So, turns out when you try to spontaneously quit your job and buy a one way ticket overseas, there’s actually lots you need to think about and take into account and plan for. Here are a couple of the spanners which have been thrown into the works the last few months. They have created…. ….let’s say some roadblocks, and some minor arguments – but we have managed to work through them, talk about different plans of attack; and come up with some solutions… aaaand some we’re still working on.
The Schengen Zone:
If I had a dollar for every time I have explained this to someone since first reading about this back at the start of 2016.. well, I’d have a few dollars.
I’ll try to explain this in as little words as possible and as minimally dorky as I can manage.
Right, so – The Schengen zone comprises about 26 countries across Europe which have a ‘no borders’ type agreement; awesome for the residents that live there, but sheity for tourists who want to meander like gypsies moving on wherever they want, whenever they feel like it. Here’s a more in depth, professional explanation. Click me. Ah, good ol’ Wikipedia. The tourist visa you receive on entry to mainland Europe is for the whole area, not a particular country – and the real kicker, it only last for 90 days (but you have 180 days to use those 90 days). So basically, you have 3 months to see all 26 countries.
The light at the end of the tunnel for us on this one is, the UK and some Eastern European countries aren’t currently a part of the agreement so you can use up 90 days, leave the Schengen area; hang out in Landan or Edinburgh, or mosey on over to Eastern Europe – stay there for 90 days and then you are free to re-enter the Schengen area. There’s no limit to how many times you exit and re-enter; it’s just a pain in the arse having to have your trip broken up into 3 month blocks.
Through lots and lots of rather extensive research, we’ve found there’s no real way around this – short of breaking the law and overstaying, but that comes with the risk of being caught (handed a hefty fine and most likely deported being told you can never return, again!) We thought about getting working visa’s for lots of different countries, to bypass the whole 90 day limit, but it’s just too expensive as each country has their own working visa requirements and application. In the end we compromised and decided to go with just the UK working visa… which brings me to our next spanner.
Applying for a working visa for the UK:
Seems simple – and I’m sure for most people it probably is. I would think most travellers would plan to fly to the UK first, get themselves established – maybe find a job or home base, and then go backpacking in their spare time off work or once they are more settled to European life.
Not us though! We planned on just flying into Spain, taking our time to get to the UK and just pick up our visa once we arrived there and were ready to start work. No no no no, of course it cannot be this simple.
Turns out, there’s been a few changes of late. First off, there’s an awesome new name – The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa (which as a bonus actually lets you work the full 24 months, as opposed to the 12 months you could only work before). There’s also the lovely new medical surcharge which is an extra 300 pounds each. Awesome. NOT. But the real headache for us (and to be honest, I don’t know if this was a rule previously) is that once your Visa is approved you have 90 days to get to the UK or your visa becomes void and you need to apply again – including paying for it again. Also, as part of the process, you need to pick up your BRP (biometric somethingeruther) within 10 days of your stated arrival date. Ergo, there go any plans of taking our time in Spain / Portugal / Morocco / France to get to the UK.
To be honest, we’re still working through this one at the moment but so far we have decided to apply for this before the end of the month (May) and then work out exactly how much time we’ll have to get to the UK. We’ve calculated 7 weeks roughly at this stage – which is plenty of time to get from Barcelona to London town. We should be sweet. We shall see.
Right, this post is probably long enough for now. I’ll add some more awesome possible issues later. Fingers crossed there are no more major hiccups between now and take-off.