Moved from the United States to the United Kingdom… and back to the United States. Currently in long-term limbo. My good, bad & ugly experiences as an expatriate and possible permanent repatriate (who'll continue traveling no matter what).
Exactly 1 year ago today, I received a letter in the mail that’d change my life for a long time, if not for good.
It was a Thursday evening, and I came home from a long day at work, with my team on duty for 3 days straight. I was glad to be home. It’d been my home for a little over 3 years, and I thought I’d be there for a long time to come.
There was mail in front of my door. I picked it up and saw that one piece was from the Home Office. I thought to myself
Oh, good. The Home Office will renew my visa. I’ll get to stay here a bit longer, save money, travel a bit, and even look into dual citizenship.
I put away my belongings, settled in to read my mail and maybe watch a little television – likely something I DVRed, no doubt. I opened the Home Office mail and read it. Then my heart sank deep into my stomach. The Home Office denied my visa application. I was a overstayer.
I re-read the letter a few times to make sure that it wasn’t a joke. But nothing in the letter changed. I was an accidental overstayer. I was speechless for a bit, and even fought back tears. (I can’t remember who won – me or the tears.) I called my aunt and let her know, and I told her I’d keep her posted.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of the end – the end of my expatriate life, the end of my independence, and the end of my life as I lived it for ___ years. And to this day, I’m still feeling the effects – they aren’t as strong as 1 year ago or even a few months ago, but they’re still there.
I hope my day is so busy that I don’t dwell on the anniversary. I hope that the bitterness goes away completely one day – some of it is gone, but some still remains. I hope that I can handle unfinished business over there. But in the meantime, for the way my expatriate life ended over there, that place can go straight to hell.
I’m pleased to tell you that after 7 months of hell & unemployment – an employer that turned out to be shady, forced repatriation, sending out hundreds of copies of my resumé, receiving countless rejection letters (or not receiving any responses at all) after interviews that turned out to be fruitless, and many other disappointments – I finally got a job offer and began working a few days ago.
Words fail me, as I’ve experienced so much over the past 7 months. Betrayed by an employer, betrayed by certain relatives, rejected by recruiters & recruitment agencies in England, etc. 7 months of hell. Therefore, I can’t find the words now to express my feelings/thoughts. For now, I’ll just say thank you, supporters.
More writing to come in the future; I’ll have a lot to say and need to figure out how to organize it. Little by little, step by step, day by day.
This link resonated with me so much that I decided to post it on my blog. It resonates with me more than most people will ever know (but may discuss at a later date?). You never know who’s going through what under the surface.
The portraits are from the United Kingdom (London, to be exact). Thanks to Alternet for this link.
After giving this some thought recently, and after reviewing the requirements for a work visa application, I’ve decided to stop looking for employment opportunities in the United Kingdom.
The visa application website requires potential applicants to qualify for a certain amount of points before moving forward. I hadn’t looked at it since 2010, so I didn’t remember what the requirements were. I took the preliminary test to see if I could go ahead with the application, and I met each requirement… except the sponsorship part. Therefore, I couldn’t go ahead with the application.
I don’t think it’s too difficult to get sponsorship in my profession from employers over there. What is difficult, however, is finding a reputable recruiter/recruiting agency to find a decent employer willing to offer sponsorship. Unfortunately, my experiences over the past few months led me to believe that most recruiters/recruiting agencies over there are shady. They’ve shat on me from the start, making shoddy promises and displaying a major lack of professionalism. Here are 2 examples of their “professionalism”:
I am looking to see if i can find a worksponser for you in London, will keep you posted ASAP
(P.S. I copied/pasted the e-mail exactly how the recruiter sent it to me.)
(P.P.S. The e-mail subject was “.” Yes… a period – that thing with which we end sentences.
Another one never spelled my government name correctly and used smiley faces in e-mail correspondence. (And no, it wasn’t a woman.)
I got so fed up with recruiting agencies over there, I decided to change the settings on 1 employment website such that recruiters can no longer contact me. I also changed the settings on another employment website such that neither my former employer nor another shady employer – which flaked out on me 3 times – can ever contact me again. If I work over there again, it’ll be on my terms and to hell with recruiters/recruiting agencies overall.
I’m also still experiencing the negative effects of what the former employer did to me. Now don’t get me wrong… overall, my time living in the United Kingdom was alright, but the last few months of my time there – along with my current challenges – left a really bad taste in my mouth. I try not to let those months color my whole view of the country, but I admit that it’s very difficult.
Will I live/work there – or any other country outside of the United States – ever again? I don’t know. After this experience, I don’t think I want to expatriate again. (I’ll always love travelling, though – that’ll never change.) But I’m not 100% certain about this, so who knows what the future holds. I’ve applied & looked for jobs all over so I’ll go wherever the money is. And if that means leaving the country again to get back on my feet, then so be it… even if – since I know that expatriation isn’t all cupcakes & roses – I go kicking & screaming for 1-3 years. However, I’d prefer getting my life back on track here, not in another country.
When I returned to the States, the ticket was round-trip because it was cheaper than a one-way ticket, and I scheduled to return sometime in Spring 2014. I plan on changing the ticket date to later this year. (Hopefully my life will be drastically different by then.) If I still feel a certain way about the country (and it is possible that I may feel the same way in the future), I’ll cancel the ticket altogether. But I think it’d be good to see a few of my old colleagues and a couple of friends, so I’ll likely just change the date instead of cancelling altogether.
There’s a lot more, but I’m going to end here. I don’t want to pass on my doom & gloom to anyone reading this, and many things are better left unsaid (until later?). It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. I’m fat, but I’m not singing… yet.
