Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm On My Way To The U.K.

I've got my plane ticket and new luggage and I'm getting ready to go live with my husband in England.  It has been a very long, expensive and difficult process but we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • I have been living with my parents and then friends for a total of a year and seven months, which hasn't been easy for any of us. 
  • I have submitted my letter of resignation and presented my employer with a document and resources regarding UK taxes and being an independent contractor in the UK hoping that they will need my services after I move.
  • I had to apply for my settlement visa, which was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. It took us months to get the proper paperwork together. For more details, see my post The Visa Application.
  • I have been taking trips back and forth to my storage unit going through my things, throwing things away, giving boxes upon boxes to Goodwill. Today I had the ReStore pick up my furniture.  Months ago I even gave my truck to charity.
None of these things have been very easy for me to do but I manage to get this stuff done.  I plan on working from my UK home in the area of Salesforce consulting and administration.  I am very good at what I do and I absolutely love it! I'm hoping to find some work as a consultant or administrator when I get settled.  

My days in the US are numbered... here is what we have planned:
  • Feb 1: Vernon arrives in Upper Michigan but very late in the evening.
  • Feb 2: Vernon helps me move out of my friends' house.
  • Feb 3: Early morning trip down to Madison, WI to spend time with my family
  • Feb 10: Back to Upper Michigan to visit with friends and co-workers.
  • Feb 12: Head across the UP and over the Mackinac bridge to spend time with my daughter in Kalamazoo, MI. 
  • Feb 14: Visit more family in Detroit area.
  • Feb 15: Non stop flight from Detroit to London. 
So there you have it. My schedule for my last few weeks here.  I'm worried I wont see everyone I want to see but I promise that I'll be back someday to visit.

There are a few things I haven't quite figured out yet. If you happen to have any advice, experience or input please let me know!
  • Banking. I have yet to talk to my credit union about keeping me on as a member but we'll see what happens. I have to have an American account in order to receive payment from my American clients and take care of my ongoing American expenses.
  • Mail. I've been looking at these mail scanning/forwarding companies and the security part makes me nervous.  One I've been looking at in particular is Mailbox Forwarding.  I really need to make a decision on this soon.
  • Website. I need to create a website for my Independent Contractor status and I'm not even sure where to start.  I have a Google+ account and there is a way to add business information.  I need a new email address too. 

The worst part of this is leaving my daughter.  She's an adult in college and finishing up her last year but it has always been just the two of us.  Soon she will be venturing out on her own finding out who she wants to be, where she wants to live and what she wants to do.  This decision of whether to move or not has been a difficult one but Vernon has made it very clear to us that she will always be welcome to visit or stay any time she wants.  

My Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin links are located in the upper right under my profile photo if you are interested in keeping in touch or utilizing my Salesforce expertise.  


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Visa Update

Well, after sending out my application I have been nervous and stressed about the entire process.  My brain kept thinking horrible thoughts; "What if I missed something? What if I made a mistake on the deadline? What if I get someone who is having a really bad day, and decides to reject every application that crosses his desk?"  Well, I tortured myself for a week and a half and then I got an email. It said I had mailed my application and documents to the wrong place.

I sent everything to New York; apparently they haven't processed settlement applications since 2012. Well f**k me. I also sent the wrong kind of shipping label as they don't take hand written FedEx waybills so I made TWO BIG FAT GIANT mistakes. I forwarded Vern the email and I called my mom. I had trouble holding it together when I told her. {As I'm typing this I'm sitting in a public laundromat with my eyes filling with tears as I recall that horrible day. Hope no one notices.} Anyway, I think I made my mom cry. I  just needed my mom that day, it wasn't my intent to upset her but my parents really want Vernon and I to be happy and to be together.  I cried for days, actually lost my appetite for three days and felt like my life was over.  I will never get to be with my husband.  We will have to re-do this entire process and will have to come up with ANOTHER $1,513, but with the way the economy is going, and how the value of the dollar is getting worse, we would never be able to come up with that amount of money again.  I also pride myself in being an intelligent person and to make such a dumb mistake I was so embarrassed.  People were constantly asking me "Have you heard anything?" and I would lie and say "no".  Only a couple people new what I had done and I really didn't want anyone else to know.

