12
Jun
12

Killing Two Birds

Considering that the left has decided to step back and watch the current government implode in a dust cloud of its own incompetence, it seems a bit shocking how perfectly orchestrated and brilliant the Coalition’s recent move on immigration is, despite the roughness of some of the actual proposals.  No, I am not talking about Theresa May dictating how the courts should do their jobs; I am talking about the announcement to the changes to how people who live here, British people and permanent residents, bring their immediate families, namely their spouses.

For a country that supposedly is not allowed to talk about immigration, we sure do talk about immigration a lot.  Unfortunately, the conversation is usually ill-informed.  But what can you expect with the state of the British media?  To whose benefit is it to have people understand the difference between someone coming in from outside the EEA and someone who comes from say, Spain?  How can you demonise someone coming here from Japan to live with their British citizen spouse if you understand that that person is already subjected to income and housing requirements (income over and above what’s paid for housing) and has no recourse to public funds?  It seems there isn’t even an understanding of the current Britishness or English language requirements. It’s into this environment of ignorance and resentment that the Coalition has unleashed this monster of a rule change.

Perhaps you won’t ever have to worry about sponsoring a spouse.  Maybe you don’t envision your daughter or nephew falling in love on a trip abroad.  But don’t mistake the rhetoric for the reality.  When we talk about human rights and family immigration, we are talking about the rights of British people.  The rights of the immigrant, unless they live here, is not really the concern of the UK.  When you hail changes like this, you are cheering the lessening of your own rights to choose whom to marry and to live with them in the country you were born and raised.

The financial requirements are really secondary and may not stand up in court as they are above and beyond what exists anywhere else.  But of course, that in itself is genius because the Coalition can then throw up its hands and say that it tried or perhaps get into a huge media battle with the courts whose job isn’t to support majority, populist opinion, but to ensure the law is being applied fairly.  No, the real genius is the extension of probationary leave to five years, awarded in two lots of 2.5 years a piece.

What this means is that if Joe Bloggs from High Wycombe meets a girl from Canada in a chat room, flies over to meet her, falls in love, and eventually after a series of visits proposes, he can expect to go through the following if he chooses to marry her in his home country (assuming he meets the maintenance and accommodation requirements): they will need to apply for a fiance visa (£826), further leave to remain (£581 by post or £867 if applying in person), another further leave to remain (£581 or £867 if applying in person), indefinite leave (£991 by post or £1377 in person), and finally, citizenship, £836.  But that’s not even the real cost.  Almost without exception, twice a year these applications go up in price providing an ever increasing income stream that the Coalition and even the previous Labour government have never made any bones about showing was mostly profit as the costs to administer these applications didn’t come close to the costs the applicants and their families paid for them.  And each time, Mr and Mrs Bloggs will have to prove income and savings.  The only other option to live in the UK together would be to marry outside the country and effectively cut out one round of FLR.

Most young families, even middle class families are going to struggle with the ongoing costs and bureaucracy.  I am not saying that permanent residence and citizenship are not valuable things.  The costs for those applications I listed are already in place and similar costs were in place during the second half of the last Labour government.  The Coalition’s proposals build in a redundancy and extend the probationary period to a lengthy five years.  It’s like they relied on a far-right anti-immigration pressure group to help come up with the proposals and they sought out the most draconian examples of requirements, made them even nastier and proposed that this would be fair and proportionate guidelines.  But they wouldn’t do that.  We’re talking about the lives of British citizens here.

So where’s the brilliance?  May and the Coalition know that this will force many new families to consider living abroad.  That will improve net migration because the immigrant won’t come into the country.  But it will also mean that the British spouse will leave.  That’s another tick out of the country as an emigrant.  You could take this further to add in any potential children (who would be British citizens), but let’s focus on the emigrant.  May and the Coalition do not care how they improve their numbers.  They can’t do anything about EEA migration so a French man living here can bring his fiancee or spouse in under EEA rules, no fees, no requirements.  But Joe Bloggs might just have to move to somewhere in the EU or to Canada.  He will have fewer rights in his own country, and that’s okay for May and the Coalition.  If it improves net migration, they want you to leave.

But at the end of the day, this won’t be the talking point.  What will be is the lie that this country had unmanaged migration from outside the EU before the Coalition.  As will the lie that this is good for the rights and well being of my fellow British citizens.

17
May
12

Guide to applying for your first British passport

Just another guide I wrote for dual citizens:

How to apply for your first British passport after natrualising

10
May
12

Another advisor…

Another advisory: Documenting intervening devotion for family visas.  Basically, how do you prove to UKBA that you’re still a real couple even if you’ve been in an LDR.

08
May
12

A bit I did on …

A bit I did on dual nationals entering the UK

01
Jun
11

That time I improved my citizenship collection by 1.5

After waiting for over two months, I received the brown envelope containing my citizenship invitation in May. I called the council whose NCS (Nationality Check Service) we used booked an appointment for the following week. Easy-peasy…sort of.

My stress didn’t end there. I’ve spent nearly a decade stressing about immigration. One sheet of paper wasn’t going to magically switch off that part of my brain. It felt unreal even as I waited to be called into the council chamber where about thirty of us were waiting to swear our oath to our new country. I was, instead, struck by the nonchalance that most people waiting to become new Brits seemed to display. And, when they announced that we were officially British, I couldn’t help crying as relief and emotions overwhelmed me. Oh, and because I had tears in my eyes, I nearly fell over as I was going up to accept my ceremonial certificate. Pure grace, I tell you.

