“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love”
The recent referendum has been, and looks like continuing to be, an interesting time here in UK.
Barry and I are registered as voters, and as I was with mum last week, I was able to put my mark in the ballot box – admittedly with the limited information I had about the whys of my choice.
Being at mum’s meant I also unwittingly found myself getting sucked into the drama of the results. To avoid exposure to the media frenzy would have meant spending less time with mum. Her television is turned on a lot. Like most elderly people it’s her main life-line.
Barry, on the other hand, remained on board.
Returning on Friday and discussing any possible implications from the surprising Brexit result, was a breath of fresh air. He’s so objective about such dramatic ‘news’. I wish everyone had a Barry in their life – in fact someone as cool, calm and collected as he is could be just the person we need to run the country.
Sadly he’s not a British citizen, and there’s still a slim chance he’ll be back Down Under before the ‘summer’ (I use that word loosely) ends, so that’s an impossibility even if he’d consider it – which of course he wouldn’t.
Will we stay or will we go?
Selfishly I’m thankful we do have a choice of where we can live. Maybe that contributes to the current conflict feeling like less of a pressure for us?
However, we’d far prefer to remain here in England for the foreseeable future.
Barry adores living and trading on the canals, I love regularly seeing my elderly mum, daughters and grandsons – and himself of course, but I could do that in either hemisphere for which I feel extremely fortunate. More so than many married couples in similar circumstances, who’ve been torn apart by this particular visa process.
Choosing the floating lifestyle we have, has added to the complexity of the process we’re having to negotiate to apply for Barry’s ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain‘ in UK.
Ticking the boxes
We don’t fit the ‘norm’ of many of the boxes required to be ticked.
For the past six months countless hours have been spent attempting making sense of the quagmire of evidence and information we must supply to have a hope of gaining permission in Barry’s passport for him to remain in UK for another two and a half years.
Even WITH an ‘expert’ in Immigration Law signed up to navigate with us, we’ve felt frequently challenged and concerned. More so me than Barry – whether that’s due to his kiwi ‘can do’ attitude, or my propensity to take control and so feel the burden of it more, is debatable. Being his ‘sponsor’ does mean I carry the can.
Next Tuesday 6th July, we have an appointment with our Solicitor in Birmingham. We’ve hand delivered, posted, and emailed an extraordinary amount of information to him in the past couple of months, and still have a 76 page document to complete and sign. The cost to us financially of this round, along with the legal support, will be in the region of £2,500.
We must be serious, that’s a hell of a lot of money!
Examples of evidence include:
- our passports
- photos of us both
- wedding photos from each of our weddings
- divorce and death certificates to show we’re legally married
- any correspondence addressed to us both spread over the two year period from October 2013 (apparently having the envelopes too would have helped, we never thought of that!)
- photos of us together spread over the past two years
- a timeline of our relationship
- evidence of where the £62,500 savings we’ve held for 6 months has come from (because we’re self-employed we have to prove we can support ourselves without recourse to public funds) – which includes proof of source, bank statements, and personal declarations
- evidence we’re registered with HM Revenue and Customs for tax purposes, and National Insurance
- a letter from our dentist to show we’re registered and visit regularly
- a few sample blog posts (hurrah for our blog!)
Oh the list goes on, and on, and on in it’s complexity and seeming ridiculousness …
But we do understand.
The reality of being an immigrant
We realise that for many of the great British public, the number of ‘immigrants’ is felt to be a problem they’re deeply concerned with for a variety of reasons.
We frequently hear tales of woe around people from other countries having the audacity to want to live in England.
We hear how easy some believe it is to “get in“.
We’ve previously (not any more I suspect!) been proffered suggestions that Barry becomes a European (actually his great great grandfather on his father’s side was German, his great great grandmother on his mother’s side was British), as then he’d be able to come in ‘… without a problem‘.
About how they feel many of these said people “… are only coming here for the benefits”.
We, and I suspect ‘they’, have no evidence of the number of people who’ve settled here from Europe are on benefits, or how easy or difficult it is for them to come here. We prefer not to pass judgement. We don’t have the evidence to support any of these accusations. And to be honest, we’d prefer others didn’t relay their own thoughts to us, even though they may feel it’s supportive. It’s not. Such accusations are really not helpful, compassionate, or kind.
What we DO know is that the process for us as a couple to remain here in UK, with my family, living the life we currently love on the canals, will entail negotiating an increasingly complex process put in place in response to the British public’s concern of wanting to contain and have more control over immigrants.
I’ve been an immigrant, when I chose to emigrate and live in New Zealand. It’s a strange feeling when you reside in another country, and you sometimes feel the unwelcome and unwanted judgements of others.
I for one, send heartfelt thoughts to anyone feeling uncertain at the moment living in a country they were not born in, and having to jump hoops and hurdles to continue to do so. That includes British people who’ve chosen to live abroad.
Barry’s current visa expires on 21st July.
Three weeks and two days away.
Once his application is in, which we hope will be next week, he’ll get an extension until a decision is made.
Please cross your fingers and toes that the decision is one we’re hoping for …
Whatever happens, we know it’s a First World problem and try not to dwell on it. We don’t have a Plan B.
People we know and love are currently suffering in far more significant ways – and they’re nothing to do with Brexit, or any possible implications surrounding that. Which puts our challenges well into perspective.
“He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people”
There’s a saying that we all have our own ‘map of the world’, we’ll all be seeing the current political and economic situations differently. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we could all show more tolerance and understanding of this?