Thursday, 27 December 2007

required reading

I'm reading these books to help me prepare for moving to New Zealand.


Monday, 10 December 2007

must wait

I've been quite nervous thinking about the medical exam and tests that need to be done for this residency application. Not because I think I'll have anything wrong with me, but because I'm not sure how the process will go. The form is LONG. 16 pages LONG. And the directions state that half of it has to be filled out in the presence of the doctor, and the other half has to be filled out by the doctor. And that midway through you must go get a check x-ray, blood work and a urinalysis done, and then come back to your doctor to finish the form filling outing.

I don't know about you, but I've barely ever met my PCP (primary care provider, often called GPs in other parts of the world) of the past 5 years. She's usually all booked up, so even if I'm sick, I end up seeing a nurse practitioner. And when I do go in, I'm usually rushed in and out as quick as possible. So the concepts of this medical immigration form and my doctor's office just don't go together at all.

But now that I have all the background check stuff done, the next step is the medical. So I called my doctor's office, and spoke to the receptionist. I explained that I had this long-ass form I needed filled out, with lots of accompanying testing, and she said "It sounds like you just need a physical. Your doctor is booking in February for physicals right now." Now, I don't think I just need a physical, unless they're willing to do this whole form as an add-on to a physical, but I'll go along with that. But FEBRUARY!? I wanted this done soooooon. Oh well, better stop whining. She had a cancellation and was able to get me in on January 22. I think I'll go in a few days before that, bring a copy of the form with me and leave it for them to look over, so there won't be any surprises on the day.

Friday, 7 December 2007

it came

See, that's how easy it can be. Just two weeks after I sent it off, and my husband's FBI background check is back, with no arrest history of course. It's a busy time of year, but I'll try to get my medical done in the next few weeks, so I can hopefully mail the whole application off before the new year! Almost done. Whew!

Friday, 23 November 2007


Kiwi hubby went to the police station on Tuesday to get his prints for his FBI record request. They looked to me like they've got the necessary feature vectors. We'll see I guess. We mailed it off to the FBI 2 days ago.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


So apparently, the people at my local police station were wrong. It's not that after three tries the FBI just goes ahead and accepts fingerprints with a low quality characteristics. It's actually that after making me submit my bad-ass fingerprints three times they go ahead and reject my attempts to get my police record. This past Saturday I received back in the mail all 5 sets of the fingerprints I submitted (1 the first time, 2 each the second and third times) with a nice note. The note reads:

It appears the quality of your fingerprints will not improve. Unfortunately, they do no possess the "feature vectors" which must be present to complete a fingerprint search of the FBI Fingerprint Identification Record System. Should a fingerprint search be required for the purpose of licensing, employment or immigration, you should contact the agency requiring the fingerprinting to determine alternate procedures.

My fingerprints don't possess the "feature vectors". I feel so dirty.

So following the note's instructions, I emailed the New Zealand Embassy in Washington. First, actually, I checked Immigration New Zealand's web site to see if they had "alternate procedures" listed. And it seemed like I had found the "alternate procedures" right here in the first paragraph. It says I need a statutory declaration and corroborating information attesting to my good character. That's what I ultimately emailed the NZ Embassy about, because what the heck is a statutory declaration, and what kind of corroborating information do I need?

The response I received was not so helpful. They told me to call the FBI to find out what to do to get my fingerprints accepted. Even though I made completely clear in my email why the FBI wasn't going to provide me with a police certificate, they wanted me to check again. So I did. It was a quick call. The very nice woman at the FBI CJIS Division told me I need to go back to Immigration New Zealand and ask what to do since the FBI will NOT give me my record. Sounds like a lot of back and forth, eh?

All that, to get the final response from the NZ Embassy saying I just need a statutory declaration stating all the above. Great. Thanks for the help.

Before writing back again to this kind soul in the NZ Embassy, I found out that just last week the requirements for attaining residency through a NZ partner have changed. The forms are all different now and everything. Yikes. Good thing I saw that on the Expats in New Zealand Yahoo Group, or I wouldn't have known that now, my husband needs to get his FBI record as well! Let's hope his fingers have feature vectors.

