baskets hold old tennis balls, dolls, a small bulletin board, kitchen utensils, an electric alarm clock, a baseball mitt, a broken pair of heels, lots of plastic containers, and many spider webs.

Sorting, a major developmental task they teach you in kindergarten, comes in handy here. Do the items belong in the trash? Should they go to Goodwill or Amvets? Do you want to ask friends? Should we sell them on consignment? An old long library table should fetch a good $75. Maybe sell things on line, EBay or Craig’s list?

Thankfully, we can still put these decisions off for a few weeks. We still need those fingerprints approved.


Randy currently lives in California and will be moving with her husband to the Sydney area of Australia within a few months. For most of her career she has been a medical writer working in public relations for hospitals and medical schools. She also has published numerous articles for Websites, newsletters, and journals.


Randy Barnhart
Randy currently lives in California and will be moving with her husband to the Sydney area of Australia within a few months. For most of her career she has been a medical writer working in public relations for hospitals and medical schools. She also has published numerous articles for Websites, newsletters, and journals.
 
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