Vernon, my wonderful husband, remained positive and managed to keep me from going out of my mind or slipping into a deep depression.  I got the application and paperwork back after a couple more weeks and more shipping costs. I had to go through my paperwork again because they went through everything in New York.  I put it all together again for the immigration folks in the UK and added a cover letter explaining the embarrassing error.  I went to the post office and sent it again, incurring more shipping costs to get everything to the UK and to get my originals back from the UK. THEN!... there was a mix up in Green Bay with my package because they were being dumb, and an amazing USPS employee here in Iron Mountain went above and beyond to make sure my package made it to the UK when it was supposed to.  At this point I'm feeling as if there is an evil force trying to keep me from moving to the UK.

Well, this is how the rest of this went:

  • Monday, October 13: UK Immigration received my application and documents per tracking ID.
  • Tuesday, October 14: I received an automated email saying they received my application.  I then received a second automated email saying I'm missing the Appendix 2. {WILL THIS NEVER END?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!} I worked on the Appendix 2 that night.  It is a 17 page document.
  • Wednesday, October 15:  Finished working on the Appendix 2 and planned on emailing it from work tomorrow morning.
  • Thursday, October 16, 6:30am: I received an automated email saying "A decision has been made and my passport will be shipped via UPS tracking ID blah blah blah..." 
Then all hell breaks loose. I am sobbing uncontrollably, get Vern on a hangout, I can barely talk I'm crying so hard, as I naturally assume they have denied me.  "I haven't turned in the Appendix 2 yet!" There was no deadline, it hadn't been 2 days yet. Why would they do this to us? I've worked so hard, I'm employed, I'm responsible, I deserve to live with my husband!  Why didn't they wait for the Appendix 2?  Vernon did some research while I'm hyper ventilating and crying and he's remaining unusually positive.  I think he's being crazy as there is no way they'd approved me.  My passport was picked up by UPS before I even emailed the Appendix 2 but I emailed it anyway.

  • Monday, October 20: the package arrives via UPS at work. I have to wait until Vern is home from work and I go into my boss' office and start a hangout.  I open the package together with Vern, he looked like he was about to be sick and felt like this was not going to be good at all, I started to cry before I even got it open.  I found my passport and went through it... > > > > >


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Visa Application

This visa application process has many steps.  After I knew I had all the information I needed I had to log into the UK Visas and Immigration site and start the process there.  I had to create an account and submit my application electronically.  Vernon was online with me in a Google Hangout and we were screen sharing so he could help me with whatever information I needed, and it was a good thing he was there.  This application took us nearly 3 hours to complete. Not sure if that is the norm or if we did a lot of talking or what but we were online with this application for quite some time.  This is not something to rush through so if you are going to do this, make sure you have plenty of time set aside and access to your sponsor or family member for any questions.  You can save the application without processing it so if you need to save it unfinished you can do that too.  It's also good to save as you go. I made the mistake of not saving which I think is one of the reasons it took us so long to get this done.  We also had to pay for our application during this time.  In US dollars it cost us $1,513.  That amount will most likely change as the currency exchange fluctuates.

After I completed the online application I had to pick a location and date to get my biometrics done.  I chose Milwaukee because I planned on being in the area in a few weeks and it would give me time to get my supporting documents together.   It is very important to print and keep these three items: 1. Your completed application. You will need it for your biometrics appointment.  2. Your biometrics appointment letter. You can't get past security without it. 3. Proof of application payment.  I don't remember if they looked at it at my biometrics appointment but you will need to send it along with your application and supporting documents.  When it came time for my appointment I arrived at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Milwaukee. (USCIS) The security was the same as at an airport. I read that phones and beverages are not allowed so I just left it all in the car.  <<<Me parked with a view of the building I have to go to.  I got there early which was REALLY REALLY smart.  When I got there I had plenty of places to park, there was no one there except one family, but maybe 10 minutes after I arrived the people started pouring in.  I showed security my US Passport (photo ID) and my appointment letter and they x-rayed my purse and went through it.  After security I was asked to stand in front of another door and wait for someone to help me.  They looked at my letter, application and photo ID, wrote something on my application and told me to have a seat and wait until my number is called.  After a short wait, my number was called, I went into another room and a very friendly woman had me clean my hands with sanitizer. She took my photo, then had me stand in front of this glass plate where she wiped my fingertips and placed my fingers on the glass.  My fingerprints appeared before my eyes on the screen in front of me. It was very cool! No ink, no mess! Everyone from security to the fingerprint lab was very professional and friendly and kept people moving along. My appointment was for 11am, but I got there before 10:30 and I was out of there before 11.

