dolorosa_12: (Default)
So, here we are. It's been a pretty awful few years of British politics, and this election -- the reasons behind it, the campaign, and the past twelve months in general have been ghastly. I'm not very happy to be going to the polls tomorrow, and although I'm happy with the person I'm voting for, I'm furious with his party for a variety of reasons, and feel pretty dismal about the outcome of the election.

And yet, I'll be there at the polling station to cast my vote at 7am.

I can vote in three countries, and have been doing so in all three, in every election (local, state, national, and referendum) since I've been eligible. In most, I've been voting against the tide; usually my chosen candidate got in, but frequently their party did not win office. It's not been a good decade for politics in my countries. And still, I vote. In one of my countries it's against the law not to, but even without this incentive I would still vote, as I do in the other two countries in which I vote. Over the years I've come to see my vote less as a marker of tribal affiliation and moral purity, and more as a shield, the last line of defense I have available to protect those more vulnerable than me, including those who live in my countries but cannot vote. I would urge all my fellow UK voters who feel ambivalent about the choices put before them on the ballot paper tomorrow to try to view their vote in the same way.

I want to turn from fellow voters for a moment to address a group with whom I feel a great deal of empathy, and whose plight weighs on my mind: the vast majority of migrants in the UK who live here, but cannot vote. Although I am a British citizen now, before I became I citizen I was a migrant who could vote, as Commonwealth and Irish residents of the UK are allowed to vote in all elections here. However, my partner is an EU migrant, as are a great many of my friends, and still more are non-EU and non-Commonwealth migrants, and it has been awful for them to sit out election after election in which decisions are made that have monumental and terrible effects on their lives. My fellow migrants, I am so sorry. I am so sorry we have had to endure yet another election campaign in which we are painted as thieves and parasites whose motives for wanting to be in this country are suspect and illegitimate. I am sorry that the Tories have been campaigning on a platform of anti-migrant hysteria, and that the result tomorrow may have an impact on people's migration status. I am sorry that EU migrants have now lived for close to a year with no clear certainty about their ongoing right to live, work and study in this country. I am sorry that non-EU migrants are facing the prospect of even more restrictive, expensive and cruel immigration rules that will separate families, possibly permanently. I'm sorry that while Labour has been bold in offering a genuinely social democratic alternative to the Tories' vile austerity, this welcoming welfare state doesn't appear to have any room for migrants, unless you read between the lines, where Labour pledges to leave the single market, and thus free movement. I'm sorry that whenever we raise these concerns, talk about how unwelcome and afraid we're being made to feel, we're met with either open hostility from the Right, and accusations of being divisive from the Left (minor parties notwithstanding). I'm furious that the future of the NHS can be a major part of this election campaign with barely any mention of the fact that a drastic limiting of immigration will cause the NHS to cease to function.

I want to say to my fellow migrants that you are wanted. You are loved. I am voting for you. I beg any reluctant voters who cannot muster up the enthusiasm to vote for themselves to do the same. Vote for those who live and love and give and contribute so much here, but cannot vote themselves. Convince others to do the same. Please. Vote.
dolorosa_12: (sleepy hollow)
I was going to write today about the wonderful trip Matthias and I made to visit friends in Poznań -- our first time in Poland -- and how it was restorative and healing and hopeful. I probably will still write about that trip, but events have pushed it from the front of my mind.

I'm writing, of course, about the dismal UK local election results (and what they appear to predict for the general election in June), and the crushing sense of hopelessness I'm seeing all around me -- both among friends and colleagues here in Cambridge, and among friends all over the world more generally. My colleagues and I had a big screaming rant over lunch, and I think it helped. I thought I'd share with you what I said to a colleague who was feeling particularly down. These are the things I remind myself when I feel at my most hopeless. I'm not naive enough to think they'll save the world: the situation is dire in so many places, and the barriers we face are considerable. But I've been repeating these things to myself to keep myself going after Brexit; they've been helpful to me, and maybe they will be helpful to you.

  • I take satisfaction from knowing, if humanity survives, that in twenty, fifty, one hundred years' time, historians will judge harshly those who got us into the various messes currently plaguing the world. Children will learn about those responsible at school, and write essays castigating their failures. People will build careers explaining the political, social and moral failures of those who are currently running things. This may not comfort you, but it comforts me.


  • We may be powerless against the vast political tidal waves currently sweeping the world, and not everyone will survive them. But we have power to be supportive, uplifting and kind in the smallness of our everyday lives. We have the power to donate to or signal-boost a fundraiser for friends in need, to buy a cup of coffee and sandwich for a person sleeping rough, to be polite to a retail worker or call-centre worker or barista, to donate to a food bank, to join a refugee support network, to make art that comforts the powerless, to build, to teach, to vote, to love.


