Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Immigration Frustration: I don't speak money.

My visa expires in just over two months. World Toilet Day. At the moment there is no clear way forward. I'm torn between so many things it's exhausting. Frustration with the system. Frustration with myself. Sometimes the desire to just pack it all in and go back to a place where I can just take a job, or start a project without worrying about whether it will work on paper. Other times the desire to fight to keep what I have going here.

The biggest frustration is that I don't seem to fit a category. There are boxes. There is no to be no concession to be made for Micro Enterprises... for people who provide some kind of benefit to society that isn't measured in six or seven figures.

These are the current categories of visa that are almost but not quite open to me.
Tier 1- Entrepreneur: This is what I was meant to become from my current visa. I would have to secure £50,000 of investment. Not imposible. Yet not probable. 
Tier 1- Exceptional Promise/Talent: I could almost squeeze trough this category except for the fact I am missing the vital element of having won an international award. It's a very limited visa, mostly reserved for people who it would be embarrassing for them to have to throw out. Easiest way to get it is to win an Oscar. But still may provide the most flexibility for people who think outside the normal rules. 
Tier 2 Visa: Find an employer who wants you enough. Prove that you are uniquely qualified for this job... that no Brit could possibly take your place. They are increasingly hard to come by, and in many ways I enjoy the freedom of self employment far too much. 
And a more unusual one 
Marriage Visa: I've looked at it more than I care to admit... would I? Possibly, if the right situation arose. Marriage as an institution was about business partnerships long before it was about love and romance... and there is no reason it can't continue to be. But at the same time I am possibly biased just enough by Hollywood Happily Ever Afters that I'd quite like to find one true love one day and not have that be complicated by previous marriages... stigma of divorce and all that. There's a philosophical blog post in and of itself.

The thing that I have been coming to terms with is that my life choices are entirely my responsibility, and I know these things going in.

I could have spent the last two years pursuing wealth and learning to be a good capitalist consumer. I could have switched to an industry where 50k is peanuts.

It was my choice not to do that.

I know that I prefer to operate on my own terms. If I ever did build a business empire I would want it to be built on the pursuit of something meaningful rather than on the pursuit of wealth. And that principal is more important to me than a visa. I love England desperately much, but not enough to play that game.

I suppose you could (and many would) argue that this means my commitment to the end of staying in England is not strong enough. I remember a speaker at Entrepreneurs 2012 (I won't name and shame) giving the following call to action:
"If I said to you could you go out and make £1m in the next month would you think this was possible? No. But what if I said to you that if you don't do this your family and everyone you care about will die... feeling more motivated now? Do you think you could do it? Of course you could! The only thing that stands in your way is your own inhibitions."
The moral of the story was that we should sign up to his business seminar to teach us how to break through those inhibitions and transform ourselves from lazy bums to millionaires.

I took away a different moral: that values are relative. If making £1m is the most important thing to you then you probably can find a way to make it... but probably at the price of trampling a lot of other people (which was the general un-spoken theme of the Entrepreneurs 2012 event... those with drive come out on top and everyone else is a sucker.) Sacrifices are always made one way or another.

I remember sitting at this conference and feeling furious that men (and they were all men) who could brag about the upsells on their Ferrari in one breath and explain the benefits out outsourcing secretaries from the Philippines in the next were valued members of the British society, while people like me who wanted to work had to fight tooth and nail to stay.

Once it was Latin or French... now Money seems to be the language of the elite, and I'm a poor country bumpkin who doesn't speak it.

For me time is running out, and at some point soon solid decisions will have to be made. I have been stalling and feeling lost, but I'm determined to make one before one is made for me, though I don't yet know what it will be.



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