Travelling

Visas for the US and Australia

Overview:
Scenario is different, the US travel is way way way ahead while the Sydney travel is quite a rush. But the process, the forms, the payment, etc, I still prefer the US visa process. One document that Australia asked for that I didn’t expect at all was a “Company leave letter” so be ready for that!

Time it took:
1 months 10 days / 5 weeks 6 days / 41 days: US Visa is an easier process
3 weeks 2-6 days / 23-27 days: Aus Visa is not such an easy process and even with a “group” created, you will be processed separately.

US Visa
We’ve been postponing our New York trip for about 3 years and finally, we’ll be able to go on December. It has always been MY dream to go there for Christmas. I was a fan of Home Alone 2 and watched it probably 999,999 times – just one more and I will have watched it a million times! 🙂

Getting our US visas were very easy, if you ask me. Although we did have to wait about 1 month for our scheduled interview date. I’m not sure if this was because we’re applying from Hong Kong with our Philippine passports but it was very easy.

I just had to fill out DS-160 forms, then create an account to consolidate all three application forms, pay for the visas (1280 each), schedule the interview, go to the interview and BAM! Right after the interview, the lady told us that it has been approved and our passports were delivered to our home in 48 hours.

Timeline:
March 10: Forms were completed and application paid for in the next few days
April 18: Interview
April 20: Passports with visas were received

As soon as we’ve been approved, I’ve started noting down where we’re going, what to eat, what to see, what to do! 🙂 Weeks before, I also looked at Airbnb and when we received our passports, I immediately booked a place in New York and another in Boston.

Australian Visa
This is only the second “western country” we’ve applied to and I’d have to say, it really isn’t a very nice experience.

My husband will be sent to Sydney for a business trip and Baby Tony and I would join him for a weekend. As soon as he got a confirmation of his business trip, I submitted application forms for Baby Tony and myself. The first red flag that I noticed was that for Baby Tony, being only 15 months, I had to submit a form that declares that all of his correspondence will be sent to me. Crazy right? I mean…HELLO…would you want a one year old having an email address you could send correspondence to?

I completed the application forms on May 25 around 1AM. The same day, I was asked to go into their HK Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC) to get biometrics and picture. I also submitted my supporting documents.

One week later (YES! ONE WEEK LATER!), Baby Tony was asked to go in for a picture. I asked the person in the AVAC “I created a group for the both of us but it seems we are not being processed at the same time?” and the man in the AVAC replied, “Doesn’t matter! Doesn’t matter!”. I don’t know about you – but of course it matters! We are in a hurry, I created a group for us! He’s one year old – of course he needs ME to fund his travels. Of course he will be with ME the entire time.

On June 15, both Baby Tony and I received emails from the Australian consulate, requesting for more information. I noticed that we are being assessed by different officers. I immediately uploaded the documents that they were asking for (if they weren’t on there yet) and on my reply to the officers, I told them that I’d like to travel with my son and provided them my/Baby Tony’s information and the officer handling the other’s application.

My visa got granted in June 17. I waited and waited…Baby Tony’s visa got granted last June 21. On June 17, the flight that I was looking at was HK$6100++. When Baby Tony’s visa got granted, the ticket I bought us was at $6700+. He was an infant on lap. I was suppose to fly with Cathay and avail staff tickets but since the probability of getting back to HK is so low and that the trip was already very short, I decided to fly with Philippine Airlines and not risk getting on any CX flight.

In December, we’ll try the staff tickets to New York. So happy that we do have this perk provided by Cathay Pacific even if I don’t work for them.

Timeline:
May 25: Application Submitted
May 25: I was asked for my biometrics and photo taken at the AVAC
June 1: Baby Tony was asked to have his picture taken
June 15: We were asked for additional documents
June 17: I was granted visa
June 21: Baby Tony was granted visa

Have you tried applying for these countries with your baby? How was your experience?

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