  • It is impossible and overwhelming to try to fight against every injustice and cruelty. It will grind you down and erode your capacity to help and hope. It's far better if you pick just one (or two, or three, or whatever you feel able) issue or cause to support, and throw as much of yourself and your energy into that issue, or those causes. And make sure it's a cause or issue where you can actually help in a meaningful way. By all means boost the causes of others, and, where appropriate, join forces -- we are stronger together. But focusing on one thing doesn't mean you care most about it, or don't care about other causes. Don't get hung up on doing activism in a certain way -- not everyone can march or demonstrate, not everyone can attend meeting with political representatives, not everyone can phone or write letters, not everyone has money to spare to donate to their chosen cause. Don't beat yourself up about this: it doesn't mean you don't care or aren't helping. It means you are using your energy and skills in the most practical, helpful way.


  • Be as pragmatic as you feel comfortable. By this I don't mean accept the status quo, or allow harmful people to be involved in your cause because they achieve results. Instead I mean don't strive for instant perfection, instant results, or instant, monumental change. Learn to think of incremental change not as a compromise, but as a starting point for further changes. (By this I do not mean people should accept scraps and be grateful for them, but rather to think in the long term and focus on survival.)


  • I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, but I have to be able to get out of bed in the morning, and these things help me.
    dolorosa_12: (sleepy hollow)
    It was fairly inevitable that I would eventually come down with a cold: this week has been heavy on activities, and short on sleep. As well as going to two back-to-back concerts (one of which necessitated travelling to London after work, and thus not arriving back in Cambridge until after midnight on a work night), I was at yesterday's anti-Brexit march in London, and followed that up with a friend's birthday party in the evening. It seems to have been that, combined with last night's arrival of daylight savings time, that finally brought the cold on. I'm feeling decidedly exhausted, and don't think next week is going to be all that much fun...

    The march itself was well attended (estimates put the crowd size at about 100,000, which is not massive, but not terrible), although I'm aware that it's a fairly futile gesture at this point. It mattered to me that I was there — as it has mattered to me that I've been present at other large marches that were nothing more than symbolic, futile gestures to register discontent. No matter how many people showed up at yesterday's march, Article 50 is still going to be triggered on the 29th, and the UK is going to continue on its dangerous course towards isolation, nationalistic extremism, and impoverished decline. But it's precisely for this reason that I felt people's presence at events such as yesterday's march were important: there needed to be a recorded, visible historical record that showed that not everyone in the country was marching in ideological lockstep out of the EU, and that leaving was not done in everyone's name, nor with everyone's consent.

    Next week is going to be difficult, particularly for EU friends living in the UK (and their non-EU family members whose immigration status depends on Britain being a member-state of the EU). I wish I could offer words of comfort or courage, but I've got nothing. It's a terrible thing that is happening, a decision made by people who voted to take something away from others, something they'd never understood, never knowingly made use of (the irony being that all the times they did make use of it were invisible to them), and whose value they were unable to perceive.
    dolorosa_12: (le guin)
    This has been my tradition since 2007, and I've found it to be a good way to take stock and pause for reflection in the moment as one year slips into the next.

    Questions and answers behind the cut )

    Happy 2017, everyone.
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    Previously in this series, applying for an EEA (QP) registration certificate.

    The usual disclaimer: I am not an immigration lawyer, and I am not an immigration advisor. Do not take this post as the be all and end all on this particular subject. Your first port of call should always be the official guidance on the UKVI website.

    Today I'm going to look into applying for EEA (Permanent Residence) documentation, usually known as the EEA (PR) document certifying permanent residence. This document is applicable for the following people:

  • EU/EEA/Swiss residents of the UK who have held the EEA (QP) card for a minimum of five consecutive years, continued to exercise treaty rights throughout those five (or more) years and have not done anything to break their continuity of residence in the UK (i.e. haven't been away for long periods of time since receiving the QP card).

  • EU/EEA/Swiss residents of the UK who have lived in the UK for a minimum of five consecutive years and exercised treaty rights for those five consecutive years without any gaps, and who have not left the UK for any extended periods of time during those five years.

  • Non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members of either of the above who have held an EEA (FM) or EEA (EFM) card for a minimum of five consecutive years and whose EU/EEA/Swiss family member still lives in the UK and exercises treaty rights, or already has their own EEA (PR) document.


  • I will cover the last category of people in another post, but suffice it to say now that non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members can apply on the same EEA (PR) application form as their EU/EEA/Swiss family member, and I recommend doing so as it will mean both applications are assessed at the same time.

    Instructions on how to apply behind the cut )

    In the next post in this series, I will cover the process of making an application as the non-EU/EEA/Swiss family member of an EU/EEA/Swiss person.

    Please feel free to comment with any questions, corrections, or requests for clarification. If you want your request kept private, you can send me a private message via Dreamwidth or Livejournal, or comment with your email address and I will email you.
    dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
    Previously in this series, choosing the right residency documentation, and ways to exercise treaty rights in the UK.

