When I was little and learning about immigrants, I always pictured them as A) poor and downtrodden and B) coming to the United States. I did not ever think of my decidedly middle-class self attempting immigration to the United Kingdom.
Other than a few weeks spent at home over Christmas, I’ve been living in the U.K. for almost nine months. I have close friends here now and feel like I’m starting to make a life foundation.
So, I’ve decided to apply for a post-study work permit in the fall, which would allow me to pursue full-time, long-term work here (the permit is good for two years), and eventually trade up for a general work permit. That in turn could lead to long-term residency and eventually citizenship, if all of my applications are successful.
It’s a pretty daunting task. I can’t apply until I qualify for my degree — in this case, not until I receive an official passing grade for my dissertation. I also need to save £800 for 90 continuous days, and pay about £550 for the permit itself. Fortune favors the bold here: Were I to apply from the comfort of my parents’ U.S. house in September and not from, say, a friend’s U.K. couch, the maintenance requirements would jump from £800 to £2,800. Time is of the essence, too; I have exactly 12 months after I graduate to apply for and receive this particular permit.
I explained all of this over coffee to my good friend Hannah last week, and her response was, “Wow, you must really want to stay here to go through all of that!”
I decided that I do, and after discussing it with my mother (who, I have no doubt, relayed the information to my father), I made a set list of tasks I need to start now to ensure a successful application later. I’m applying for a National Insurance number and looking for part-time work to supplement my student loan disbursement, keep my bank account above £800 and take care of living expenses until I can apply for a full-time job. Perhaps most importantly, I’m focusing on writing my dissertation (it’s about far-right parties in EU states, fabulous bedtime reading).
My personal motto for the next few months is, “Go big or go home.” The second part of that is pretty literal. The process is stressful and nerve-racking and difficult, but I think that anything worth doing or worth having should involve some effort. And even if I’m not successful, I’ll know that I tried to do what I wanted and live where I wanted.