Random thoughts about increased UK immigration fees

I missed this at the time, but this IHT article, For non-Britons living in U.K., price of residency gets heavier, suggests the massive increase in immigration fees forces legal immigrants to pay for efforts to police illegal immigrants.
I know I’m an unusual case because I work for a charity and earn a lot less than a normal IT person, but Britain has benefited economically a lot more from my being here than I have. I had to save throughout the year to pay the fee and I’m still not sure it’s worth it.

Officials say the proceeds will help pay for a big new push to enforce immigration laws and crack down on illegal arrivals. The Home Office, the government department in charge of domestic security, said it wanted to hire more enforcement agents, build detention centers and increase its ability to process migrants efficiently without spending tax money.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said it was fair to require those who benefit economically from living in Britain to pay for the changes. The Home Office emphasized that the biggest increases were directed at foreigners who live and work in the country, not at students or visitors, and said it was fair to raise charges now because they had not gone up since April 2005.
But immigrants say they are being unfairly burdened with the cost of an effort that was previously shared by all British taxpayers, not just the foreign-born ones.

A week in the life of me

Tonight I went to see small metal objects at Stratford Railway Station, part of the Ozmosis series at the Barbican. It closes on the 10th so Londoners still have time to see it.
Yesterday I recovered from Saturday’s parties (my drinks, the rooftop fireworks party, lesbo club with the bestie over from Brussels) at the Turkish baths with my local bestie. On Friday I went to Behind the Mic – definitely an event to check out again -Thursday I enjoyed the comfort of conversation and food at one of the Vietnamese places on Kingsland Road, Wednesday I saw Airealism‘s Noir, on Tuesday I heard Judith Butler and Chetan Bhatt speak at the LSE then went for drinks, and oh, yes, on Monday I was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

I passed!

I passed the Life in the UK test, and it only took six bloody minutes in the end! So the next step is to fill out lots of forms, have an interview and give the government lots of money. And that’s only for Indefinite Leave, citizenship is still a long way off.
if you’re curious about whether you’d pass, check out these sample quizzes.

No advice about what to do if you spill someone’s pint

People ask if the Life in the UK test book really does tell you what to do if you spill someone’s pint down at the pub, but it doesn’t say! How am I meant to adapt?
It does say ‘women should not use unlicensed minicabs’ – I’m not sure how I feel about that. Is it sensible, or does it make it seem like any woman who does get an unlicensed minicab is recklessly asking for trouble? What message does it send?

Random Londoness

I’m sitting the Life in the UK test next week, so I can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (basically, permanent residency). I have to renew my Australian passport before applying for the new stamp because I’ve run out of pages, so I went to the Post Office this morning. I was served by an amusingly grumpy woman who spent most of her time grumbling about previous customers to her colleagues or trying to sell customers a Post Office visa card (“it’ll only take three minutes” – what a sound approach to financial planning). The fingernail of her little finger on her left hand was painted a deep blood red, and was a good ten centimetres long, a half-circle’s worth curving over her keyboard. Squick.
Today I saw a man in purple leggings and a pink elf/fairy dress waiting in the ATM queue. No-one gave him a second glance, except to check out the fake hooked hand he was holding. Yay for big cities.
I’m going to an event at Lord’s Cricket Ground soon, and I went to the journeyplanner to look for directions. For some reason all the journey times were coming out as two hours or so, which didn’t make sense – until I checked the details and saw it was sending me to ‘Harlington Tandoori’. I have no idea what computer weirdness linked the two.

One good thing about the London tube strike

The Guardian posted this list of ‘useful maps during the Tube strike‘, including the Tube lines superimposed on a real street map so you can see how the Tube map relates to the real world – very handy if you’re new to London and don’t know when not to bother with the Tube, two walking sites and a map that shows how long it takes to get to each station from a particular station.