Last night, I had a little whingefest about David Cameron's statement that there are "too many immigrants" coming to Britain, which prompted me to highlight that fully legitimate, well educated migrants like myself didn't appreciate being included in that statement after all our contributions in taxes and hard work. This morning, I was very interested when I saw that Tony Sharp, a Conservative councillor for Brickhill Ward in Wellingborough had responded to my post. He quite rightly pointed out that Mr. Cameron's statement was referring to "low skilled workers" as opposed to Highly Skilled Migrants, who are apparently more welcome. [Welcome to the traffic from the ConservativeHome blog, btw!]
In his comment, Tony mentioned a post he wrote a few weeks ago on the issue some Highly Skilled Migrants are having to deal with. In summary:
The entry criteria was tightened last year. Fair enough, there is nothing wrong with reviewing and updating a policy for new applicants that exists to benefit this country. But in one of the most spiteful, wrongheaded and self damaging decisions yet taken by Labour, it was decided to also apply the new rules retrospectively to those Highly Skilled Migrants (HSM) who had been granted entry under the old rules. Many of the HSM already working here are being told they no longer meet the criteria and are being refused the right to remain.
Now, I'm gobsmacked for two reasons here. The most obvious being that moving the goalpost on existing migrants is just the kind of madness I expect from immigration nowadays. And the second, that the criteria are being tightened. Here's why that surprises me - When I moved to the UK, I did not qualify for a work visa as Highly Skilled Migrant. University degree in Communication & Marketing, enough funds to support myself, multilingual, no criminal record, people both in Canada and the UK who have known me for a long time and could vouch for me. That wasn't good enough. But for once, today, I'm happy not to be under the HSM program, because getting the rug pulled from under my feet would set me off on another rant, and no one likes to see that.
In fact, for Mr. Sharp's benefit and anyone else interested, here's the breakdown of my progress towards becoming a British Citizen. It's the long and winding road, as opposed to the HSM program.
- Dec 2001-Dec 2002: Working Holidaymaker visa - That was nice and easy to get and not too expensive either. They were just getting me hooked, the bastards!
- May-August 2003: Working Holidaymaker visa was still valid for a few months, so it covered me for that summer
- May 2004: Planning on moving to the UK permanently on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa, but I was told I did not qualify for it. Thankfully, my gorgeous British man (we were engaged at the time) agreed to scooting the wedding forward a year, so I was granted a fiance visa on the requirement that we got married within 6 months of me arriving in the UK. However, until I was married, I was allowed to reside in the UK, but not work.
- July 2004: After the wedding, I returned to my favourite place in the world, Croydon, to get a married visa, which finally allowed me to take up employment.
- August 2006: Two years of marriage, which I now need to prove to my Croydon mates in letters, bills, pictures, holiday tickets. I literally showed up with a suitcase of information, yet they still looked at me like I was some suspicious drug smuggler with a fake marriage arrangement. But I was granted a leave to remain visa (basically permanent residency).
- We're now in August 2007 and it's now up to me to apply for British Citizenship, but after the circus which I've described above, I'm in no rush to go do the Britishness Test. I consider myself as British as some people who've lived here all their life: I say knackered, bloody, can't be arsed, I can tell a good pint from North American swill, I watch Red Dwarf, Peep Show and Spaced. I whinge about the Tube every time I go into London. I've passed my UK driving license on the first go. What more do you want? Oh, for me to go answer a handful of pub quiz trivia questions on the history of Britain to prove I'm really Britanicised? Well... bollocks to that for now. I'll travel on a Canadian passport! :)
All this to say, low skill or high skill, it's a pain to migrate to the UK, and I would love to see an improved process so that others like me don't have to go through this chaotic process.