June 3, 2009
My Indefinite Leave to Remain FINALLY came through from the Home Office yesterday. So, I am now allowed to remain in the UK indefinitely, and I can access public funds, which is something of a relief in this economy. I mean, I’d rather not lose my job, but 3 weeks ago the government would have happily watched me starve.
However, in this incredibly obnoxious article in The Guardian yesterday, Phil Woolas reminded me that the new Citizenship, Immigration & Borders bill is on its second reading through parliament. This bill will make it harder to get citizenship, with longer waiting times and a stupid “probationary citizenship” stage. Oh, and you’ll be expected to volunteer somewhere to show that you’re “worthy” of citizenship. From September I’ll be working 4 days a week at a job that requires a lot of travel (I’m away from home at least once a month), and doing a PhD part-time. And continuing with No Borders and setting up a Feminist Fightback North branch. But hey! I’m sure I can fit some volunteering in somewhere. Unfortunately, activism doesn’t count.
According to the current regulations, because I actually entered the country in June 2006 on a Working Holiday Permit, I should be eligible for citizenship in about 4 weeks. So my partner and I have decided it’s worth scraping together the ludicrous sum of money required to apply right away, so that I don’t have to jump through any of the hoops above, and because the fees are only going to keep going up. Though apparently it’s taking up to 6 months to process applications, begging the question of What the hell the government are spending my money on.
I’ve worked out that, post-citizenship, I will have paid over £2000 in various visa fees. Which is a lot of money, particularly when we first got married and my partner wasn’t working (we’re still paying off that credit card bill). We are very fortunate that we are able to put aside money each month to cover these fees, but I honestly wonder what less fortunate people do. These fees aren’t optional – if I hadn’t had the £800 for the Indefinite Leave to Remain application, then I would have had to leave the country.
So love becomes a privilege reserved for those who can pay for it –I’m sure that’s exactly what Keir Hardie had in mind.