Monday, December 05, 2011

Indefinite Leave to Remain

5 December 2011:

Out of blue this morning, our visa renewal came in an anonymous-looking envelope, which included our passports with the new visas saying that we have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.  Actually, there is nothing indefinite about it: We are "settled", and can stay as long as we want, which in our case is another 4.5 years.   

My first reaction was shock, because I wasn't expecting it this soon and had totally given up on hearing back before Christmas.  For months, we had been mentally preparing ourselves for a longer wait and even to be turned down and deported.  We had given up on travelling to the US for the holidays, and had instead arranged for Kenneth to come visit us here.  I’d started to worry about a February training I am scheduled to run in Belgium.  Suddenly, all the familiar waiting was gone, vanished, leaving a kind of vacuum of missing expectancy.  

It was only after the initial shock had worn off and we had read through all the paperwork that I began to feel an easing in my body, relief from an implicit tension that I’d been carrying for many months, really almost a year, at the uncertainty about our future. 

Surprisingly, I am also left with a sense of being a bit daunted by having my life, all these months in limbo, hanging suspended, suddenly shift into gear and move forward again.  But where?  How?  What’s next?  What first?  What to do with this unexpected Christmas gift of More Time, a reprieve?

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