It's hard to believe it's been nearly a decade since I first set foot in Australia.
When I initially arrived, I never imagined I'd stay for this long, but here I am, on the verge of becoming an Aussie myself. Funny how life works, isn't it?
As a New Zealand citizen, I had the luxury of not needing a visa to live and work in Australia, thanks to the treaty between our two nations. Therefore, obtaining permanent residency or citizenship wasn't a priority for me.
However, fate had other plans. One day, I stumbled upon an article completely out of the blue, mentioning that Kiwis like me were eligible to apply for Australian citizenship without going through the permanent residency stage. It piqued my interest, and I thought, "Why not give it a shot?"
So, I embarked on the journey of applying for citizenship. The process was entirely online, which offered the convenience of completing it from the comfort of my home. However, it also meant that when I encountered challenges, finding assistance was a bit of a maze, with endless links leading in circles.
For the sake of my own records, I decided to document the entire application procedure, starting from the last week of June 2023.
On July 1st, 2023, I created my immi account on the Australian Government's Home Affairs website and began filling in the myriad of empty boxes that comprised the application.
With around 30 pages to tackle, I'll admit, it felt overwhelming at times. But I adopted a mantra of sorts: "Just do one thing at a time." It helped me maintain my focus, chipping away at the form, page by page, day by day.
Mid-August rolled around, and it was time to gather and attach all the necessary documents—birth certificates, citizenship proofs, police clearances—to substantiate my application.
This phase often proved to be time-consuming and involved processing fees. Nevertheless, I remained grateful for the opportunity to undertake this process independently.
September 15th marked a significant milestone as I finally attached all the required documents and submitted my application, along with the hefty $560 application fee.
To my surprise, just three weeks later, on October 9th, I received an email containing my appointment letter for the citizenship test and interview, scheduled for November 1st. The efficiency of the process caught me off guard—I had anticipated a much longer wait.
November 1st arrived, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I aced the citizenship test (yay), scoring a perfect 20 out of 20. The interview that followed was casual, primarily serving to confirm the details provided in my application. With that, I felt a sense of completion.
Or so I thought.
The very next day, I received another email requesting additional information regarding the countries I had resided in for more than three months since turning 18. This unexpected twist threw me for a loop.
I had stayed in countries like the UK, Singapore, Korea, and Argentina—yes, even Argentina, where I found myself stranded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obtaining police clearance certificates from each of these countries proved to be another arduous task, involving trips to local police stations, fingerprinting, and mailing physical documents, not to mention the added expense of translation services for non-English documents.
Despite the setbacks, I remained grounded, relying on meditation to navigate the challenges with a sense of calm and gratitude. The financial strain of the process was eased by the income I earned from blogging and tutoring—a reminder of the importance of resourcefulness in times of need.
Finally, on February 8th, 2024, after a prolonged wait exacerbated by holiday closures, I gathered all the required documents and submitted them for my application.
To my astonishment, approval came swiftly the very next day—February 9th, 2024. It was a momentous occasion, marking the conclusion of a journey fraught with obstacles and uncertainties. Now, all that remains is to await the citizenship ceremony, where I'll officially become an Australian.
Reflecting on the process, I realized that many of the hurdles I faced were not external but internal—manifestations of my own resistance and apprehension.
Through meditation, I learned to quiet the negative chatter in my mind and embrace each moment with acceptance and grace.
As I look forward to attending the citizenship ceremony, I'm reminded of the wisdom imparted during our meditation sessions—to live in the present moment "Just live today" and tackle life's challenges one step at a time, "Just do one thing at a time."
It's a philosophy that has guided me through this journey and will continue to shape my approach to life as an Australian citizen.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post detailing my experience at the citizenship ceremony. Until then, here's to embracing the journey, wherever it may lead.