01 November 2015

The Story of Our New Visas

5:30.
Five bloody thirty in the morning and I hear my phone alarm go off. It's on the other side of the room charging, so I stumble out of bed like one of those baby giraffes you see on the nature channel. I bash my foot on a chair leg on the way over.

It feels like an omen.
New UK Work visa



I turn off the alarm and put my hand on Jon's shoulder. "Wakey, wakey Jon. We've need to go get those visas."

He groans and rolls over. He only went to sleep 3 hours ago, in part because we'd discovered a very serious mistake with our visa application.

ZOOM BACK TWO MONTHS

Jon had just been offered his dream job. It was the career move we'd been hoping for since we moved to London, but it had come three years ahead of schedule. The one hitch is that it would require us to get new visas, and this prospective company didn't even have a license to issue them.

But miracles happen and after several weeks of nail-biting, somehow the company's sponsorship license was fast tracked and issued in less than half the normal time.

Together with the company, we'd hurriedly put together our new work visa applications. But in our haste, I'd somehow added the wrong National Insurance number. When we realised the error, panic broke out. We learned that, in order to change anything, we'd have to redo the entire application and remake the appointment. AH! We decided to just pray no one would notice (its rarely a winning strategy, but we were desperate).

AT THE HOME OFFICE IN CROYDON

After arriving, we wait, talk, and after being sent to to talk with yet more people, our number is finally called up.

We walk up to the lady's desk and I plop down in the seat facing the back of her computer. All I can see over the monitor was hair (dyed that purply-red colour that older European ladies like) with 2 inch grey roots peering though, and dirty fingernails, hunting and pecking. It was seriously like her hands were playing a game of whack-a-mole against each other.

I feel like I've been holding my breath for ages-- praying she doesn't notice my massive mistake; finally, Dirty Fingernails sends us to the biometrics area to be fingerprinted and photographed.

We go through the glass doors and Jon immediately starts flirting with the biometrics lady. She apparently loves this, and sends us back to wait in the cafe with a smile and a wave.

Jon buys me some hot chocolate and we wait...

...and wait.

THE RESULT

We wait for about an hour and a half as a caseworker goes through our paperwork to determine our eligibility. Finally our number is called back and we rush in.

A man hands us a paper and our passports, “here you go,” then turns to leave.

“Wait!” we say, panicking as we flip through our passports and notice no new visa. “Did we not pass?”

“No, you did,” he says, motioning to the paper in our hands. We look at the letter, which did indeed confirm that we had been approved.

“Ok,” says Jon, “So... then what happens now?”

“A biometric card will arrive in the mail in the next week or so.”

“So, no visa?”

“Nope, you don't need one. The biometric card will have everything you need.”

We finally breath a sigh of relief.

WAITING

We continue breathing easy while as Jon's visa arrives the next week. But then mine never shows.

A week passes, two weeks, a month... Repeated calls to the home office offer no help, as they only seem to care about the form we had to submit on-line (when the visa didn't arrive within 10 days). Despite the seemingly misplaced obsession with the form, our case worker never gets around to reading it. After a month we resubmitted.

Another week passes. Finally, I call demanding to speak to my case worker in person. The lady on the other end doesn't let me speak to him, but FINALLY offers the first bit of real news.

"Well... it looks like your case worker finally had a look at you file yesterday. And he went ahead and sent it through. So now you just have to wait for your BPR card to be printed and arrive in the post."

Praise!

THE BIOMETRIC RESIDENCE PERMIT

Finally, just days before our flight, my little card arrives. The photo on it is probably the worst photo ever taken of me (which is really saying something), but I couldn't have been more excited to have it starring back at me.

Australia, here we come!

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