A couple of days ago we went down to the Glasgow offices of the immigration service and I was granted permanent settlement in the UK. We've been stressing over this since I got back to Scotland with my probationary permit (granted in June 2011) to live in the UK with my new husband-the immigration rules changed during my probationary period and for a while there it looked as though the UK government was going to apply those changes to those of us who'd arrived on probationary permits. Since the changes are draconian, we were really worried my permanent status would be denied and the stress was shredding us!
As a consequence of the stress we let a lot of things we could have-should have been doing to settle in as a married couple slip. The garden especially suffered the immigration limbo with us. We did manage to do over the kitchen but held off on the bathroom and lounge saying 'if we get the Indefinite Leave to Remain we'll do (insert needful thing here)...'
Well, immigration limbo is over. I can apply for British citizenship next year and likely will do so, but the ILR is forever if I chose not to take on dual citizenship - we walked out of the Glasgow office and took our first real deep breaths in two years.
Interesting story, we live about two hours north-east of Glasgow on the edges of a semi-rural farm market town and don't have a car. We walk or ride the bus everywhere because everything we need is either a short walk from the house (I really love how close the grocery is!) or a fun, short, cheap ride on a clean double decker bus-how great is that?! Once or twice a year we hire a car for two weeks, spend a week with friends in Devon (southern tip of England) and then the next week toting home multiple bags of cat litter, cases of tinned goods, and the brown coal we use in the overnight winter stoves to heat the house while we're sleeping. It's worked for us.
So we had thought we'd hire a car for the trip to Glasgow and then head down to Devon. Until we really thought, lol! It dawned on us both that owing to the time of the appointment we'd be driving through a typical business commuter day in an unfamiliar large Scottish city. Semi-rural Glasgow ain't.
I got online and found out that we could buy first class train tickets at a HUGE seniors discount; the savings on the train tickets alone was the cost of hiring the car (including the related insurances, etc), parking fees, and that really appealed to us! The not having to try to drive in Glasgow traffic sealed the deal, we were even able to reserve our seats when we booked. Ah, the few perks of being over 55:)
I packed the application and paperwork, a huge picnic to get us through being on the road for over 15 hours, and the next thing we knew we were on the train to Glasgow! We arrived with three hours to spare before the appointment so we toured the Style Mile, the Argyll Arcade (where the combined bling in the windows will blind you, it's a huge and picturesque jewelry shopping mall to put Rodeo Drive and Fifth Avenue completely in the shade!), and Buchanan Street. We picnicked in George Square then caught a cab to the appointment.
That done (what a relief when we were told my application was approved!) we caught a cab back across the River Clyde to George Square where we sat for an hour polishing off the picnic and marvelling that this really was the first day of the rest of our lives. Ultra bonus was that we were the only people in the reserved first class coach home, we had an amazing time enjoying fruit cups, tea, and the gorgeous Scottish summer scenery. Got into Dundee, caught a double decker back to Angus, and crawled exhaustedly into bed.
The next day (Wed) we went through the house and listed the things that really needed attention, lol, what a list! We'd really let things slip around here in the tension of the wait for the day I could apply for permanent status.
My husband is something like a new man. The release from worry the UKBA would decide to send me back to the US has him singing in the garden as he cheerfully tackles two+years of neglect. I'm stuck in making the placemats and kitchen curtains I've been visualising since August 2010; the cat is thrilled with the new Roo Loo (a huge plastic storage box refashioned into a cat litter tray-no more piddling over the side, our giant Siamese-Abyssinian cross now has room to do his business properly. He's very happy).
Oh heck, the laptop batt is in the red! Hopefully there is enough umph to post this update.