Philippine passport renewals – in Melbourne


My wife and kids have applied for renewal of their passports at the mobile passport mission in Melbourne at 21 March 2015.

We got the new passports 10 July 2015–a turn-around time of almost 4 months.

The passports have a date stamp of 08 June 2015.

To the credit of the folks at the embassy and consulate, it was a fairly hassle-free process.

To check on the status, its important to know that one should check the Philippine Embassy site and not the consulate site.

I ended up following up by calling the Canberra Embassy office. Spoke with someone who was quite friendly. On learning that the passports had already expired, he told me I did not have to mail the old passports to the Canberra office. He just arranged to mail the new passports. In my case, I used a parcel collect address which I find to be quite convenient for receiving parcels.

The cost was $118 per adult. $108 for kids. This had to be paid with a postal money order–and there are no other options, which is kinda restrictive and odd. One would hope officials will realise there is added cost (of $8.95) because of this payment type, and do something to offer other alternatives.

The mew passport information will need to be updated with Australia’s department of immigration.

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Some sites newly arrived Australia Migrants Will Wanna Check Out – Posted 2015


Ozbargain

    This site tells me when there are deals/bargains happening. For instance when a sale at Coles or Woolies happens, then it’s posted here.

2% Cash Back on Paywave

    ING offers 2% cashback for every paywave transaction, which effectively means there you get a 2% discount. Ozbargain also discusses this offer. Feel free to use my Friend refer code: DTL423. [2016 update:] ING are ending the cashback program by September by the friend referrals are still good.

http://www.parkrun.com.au

    Is there a better a way to spend Saturday mornings than to join a free 5k run around beautiful parks and scenery, with a large bunch of like-minded friendly people. These parkruns are located all over Australia and other countries. They’re on faceboook too. This one is for my favourite parkrun at Albert Park

ABC News

    Keep up with local events on the web, phone, or on TV (channel 24).

Medicare

    As a migrant, one of the first things you should sort out is access to medicare. This will allow access to free or reduced cost doctor consults and hospital services.

After Hours Doctor service

    One of the nice services available in Australia is the after-hours GP service where a doctor does home visits. The case does not have to be an emergency. It just has to be after daytime office hours, so after 5 or 6pm you can get a doctor to come over for a consult. There are many of these services available online and the link provided above is just one of them. And very often the service is free as it is bulk-billed.


Victoria-specific:

MozFr – Melbourne Oz FreeCycle

    This is where people freely give away stuff they no longer need. They are on facebook too, but be sure to join the yahoogroup first by mailing your location and name to the subscribe address.
    It’s easy to find free furniture here like bed, couch, tables, and at times appliances too. If you believe in the concept of recycling used stuff instead of just putting them in the bin, this is a good site to subscribe to.

Queen Victoria Market

    The Market is Open Five Days a Week Tuesday & Thursday 6am – 2pm Friday 6am – 5pm (General Merchandise til 3pm) Saturday 6am -3pm Sunday 9am – 4pm

What every internet banking site should do


If I was going to submit some suggestions for improvement of a bank’s Internet banking site, these are some things I would put:

1. If a new message is received in the online banking messages function, then a notification should be sent to the subscriber.

2. Make it easy to check savings account interest rates

3. Make it easy to export data. It should be possible to easily copy/paste account and transactions information.

4. Make the online banking interface simple, lightweight and quick. People go to online banking with a simple purpose, and not to be awed by fancy design.

5. There’s no shame with sticking to an interface that is clean, simple, standard and formulaic. It is advantageous to the customer for the interface to be familiar, and not overly re-hashed and bespoke. Banks may think it is important to stamp their brand. The customer’s priority is to transact, and it would be nice to be able to easily find where things are.

6. Updating the website interface should be done rarely / avoided, particularly changing appearance, and changing location of functions.

7. Online statements are important. Make it easy to find. Keeping more available for longer periods is a great bonus.

8. Make it possible to update address/contact details information online.

9. Modern banks make it possible to transfer inter-bank locally easily and for free. I think it should be standard across all banks.

10. A high contrast, easily readable interface that uses good sized fonts is a great benefit. There are many people that are color blind, and everyone’s eyesight becomes worse with age. Spare a thought for the few who have to strain because of poor color combinations/overly stylized internet banking website designs.

11. I think it is better for all accounts to be visible from one screen. There are online banking sites where you have to switch to another tab or expand a dropdown or go to another site to see credit cards or other types of accounts.

12. internet banking websites shouldn’t disable copy/paste. Particularly when the task is to fill up an account number in an enroll/transfer request for instance. Its not like making the subscriber type the account is going to make the handling much more secure.

13. Mobile OTPs are a good idea, but please don’t make the pin too long and prompt for it at every turn. I think stanchart banking site is one that sends a very long pin, and just about every function requires the OTP. Maybe entering the OTP one time is sufficient security for a session.