I'm not going to bother writing back to the NZ Embassy, because perusing the new application forms I found out that a "statutory declaration" is just a letter that's been notarized.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

bad bad fingers

Well, the Red Sox didn't sweep the Indians, but did end up winning the series in 7 games. They just wanted to make it more interesting, I'm sure. As I write they're up 3 games to none against the Rockies in the World Series and winning in Game 4. Maybe this time they'll sweep.

Anyways, my fingerprints were rejected by the FBI again. Blah. It was kinda expected given what the fingerprint technician told me last time, I was just hoping I wouldn't have to go in. Again. But I went back to my local police station, and this time a different technician was on. He agreed that my fingerprints were naturally really bad. He said he does 3 - 5 sets of prints a day, and mine were some of the worst he'd ever seen. Great. But he confirmed that the FBI will just go with what they've got (primarily my Social Security number) after this submission, even if the fingerprints get rejected again.

So I didn't have to pay for the prints at the police state again, since it was a redo, but the FBI made me pay a second fee of $18. I don't know why they let you resubmit once without paying more, but make you resubmit twice before they give up. Whatever. The most annoying part of paying again was that this time they required a money order or certified check. The first time I was able to pay with a credit card. I should have gotten a money order at the post office, but I was at the bank, so had them print out a certified check. Unfortunately they charged an $8 fee. Oh well.

Besides the extra time and the extra $26, there's no worry really about all this. I got a response from the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC about the processing time for a residency application. 3 - 6 months. And then I'll have to move there within 12 months. So so far I'm still on track for an October 2008 move. Yay!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

let's talk about sports

While I'm waiting for my FBI background check to be processed I've got some time on my hands. I'm using a lot of the time to stress that I won't get residency in time to move to New Zealand in October of 2008 like we're planning. I know it's a year away, but remember, we had to wait over two and a half years for Aidan's US citizenship (the USCIS website says it should take about 7 months). The Immigration New Zealand FAQ says "Once you know which branch will be processing your application, you can access their processing times on our website, which is published in their individual branch pages, under the heading 'Processing Times'." Being in the US, I'll be submitting my application to the Washington branch. Their page doesn't have the 'Processing Times' heading. :( Guess I'll have to call them on Monday so I can stop stressing (or start stressing more).

Until then, let's talk about sports. In New Zealand, the biggest sport is rugby, and they've recently had a devastating result in the Rugby World Cup. They were eliminated by France in the quarterfinals. Oops. They were expected to win the Cup. As they are every time. And as the rarely do. They're good at choking I guess.

Over here, the biggest sport is baseball. And my local team, the Boston Red Sox, last week made it past the equivalent of a quarterfinal round, by beating the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series (ALDS). Now we're in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Cleveland Indians, playing for a spot in the World Series. Last night we won the first of the seven game series. Yay! 4 minutes to the first pitch of Game 2. Here's hoping for a sweep!

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

bad fingers

So I was all proactive and went back to the police station yesterday for reprinting. Turns out it wasn't a problem with the set of prints, it's a problem with my actual fingers. They don't print well. And so when the FBI says that the "quality of characteristics is too low to be used" they mean that my fingerprints are kinda boring and uncharacteristic without nice deep groves and nice defined whorls and such. So reprinting doesn't usually actually help. But they make you do it anyways. Great.

The lady in the detectives' office was nice and redid the prints, twice actually, since the FBI had sent me 2 extra print cards and we figured we might as well send them both. She said that the FBI used to have the rule that they'd make you send in 3 sets of prints before they finally just accepted them. She said she believed the new rule is just 2 sets. Here's hoping.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

quality of characteristics

Friday I got a large manila envelope in the mail with this return address.

I was psyched. My background check was back and it had only taken 3 weeks!

Wah. I was wrong.

The lovely local police station clerk didn't do my prints well enough, so now I have to get them redone and send them back to the FBI. I'm going to go to the same place, so I don't have to pay again (they better not make me pay again!) but I'll try to get a different person to do it this time.

I do see it as a good sign, though, that I did get some sort of response in only three weeks.

Saturday, 8 September 2007


For the first time, um... ever, I didn't procrastinate! Since the girls' paperwork arrived, it was time to start working on my own. Thursday night I went to the official New Zealand immigration site and downloaded all the necessary forms and guides I'd need. The first step I noticed was the police background check. According to this page, in the US I have to request it from the FBI. And according to the FBI it takes 16 - 18 weeks to process! Good thing I didn't procrastinate.

