Trying to get home

Our home is Europe. I am French, my partner is British, but first we are Europeans. We each have our own language, but we understand each other. We each have our own culture, but our household mixes them both. Our children have French passports and also British ones, but for them there are no borders. We have lived in France, we have lived in the UK, but our home is Europe.

The morning after the Brexit vote, we could not believe it. The following weeks, we could not understand it. The following months, we hoped it would not happen. The following years, we waited for answers. And now, we are stuck in limbo.

I am writing these words far away from Europe: in New Zealand. We have been here since 2018 for what started as a long holiday, but we found work and we stayed. New Zealand has been so welcoming to us, even enabled us to get permanent residency! But we miss home, we miss our families, we miss our friends, we miss Europe in general. We had planned to move back to Europe in 2020, after the birth of our first child, to make it back to the UK before Brexit day and apply for settlement status. Unfortunately things don’t always go as planned. Covid hit, travel was not recommended, UK employment prospect was poor, Europe was in lockdown ; while in the meantime New Zealand had closed its borders and we were living an almost normal life and were both employed here. So we decided to stay, but only until things settled down.

Here we are, I am pregnant with our second child and our options to go home are very limited. We have applied for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit for which we have low hope to get granted. We will not find out the outcome for many months. If refused we could probably get a UK Family visa that will cost us a lot and take away a good chunk of our savings. Or we move to France. We will have to navigate the bureaucracy maze of the French immigration system but at least the cost will be negligible especially if we get married soon.

I am tired of never ending research into visa protocols, I am bored of reading endless list of documents to be submitted with each application, I am unsure of which route we need to take, I am furious at governments who have set up complicated immigration rules, I am stress by so many thoughts, but more importantly I am anxious about our future and those of our children.

Europe is our home, but it seems we are not welcome there…

Chloe, French, in New Zealand since 2018

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