Monday, October 22, 2012
I have some exciting news: I have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK! After five years of living and working in Britain, I am officially a permanent resident. Take that, Blighty, you’re stuck with me!
I frequently get asked how I came to live and work in the UK, and how I’m allowed to stay here. I thought I would take this exciting occasion to detail my not-so-exciting immigration history.
When I first moved to London, I came on the now-extinct Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), a points-based visa system that allowed foreigners like myself to live and work in the UK for two years without being tied to a particular job or employer.
Two years later, I extended my stay in the UK for another three years by renewing my HSMP visa, which by then was called a Tier 1 visa (for those wondering, they sadly scrapped the Tier 1 program last year, so the only way for Americans to move to the UK to work now is to get sponsored by a company).
Last year at this time I wrote about my four year anniversary in London and my hopes (and fears) about getting ILR, as Indefinite Leave to Remain is known by expats across the UK.
After that, I spent a year in anticipation of more changes in the UK’s immigration laws, hoping that by the time I was eligible, ILR hadn’t gone the way of the Tier 1.
In the meantime, I had to do thrilling things like fill out mountains of paperwork, pull together bank statements from the past 12 months, and have my accountant draw up letters for me.
I also had to take the bizarre Life in the UK Test, which had questions ranging from “On what date is Valentine’s Day celebrated?” (clearly this knowledge is pivotal to a solid understanding of UK culture) to “How many members are there in the Welsh Assembly?” (is there a Welsh Assembly?).
Thankfully, I passed the test and the rules didn’t change. And now, next year, I am eligible for full UK citizenship. While the goalposts could move in the meantime, I’m breathing much easier knowing that regardless of what happens, my Indefinite Leave to Remain grants me the right to live and work in Britain for as long as I want to.
So here’s to another five years…and another…and another…!