So like I said, Thursday night I downloaded the forms. Knowing I had Friday off it crossed my mind that I could go to the local police station and get the required fingerprints the very next day and be done with it. But then it crossed my mind that I know myself pretty well, and realistically I was going to put it off. But then by the weirdest coincidence, Friday morning my mom suddenly needed to go to the police station! I don't think in my 32 years of life my mother has ever needed to go to the police station. Here's why she had to on Friday.

We live very near (about a mile and a half) Boston College, which is a decent New England liberal arts college (what New Zealanders call University). What they are more known for than academics, though, is football (American football, not soccer). College football is HUGE in the US, and when games occur, whole cities have to shut down. This sign is directly outside our house.

As you can see, every year they have to update the sign with a sticker, and this year they haven't yet updated it. Boston College has a home game today, Saturday, September 8. My mom also has a dinner party scheduled for today, Saturday, September 8. Many of her guests are driving, and our driveway won't fit all the cars. So Friday morning Mom called the city parking bureau to ask for special permission to ignore the parking ban. They told her to immediately bring a signed letter with her request to the police chief. And that's why she had to go to the police station Friday, the same day I was planning on putting off going to the police station.

So we went. For $5 I got these.

Another act of providence helped me avert a major shanking of the process. I had filled out the forms, put it all together in an envelope, stamped the envelope, and ran to the door to catch the mailman. I had only JUST missed him, by about a minute. (Kiwi culture note: In New Zealand mail carriers don't pick up outgoing mail from your house like they do here in the US. They only deliver.) I contemplated driving to the post office to mail it, but decided that a day wouldn't likely make much of a difference, so I could wait till Saturday for the mailman to pick it up. Well, later that night I was online, I had a bunch of web browser windows open to many different sites, and so I started reviewing the pages and closing the ones no longer needed. One of them was opened to the FBI page I linked to above, with the instructions for requesting the background check. I quickly reread it and was about to shut it, when I noticed that I had not filled out the fingerprint form entirely! Yikes. I can only imagine the delay if it had actually gone out in the mail incomplete. I opened up the envelope, finished filling out the form, and resealed it. It went out in today's mail. Whew.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

looky looky

Check out what arrived last week!

Two big folders with goodies inside.

My girls now have proof of their New Zealand citizenship, and they can move to the country unhindered! Interestingly, since their citizenship is by descent, they cannot pass on their Kiwi citizenship by descent to their children, unless after living there long enough they apply for a grant of New Zealand citizenship. I guess that means until then they're second-class citizens?

Now it's really time for me to apply for my permanent residency.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


We're on holiday in Canada right now. In a lot of ways, our neighbor to the north reminds me of New Zealand. They use the metric system. Uhhh... maybe that's the only similarity. It's the only one I can think of right now, at least. Oh, and parts of it look like parts of New Zealand. We're out west in Alberta, and the Rockies are lovely stand-ins for the Southern Alps.

While here, I got an email from Felicity in the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, saying they had received my huge pack of applications (whew!), but that my credit card was declined (suck!). Turns out that my credit card company flagged my account because of the suspicious attempt to rent a car in Calgary. Annoying. I cleared that up and sent Felicity an email telling her to try the charge again. Done. So now you can see on the update in the side bar table of expenses. NZ$581.95 ($21.95 of which is for the international courier). With the kiwi dollar almost 80 US cents, the final charge came to US$458.59. When I return home, it's time to start my NZ residency application.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

sent and received

With their heights duly entered on the passport application forms, I finally was able to compile all 4 applications (2 citizenship registrations and 2 passports) in one big stack and mail them off to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs. I sent it USPS priority international for $11. Hopefully it gets there. I have doubts, because the US Postal Service SUCKS. I have to call today and issue a complaint about a domestic priority package I sent with delivery confirmation over 2 weeks ago that still hasn't registered as arriving yet.

Something that did arrive in the mail yesterday was a cute little box that had Homeland Security tape all over it indicating that it had been opened and searched by customs. Must have been because the box had no indication whatsoever of where it came from (other than that it came from New Zealand) and what was in it and the x-ray would have showed it containing nothing but a mysterious brown powdery substance. Not to worry though, we weren't the target of a chemical or biological attack.

