Saturday, March 28, 2009

Leaving the USA & arriving in NZ!

We had a bit of a road trip before we flew out. The month of March has all about travelling!!

From Orlando we traveled 2 hours south to Sarasota to see my family. Then we drove 8 hours north to Atlanta to see Trenton (Brandon's twin). Then we drove 2 hours north to TN to see Brandon's Mom, where Megan (sister) and Red came to visit as well. From there we drove BACK to Atlanta for a few more days before we flew out...

The goodbyes went well... no one really cried... well a few teary eyes but no major breakdowns. I did cry when we had to leave our dog Bailey in Sarasota with my parents though. The day before we left her she was playing out side and we were about to go somewhere so I got into the car and Brandon went to get Bailey back into the house.... She kept turning back to look at me because she knew I was in the car! I nearly started crying then!

Brandon got sick the last 2 days in Atlanta which made the flights horrible for him. He still can't hear out of his right ear... We flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles... Los Angeles to Auckland... Auckland to Wellington... The wait to get through customs in Auckland wasn't too bad and we made it through with no problems. Our bags went through ok, however, since we had 3 guitars the man inspecting the baggage told us that because we had so many we had to pay a special fee... play a song!... ahhh the Kiwi humour!

Once in Wellington we got all of our baggage really quickly and met up with Big Steve and took a cab up to his place. We showered and napped the day away!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The roller coaster ride

So ... The Ponies are back from the honeymoon and start looking into moving to New Zealand!

At the end of March 2008, we found the New Zealand Immigration website and started looking at the different visa's that they offered. We saw that we would be able to apply for Permanent Residency(PR) under the Skilled Migrant Category, because of Brandon's education in sound/audio. That would allow us to live and work in New Zealand but not have to give up our USA citizenship.

We did the Quick Test and came out with 115 points which was enough to get the ball rolling. We then submitted the Expression of Interest (EOI), it would be in the pool for up to 6 months. Then we just had to wait for Immigration to select our EOI to get to the next step. After 3-4 months and still no selection we noticed that Brandon could add another year of work experience! That gave us 120 points on our EOI... and low and behold... we got selected!!! YEAH!!!

So we've been selected!! Now we have to hear from a Case Officer (CO) to see what to do now. We heard from our CO who told us that we will lose our points for Brandon's Education because his school isn't on the "list" of approved accreditation companies. UGH!!!! That meant that we wouldn't have enough points to get our Invitation To Apply (ITA), which is the last step! However, if we were to get his education assessed through New Zealand Qualifications Authority
and it came back at a level 5 we would be able to keep the points that we needed.

We quickly gathered all the info for Brandon's education and sent that out. Our CO waited very patiently while NZQA worked their magic. We finally got the paperwork back from NZQA with a level 4... Which was less than what we needed! We're DOOMED! We needed a level 5! We emailed our CO and told her what we got back and surprisingly it was ok!! Because of the job he can do, we got all the points we needed! Our ITA was on the way!!!! Picture us doing a little jig here!

...on a side note... NZQA made a mistake and we had them look at everything again and we DID get a level 5 now for Brandon's education!

Now we had to gather all the info to send in with the ITA. We had to get our medicals and police records done. We got all of the paperwork together and sent it all back to NZIS. Our paperwork was officially lodged on December 19, 2008 with the London branch of NZIS. And we're still waiting for a new CO to look over our paperwork and we will get one of the 3 results...
  1. Permanent Residency
  2. Work to Residency (like a 2 year probation/trial period... prove that we can survive there)
  3. Denied

Since we couldn't stand being in Orlando much longer we decided to try to get to New Zealand before we've heard anything from NZIS. Brandon already used his Working Holiday Visa (WHV) so we used BUNAC for his 1 year work visa, and I used my WHV. Those were approved very quickly and we're on the way!!

The London Branch of NZIS is currently working on ITA's that were lodged upto December 16th... so we should be hearing from someone rather soon!

Our time line:
EOI Submitted: 120 points no job: 03/23/08
EOI Selected: 06/18/08
EOI Rejected: 08/14/08
NZQA Results: 09/06/08
EOI Successful: 11/13/08
ITA Received: 11/22/08
ITA Lodged: 12/19/08
PR approved: ????

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How it all began...

So this is the story of how the Ponies got together and how they ended up living in New Zealand.

Long, long ago in a far away land called Orlando, Florida two people started working in the same store. Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl like each other... Boy and Girl have bad timing and they go off on their own ways... About a year or so later, Boy decides he needs a change and moves to New Zealand in March 2006 and spends a year there. A few months before Boy comes back from New Zealand, Boy and Girl start random email conversations through a little known site called Myspace. The emails progress to chatting on another little known application called AIM. From there it snowballed! Boy comes back from New Zealand March 2007. Meets up with Girl again. Boy and Girl start dating. A year later they are married on March 8, 2008! (apparently there is something with the month of March...)

Boy secretly plots to have the honeymoon in New Zealand. Boy's plot works. Boy and Girl spend 2 weeks in New Zealand. Girl gets to meet all of Boy's great friends that he constantly talked about while back in Orlando. Girl falls in love with New Zealand! With the help of the fantastic owners of a little B&B in Queenstown, the idea of moving to New Zealand gets planted in Boy and Girl's mind.

As soon as Boy and Girl get back from the New Zealand honeymoon trip, they start looking into how they can get back over again. And so the roller coaster began!