Post about your own experiences here!

Posted by db158 at Sep 04, 2014 11:45 AM |

This project website hosts a blog containing entries written by interview respondents, academics who are not part of the project team, and others working in the fields connected with UK citizenship issues.  If you would like to contribute, please get in touch.  Entries can be anonymous if you wish.

 

Neither about Britishness, nor about citizenship: the 'Life in the UK' test

By Ipek Demir, University of Leicester

Ipek writes about her experience taking the 'Life in the UK' test, with an insightful piece published in "Discover Society", a monthly publication from the British Sociological Association.  The blog refers to our project.  Link here.

 

Why I've decided not to become British

by Noel Dandes, via Migration Pulse

I recently wrote an article on the Home Office's changes to the naturalisation process, and how they have been conveniently timed to coincide with the referendum. At the time, I was determined that I would see the process through, no matter what they threw at me — but now, after careful consideration, I have decided I do not want to become British anymore.

The reasons for this are twofold:

Unfeasibly high cost

The previous cost of close to £1,005 was already a stretch, and it would have been a significant drain on my savings account. The new cost of £1236 , however, is close to unfeasible at the moment — and I don't trust that our dearly beloved Theresa May, whom the Green Party quite accurately portrayed as a petulant child obsessed with kicking foreigners out in their recent #GrownUpPolitics ad, won't change the fees again by the time I'm eligible. (read more...)

 

From Spouse to Resident

by Dr Eureka Henrich

Moving to the UK was never part of my plan. Like so many other Australians, I first found myself living in London fresh out of my undergraduate years, on the rite of passage known as the ‘working holiday’. I navigated the city with a mind-map shaped by film and literature – Mary Poppins and Harry Potter, with Samuel Pepys, William Shakespeare and Bridget Jones thrown in for good measure. And there were deeper footholds to help me fit in. Most importantly, there was the shared language, but there was also the same woman on the coins and notes, the landscape of memorials and statues with familiar names and battles, and the place names.  Words once associated with suburbs and streets back in Sydney revealed themselves as copies of British ‘originals’. All these quotidian sounds and sights made me feel less foreign, more familiar. But still, London wasn’t home.

Fast forward a few years, and my next stay in London was altogether different – a marriage certificate put me on the path to citizenship from the get-go. The process of obtaining the visa, with the all-important right to work, required laying bare our financial status, meticulously logging my travel dates for the preceding years, and proving the longevity of our relationship. Providing photographs stretching back ten years, to be viewed by unknown people in an office overseas, was strange. Over the next two years I became accustomed to sharing such details with Border Agency staff. On returning from a conference in Europe, I had to explain why my husband had not accompanied me. Coming back from a weekend away with a friend, I was asked whether my husband and I were still together. On these odd occasions being a foreign ‘spouse’ (one considered only in relation to their partner), made me feel somewhat precarious and dependant. (read more...)

 

Over the Pond and Through the Hoops

by Joy Bannister

For me, this all started partly because I had been hurt before.  I was broken and damaged.  Had “issues” with men after the breakdown of my first marriage.  It turned out that in finding time to heal myself, I found love in a friend that was there for me.  Paul had been there to listen, to offer advice, to make me laugh, to listen to me cry.  While everyone else’s lives were still going on at full speed, Paul slowed down and took the time to be there for me.  He visited me a few times where I lived in Michigan, just north of Detroit, and I visited him in Sutton Coldfield, a suburb of Birmingham.  It was the real thing.  I’d even taken my two children over to see him for Thanksgiving break.

Friends and family said they hadn’t seen me this happy in ages.  I never knew guys could be patient and loving, treat you like an equal.  Paul proposed and I accepted.  We were on Skype every single day, weighing the pros and cons of where to live.  He has a far better job than I did.  There had been a gun scare at my son’s school and I simply could not get past the idea of my children taking part in lockdown drills in school.  I was still paying medical bills a year after a surgery to remove a tumour in my hand, despite having insurance from my employer.  After all was said and done, England won the “Where to live” contest.    I went to court to get permission to take the kids and we got the ball rolling.  (read more...)

 

From the Guardian, 4 March 2014

Kamila Shamsie on applying for British citizenship: 'I never felt safe'

After six years of living in Britain, the author thought that the path to citizenship would be easy. She was wrong – but the fraught journey forced her to think about privilege, identity and the hostility that immigrants can face.

There's a postcard on my fridge door in London, which a South African friend sent to me 18 months ago. A replica of a Puffin picture-book cover, it has an illustration of mountain peaks below which are emblazoned the words "Everest is climbed!" My friend had already climbed the same metaphorical mountain that I had just reached the summit of, and when she had reached the top she sat down and wept, much to the surprise of all her British friends. "I knew I could stay," she had told me, describing the emotion of the moment, "finally, I knew I could stay." I might not have wept, but I did turn wobbly-kneed and lean against my kitchen counter for support the day my letter arrived from the UK Border Agency to say I'd been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.


Five years previously, when I had entered the UK on a Writers, Artists and Composers visa I thought the road to settlement, and then citizenship, was flat and paved. As long as I could maintain myself financially, continued to work as a writer, and didn't break any laws, I'd be eligible for ILR in five years, and citizenship a year later. And then there would be a citizenship ceremony to end it all, which seemed a pleasant enough idea. I'm all for rituals to mark moments of significance. But I wasn't prepared for the mutable nature of immigration laws, and their ability to make migrants feel perpetually insecure, particularly as the rhetoric around migration mounted. "I didn't think that would affect someone like you," a large number of Brits said to me over the years, with the implacable British belief that if you're middle class you exist under a separate set of laws. They weren't entirely wrong – the more privileged you are in terms of income and education the more likely it is you'll be able to clear all hurdles. It's only the rich around whose convenience immigration laws are tailored.  (read more...)

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