The visa anxiety cycle

It’s been a month since I shared that the start of my job was delayed for a few days as I was still waiting on my new visa. At the time, I had hoped everything would be sorted within a week. But I rarely have luck with plans going smoothly so, a month later, I am still waiting on my visa.

I am very frustrated by this turn of events, more so because I am unsure how long I will have to wait for my new visa. It’s even more frustrating because had it not been for a visa hiccup a couple of years ago, I would have applied for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency) a few months ago. (But there’s nothing I can do about that now.)

I think the worst thing about this ongoing delay is the vicious, vicious anxiety cycle of hope and despair, as any “Clockwise” fan will know. 

It’s not the despair… I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.
(Brian Stimpson, Clockwise)

For me, the cycle is simple and complex simultaneously. With each new week, I feel a renewed hope that wanes as the days pass. Indeed, the hope renews a bit each morning, too.

It begins on Monday morning when I find myself hoping that today will be the day. Each time I have a new email, I look with excitement to see if it’s the Home Office telling me my visa is approved. And each time it’s not them, my heart sinks a little bit. But I remain hopeful.

But once the clock ticks over to 2 pm, my hope begins to fade and I start to realise that today is not going to be the day. And despair begins to take over as I realise that I will have to face this cycle of hope and despair again tomorrow… and maybe even longer.

As each day marches on with this hope and despair cycle, it gets harder to maintain the hope side. And by Friday, I am lost once again. Another week has passed with no news and I am facing a weekend of uncertainty and the anxiety it causes.

Of course, the weekends are a little easier because I know there won’t be any news. And that makes it easier to (pretend to) forget.

But then, come Monday, the vicious cycle begins again…

Added to the stress of the anxiety cycle is the fact that there is nothing I can do. I can’t even follow my application’s progress online. I can’t log in to see where I am in the queue or how many applications there are ahead of me. I have no way of knowing if my application is lost or if there’s a problem with it. I am in the dark. 

This wasn’t a problem in the first 8 weeks because the stated processing time is “within 8 weeks”. But now that it’s been nearly 12 weeks, I am in the deep, dark woods.

I have reached out to the Home Office only to be told: “We are experiencing delays”. But they can’t say if that delay is days, weeks, or months. And I’ve reached out to my MP, who reached out to the Home Office, only to be told: “We are experiencing delays”.

As of now, I have missed a month’s work (and a month’s salary) and am now entering a second month with no job and no salary. And I don’t know how many more months I will lose, so I don’t know how long I need to make my savings last.

And what if the visa delay lasts longer than my savings stretch? What if at the end of this delay, the visa is refused and I lose not only a salary (for who knows how long) but also the £2,600 in visa fees (which I won’t get back)? What do I do then? No visa. No job. No money…

With no clarity on when (or if) my visa will be approved, I can’t make any plans. I can’t leave the country or my visa application will be cancelled. I can’t make plans to go somewhere in the UK for Thanksgiving because if my visa is denied I will have 14 days to leave the country. I can’t make plans for Christmas or my birthday or even for next summer because I have no idea if I will have a visa, a job, or money.

Having had a visa denied because of a simple error (that wasn’t even my error!) in the past, I know first-hand the devastation and anguish that the rejection brings… and the stress and anxiety that follows. And whilst part of me feels confident that it will be approved (eventually), there is another part of me that is anticipating that gut-wrenching devastation of rejection.

And if when that happens, I will have 14 days to leave the country. I will have 14 days to pack my belongings, book a flight, and leave. I will have 14 days to say goodbye to my hopes and dreams.

The anxiety of not knowing what tomorrow will bring is more than my heart can handle most days.

And yes, I know that we never really know what tomorrow will bring. I mean, I was widowed at the age of 35 just two weeks before we were meant to open our home to two children for adoption. Yeah, I didn’t expect that “tomorrow”… but that’s a different kind of “unknown future” than this as it was unexpected and could not have been planned for. This kind of unknown future is happening with awareness and understanding and is so very different from being blindsided with tragedy. (I won’t argue that fact because it is unlikely that anyone reading this has experienced or will understand that loss.)

I imagine I will survive this just as I have survived the rest of the challenges and stresses I’ve faced in these 47 years. And maybe, once I have my new visa and I start my dream job, life will be calm for a while. And maybe, once I find that calm, I will find joy. Maybe…

But for now, the visa anxiety cycle continues. 

(Don’t worry: I have a couple of people to whinge to and rant about this, including one who is checking in regularly for walks and cake. But I will take any extra prayers and positive energy you wish to send my way.)

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