Thursday, 2 June 2011

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Once again I’m using a Clash-related title for a blog post about my plans. I’m not really a huge fan of “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” – it’s one of their simplest and, for me, least interesting songs – but its generic and easy-to-apply theme is the reason it’s so well-known in the first place.

Back at the end of last year I Made A Decision with capital letters – I’d had enough of the insecurity of temping in NZ, and I had been planning to leave with Kiwi ex-Girlf anyway, so that was that. The Wellington project was over. London was, indeed, Calling.

Then at the end of January, I Made Another Decision with capital letters – the UK economy was/is in the toilet, NZ is a wonderful place, and it’s easier to stay than you think. Wellington is swimming in Brits, they are literally clogging up the pavements and dairies. So the Wellington Project was back on.

Last month I finally made an Expression Of Interest (more capital letters) for applying for residency under the Skilled Migrants category. This was a mistake, because it basically meant spending $440 to find out that my work experience is not skilled, and that being British, living in Wellington (not Dorkland) and having a degree aren’t enough on their own to apply. (Immigration, if you’re reading, I would quite like that $440 back. You could’ve just explained it to me verbally.)

So I’m in an interesting place. My heart is in Wellington, but my options are limited. I’ve broken my record with my current admin role for the longest time spent in one NZ job (the bar, at 3 months, was not high), which is great, but there’s a review going on and the National Party are gleefully cutting public sector jobs and there’s no guarantee this job could keep me here, even if I still have it in 6 months' time. I can, and may, start applying for Real Jobs (yep, ones with capital letters), but things aren’t much better now than the last 2.5 years and it’s a slim chance I’ll even get a job, let alone one with a visa attached.

So my last reliable way to stay in NZ is the 12-month BUNAC IEP programme. I know what you’re thinking – “Why, Jez, this is the same as the Working Holiday Visa you came to NZ on in the first place! You’re not allowed to apply for this one!”. Well, you’re wrong, and I was ready to have wrong opinions thrown at me because every Tom Dick and Sally seems to have advice when it comes to visas, and about half of them are wrong. (“You’re not allowed to work in one place more than X months!” No, that’s Fascist Australiatown. “You can’t extend your Working Holiday Visa!” I can and I did, because I’m British. “You need to be together 12 months to get a partnership work permit!” No, that’s – oh just shut up. If you hear someone talking about visas and immigration and you think you know something, start from the assumption that You Are Wrong, and work your way up from there with evidence and facts, not what you half-heard from some twat down the pub.)

The main question about the IEP is quotas and numbers; the eligibility criteria seems to be that you’re under 35, which should be pretty easy for me for the next 7 years. The only other thing is that you have to apply in the UK, which is a bit of a bugger, because instead of just popping back for my brother’s wedding (note – I am super proud of you Brother Kemp + fiancée), I’ll actually have to move back for 4-6 weeks, or perhaps longer.

My choices at the moment it seems are:

Back to UK
  • UK economy still in the doldrums (does anyone even have a job any more?)
  • Conservative party in power, with Lib Dems limiting their activities to flapping their arms about uselessly
  • Live with parents, find a job, find a flat, find a job in London, COMMUTE, find a flat in London. (Or perhaps just go straight to London and embrace immediate poverty.)
Stay in NZ
  • 4-6 weeks in UK
  • Visa cost $1000ish + $3000 savings required
  • Flight back? $1000+. Book now and risk having to change it, or book near Christmas and spend $zillions
  • Lose flat and flat-hunt again
  • Lose job and job-hunt again (still crippled by the lack of permanent visa/residency)
These challenges aren’t insurmountable, but they are a big pain in the backside. A question for me is just how bad is the UK economy at the moment (clue: the exchange rate of $2.00 NZD to the British pound – yes, says it is less than $2.01 – shows very little confidence), versus just how bad is the economy in Wellington going to get with public sector jobs vanishing like mist in the sun. And if you’re working in Wellington, you’re in either the public sector, or film or hospitality – and I’ve got no experience in film, and no desire to work in the service industry ever again. A kiwi suggested looking for jobs down in Invercargill to get a visa. Sure I’d like to visit, but I’m not convinced I want to up sticks and move to the NZ equivalent of Inverness.

Anyway. That’s my situation, and I’m just babbling and sharing, because I like to share and I like to be unnecessarily honest with my friends and, in this case, the entire internet.

In terms of Making Another Big Decision, it could go either way. I’m tired of being a foreigner without residency; at least in the UK I am an ordinary citizen, and my job or lack of is entirely down to my abilities or lack of. But my heart is in Wellington. And I want to see a kiwi summer Christmas and new year, with beaches and barbecues and sunshine, at least once more.

I’ll let you know.


  1. I'm so pleased that you can do IEP/BUNAC!

    My vote is to stay. The U.K. will always be there; it's not going anywhere.

    It will be hard, but if you dedicate 1-2 hours a day to apply for jobs, I suspect that given your years and years of experience working in NZ you could very well get a job. Have J.C. help you Kiwify your C.V.

    Surely you don't have to hang around and wait in the U.K. to get your IEP visa (which, by the by, shouldn't take nearly that long to process)? Can't you just mail your passport to your parents once you get back to NZ?

  2. Cheers for the vote T – I know it’s sometimes easier to take the harder option if that’s where your heart is.

    Not sure what you mean about posting my passport when I’m back in NZ? I here now, and my flight outta Chch is pretty much on the same day my current visa expires. Also, putting my passport in the post is basically inviting something to go wrong, and it’s not something I want to do at all.

    Having anyone go over my CV makes me shudder. I’ve been through that horror enough times. JC does a great job, but I know how to do it now – I’m much happier being savage with myself than anyone else doing it. Also, 10 people will make 10 different CVs – I know where my happy mid-point is now.

    IEP could take 2 weeks to process, or even less – but the thing is I don’t know, and I won’t know until I get back to the UK and apply. If that’s the choice I make, I need to book a flight back to NZ ASAP, like, the next 2 weeks. So I don’t want to be sitting in the UK 2 days before my flight with no passport and no visa, and have to change it for about $6000 because it’s nearly Christmas.