(WARNING: the following song has curses and derogatory words)
Still applying for jobs. There was a potential employer in England, but they flaked out on me… twice. Still not receiving any calls back, despite editing my résumé countless times and having many versions of my résumé. Still nothing in spite of applying for countless full-time, part-time, per diem, temporary & seasonal jobs.
Adjusting to being home isn’t an issue at all. My main issue is being unable to get back on my feet as quickly as I’d like. My feelings about all of this are negatively indescribable. But I have no other choice but to continue applying for work and hope that one day, someone will say to me “You’re hired.” Whether that’ll be here or in another country, who knows. What I do know is that I’m used to being home now, and maybe it’s not in the cards for me to leave again. Then again, I might be completely wrong. Everything is up in the air.
I fundraised the money needed to apply for a new visa, which is good and speaks to the genuine kindness of some people (including strangers). If things continue in the way they’ve been for the past few months, though… I’ll do the right thing after the holidays.
That’s it for now. I’ll try writing something for Xmas if I have it in me. Thanks for your consideration.
- the people who were kind enough to give. They may have said “No… how do we know she’s not lying about this?” or “No… she’s probably gonna use the money for something else”, but they read my story and trusted me enough to help. That humbles me even more than usual.
- the many people who’ve provided non-financial support. Priceless.
- being home for the holidays, as I hadn’t spent Thanksgiving at home since 2009 (lived in England soon afterwards). It’s good to simply call or see people, instead of Skype-ing everyone and hoping that they’re available with a 5 hour time zone difference.
- having a place to lay my head every night. I don’t have a fixed abode, but I always have at least 3 places to lay my head at night and sadly, that’s more than what some people have.
- knowing the difference between family and relatives. Trust me, there’s a difference.
- the same above about friends. The list gets smaller almost every year, but at least the genuine ones are still here.
- having bare necessities handled by those who love me.
- having a couple of interviews. I’ve applied for countless jobs, and I interviewed for 2 full-time jobs and 1 part-time job. Hoping to hear something from some employer by next month; if not, I’ll have to keep on trying.
- perspective. Little by little, I’m gaining more of it when it comes to some things, including things I never thought would happen to me.
That’s all I’ll say for now. For those of you in the U.S. with me, enjoy the holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving.
I’ve tried getting back on my feet for a while now, ever since this saga began. Unfortunately, that’s difficult for a few reasons.
- The job market here sucks, to put it nicely. I’ve applied to countless jobs in different cities & states, but to no avail.
- I’m either over-qualified or under-qualified for many positions. The positions I’ve applied for run the gamut from receptionist to (insert top positions in my field).
- As a result of what happened, I don’t have money for a new work visa. So even though I’m still getting inquiries about returning to work in England almost daily, I can’t do anything without a new work visa… which I can’t get because I don’t have a job.
- As an aside, it’s still so odd (to me at least) that almost all the calls & e-mails I’ve received about new work opportunities are from England… yet I’ve applied here in the U.S. and only 2 employers have called me. I haven’t even applied to jobs in England; the agencies see my CV online and contact me, not the other way around. Very odd. I don’t even know how to take that… does that mean something? I have no idea; still trying to figure it out…
On a positive note (don’t want to drive anyone away with too much doom & gloom), I’ve received calls from 3 people back in England, 2 of whom are also American. It warms my heart knowing that a few people give a damn about me. I also received a call today from another repatriate who left England about 2 months before I did. And every once in a while, I get e-mails from a couple of old co-workers & new friends over there. Those are bright spots on days that are often difficult.
I still don’t know what’s next or where I’ll be. I wish I had a crystal ball. But such is life, ain’t it. I have no choice but to hope that I get back on my feet, whether here in the U.S. or in another country for 2-3 years. In the meantime, while I continue applying for jobs, I started a fundraising page on GoFundMe to raise money for a new work visa. I didn’t even want to do this, as it’s difficult for me to seek help, but a few people suggested it to me so I decided to try. Please see the link below. If you or anyone you know can find it in your hearts to help me, I’d appreciate it.
I’m just gonna leave this link here. I’m not in the space to discuss further now, but trust me when I say that details will come in the future. In the meantime, check out the following link because I know this story all too well. Please take this as a cautionary tale, and comment if you feel so moved.
I returned to the United States on 10.22.2013. It took a week for me to get over jet-lag – it usually hits me pretty hard – and I’ve continued looking for work but to no avail. No one in the U.S. has contacted me for employment opportunities but oddly enough, agencies in England keep contacting me a couple of times per week. So I’m basically in limbo – couch-surfing, unemployed, a waiting game, a burden to society. I started a crowd-funding page to get a new visa, but I won’t post it here yet.
Honestly, I’m so disgusted with that country and what they’ve done to me, I’m not sure that I want to return. I won’t go into full detail right now, but suffice it to say that I didn’t leave because I wanted to. At the same time, I haven’t been treated that great here, either. Blood is not thicker than water. Friends, while they’ve treated me much better than blood and definitely mean well, can only help but so much.
I’ll post updates from time to time; I won’t completely abandon this blog (yet?). I’m a cautionary tale – not everything that glitters in another country is gold. I may stay here for good. I apologize to those of you who followed me along this expatriate journey, because the journey may end here.
I apologize for my long absence from blog posting. I’m in the United States for a while, and possibly for good.
I’m not gonna go into full details right now. For now, I’ll just say that due to being misinformed by the employer about visa requirements, I had to return home and got here on Tuesday night.
Will I return there? I don’t know yet. This experience is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (whoever that is). Please trust that at some point, I’ll give more details. Thank you for your consideration.