One of the main pieces of evidence we need as part of our visa application are police checks, for both of us, from the UK Police and the Australian Police.
This was probably one of the most daunting aspects for me, purely because it was the piece of evidence I expected could take the longest to come back and it was entirely out of our control. I was also concerned about the cost, but as things go the checks were pretty reasonable for us both.
Just so you’ve got an idea of time frames…
UK Check (start to finish): 3rd May applied,
AU Check (start to finish): 9th May applied, 23rd May received
The forms themselves are pretty self explanatory and really easy to complete online, but make sure you have your evidence ready before you start the application.
We’d already been scanning things in, in preparation for applying for the visa, but it’s really helpful to have everything together before you start applying.
The other thing to note is save your files as JPEGS – for some reason the forms can’t handle PDF copies of documents! Get it done before you apply to save some time and hassle!
AU Check: $42 each (accurate as of 2016)
I don’t know if I went slightly overboard with evidence for this one, but having already lived and worked in Australia for a year, I used documents such as my Working With Children Check and AUSTSwim qualification towards the application.
For my proof of address I included our Aus address and our UK address. I used a utility statement from our house in Chadstone, as well as a wage slip from my previous job in Melbourne and then bank statements from the UK.
Don’t get caught up in worry about having 100 points of evidence – I made sure there was no way they couldn’t grant my certificate and with the majority of my documents having been granted outside of Australia, they count for fewer points. As long as you have bank statements, your passport, your birth certificate and a drivers license (and mine is still green, so it doesn’t have to be a full one!) you’ll have more than enough.
For Zac we only needed to provide his birth certificate or passport and driving license and we’d have had enough for him!
Key things are that they have one form of photo ID and another form of ID to corroborate that.
The only things that threw me when I was doing the AFP check are seemingly trivial, but when you’re about to part with $42 knowing all that’s between you and losing another $42 is a spelling mistake, or ticking the wrong box, it adds tension!
First thing was: do I have a case worker?
Even though we’re going through an immigration lawyer the term ‘case worker’ seemed really ambiguous and I was momentarily concerned about how to answer this.
Eventually, we went with ‘no’.
As far as we understood it, if you’re working directly with someone in the department: that’s your case worker, more immediate immigration cases with trickier dealings. Yes, we’re using a third party, who is handling our case, but all that really means is they’re checking the paperwork and sending it off for us, they’re not ‘working our case’.
Is that enough of a distinction?
Secondly: which option do I tick?
Now the reason this threw me is for immigration purposes, you need to have a really thorough police check. When I clicked ‘Option 33’ it was saying ‘Name Check Only’.
I didn’t want my name checking! I wanted a full police check!
Option 33 is the correct option for immigration purposes, and the ‘Name Check Only’ simply means we don’t need to have our fingerprints check and scanned as well.
Zac’s check came back within the week, mine took slightly longer, but as an Australian citizen, his was inevitably going to be a bit quicker – we just weren’t expecting how much!
UK Check: £45 (accurate as of 2016)
The UK checks have a few more steps online, and require you to input a lot more of the details yourself as apposed to providing copies of evidence – I’m not sure which one I prefer!
The biggest stumbling block for our UK police checks was finding someone to endorse our application. This is basically someone who will vouch that you are who you say you are, but they have to have an occupation listed on an archaic and obscure list. The assumption being everyone knows a Doctor or Lawyer or Judge…
Thankfully I know a few bloody good nurses and teachers, who are suitably qualified to say my face is my face.
Zac fortunately knows some teachers and policemen from umpiring so we were covered in that sense and as far as we know, those people were never actually contacted to endorse our application – I think it’s just one of those formalities to catch out the sneaky ones.
The most important thing I need to say is: don’t worry if something goes wrong.
It can feel like you’re up to your eyeballs in paperwork and I find it difficult at times to marry together digital versions and paper versions – I just don’t feel like everything is organised when it’s in a digital format.
Between us, we managed to input Zac’s birth month incorrectly on one of the forms, so his police check came back with his birth month at one end of the year at the top of the form and at the other end of the year at the bottom.
The check was still approved, even with this minute error and because all the documents and the birth date at the bottom (which was apparently more important) was accurate, they issued us with a new (correct) certificate within the week, free of charge.
It’s very easy, from my relatively zen place having done all that weeks ago, to say not to stress about these checks.
But don’t stress about it!
The Police Checks are possibly the most straight forward piece of evidence you’ll need to collect when it comes down to it and as long as you have everything ready before you start, the forms are really easy to navigate and complete.
Best of all, they come back in a decent time frame, so if you’ve already started compiling evidence, waiting for them to be granted gives you a little respite to finalise the rest of your evidence.