Yes, despite being able to purchase Milo here in the States at certain stores that specialize in foreign food items, Aidan doesn't like the Jamaican made Milo as much as NZ made Milo, so he ordered it from New Zealand online. For American's not in the know, Milo touts itself as an "energy drink" but it's really just a slightly malted version of Nesquik (formerly Quik). Drunk mainly as a hot drink, because it doesn't dissolve well in cold. A good alternative to coffee or tea in cuppa obsessed Kiwi culture.

Monday, 23 July 2007

what's the opposite of procrastination?

2' 9" and 3' 6".

Aren't you proud of me?


Sunday, 22 July 2007

procrastination, part 2 - the beet burger

Yes, I have been seriously remiss in posting updates here. Reason? Because I am seriously good at procrastinating. I've slooooowly been filling out the citizenship and passport applications for the girls. Like, filling out a line or 2 per day. Ha. The hold up now is that I need to get their heights for the passports, and I usually work on the apps while they're asleep and can't measure them. Totally lame excuse, I know. But it's all I've got. ;)

So how about a silly photo to pass the time till something productive actually happens?

It's a half-eaten burger. But not just any half-eaten burger. It's a half-eaten Kiwi burger. What makes it a Kiwi burger? (It's half-eaten because I ate half of it.) Look closely. There's a slice of beet (known as beet root in NZ) on there. New Zealanders love to put beet root on their burgers. I'm not a fan of beets, but we joined a vegetable CSA this summer, and we've been getting some beets. I thought I'd better start getting used to Kiwi cuisine. It was okay.

Thursday, 12 July 2007


I don't know what's wrong with me. A week ago, my teacher friend Marya filled out the witness forms for the girls' NZ passport applications (as I previously noted she would) and I still haven't put them all together and mailed them yet. I'm such a procrastinator. I obviously have also not started yet on my residency app. Gotta get on that.

Oh, helpful tidbit of information... A biro pen (the writing implement required for filling out the NZ passport application for) is just a ballpoint pen.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

happy independence

Well, it's the Fourth of July, an American only holiday. Weird to think that after the next one, we won't celebrate one for a long time. Another thing I'll actually kinda miss - the patriotism here. Don't get me wrong, I cringe over and mock the "USA! USA!" chanters, and I abhor the whole "America is the best country in the whole wide world" attitude of so many here. But I am actually pretty patriotic. I get choked up every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner (the US national anthem). I vote. I watch baseball and American football (the Red Sox and the Patriots no less). I support our troops (though not the war in Iraq).

From what I've gathered, New Zealand is not so patriotic. Kiwis are proud to be Kiwis, but there isn't the same feeling of belonging as I sense here. It's probably a good thing, because at the core patriotism is just a "we're better than everyone else" attitude. Oh well, I'll let you know after I live there what the difference really is.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

other things to miss

Big Sister Bou turned 4 years old on Friday, and on Saturday we had all her mates from school over for some cake and ice cream. And some beating on a Buzz Lightyear piñata. They had such fun. The families from her preschool and the teachers are so great, the preschool itself is high on our list of things we'll miss when we move (see sidebar). Big Sister will complete the 2 year schedule, but Little Sis Nys won't be old enough to even start before we move. Hopefully we'll find a place for her in Wellington with a similar quality environment.

Thursday, 28 June 2007


I gave our dog Giles a bath this past weekend, and I realized I'm really going to miss him when we move. It is possible to bring dogs over, but I've read it's quite a drawn out, expensive procedure. Like several months pre-move of tests, at least 1 month post-move quarantine, and over $3000. I love Giles, and he totally is family, but I've come to the decision that it's best for us, and for him, to leave him behind. I have plenty of family and friends who love him, so I'm sure he'll end up in a loving home. Any of you reading who wish to submit and application for him, let me know. ;)

He's sulking at me under the desk right now.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

4 applications at once

The application for registration of New Zealand citizenship by descent mentions that 2 photos are needed, 4 if applying for passports as well. This implied to me that it was possible to apply for both the citizenship registrations and the passports at the same time. To be sure, I emailed the Citizenship Office (at the amusing official email address: staykiwi at I received a prompt reply that yes, I could in fact send both citizenship registration applications and both passport applications, all in the same envelope. Neat!