Finally, I had to get my supporting documents together.  I didn't put in as much time before the appointment as I should have, and then took a road trip to see my daughter the weekend after my appointment which left me only with a few days to make my copies and put all my paperwork together.  I miscalculated how  much time I would actually need to do this.  I had access to a large table where I could spread out and worked every night for 3 nights until midnight, During this time I got really sick, landing me in bed over the weekend that I was supposed to finish putting this stuff together.  I finally got it finished 2 days later than I would have liked, but I was still within the 2 week deadline after my biometrics appointment.  Remember to be mindful of the deadlines.  The paperwork ended up being 11 pounds and I spent over $100 to have it overnighted.  I also included a box and shipping label for returning my originals.  It was hectic, stressful and very emotional when that package was taken from my sight but now it's just time to sit back and wait until I hear from the UK whether my visa application is accepted or not.  They say 8-12 weeks so we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Working in the UK

As I've mentioned I am moving to England. When I told my boss he informed me that I would be able to continue working from the UK.  At first this sounded simple, just take my computer overseas and just keep doing what I'm doing.  Well, there is a lot more to think about. Should I stay on as an employee? Should I work as an independent contractor? Do I create a business? I'm not even sure.  I don't know whether to create a US LLC or a UK LLC; or if I need to create anything at all. If I create a UK LLC will that create problems for the company I work for? If I create a US LLC will I be paying double taxes? What are the pros and cons of remaining an employee? So many questions.

 I have been reaching out to various resources for help and not getting much of a response, however there is a group on Linkedin that I reached out to and they have sent me an abundance of information that I checked out.  Have some things to research yet as it was all very thorough and kind of complicated.  I have family that is willing to help me out with this stuff too but I still need to get the UK side figured out. It's difficult finding people on the UK side when I am six time zones away.  So far Linkedin has been my best resource. Vernon has reached out to a type of UK Citizen information site. Not exactly sure how they will be able to help him but it's a step into finding the right information we need.  Our goal is to make this as painless as possible for us and my employer.

My biggest fear about moving to England was not having a job.  I've always had a job, since I was a kid.  My father always talked to us kids about working hard and having a strong work ethic.  We all have this.  My mom made many sacrifices and always put us first.  My dad put in long hours and made sure we always had what we needed.  I can't imagine not having a job.  I don't understand how people who deliberately live off the government have any self worth or pride.  I've always wanted my daughter to be proud of me and I don't want her thinking that it's ok to take advantage of the government benefits.  It's ok to get help when needed, but don't ever EXPECT a handout when all you want to do is nothing.  I'll beat her ass before I let that happen.  So far she's made me a very proud mom.

When I finally get to England, it will be nice to combine our households and have that extra bit of cash needed for getting things for our home and yard, going on little weekend getaways and of course, feeding my pizza and movie habit.  I really can't wait to see how frugal I can be with grocery shopping.  I want to get into saving money and finding those sales.  I also believe in shopping local, not a big fan of the WalMarts of the world so anxious to take advantage of the local farmers' markets and shops.

