Beyond the Visa: Divya
immiNews has been all about how-tos, breaking down the visa application process and explaining regulations in a more easy to digest way. It is to inform and educate, and it is for you.
But you is not just an application. You is a story. We know that and we don’t want anyone to forget that your stories are raw and real and they matter. This is our first truly human piece. We hope that you find that this story and the stories to come, resonate with you, give you hope and give you strength. The entire visa thing, it’s more often than not, trying and scary, and you are not alone in your journey.
Divya Tyagi is from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s one of our favourite success stories.
We Skype because she is in Tasmania. She picks up the call with a smile and I can tell she’s a little nervous. Still, it doesn’t take longer than the snap of your fingers for her to warm up, and our call, which I had expected to last no longer than 20 minutes, ran well past 90.
Divya had no premeditated plans to permanently emigrate. India did not carry the right courses for her and she had contacted her cousin, who lived in Launceston at the time, to scout out what was available in Tasmania. Her relationship with Australia wasn’t love at first sight, but the seeds were planted from the moment she stepped off the plane in Launceston. She laughed easily, confessing to feeling like a celebrity as her hair was briskly swept up by the fresh Australia air, with the her cousin with his band of friends welcoming her with grins on their faces and arms in the air.
Australia I think, was just what she needed at the time. Divya had suffered a life threatening tumor and had lost her eye to it, a deeply heart wrenching blow. It’s awful to hear; the loss of her eye had created a pressure cooker environment with all the uninvited attention. Divya’s confidence taken a lightning bolt and she needed breathing space.
For her, the initial culture shock was more of an experience than a difficulty in adjusting. Curry was sweet. People she had just met would invite her over the very next weekend. She’d never seen girls in bikinis outside of a television screen before – her cousin even had to tell her to please stop staring! But the pieces had started to fall together. She raves to me about how friendly and genuine the people in Australia are and that her eye never became a topic.
She talks about how the culture and flow of life is steeped with easiness and that people in Australia aren’t as tightly bound by societal pressures and unspoken rules. Divya explains that the caste system in India is strict and that tradies are not allowed to even sit in the home they are working to fix. IDs are scanned. Fancy restaurants are out of bounds. She loves that it isn’t like that in Australia, that people are treated as equals. “I sit with anybody”. I find out that Divya is not from a ‘lower’ caste.
Divya is still proud to be Indian, but here, she says, she has the freedom to choose. She can choose her traditions or choose the ‘Australian way’ and bear no judgement for it. Her praises for Australia lilt with wonder, as if she is still amazed four years on.
She and her cousin had grown very close in her time here. She calls him Bhai, which means brother in her native tongue. Bundling that, Australia’s people and environment, and the lack of opportunities that existed for her back home, Divya realised that it felt right to be here.
I’ve been talking to her for a good while now and she has been nothing but light and positivity. She hadn’t hinted at just how troubled her visa journey was. Divya had completed Masters in Creative Media Technology as well as a Diploma in Animation, and had even gotten certified in Early Childhood Education and Care to open more doors for herself. She is eloquent and well adjusted. Nothing about her suggests that she would fail to integrate or contribute as a resident of Australia. However, Divya had placed her faith in an agent who time and again had given her inaccurate advice, and all those wrong turns created delays and financial strain. She was enrolled in a costly English course that she didn’t need. Her skills assessment was applied for for the wrong occupation. These missteps, compounded with a relentless stream of advice and negative stories from the Indian community surrounding her caused anxiety levels to soar. She couldn’t be sure of what to do anymore.
Giving that agent up, Divya contacted a number of immigration agents, both from India and Australia, all of whom told her that she had absolutely no options. Some had even advised her to find an Australian partner, but she was not about to sell her soul just to stay. She knows better and values herself better, but it didn’t fail to still be hurtful and demeaning.
She came to Australian Immigration Law Services via a recommendation, but her hopes were already beat. Karl Konrad, our Managing Director, had given her her first “yes” but she couldn’t believe it. How could it be, if so many others had declared her visa eligibility a basket case? Karl explored exhaustively every visa pathway option and discovered that she would be able to gain her stay through Tasmania’s State Migration Plan (SMP) – Subclass 190. He had found a way where all the others had failed.
Divya has her permanent residency now. She waxes poetic about how supportive the AILS team has been and how careful they were with her deadlines. That the team did not miss a beat on her visa application. I feel proud of the team that has taken care of her. I know the team very well and I know the trials they are put through chasing down successful outcomes for their clients. She gave me a blow by blow of the day she received the precious news. There was a lot of crying, from her, Bhai, her parents and siblings. That kind of outpour of emotion – you know how rough it has been, how much it matters. This is why the AILS team works so hard.
I asked Divya what she wanted to share the most and I could almost see a physical wave of warm emotion that swept over her. Bhai was there at every consultation and discussion, through everything. She never asked, but he gave freely, supporting her emotionally and when she needed, financially. He was a positive force and an understanding ear, refusing to let her give up or succumb to white noise that was the unending mess of conflicting advice. “We are like magnets, you know?” “Wherever he goes I will follow him”. Bhai is currently in Brisbane. She was with him but had returned to Tasmania for state sponsorship.
She was also endlessly grateful for her parents’ support and assurance that she always had a home to return to. Her parents didn’t enjoy the idea that she wouldn’t be returning, but as Australia was important to Divya, it became important to them. The bond she has with her family is incredible and beautiful.
I am completely convinced of her strength, attitude and ethics. She’s been unemployed for 7 months now, as vacancies in her line are few and far between in Tasmania. It’s a bit of a grey area if she really has to stay despite making honest efforts and not finding any luck with a job, but she feels bound to fulfil her promises. Then she will join Bhai.
It’s been no walk in the park but Divya literally beams sunshine. She seems to give everyone else credit and cannot stop thanking AILS for getting her here, but no amount of support would have pulled her through if she had not kept herself in the game. I wish her luck but I know someone like her will push through no matter what. Divya, you’re a force.
by Emma Natalie Ho