    I'll reiterate my disclaimer from the last post: I am not an immigration lawyer, and I am not an immigration advisor. Do not take this post as the be all and end all on this particular subject. Your first port of call should always be the official guidance on the UKVI website.

    In today's post, I'm going to focus on applying for a reigstration certificate, otherwise known as the EEA (Qualified Person) (or QP) form.

    This form should be used by people from the EU, EEA or Switzerland who are in one of the two situations:

  • Intending to move to the UK to exercise treaty rights (see previous post for information on the various ways you can exercise treaty rights)

  • Already in the UK exercising treaty rights, but haven't done so for five or more consecutive years


  • A successful EEA (QP) grants the applicant a registration certificate, which is a formal recognition of their status as a 'qualified person', i.e. a person from the EU, EEA or Switzerland residing in the UK and exercising treaty rights.

    Why apply for an EEA (QP)? )

    How to apply )

    In the next post in this series, I will cover the process of making an application for a document certifying permanent residence (otherwise known as EEA (PR)).

    Please feel free to comment with any questions, corrections, or requests for clarification. If you want your request kept private, you can send me a private message via Dreamwidth or Livejournal, or comment with your email address and I will email you.
    dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
    The latest rumblings from the Tory party conference have prompted me to put this together. This will be the first of a series of posts. Once I've finished them all, I'll add an index to this first post. Please feel free to share as widely as possible, to anyone who thinks it may be useful.

    A quick disclaimer, before I get started: I am not an immigration lawyer, and I am not an immigration advisor. Do not take this post as the be all and end all on this particular subject. Your first port of call should always be the official guidance on the UKVI website. However, I have, in the past, found the guidance there to be opaque, unclear, contradictory, or failing to include advice relevant to people in certain situations, so what I'm hoping to do here is to provide clear, concise information relevant to people in a variety of situations.

    A bit about me

    I am an Australian immigrant living in the UK. I arrived here just over eight years ago, and have held a series of visas over that time period. Last year, I successfully applied for an EEA (Extended Family Member) residence permit as the family member of my German fiance. At the same time, he successfully applied for an EEA Document Certifying Permanent Residence. (Don't worry if you don't know what these types of documents are. You will do by the end of this post!) Due to a law change, I was able to become a British citizen this year, and my partner is on track to become a citizen by naturalisation early next year. I have a great deal of experience with EU-route residence documentation in the UK and the strange quirks and pitfalls involved in making these applications.

    Who this guidance is intended for

  • EU/EEA/Swiss people currently living in the UK, or who intend to move here in the immediate future

  • EU/EEA/Swiss people who have lived in the UK and exercised treaty rights for at least five years (again, I will explain what 'exercising treaty rights' means below)

  • Non-EU/EEA/Swiss people who are the family members of an EU/EEA/Swiss person, such as dependent children, spouses, long-term partners, dependent parents, and so on


  • Which document is right for me? )

    What is meant by 'exercising treaty rights'? )

    What to do next

  • Work out which document is appropriate for you

  • Figure out which category or categories you fall into in terms of exercising treaty rights. If you are applying for a document certifying permanent residence, it may be that you fall into several categories across the five-year period, so make a timeline of what you were doing (e.g. September 2011-June 2012: student; July 2012-August 2012: jobseeker; August 2012-present: worker).

  • If you are the non-EU/EEA/Swiss family member, your own activities are irrelevant. Instead, work out which category or categories your EU/EEA/Swiss spouse, partner, or relative falls into. In your application, you will need to provide documentation for their exercise of treaty rights.


  • In the next post in this series, I cover the process of making an application for a registration certificate.

    Please feel free to comment with any questions or requests for clarification. If you want your request kept private, you can send me a private message via Dreamwidth or Livejournal, or comment with your email address and I will email you.
    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    Earlier this year, due to a law change, I was able to apply for British citizenship by descent through my father — something that had previously been impossible for me due to various quirks of British citizenship law. I put in my application, which was approved in May, and had my citizenship ceremony shortly thereafter. This was the last in a run of extraordinary good fortune for me and Matthias. He had received permanent residency in the UK (the optional equivalent of Indefinite Leave to Remain for EU residents in the UK, and a prerequisite for applications for British citizenship by naturalisation). We had got engaged and set a wedding date. He had successfully applied for a new job, which represented a significant promotion. My job had been made permanent. In other words, we had been putting down deep roots, taking steps towards the future we were choosing to build in the UK.

    On Thursday, that future became a lot more shaky and uncertain.

    By a bitter twist of fate, my new British passport, which represented the final stage in my immigration journey, something that I had been looking forward to so much, arrived at my house in the early hours of Friday morning, at almost precisely the moment Nigel Farage was crowing on TV about 'independence day' and his 'revolution achieved without a shot being fired'. A moment that I had been dreaming of for years had become a sick joke.



     photo Image-Passport_zpsmdvxd8sr.jpg

    I keep looking at that top line on the passport and feeling bitter, bitter sadness.