Wish us luck with this entire process. Lots to do and lots to think about.  I am very grateful for being able to keep my job and excited that I will be able to work from home and have dinner with my husband every night.  I'm always looking for advice and resources regarding this employment situation so leave a comment if you have anything for us.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Happy Anniversary to the Love of My Life

I don't even know where to begin.  I can't believe it has already been a year since we promised each other our unconditional love.  We are in the process of applying for my visa and it has been an interesting and stressful journey.  There have also been talks of what we would do on a quiet rainy Sunday, what color I want the bedroom to be, the condition of the living room furniture, money, kids, babies, parents, and everything in between.

I like it when you call me your wife, and I love calling you my husband.  I am very proud to be your wife because of the kind of son, brother, friend, father and granddad you are.  I am also very proud of your work ethic.  You set an incredible example for your children and you treat everyone around you with respect.

You tell me I'm beautiful every time you talk to me, even when I have just rolled out of bed with my hair going in every direction and have puffy eyes.   You tell me you need me, you want to spend time with me, and you want me to watch Star Trek with you even if it is against my will.  :)

I wish we could spend our first anniversary together.  I wish I could be there watching Star Trek with you.  I wish we could have a romantic dinner we cooked ourselves. But, we'll have to settle for a Google Hangout and lunch/dinner via webcam.

I appreciate you. I love you. I cherish you and can't wait for us to be together forever.  I love being your wife and I miss you so much.  Tomorrow will be fun, and we can celebrate together....I just realized I forgot the root beer.  Darn! I have a bottle of wine, I'll just crack that open.


Friday, June 20, 2014

The Passport

Well, in order to get the process of this Visa thing going I need a passport.  I had one, but I need to change it to my married name and it had just expired.  All I had to do was fill out the DS-82, (make sure you fit the criteria first to use this form). I got this off the Travel.State.Gov website.  Then I went to the post office and had them look over the form and take my picture.  That was fun because the lady taking my picture was pretty short, she was holding the camera over her head and had to re-do my photo about three times.  I also need two passport photos for my Visa application so I asked for extra copies and she was able to print those off too.  There is an extra fee for the passport photos.  It is not included in the passport fee.  Same government, different departments.  She cut the photo for me and stapled it to my application.  I then had to mail my application, attached photo, original Marriage Certificate (to show proof of name change), and my most recent passport with a check for $170.00 ($110.00/passport, $60.00 to expedite) and mail it all to the special expedited passports address on the application.  Super easy. Expensive, but super easy.  I'm now waiting for my passport to come back so I can continue with getting my Visa paperwork together.  Should take 2-3 weeks.  I am able to check the status if I want at the same website.

The Visa information states that I am not allowed to smile. It messes with the facial recognition software or something?  So I'm trying to keep a straight face.  The postal employee is trying to make me laugh and I did crack a smile but I'm mumbling, "I can't smile!" and he's doing this song and dance thing.  Lucky we got the picture because I was losing hope.

Because of the sudden moving situation I really haven't been focused on Visa paperwork, just the passport and getting packed and moved.  It's been stressful but I'm feeling better about the move, feel much happier in general, and really excited to be moving in with such a wonderful friend who is very accommodating and generous.

Have you or anyone you know gone through this process?  Any tips or advice for me or Vernon?  I'll take everything I can get.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Missing My Husband on a Cold Rainy Day

Today is a very chilly damp day.  I've been trapped in the woods all day waiting to talk to my husband on Google Hangout and the strong winds somehow blew the power out to the house.  It came on again pretty quick but then the internet was out. Thought it would kick in after a few minutes but no luck. I went upstairs and restarted the router, no go.  For the next two hours it was off and on about 3 times.  Can't use my data because there is no mobile service out here.  So, I didn't get to talk to my husband on Father's Day and I didn't get to see him on our usual Sunday Hangout.

I guess the combination of it being Father's Day and it being so cold and crappy out really made me miss Vernon.  The thunder and lightening finally came and it just downpoured in sheets for about 5 minutes.  All I wanted was to be cuddled up with him on the couch.  I was so chilled, and he keeps me warm.

I've been catching up on my shows, which I never have time to watch because of work and not living alone. Vernon sent me a message in between internet outages and said to relax, watch something and take it easy so that is what I'm doing. Even though I'm getting caught up on "The 100" and "Bates Motel" I'm still sad.