If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have picked up on the uncertainty I’m experiencing regarding my future in the UK.
I travelled to London in July 2016 on a temporary workers visa called the Youth Mobility visa, which lasts 24 months. That means on the 30th June 2018, my visa expires, and cannot be renewed.
My boyfriend is on that same visa, although his doesn’t expire until the 31st January 2019. Being a temporary visa, there is no possibility for me to remain in the UK as his spouse for those 6 months. I have to leave, end of story.
Except maybe not – I am currently undergoing the extended (and expensive) process of transitioning to a General Workers visa, thanks to the generosity of my employer. Without going into too much detail about what that means, my employer has to convince the British government that I am valuable enough to their productivity that my loss would be damaging to their business (and by extension, to the British economy). No small feat I assure you. If I worked in an industry that was considered a required skill it would be easier – but I work in marketing, you know; we’re a dime a dozen! It’s obviously a lot more complicated than that, but I don’t want to get into it – we’ll be here all night if I do.
So for right now, I’m in limbo. I’ve felt in limbo since they told me they would be going through this process for me more than 6 months ago. It’s been slow going, and it’s meant my future has never felt so uncertain. And of course, time is ticking down. That rapid approach of summer is something I’m somewhat dreading this year.
Thousands and thousands of Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians (and whoever else in the Commonwealth) go through this same dread every year after their first whirlwind year in the UK. I’ve already watched more than a handful of them go through it recently, and I watched knowing that would be me soon enough. So why am I dreading it so much?
There’s two sides to the argument. Returning to Australia at some point in the next couple of years would be logical from a career perspective. I want to work for myself, but while I’m visa jumping it is far more financially stable to work full-time. I know it’s entirely possible to establish myself as a freelancer while working full-time, and I intend to do that over the next 3 years while in the UK. But to stay in the UK, I have to keep working full-time as a requirement of my visa. The enormity of starting my own business while working full-time is… intimidating. Fortunately, I know plenty of people who’ve done it, so I know it’s possible. But those people have all had the security of not facing deportation while doing so. So it makes logical sense to return to Australia.
But the heart doesn’t always want what’s logical, does it? For me, returning to Australia is a full stop. Going back, even for a few months while waiting for the next opportunity, seems like a trap that I might never get out of. It was hard enough to leave the first time – how on earth could I do it again? I know plenty of people do it – my own brother is one of them, someone who has managed to perpetually find work abroad again and again, returning to Australia for months at a time in between. But for some reason, for me, there’s like this block in my head that stops me from considering that as something that might happen for me. I’m scared of domesticity and of commitment and I’m scared of being bored again, and stuck somewhere I don’t want to be. And returning to Australia feels like the end of my exciting life living in abroad, exploring somewhere new every month and more or less hiding from life.
It also has a lot to do with my age as well. I turn 29 this year (what the fuck), which means I only have about 2 years left to continue taking advantage of youth visas. My boyfriend is already 30, so he only has a few months left of it. And again, I know plenty of people who have moved abroad after turning 30 (again, my brother is one). My boyfriend is a skilled worker, with good employment prospects and despite my joking earlier, I do have a sought after set of skills, especially in this digital age.
So again, logic tells me this isn’t the end.
But it sure does feel like it is.
UPDATE: Hours after publishing this post, I found out my visa won’t be going ahead. Read more about what’s next for me here.
Have you ever faced having to leave the life you love? Make me feel better in the comments below!
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