    It's not just about me. Over the past few days, I've been hearing story after story from EU migrant friends, as well as non-EU migrants, and non-white British friends of acts of appalling racism and xenophobia, of feeling unwelcome in their own homes, of the feeling of suddenly facing uncertain futures. I've heard from countless people about various ways this referendum result is likely to affect their current or future employment, their visa status, their ability to sponsor non-EU spouses and other relatives for visas, as well as from British people furious and terrified that they have been stripped of their ability to live, love, work and study in 27 other countries. The loss of free movement is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for me, as someone who has lived visa to visa, keeping track of the implications of small changes to immigration law. A whole world — cosmopolitan, international, collaborative and outward-looking — has been rejected.

    I'm particularly furious on behalf of the Scottish and Northern Irish citizens/residents of the UK, and those of Gibraltar, who are being dragged into this by Little Englanders (and the Welsh) without their consent, as well as residents of London, and the bigger cities and university towns of England and Wales, all of whom voted overwhelmingly to remain. My own second home of Cambridge voted to remain by 73 per cent, so at least I don't have to look around and wonder which of my fellow residents are frightened racists. I'm proud of my city. I'm also enraged on behalf of the millions of EU residents of the UK who were denied the ability to vote on their future and forced to watch helplessly as others decided it for them. (A post of Matthias' to this effect caused an ignorant Tory friend of his to question why he hadn't become a citizen if it mattered so much to him, which I must admit gave me a white hot fury. The reason why he hadn't become a citizen was that it would have invalidated my previous visa. He was on track to become a citizen in January next year, but that's now up in the air, as Germany only allows dual citizenship with other EU nationalities.)

    I have particular contempt for David Cameron, selfishly bargaining the futures of millions of younger Britons, UK citizens' lives in the wider EU, and all immigrants here in the UK for a shot at stabilising his ailing leadership. Close behind come the Tory Leavers, opportunists stirring the pot for their own personal gain, as well as the Farages and Rupert Murdochs of this world. The Leave voters who didn't actually want to leave, but just wanted to register a protest are utterly beneath contempt. Don't make protest votes unless you actually want to live with the consequences. Otherwise register your disenchantment with spoiled ballots, or by staying home. The rest of us have to deal with your mess.

    There was a lot of talk of reaching out and finding common ground, but to hell with that. I, and most people I know, are not taking this lying down. I will be writing to my MP and MEP, urging them to fight against the decision, given that it is an advisory, rather than binding referendum. I strongly encourage you to do the same. You can find your MP here and your MEP here. I would also encourage EU residents in the UK to write to the MEPs of their home countries. A friend of mine has written a good letter and is happy for it to be used as a template, so please get in touch if that's something you would like, and I can pass his template on to you.

    If you're based in Cambridge, there is a rally on Tuesday, starting at 5pm at the Guildhall. Details are on this Facebook event, which also includes links to equivalent rallies in Bristol, London, Exeter, Liverpool and so on (although be aware that you'll have to wade through a lot of awful comments from gloating Leavers). I'm almost certainly going to be attending, although I will be late coming in from work, and I encourage anyone who feels up to it to do the same (or at equivalent rallies in their own cities).

    There are also various petitions floating around, which I encourage people to sign and share. Most importantly: demand for a second referendum, and guarantee the status of EU citizens currently resident in the UK. If you have any other relevant petitions, feel free to share them in the comments.

    I also want to say that I have extensive experience dealing with UKVI, deciphering their incomprehensible forms, gathering the extensive documents required for visa applications, and understanding the byzantine requirements for various visas, including the EEA (Permanent Residence) cards that are a prerequisite for British citizenship. If you or any EU resident friends and relatives want help making such an application (although I can understand if you don't feel welcome and want to get out as soon as possible), get in touch and I will help in any way I can. Please stay and help me vote this pack of fascists out!

    Most importantly, if you see any acts of racist abuse, please do what you can (and what you feel safe doing) to challenge them and protect their targets. This result has emboldened a lot of racist xenophobes, who suddenly feel they have a mandate to unleash their vicious, vicious hatred. We need to speak out against this behaviour when we see it, and not yield the public square to them. I'm not naive enough to think that Britain was entirely free of racism, but I have never seen it so blatant, and so publicly acceptable. I am not exaggerating when I say that I feel like I woke up in 1933.

    But I still love this, my second home, my international city, my found family of friends from all around the world. I love my job, my university students and researchers, my NHS nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers, who enrich my life every time I teach them.

    As I said on Twitter on Friday, I will remain here until the lights go out.

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    dolorosa_12: (Default)
    rushes into my heart and my skull

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