Yesterday the Canadian and I drove to a nondescript strip mall in the suburbs of Austin to do something rather nefarious (at least it felt like that to me)...we had to relinquish our identity to the United Kingdom.  The Canadian has already had to do this, so he is familiar with the process of the complete abdication of one's privacy.  When he became a U.S. citizen (he's dual now) he basically put himself squarely on the grid and on the radar of the U.S. government by giving every single print known to man.  I was not envious of that aspect of the process of becoming a dual citizen because I'm actually a very private person.  (Even though I've always wanted to have several passports, including one from some island in the Caribbean)

When we arrived there were big signs yelling at us
NO CAMERAS!!
NO CELL PHONES!! (this was really depressing because I couldn't play Sudoku on my iPhone)
NO VIDEO!!
YOU ARE BEING WATCHED BY EVERYONE -- INCLUDING OUTER SPACE!!!
(ok, they didn't really say the last part, but it kind of felt like it.)

So, we go in, get a number and proceed to wait.  Then they call me and the girl proceeds to take my whole hand print, each fingerprint individually (and rolls it from side to side just in case I decide to remove the actual fingerprint itself, they still have the side print) and take my photo.  Frankly, I'm surprised I didn't have to pull down my pants and sit on a copy machine.

This is all part of the process for our Tier 1 visa.  The Tier 1 is basically a migrant with a special skill set and the Canadian will be consulting for a couple of years on behalf of an American company for a French customer who has their IT operations in the UK (how multinational is that?)  Meanwhile, I will try and find a job and work on finishing my dissertation. 

The snag is, the Tier 1 is disappearing in March and applications have already been made through February.  So we might not make it in time to get a Tier 1 -- which means the company the Canadian works for will have to move him over on an intercompany transfer.  Except that it's a tiny company, and they don't have a UK office.  Which means they will then have to establish a UK office and then make the Canadian an intercompany transfer employee.  *That* will not be pretty if it happens that way...so we're trying to slide in to the Tier 1 before it closes.  Cross your fingers folks.

As an aside, the USCIS office who took our biometrics (fingerprints, etc.) asked us to fill out a survey rating them on their friendliness, efficiency, and our overall experience with room for comments at the end.  Do you suppose I will find that in the UK?  Maybe once I get over to the UK I will carry comment cards in my pocket for rating my experiences with governments in Europe and then just fill them out and hand them to the employee with whom I've dealt for whatever transaction just took place.  I'm thinking this could be an interesting idea....I will keep you posted.




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