01 May 2012

Dear Mr. Cameron, I must regretfully inform you

Found here.
And let me tell you he makes some awesome faces.
Dear Mr. David Cameron,

I normally do not do things like this. I normally have my opinions about another country's politics, but I usually keep them to myself, or for a good debate at the pub. I mean, America has got enough to worry about that I might actually be able to influence, right? (I am sure you would agree). 

But I felt this passionately and regretful about this, that I must write you this letter. 

You see, Mr. Cameron, sir - your government's policies on migration suck.

Now, one might think that I am writing you to complain about your treatment of refugees, or even worse, your treatment of asylum-seekers; how you detain individuals who are claiming asylum treating them just as bad, if not worse than a criminal, guilty as charged. You might think I am writing to request the Home Office to reinstate its funding to essential refugee and asylum-seeker organisations, like the excellent Refugee Council, who are having to stop essential programming because you are cutting the budget. 

While I feel passionate about this topic (and trust me, I do), this is not the subject of my letter today. 

I will first start with a story. A story of regret. You see, in 2009, I moved from the US, a country that if I have anything to do with it, will never be my home again, to the UK to study. I came to complete a Master's degree at one of your well-known universities, and boy was I excited about it! And getting a UK visa to study there - easy as pie! All I had to do was prove I was accepted at the university and that I could pay for it. Yep! Easy. 

While I was there, I got to experience the weird and wonderful world of UK politics, watching you get elected and form a crazy coalition government with your liberal-democrat colleague, Mr. Clegg. 

Upon graduation, I had spent all the money I had arrived with (as one does), and was headed off to Haiti to live and work and try and put my education into practice. At the time, I considered applying for the visa that I was eligible for - the Post-Study Work Visa, but unfortunately, you had recently put stronger restrictions on it, and I could not afford it at the time. "No worries!" I thought! I will apply at a later date, when I could prove I had the funds in the bank for it. I mean it would have been nice to have that option of moving back to a place that became my home, right?

Well, life happened. I was in Haiti for 6 months, and then was unemployed for 5 months. And I mean, when you are unemployed, you kinda need all the money you have. Its not like the US government wanted to support me anymore, after I had been living out of the country for so many years. 

I could not afford the visa, and the timeframe for my eligibility relapsed and all of a sudden I was stuck. 

I am stuck. 

Mr. Cameron, since you have come into government, you have put all these restrictions on immigration, and now it is virtually impossible for me to ever move back to the UK. 

Let's look at the different options the UK has for visas:

We will start at the bottom:  - UK ancestry
Yes, Mr. Cameron, I have UK ancestry. My last name is Huddleston, for crying out loud. How more English can you get!?! The problem - my ancestors emigrated over 400 years ago, not 2 generations ago. Oh, and the US is not a part of the commonwealth. 

- Tier 4: A student visa
Well, I could actually try to get this again. Obviously, it would require me to go back to school in the UK. But, wait! You have restricted the number of visas that you will allow, so one doesn't even need to just be accepted and able to pay anymore! 

And even so, what's the point? I would not be able to stay after - you are no longer accepting applications for the Post-Study Work Visa(ok, that one is Tier 1)! What, you don't want to keep the people your country educated there anymore?

 - Tier 3: Temporary visa
Ok, I could possibly apply for a temporary visa as a charity worker. But that would mean I would not be able to be paid. Ummm. How would I live? Plus, I have student loans from this amazing education your country gave me that need to be paid!

And with the others - yet again - not a part of the Commonwealth, a diplomat, an athlete, or creative enough to get paid for it. 

 - Tier 2: Sponsored visa (aka Skilled workers)
Hey, here is another opportunity, right? I mean, all I have to do is get a company to hire me, right? WRONG! Sponsored visas are expensive for both the employer and employee and plus, the organisation must prove that the non-EU citizen has some sort of skillset or experience that is necessary to that particular role that cannot be found anywhere else in the entire European Union! Uh. Thanks. 

Ok ok, there is still a small chance here - but come on. It's difficult and slim. 

 And lastly - 
 - Tier 1: Highly Skilled (also called High-Value)
So, I was educated by the UK (with a Masters degree no less), the work I do usually requires someone with a certain level of education, experience, skillsets, and technical knowledge. One would likely describe me as someone who is highly-skilled. Except the UK government. Because according to the UK government, in order to be considered highly-skilled, one must: - earn over £150,000 and want to invest it in the UK, - be an entrepreneur and have enough money to open and manage a business, or - be a leader in sciences or arts. Pretty much, you have to have a lot of money. Which I don't have (charity worker with student loans here). 

Now, Mr. Cameron, I understand that you want to keep British jobs for the British. But I hope you see my problem here. I have invested time and money in your country, have been educated by it, and consider it more my home than where I was raised. But you won't let me come and live there! 

So, Mr. Cameron, I must regretfully inform you: Your immigration policies SUCK!

I only hope that the next government (Mr. Milliband?) will have an opinion different to yours, because I am assuming that the next 3 years will only have more restrictions. 

Yours respectfully,

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