The idea of this blog is for me to chart the journey I take in applying to drama school. So it feels dishonest not to mention the biggest roadblock in that journey.
There are obviously obstacles to choosing acting as a profession: it’s financially perilous and so oversaturated with talented, beautiful people that it’s hard to get a foot in the door. You need a solid financial base to get through the years of training and unpaid work experience that might not actually lead anywhere. It’s an unstable and unpredictable career. That really would be enough to be going with – but no. The biggest roadblock to me managing to become a Real Life Actor is Theresa May.
Here are some facts about me. I am a. I have lived in the UK for my entire life. I am tax-paying and law-abiding. I’ve been with my wonderful girlfriend for over four years.
Here are some facts about my girlfriend. My girlfriend has a degree. My girlfriend has a full-time, permanent job. My girlfriend pays tax. My girlfriend makes amazing chimichangas. My girlfriend is an immigrant from outside the EU.
As of July 2012 if you’re a UK citizen who wants their non-EU spouse or partner to live with them in the UK, you’d better be making £18,600 a year. Even if you only graduated a month earlier, in the middle of a recession. Even if you’re married. (FYI: we’re not! But even if we were.) You’d better have at least £16,000 in savings, too, because they literally won’t take anything less than that into account.
Immigrant Girlfriend (IG for short!) and I did manage to scrape through our first visa application, which allows her to stay in the UK until September 2015. Which is fine, because if I’m lucky enough to get into a full-time course IG can use her full legal status to work full time while I study – right? I mean, that’s what couples do.
No – in fact, for the purposes of visa-getting, the income of the non-UK spousepartner is completely invisible. A bit like that £15,999 you’ve got in your savings – basically useless, innit?
The High Court has decided the new rules are ‘unjustified’ but haven’t actually struck them down, because, well, bloody immigrants. An All-Party Parliamentary Group (which I submitted evidence to) has said that the new rules are “tearing families apart“. Archbishops don’t like it. Even some Tories don’t like it.
So. While I will be applying for drama school this year, and despite having a pretty sound financial plan for how I can finance it without relying on public funds, I’m going to have to do so with the possibility of having to give it all up if I don’t have enough dosh. Even though neither myself nor my partner will need to go on benefits during that time.
You might argue that all of this is a bit whiny and entitled. Not getting to go to drama school (or possibly having to put it off indefinitely) – well, that’s hardly a violation of human rights. But the point is that if I’m not a drain on the public purse then I don’t see how my family life can be restricted. IG isn’t legally allowed to access benefits and, starting next year, will have to pay for the NHS despite being a UK taxpayer, so by definition she’s putting more into the public purse than she’s taking out. On top of that, studies suggest that 47% of the working population of the UK couldn’t meet the income threshold that this government has set. That includes self-employed people, entreprenuers, business people, freelancers, people who live in less expensive areas and get on fine with less income…
Ironically, this actually means that UK citizens have fewer rights to a family life than EU citizens living in the UK. So if a German and her Malaysian partner or a Spaniard with his Canadian wife were to move in next door to me, the EU right to a family life means that the EU citizen has the right to bring their non-EU spousepartner with them, no matter how much money they’re making.
In summary, the government is so obsessed with immigration that they’re happy to trample on British rights to do it, INCLUDING MY VERY IMPORTANT RIGHT TO GO BACK TO UNIVERSITY TO LEARN TO PRETEND TO BE PEOPLE. But really. Families are suffering, children are suffering, and if things keep going this way I’m going to need to vote for Scottish independence or move to America.
If any of the above strikes you as unfair, please write to your MP: you can find their address or email here.