Indefinite Leave to Remain
Well, October flew by with record speed, so much so that we have failed to report on the events of October 15th. Yes, on the Ides of October, Astrid and I made our way to Lunar House, a relatively brutal 20-story monolith from 1970 that was named (along with a neighbor, Apollo House) after the 1969 moon landing. The building is in Croydon, a somewhat rough but geographically convenient suburban center in Zone 5.
Why? Because Lunar House is the headquarters of UK Visas and Immigration, where we had our permanent residency appointment. We had to be sure to bring along the 75-page application form, proof of significant payment, and laundry list of supporting documents. Included in the supporting documents were our certificates for passing the Life in the UK test as previously reported) and a letter from my employer confirming my absences from the UK. You see, I had to list and essentially explain/justify every full day I was not in the UK since the original visa began on October 19, 2009. How many days do you think that was? If you guessed 470, you’d be right! (It’s slightly crazy that in five years here, I’ve spent more than one full year of that traveling!)
Now, these immigration appointments can be stressful – after all, a denial would have meant having to leave the country in 4 days! Last time we had discussed all sorts of back-up plans of what we would do if we failed. This time however, we were feeling more confident. (Although I won’t deny that there was a brief conversation about the benefits of moving to Tahiti.) Luckily, it was a quiet day there and after only 3 hours of sitting around and waiting, and providing some additional documents that we brought along, we were approved. Less than a week later our new residence permits arrived, listing “Settlement” and “Indefinite Leave to Remain” on the front, and the card itself doesn’t expire for 10 years.
What does this mean for us? It doesn’t really change anything, but means that we should be able to stay as long as we want and won’t have to keep getting stressed out and going through the cost and hassle of renewing our visas every 2-3 years. The only noticeable change is that we are now eligible for public benefits (e.g. “the dole“), which we were previously specifically prohibited from getting.
The only thing left for us would be dual citizenship, which we could go for this time next year if we want. The real benefit of that would be the right to always return, the ability to work anywhere in the EU (asusming the UK stays in!), and – most importantly – being able to use the shorter “locals” line at the airport!!