April 23rd, 2008
So, as most of you know, I am moving to Edinburgh, Scotland, in the fall. Hooray!….now what? Okay, get A&M independent study for credit forms—check. Make sure all the classes are cool with about eight different advisors—check. Ensure that I have a current passport—check. Get excited about Scotland—double check. Get visa—wait, what? I have to do…what exactly? Biometric finger scans?
That’s right, biometric finger scans. In order to stay in the UK for more than six weeks, whether to study, work, whatever, you need a visa. In order to obtain said visa, you need to get your application approved (we’ll get to that in a minute), then go to one of 29 biometric data collection points in the United States to provide a safer, more secure national document. Of course, you can’t find out where these mysterious biometric data collection points are located UNTIL you complete your visa application.
Now, in order to qualify for a visa, you must meet very specific requirements. I am totally in the clear, though, because I have already been accepted to the University of Edinburgh. As such, I can get a student visa, which lasts as long as I am attending an academic program. Fantastically, this type of visa is extendable, which means that if I want to stay on for graduate school or get hired, there won’t be a problem. It also allows me to work up to 20 hours a week, so I can get some dough! Woo! So why am I worried about visas, if I’m solidly in the clear for my Scottish adventure?
If you remember from my earlier posts, my best friend from UT, Courtney, is planning on moving to Scotland with me on my grand ‘venture. Here’s the rub, though: she is graduating from UT in August, and is looking for full time employment. Okay…so she needs a work permit and work visa…easy, yeah? IF ONLY IT WERE THAT SIMPLE…
In order to qualify for a work visa, Courtney needs a job. She can’t get said visa unless her employer (in Edinburgh, 4608 miles away from College Station) applies for the visa for her. With this stipulation, you might be able to see the problem: how does Courtney get a job 4608 miles away while she is living in Texas?
But wait, you say! Why can’t Courtney travel to Scotland, find a job, THEN apply for a work visa? First of all, we are poor college kids. We have a certain…lack of financial wares, making it difficult to survive in an environment where the dollar is worth half the local currency for any amount of time. Also, as far as we know, Courtney can’t sign on a lease unless she has a visa. To further complicate things, Courtney will, in the worst case scenario, be in Edinburgh a full month before I will be due to a summer study program she will be attending at Oxford. Since she can’t sign the lease, where will she stay? The second problem with the idea of getting a visa abroad is that waiting to get a visa while abroad makes the entire process even more difficult. We think, but don’t know for sure, that Courtney may actually have to fly back to the States to get the biometric finger scans! ARGHH!
So…I don’t really know what’s going to happen with the visa process and Courtney’s expedition to Edinburgh. My advice to all of you, kiddos, if you want to move overseas, is to go to school instead. So. Much. Easier.