A few days ago we learned that Immigration New Zealand has begun reviewing our Skilled Migrant Resident Visa application. If approved, it means we will be able to come and go as we like so long as we spend at least six months of the first two years after approval in New Zealand. Getting our application to this point has been a long process with many ups and downs along the way.
Not long after we arrived in New Zealand, people Mary worked with began suggesting we should immediately start looking into a resident visa. In our initial excitement about being there, this seemed like a good idea. But it got lost in the morass we both slid into as the months wore on. In the first few months of 2019, we were both unhappy and seriously considering leaving so the thought of residency was far from our minds.
But we pulled out of that trench. Mary quit her job, meaning we had to come home. She then realized she didn’t necessarily want to come home, she just didn’t want that job. She moved to a different department at the hospital and our interest renewed in remaining long term. In March of 2019, we submitted our first application for residency.
And it was rejected. Acceptance is based on a points system and we didn’t have enough. Barely. We were not happy. Mary felt rejected and said she wanted to come home. But that day we went ahead and bought a camper van anyway. By this point, I’d already submitted my application to The Outdoor Academy because I felt there was nothing to lose by doing so.
But I soon realized I had made mistakes on the resident visa application. I had not included her employment in New Zealand, which would have granted her enough experience points to get over the line. Life got busy. Mary’s mother died. I received the job offer from OA and reluctantly accepted it. Had I correctly completed that first visa application and had it been accepted, I probably would have never taken the job. We would have felt like we were too close to having the freedom to travel back and forth as we liked. But that’s not what happened. We came back to the States.
Last fall — just before going out for a 5-day backpacking trip —I learned that we would no longer be eligible to apply for the type of work visa that got us to New Zealand in the first place. I felt panicked. I feared that the door to getting back there was closing. It was a wake-up call.
I corrected my errors from the resident visa application and re-submitted it. It arrivied one day past the deadline for resubmissions. Ugh.
I filled out the whole thing again. Paid the fee again. Submitted it again.
And this time…
Success! Our application made it past the initial screening and we were granted an Invitation To Apply (ITA)for residency. One problem. The whole thing was based on Mary having an offer to return to her old job. This was something we thought would be easy to get. We were wrong. Since her position was not formally posted, they could not just hire her back. Panic again.
The job search began. We contacted recruiters, and submitted job applications. The deadline for getting our ITA mailed back to New Zealand was looming. Just as I was beginning to think that the door was closing for good, Mary’s former job got posted, she applied, and without an interview or any conversation at all, she was rehired. It felt like a miracle.
And so here we are, on the cusp of learning whether or not we’ll be able to become residents of New Zealand. It has been a long journey. But that journey has forced us to face a myriad of emotions and decision points along the way. Enough of them have directed us back to Aotearoa, the Maori term for New Zealand. It hasn’t been easy, but that is one reason that this feels like the right decision for us. Not long before we left New Zealand, our friend Sue said that the paths we take in life rarely lead in a straight line. This has certainly been true of this journey.