137 - Back to Britain

The Five Year Rule (see essay 132) meant that it was very likely that there would be no further employment in Qingdao and even Shandong. The further one cast the net, the more depressing the post on offer and the lack of honesty operating among those with whom was was working or might be working grated to the point where it was better to return to Britain.

From the distaff side of the marriage, this moves us to D becoming1 the trailing spouse and allows C to chase both non-Chinese citizenship and western qualifications. The reasoning for the former remains unclear and I shall simply say that very many Chinese I met over the last seven years - and, come to think of it, always - have some sort of compulsion to be non-Chinese, at least in the passport sense. I now know several Chinese who hold more than one passport. This is very odd, as China is one of the countries that does not recognise dual citizenship2. There is a lesser state, of permanent residency, which allows long-term occupation (living, working) in the issuing country but with limitations, such as not voting, not taking state benefits, not having obligations such as national service. These permits usually lead to an application for citizenship.  Such it is for C: with some hassle, mostly of the time-consuming, multiple checking, recursive varieties, she was granted a long-term visa for Britain - this is 30 months, after which she may apply for another 30 months, at the end of which she may apply for citizenship of Britain. We recognise that the rules are ever-changing and we recognise that there is a spirit abroad wishing to counter the rules that encourage free movement of labour around the world. We are sensitive to the European rule that allows free movement of labour: any EU or EFTA3 citizen can live and work indefinitely in any EU country, with a few restrictions (military, police, etc).

The second thread of that action for C chases British qualifications. There is some equivalence in her several Chinese qualifications and Britain runs an excellent service by the name of NARIC that declares what equivalence applies. However, we are well aware that C’s teaching qualification is a national permit and not a transferable award, so she will need a PGCE to teach in Britain. Applying for that is a surprisingly slow process when you’re not a national, so we find that NARIC declares many GCSE equivalents but not English - unsurprisingly. So it behooves us to seek such while waiting for the calendar to swing around to permitting entry upon a course.

So this, in turn provides us with motivation to seek answers to other questions like where we live in Britain. You’d think they aren’t connected, but since D has no job to go to, we have open choice. Or do we? In applying for the visa, we discover all sorts of restrictions to do with income - since D is not employed in Britain and was not collecting pension at the time of application, we were required to show we have sufficient funds to not-earn for the duration of the visa - indeed, as we read it, for the duration of that visa and the next one. In showing ‘funds’, the problem proved to be that it is difficult to ‘prove’ such funds and we needed certified copies of bank statements showing who had/has control of the monies totalling a significant sum. Note that equity is excluded, so house ownership (in Britain, for example) does not count towards ‘funds’; in order to continue to be able to support any visa application this then reduces the money available for housing. A nice problem.

After some thought and a good deal of discussion, we realise we have preferences: the south west and the north-east. The south west, by which we realise we mean Plymouth and Bristol, offers a range of universities at which C can study, but only Plymouth has affordable housing and offers, we think, a single option for university. We really liked living in Bristol through August, so this (Bristol being beyond our pocket) was a hard thing to learn. The north-east, on the other hand, offers at least five universities and a lot of affordable housing. So it proved.

So, in August of 2014 we were living in Bristol on a temporary basis with family and hunting for houses in the north-east. Objectives include finding PGCE courses for C.

By early September we have found and bought, moved in and are unpacking steadily. The house is small by our standards in China, but surely, if the neighbours are housing families of four, we can fit two of us in. More on that in another effort at writing. On the study front we learn that squeezing onto a course this year isn’t going to happen - NARIC is good but not instantaneous - and that the variety of place that offers a PGCE is far wider than we had thought, so there are at least four colleges offering a suitable qualification within an hour’s public transport.

So, for those who read this to see what is going on in our lives, perhaps also being provoked into following some thinking and picking up ancillary knowledge (as I do in writing these), we are in North Tyneside, D is retired and C is studying for GCSEs, where the most work is on English. C’s Chinese friends are amazed that her standard is declared so low, but we must recognise that she is looking to compete with locals for work and must meet them in their culture, their qualification background and on their terms. That is a difficult challenge.

DJS 20101019

small edits 20141111, 20150108

1  The only way D is ever ‘becoming’.

2 Some countries permit dual citizenship but do not recognise the other citizenship - e.g. you can’t avoid national service by denying one of citizenships temporarily. A country has control over who IS a national, but not who is some other national, so will remove such citizenship when another country is adopted. these include mainland China, Japan, India, Indonesia - and in Europe, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Austria. Wikipedia helped a lot with this; make a donation! There are exceptions and riders to each of the countries mentioned, so if you want to use the information, check the detail for the two nations you are considering.

Some countries permit dual citizenship by birth (look up jus soli) but not subsequently. Austria prefers this, Germany acts upon it (Arnie is an exception by special permission). Countries may have treaties permitting dual nationality with other specific countries, e.g. Spain and Portugal.

3 EFTA: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland. In the EU but denied such ‘rights’ are the micro-states: Andorra, Monaco,San Marino and Vatican City, plus oddities such as the Channel Islands and the Faroes.

Connected essays:

1    Bear in mind that public transport in Tyneside is very good, thanks to the metro. See essay 139 on relative costs between UK and China.

2    The Teachers’ Pension Scheme effectively required D to take his pension, so ‘unemployed’ became ‘retired’. D is still allowed to earn, which may happen, as the pension is far from satisfactory. I’ll write about the return (on investment) on page 140.

3    Why is this so late in appearing? Because back in February 2014 something went wrong with connections to the server I use in Britain. The site allows a maximum of three connections for good practical reasons (I did a Freudian mis-typing, ‘piratical’). Something or someone wasn’t logging off and I couldn’t upload. That is still not fixed as I write, but I have hope for a fix in what remains of October. Again, a separate writing, page 138. At Jan 2015 the temporary fix still applies.

© David Scoins 2017