Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Testing times

MICKEY f*cking Mouse.
Never before have I ever really wanted to physically wipe the annoying smirk off the face of Disney’s favourite character.
Until now.
We’re in Anaheim, the home of Disney, just south of Los Angeles and I’m sat in an expensive hotel contemplating life, while being stared at by a giant cartoon mouse as excitable kids rush by.

But we’re not here to visit Disneyland.
We’re here for Jacky to sit an English exam.
Yes, you try explaining the reason behind this whole situation to your Mexican wife…
“If you want to live with me in England, you have to take an English exam,” is basically how I put it to her.
She understood enough to reply… "you're joking right?!"
Sadly not.
Her English is probably better than mine.
But here we are adhering to the rules in order for us to begin the next stage of our adventure.
In order for us to apply for and get a UK ‘spouse’ visa, Jacks has to demonstrate her understanding and grasp of the English language – at a fairly sizeable cost I might add.
Such has been the amount of drama, paperwork and unknowns we’ve had to deal with in the past two years, I’m seriously thinking that – if my journalistic career goes sideways – I might well open an immigration office of my own.
Given our experience, we’re now pretty much experts on UK/US/Mexico immigration matters.
We’re also pretty broke, and my grey hairs boast grey hairs.
My 01 visa to allow me to accept the anchorman job in San Diego took eight months to compile, apply for, and obtain.
While this UK ‘spouse’ visa application has taken less time and paperwork, it’s been every bit as stressful.
Who’d have known that we had to obtain an actual visa to allow my wife to accompany me to the UK!
Jacks could have accompanied me to the UK at any time. However given the immigration rules, she would have only been allowed to stay for a period of six months (or 180 days) as a ‘tourist’ – despite the fact that we’re legally married.
She then would have had to fly back to Mexico for two weeks, just to enable her to return to the UK for another 180 days.
With this UK ‘spouse’ visa, she can live and work for 2.5 years before she has to apply for the same visa all over again.
After that she can apparently apply for citizenship.
We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I, like many other people I’m sure, thought that once you got married to a foreign national, your wife would automatically be allowed to accompany you to your country of origin to live and work.
But where’s the sense in that if the Government can make money out of it/you…?
The irony is that the UK is undeniably known as being lenient when it comes to its immigration laws.
When you come to do everything the right and proper way, it costs vast sums of money, effort and time.
How times seem to have changed hey?
Jacks and I seem to have officially applied just at the very moment things have become a). more complicated; and b). more costly.
Sorry… I digress.
As mentioned above, one of the main requirements to enable us to get the UK ‘spouse’ visa, is for the applicant to sit and take a bloody English exam.
Literally two days prior to us trying to book an exam in San Diego, the British Government issued an advisory that it had launched an investigation into “fraudulent” activity at the global provider of these exams.
This meant that – while the investigation was under way – all exams at these centres were suspended.
This in turn meant that rather than us being able to take the exam literally a few blocks from our Downtown apartment, we have had to travel to bloody Anaheim in order for Jacks to sit the exam.
The Pearson PTE Acadamic English exam (that’s the one we were told we had to take) is a wonder to behold.
In the days prior to her taking the exam, Jacks was busy studying hour after hour.
“What does this word mean…? And this one????” she’d ask.
“Absolutely no idea. Haven’t got a clue,” was more often my response.
The practice exams use archaic language and situations more akin with life in the 16th century – as opposed to life in 2014.

An example of part of the English test

Her actual exam consisted of a number of three-minute-long exercises among other tests.
Two of these exercises saw her listening to, and then summarizing, conferences on (… and I’m not making this up!!!) thermo-dynamic laws and civil wars.
Yes, this subject matter will come in useful in the coming weeks/months and years I’m sure.
Still there’s a means to an end.
On a visit to Mexico recently Jacky’s dad told me that ever since she was a little girl, she had dreamed of England.
She’d never been to England, or even met an Englishman.
But she loved the idea of it.
Out of fascination and intrigue I’ve just asked her again what she loves about the idea of England.
“The culture, the views, the music, James Bond, the Royal family and The Queen… it is like a fairy tale. It’s like a proper country,” she replied with a smile.
Strangely enough, no mention of the British food either…
Quite how she can list Pierce Brosnan as being the “best” James Bond though is beyond me.
Clearly we need to work on a few things.

UPDATE: Jacky PASSED her exam and the visa application has been sent off.
Fingers crossed folks.

Follow me on Twitter: @tristan_nichols

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