14. Have a backup when OTP’s do not arrive.

15. Overly short timeouts are a pain. Hint: bpi

Preparing – Leaving Philippines to Migrate to Australia


Are you a Filipino migrating to Australia?

I migrated with my family about 2 years ago from the Philippines to live in Melbourne.

If you are preparing to migrate to Australia, here are some things you can look into preparing while still in the Philippines ahead of migrating. Some of this particularly works, if you have a friend/family in Australia who is able to lend a postal address for you to use.

– Setting up a bank account. I believe ANZ http://anz.com.au and Commbank http://www.commbank.com.au make it possible for migrants to setup new accounts from overseas. Another good reason to get a bank account early is that there are many cases where you will be asked to show a bank account statement (among other requirements or possible IDs) for purpose of ID verification.

– Ordering a myki card online. This is not a big deal because you can also buy anytime from a 7-11 or a train station. Its just that when you get a myki card online, it gets printed with your name on it which the generic Myki card does not have. If you order online the card is sent via snail mail. Maybe takes a week or so to arrive. This maybe costs $10 AUD to order which gives you at $10 credit.

– Request for a TFN (online request). https://www.ato.gov.au/Forms/TFN—application-for-individuals/

– Prepare to request a medicare card. I think requests have to be personally submitted at Centrelink but you can at least prepare the form: http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/forms/3101

– Investigate places to rent at http://www.realestate.com.au or domain.com.au. airbnb is also a good option for short-term stays (I can send referral for airbnb–both of us get will get credits).

– Investigate mobile plans. For me, one of the better options and the cheapest is Vaya. Please feel free to comment and I can send a friend referral which gets me some refer credits. Vaya is sort of like a postpaid subscription in the sense of the payment method, but it is fairly easy to obtain. I think the main requirement is a bank account/credit card to auto debit payments from. On the other hand, if what you want is an actual prepaid subscription then instead, look at Optus or Amaysim. If you want premium good quality service, the best network is Telstra.

– Setup for yourself an everyday rewards and flybuys membership. These are the rewards card for Woolworths (woolies) and Coles respectively. Its inevitable that you will be shopping at these supermarkets when you are here.

– It may also be a good idea for you to do just a little research on Superannuation. It is a bit premature because you only need it when you start working, but at least it would be good to have a conceptual understanding.

– Be aware that you need to get a seminar and passport stamp from the CFO http://www.cfo.gov.ph/ before your initial departure date.

– The IOM offers discounted airfare (one way) for migrants. http://www.iom.int/cms/en/sites/iom/home/what-we-do/resettlement-assistance/concession-fares.html

You also get 40 kilos baggage allowance when booking via IOM. Their contact info:

IOMPhilippines@iom.int
+632.230.1762

And keep in mind that dates in Australia are written day before month.

There will be many other things to prepare if you are a migrant. These are just a few things I have thought of. Good luck. You have an exciting time ahead of you.

 

Passport renewal experience


It was in total a 3 hour process for me at DFA Megamall to do passport renewal yesterday.

DFA is located at the 7th floor of the Convergys building located in front of Megamall Buidling A. On getting there, there was a line to get into the ground floor elevator. Waiting there took a while.

At the 7th floor there is a line to get into the DFA office. The person at the entrance only allows people with appointment schedules before or at the current time to enter. My appointment was at 1030 and it was past 1030 already so I got in.

After getting in, the reception person does a bit of ID checking. And then tells people to head to window 4 to 7.

At window 4 to 7, there is a long line. It is perhaps where I spent most of my time waiting. There seemed to be only a few of the windows open and serving people at any time, hence the long queue. It seemed like there were only one or two windows operating at any time.

Once in a while there was a public announcement, explaining the requirements for renewal and other passport services (e.g. new passport). So the requirements were: photocopy of first and last page of passport, the passport and another form of ID. These were the ones I knew about already from speaking with the DFA passport phone hotline number previously but it turns out they also want a photocopy of the extra form of ID. This one has not been previously mentioned by the DFA phone service or the website. I just had to have mine photocopied right then. There was a photocopying service at the back of the same room so that was not a problem.

When I got to the front, I presented my documents, and let the person at the window know that I wanted mine done quickly so it has to be rushed. She suggested:
– pickup instead of delivery, because delivery adds a day to the process
– cancelling my current passport already to avoid the hassle later

She attached two small slips of paper to my application. One of which has contact information through which I am supposed to be able to followup on the status of my passport processing.

After that, I have to go the cashier to pay. The cashier prints machine validation into one of the slips of paper and its done. At this step, I didn’t encounter a line. Everyone was already being held up sufficiently at the previous step.

The next step is encoding and its also where you get your photo taken. There was a short line here. I got asked several times to make sure that what was entered was correct, and I was then asked to sign the typed up info. After that, that was the end of the process for me.

I didn’t arrange for delivery, otherwise there would have been one more extra step.

So, the upshot of it all is that the DFA passport renewal service’s time estimate is that I will get my rush passport renewal in: 9 to 14 working days. Does passport renewal really have to take this long?