I do have to say that the ceremony did help to make it feel more real in a way. Maybe that is the point of our ceremonies. To make the abstract seem real.

The next morning I nearly went back to sleep because we were out a bit late, but I couldn’t. Remembering that I was now British made me too happy to sleep. Now I practice my new status, somewhat half jokingly, “As a British citizen I think…” Oh, and I pay more attention to EU stuff as well. Things like the possible future collapse of the Euro is more relevant to my interests now that I am an EU citizen as well (despite not living in a Eurozone country). Not that I shouldn’t have just been concerned living here with ILR, but it seems like I should pay attention to these things more. Sort of like politics when I became old enough to vote in the States.

We’ve applied for my passport, and I am hoping I will get it before my birthday. I am hoping for a trip somewhere in Europe as a part of the celebrations.

We’ve also decided against moving to North America, despite the Duke probably being able to pull enough points and being qualified for a shortage occupation in Canada. We don’t want to go through this again. We may consider moving into Europe.

Now, I am not sure of where to go from here with this blog. I guess I am still an American in the UK, but I also identify as British. I know that countless people obtain a second citizenship for practical reasons and don’t see that as much of a change, but for me, I do. I know that a lot of British people would always see me as just American and a lot of Americans would never put another nationality as equal to the States in their hearts, but I guess I am not of the same opinion in either case. Naturalising meant a lot to me. Not in the least that I can stay with my husband without immigration issues, but it was a lot more than that as well.

I will probably continue on. For now, I will just say that I am the most grateful Britican in the world. Or is that Ameriton?

04
May
11

Waiting…

Every time I’ve submitted an application for a visa or extension of stay, it seems to cue a longer wait time for everyone. Or maybe it’s that I am a part of some huge immigrant hive-mind, and we all decide to submit applications at once, clogging the system up.

Every day for weeks I wait for the postie to drop an invitation to book a citizenship ceremony, and every day I am disappointed. Two weeks ago, we even broke down and called the Home Office. I never called about applications before. It’s not like they can actually tell you anything of meaning about your application. I guess I was just hoping for them to tell me that I had been approved, and that I hadn’t heard yet because they send the approvals through second class post (what the heck is up with that).

I can’t do anything that doesn’t involve waiting in some way. Last week at the royal wedding parties we attended, I was also waiting to hear about my citizenship application. When I found out that the US had killed Osama Bin Laden, I was also waiting for my application to be approved. It’s always in the back of my mind, and while I am trying to be patient (and appreciate how privileged I am to even get the chance to wait for my BC application to go through), it’s hard.

I shouldn’t have told anyone that I applied. Now, everyone asks if there is any news, which is sweet and shows concern, but it’s hard to read the response. Most Brits think it’s a fairly quick process (and compared to some countries, it is), that it’s free (or close enough to free), and that it’s just a matter of asking. Of course, it’s not, but I guess it’s not up to me to constantly show it’s not.

So I am going to go back to drinking coffee (and waiting). Later, I am going to mow our lawn (and wait). When I hear something, you will be among the first to know.

14
Apr
11

Tough Week(s), One good day

A little less than two weeks ago, my dad had a bad turn. My sister said that he woke up asking where I was, and when my sister told him that I was in London, he said that he had picked me up at the airport the day before. She explained that I hadn’t been in the States for six months. Later, Dad and I talked, and he seemed fine, and all he said was he must have had a weird dream. A week ago, it happened again, but this time he asked where everyone was, what time the (mom’s) funeral was, and where was his outfit.

Dad has never lost grip on reality before. He is a bit of an older father than people my age normally have (I was from his “second” family and my younger half-sisters his “third”). It’s possible that he has the beginnings of senility, but it is likely this is a symptom of the syndrome he has (a syndrome that keeps on giving). He has an appointment with his GP this week, and we should know more.

But this has brought up a lot of things for me: fear of losing my father (one of my few blood relatives, although that list has grown a bit in recent years); upset at hearing my father has lost control of his faculties, even if for a brief period; wanting to be with him and to help my sister; my own gradual acceptance of this disorder and understanding of my place on the “spectrum”, which is not something I have even begun to accept or understand before this really; and, like almost everything upsetting the past six months, mom’s death.

We can’t really afford to travel back to the States right now. As a matter of fact, while I am waiting for my citizenship (and if approved until I get my British passport), I shouldn’t leave the country. I feel guilty for the years I spent away from them. I get upset when I call, and my dad can’t hear me. I don’t want him to die. I don’t want him to become senile in any way. I don’t want my sister’s life to get harder.

On the good side, I had a very good, nearly hour long conversation with Dad today. Because of the lifelong complications he’s had from being a carrier of the permutation for Fragile-X, his sociability is usually not very high. Some days the mood strikes him and he gets talkative. Back in the States, he was able to call me, but now it’s just chance. This is the first time in a few months that he’s been very reciprocal in the conversation. When he’s not talking, it’s hard for me because I am not the world’s most social person (again, the syndrome that keeps on giving. Thanks, genes!). Today, things turned out well.




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