But that means I need to delay a bit, because the passport photos need to be witnessed by either someone with a New Zealand passport (not related), or else by someone who fits in one of the following groups (again, not related):

  • lawyer

  • teacher

  • minister of religion

  • police officer

  • kaumatua

  • registered medical professional

  • Justice of the Peace

  • applicant's employer

Unfortunately, the girls don't yet have employers. Just kidding. About it being unfortunate. And I don't feel comfortable going to the girls' pediatrician just for this. So the only other option is for my best friend, who's a teacher, to do it. She lives 4 hours away. But she's visiting next weekend, so we'll be good to do it then. Maybe I'll start working on my residency application in the mean time...

Monday, 18 June 2007

photo fun

The weekend was way too nice to spend anytime trying to get good passport photos of the girls, so we frolicked in the kiddie pool instead. Today was still a gorgeous day, but as it was a Monday, I felt an annoying, essential errand was appropriate.

A recap... These photos are actually for the registration of their New Zealand citizenship by descent first, but since we'll want New Zealand passports for them as soon as their citizenship is registered, I figured we'd get all the photos as once, rather than having to do this annoying errand again in a few months. Two points that make this errand especially annoying here in the US... The requirements are for photos that are 45mm x 35mm, which is substantially smaller than US passport picture requirements. That's the easy one though, you just cut the photos smaller. But they also state that they be taken "with a plain light coloured background (not white)". Well, every single one of the 5 local places that does passport photos (as well as 3 more distant places we called) only had white backgrounds. When DH recently renewed his Kiwi passport, we just risked it and sent in photos with the white background. The renewal went through, so we're risking it again.

Baby had the same terror at Walgreens as she had the other day, so we had to hit Cold Stone for some ice cream to calm her down before trying again at Motophoto. This time we hit the jackpot, and she was fine, though I did have to hold her for it. And I did have to pay $45(!) for the 4 sets. The end result:

Friday, 15 June 2007

hokey pokey

So if you're a Kiwi, or if you've ever been to New Zealand, you probably know and love hokey pokey ice cream. I mean, it's virtually a New Zealand national institution. Well, if you're a hokey pokey lover stuck in America, I have good news for you. Ben & Jerry's has come out with a flavour that is almost an exact replica of hokey pokey. Except it's even better. Yeah, way! Crème Brûlée is described as "Sweet Custard Ice Cream with a Caramelized Sugar Swirl". But really. It's gourmet hokey pokey. Try it and see.

officially starting the immigration process

A bit of background...

I am a US citizen by birth. DH (dear husband) is a New Zealand citizen by birth. We met 11 years ago in NZ. He followed me to America and we were married 10 years ago. He became a US permanent resident. 4 years ago we had DD (dainty daughter) #1. 2.5 years ago DH applied for US citizenship. It immediately got tied up in background check hell. 18 months ago DD2 was born.

We had always said we wanted to return to New Zealand to settle down. It was always "in a few years". Last year, we decided no more mucking about and putting it off, we were definitely going to move back to New Zealand. Two things needed to be completed first. I had started taking night classes towards a Masters degree, and I wanted to complete it. And we wanted DH to get his US citizenship, so that if we changed our minds and wanted to come back to the US we could, without having to apply for permanent residency all over again. And yes, though the US says that they consider naturalized citizens as being citizens of only the US, they don't make you renounce your original citizenship. And New Zealand has no problem with dual citizenship. He does not lose New Zealand citizenship by becoming a citizen of the US.

Well, finally, 2 weeks ago he became a naturalized US citizen. I'm on track to finish my degree in the Spring semester of 2008. We'll take the US summer 2008 to pack up, finalize stuff here, and hopefully do some Northern Hemisphere traveling. Our target date for arrival in New Zealand as residents is September 2008.

I was planning on applying for residency for me and the girls, but realized that they are New Zealand citizens by descent, and if I register them as such, they can get NZ passports and everything, and therefore would not need to apply for residency. So that leaves only me. Shouldn't be a problem.

So our first official step - register the girls' NZ citizenship by descent. For that they need 2 passport photos. While DD1 was at her last day of preschool this morning, I took DD2 to Walgreens to get the photos done. But she was tired, and got totally freaked out by the pimply teenager who got all close with the camera, and she started wailing. There was no calming her down with him near, so we'll just have to officially start tomorrow. :) Hopefully if she watches DD1 get hers done well, she'll be okay with it. Then we can send the applications off!

Come along this ride with us. It might be fun.