I haven't posted much about New Zealand, mainly because there has been very little to post. We submitted our application for permanent residency at the beginning of April, they took the money, and then it all went quiet. This was to be expected; the London branch website has a rather nice little application processing time note on it (which is not updated as regularly as anyone who is waiting would like) which gives the processing time to be just under three months, taking us to the 4th July before anybody actually opened our envelope. (and this, in branch times, is actually a good waiting period - the poor folks whose main branch is NZIS Bejing have to wait up to a year).
So imagine my suprise to open my emails up Monday evening to see that we'd been allocated a Visa Officer two weeks ahead of when I was expecting, and he wanted a bit of extra paperwork to prove that we were still in a relationship (marriage certificates and the like don't count for much - all that proves is that you went through a ceremony!), and then asked whether I'd be available for a phone interview at 11am on Thursday.
My first feeling was of relief - we've got to the next stage; they don't want to look further at John's medicals (a couple of elevated results, not by much, and even noted by the Dr as being ok, but if you get an arsey officer, they can refer anything they want up to the Medical Assessor which means more tests, more time, more money); they don't want us to actually travel to London for the interview. Then panic... I had a business trip that was going to last from Tuesday afternoon to Weds evening - it was going to be difficult to find the time to prepare. But, I wanted to get it over and done with, so I agreed to the Thursday.
Concentrating properly over the next couple of days was very difficult, and I actually stopped breathing for about ten seconds when the phone rang at 11am on Thursday morning. But I needn't have worried - Tom was absolutely lovely. He had a great way of putting me at my ease (and it helped that he laughed at my Lord of the Rings joke and that he is a Welly boy, meaning that I could really enthuse about the city!), and the 45 minutes just flew by. At the end of the interview, he told me that he had three options open to him; the first was to decline us "and I'm not going to do that", the second was to grant us Work to Residence, the option open to him if he didn't think that we were serious about finding work or settling "and you've proved to me that that is not the case"; the third option was full Permanent Residence, "which is the most likely". So already, I was feeling pretty good. He then said that he would make the decision by the end of the week, and get it signed off (someone else has to check it just in case we were trying to bribe him!) at the beginning of next.
Again, I was wondering how I'd be able to concentrate over the next day and a half of work, and then through the weekend... So it was amazing to hear the phone ring on Friday afternoon, and Tom's voice saying that he'd approved us for full PR, and that it had been signed off, and did we want the visas put in our passports now?
I've been floating around a little bit over the last day or so - getting our visas is still only part of the challenge (we've also got to find jobs), but it is such a major hurdle to clear, and so much sooner than we expected (the website said that it would take 1-3 months to be given a decision after allocation, so we weren't expecting anything till August at the soonest!). We're expecting to clear out of the UK by the beginning of November; we've got a number of things going on over the Autumn (seeing David Attenborough doing a narration of "Nature's Great Events" with the BBC Concert Orchestra in September; doing a 10k run September; the Reading TKD competition on the 11th October) that I don't want to miss!
There are going to be major stresses over the next few months; job hunting, sorting out removals, working out when we hand in our notices at work and on the flat, many logistics that I haven't even thought about. But for now, I can relax...
And how better to do that than sat outside at my in-laws using their wireless network on my new netbook, and waiting to go to see War of the Worlds in concert? :-D