31 July 2009

August, Almost


Me and Paige at Mat's BBQ
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Either something good just happened with "the cricket," or my neighbors just won the lottery. Either way there's lots of happy yelling through the wall.

It's almost August and we're still plugging along here in Keighley. We've had a family come look at the house who decided that it was too small. In the words of my wise sister in law..."It's a terraced house...it is what it is...of course it's a bit small." The board still hangs on the post in front of the house, and we're starting to think about some minor home improvements that could be done toward getting it sold.

In big news this past fortnight (well, big news to those of us that don't yet have Indefinite Leave to Remain or UK citizenship), the Borders, Citizenship, and Immigration bill became a law at the hands of Mr. Brown and has been approved or ratified or punched or stamped by HRM, so we're in limbo at the moment over what it means for my process. "It extends the residence requirement for citizenship applicants to eight years from five for people with work permits. Those married to a British national need five years in the U.K. instead of three." [Source: Bloomberg.com] How does this affect me, you might ask?

Well, you might not, actually. You might not care. But you might, so I'll go on.

I am on a temporary Leave to Remain or Spousal Visa currently. Prior to the BCI becoming law, I was permitted to live in the UK for two years, at which time I would apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). At any time after I'd been here on ILR for a year, I could start the process to become a British Citizen.

I've always been opposed to that because I just didn't see a need, really. ILR lets me work and not get chucked out of the country, so I figured that was enough for me. I don't see a point in the future when I will ever consider myself British...I'm American, and while I know that it doesn't change that to hold British citizenship, I just wasn't interested.

Here's where it gets tricky. I don't think that I am going to be subject to the new regs because everything that I've read on the BCI says that it takes effect NO EARLIER than July of 2011. Groovy, my TLR visa runs out in May of 2011. So I apply for ILR as was our plan. However, it's my understanding that part of the point of the BCI is to phase out ILR, so will I get to stay on that status indefinitely? Will I be forced to go for citizenship or go back to the US?

Also, if I'm allowed to stay on ILR but I'm out of the country more than two years (like if Simon and I moved back to the US for any period of time) then I'd have to reapply for a spousal visa to come back if we moved back to the UK. Seems like no big deal, really, when you look at the paperwork, but here's something else to consider that will really bake your noodle.

Yeah, I quoted the Matrix. So?

The fees associated with this process are insane. My first visa was, considering the exchange rate at the time was awful, around $800 (approx £500+). If we stay in the UK past the end of my initial visa, the cost to apply for the ILR is £820. Suppose after I get it, I decide that I do want to apply for citizenship? That will be £720, please.

So we could either get me a shiny maroon passport to go with my slightly less shiny navy blue one, or we could move to the US and buy a car. And in case you're wondering, Simon's green card in the US (equivalent to ILR, from my understanding) would be $355. I'm not sure how much it is for American citizenship, but I'm pretty sure it's not whatever the exchange rate makes £720.

For now, though, it's August, almost, and I've been here almost four months. Applications have been sent out willy nilly, but no job on the horizon just yet. And for those wondering, we are currently on an active quest for Baby Dunne. No news on that front yet, but much to my husband's chagrin you'll be the first to know!!

2 comments:

SusanAG said...

I'm just now reading this. A little behind on my blogs!

I looked up the USCIS website and found some numbers that may surprise you if I've found the information that you'd be looking for. It looks like citizenship costs at least $675 and a permanent residency costs about $1,000. Yikes!

www.uscis.gov

Nancy E. Dunne said...

Are you sure you were looking at the right category? The USCIS site (along with an expat friend of mine here who is re-patting soon and one who is ready to do so) is where I got the numbers I quoted. It is less expensive fee-wise to immigrate to the US than to the UK, as well as less expensive for us personally b/c I have better earning potential than Simon does at this point.

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