Thursday, 12 April 2007

I am immigrant hear me whimper

I returned to Scotland on a bright day. My first action was to buy a large Starbucks cold coffee concoction and wait for the all-around glorious creature JP (aka John, aka Paul, aka John Paul, aka J.) to pick me up. Then it was off to this beach near Prestwick Airport (I still believe that "Dead Brilliant" is not the kind of marketing slogan to slap onto the side of an airport terminal).

We frolicked. We drank hot chocolate. We forgot all the worries of the world. I rediscovered the magic that is British green. I wished I were a sea bird. I collected too many shells.
It was so hard to go back to work, to get up early and lumber to the train station, to greet tourists. It was even harder to discover that the next step in my immigration has just become much, much more expensive.
In a couple of weeks, on my birthday, I will have been in the UK for exactly two years. My settlement visa will expire on that day, so I have to apply for permanent residency. Oh, the paperwork. Oh, the huge bloody bill.
Today I passed my Living in the UK test. Under new immigration rules people applying for permanent settlement have to take this test, instead of just those applying to become British citizens. Over the past week I have spent a lot of time studying my "journey to citizenship" handbook. I fretted. I worried. I thought terrible "what if" thoughts. Matt, a lively Irishman who works at the cafe in the visitor centre where I am gainfully employed, did not ease my stress by teasing me that the government would send me home on the next boat. However his fog horn noises were very impressive.
But I passed, so it's all good. Now comes the big part of sending my application away, along with the enormous amout of £750. For zee Canadians that is nearly $1,700. The part that makes me want to hit my feet with a mallet just to distract myself from the mental torment is the fact that I JUST BARELY fall under these new rules. If I had arrived a month earlier two years ago, I would have only had to pay £335 and I wouldn't have had to take this test. Note that I discovered all this after returning from holiday with my visa card already needing my attention.


My application is getting sent away on Saturday. If all goes well I should know by sometime in June whether I have been approved. My colleague Paula has kindly offered to chain herself to the Scottish Parliament Building naked if my application is declined. Who knows what kind of dramatic theme music she would choose. For the sake of this fine country's morals I simply must succeed.
It has been years since I have been this broke. It's almost laughable. Almost. Nevermind. I am learning to make sushi (rice - very cheap yes!) and I also have a whole bag of dried chickpeas in the cupboard which is just waiting for my mind to unfold with the kind of serious creativity that is driven by lack of finances.
Sigh. I'm off to fill out forms and gather evidence of my general worthiness. Och aye the noo, indeed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good luck with all that! if i win the lotto tonight i'll wire cash. mwa mwa:)