If a younger, skinnier version of myself (see below) was asked if she would consider a move to London, the answer, quite simply, would have been, “No”. Cape Town is perfectly suited to the young and skinny. I remember spending entire summers in my early twenties on Clifton 4th (and later 2nd) beach – reapplying sunblock all day and yet still turning a burnt ombre shade of brown, eating granadilla lollies, hanging out with friends, making new ones, literally hashtag #livingthedream. As the sun set we would make our way home (in my hot Citi Golf), wash the salty residue from our skin and head out to dance the night away. Life could not have been more perfect.
Unfortunately, my love for the sun has (along with my tan) faded away. I have hardly gone to the beach in the last few years. Maybe because I am always on holiday in some third world country during beach season. Maybe because I am no longer a student with the luxury of beaching on weekdays. Maybe because I am increasingly concerned about the damage the sun can cause. So, when I was presented with the potential opportunity to move to London next year, I said, “Yes”.
Why am I going to London?
To make a long, boring, tax-related story short: The company I work for is registered in the UK. My aunt is a mayor shareholder and also SA resident. Without legitimate operations in the UK, SARS will tax her in her personal capacity (i.e. at a high marginal tax rate) on her share of the taxable UK profits (less UK tax paid). There are more creative (read: dodgy) ways to get around the tax issue (Apple, Starbucks, Amazon and Google have recently been under fire) but in my (limited) experience, it is usually better to leave the creative aspects of business out of one’s tax affairs.
Having only my SA passport sucks balls. Being responsible for the company’s admin in this regard sucks even more. The old UK work permit scheme for skilled workers has been replaced by the new points-based sponsorship programme.
- A company needs to be in possession of a sponsorship licence in order to sponsor visas to migrant workers. Applying for this licence requires renting offices, employing/ appointing a UK resident employee, conjuring up original copies of various statutory submissions and paying a visa agency exorbitant amounts just so that you can tell them how to do their job.
- To sponsor migrants under Tier 2 (Skilled Workers) General, the company needs to prove that there are no suitable UK residents for the position in question by advertising the position and waiting 28 days for a response (the resident labour market test). Then use this to apply and issue a certificate of sponsorship to the migrant worker.
- With this certificate of sponsorship, the migrant worker then has to apply for a visa in their home country.
Can you spell ADMINBUS! If I am to believe my visa agent, and assuming all goes according to plan, Adam and I will be heading smack bang into the middle of a London winter in January 2014.
I am dreading:
- All of the visa application bullshit above
- Selling my beautiful little car
- Packing my whole life into a suitcase
- Giving up our awesome flat
- Boxing all our travel trinkets for storage
- Saying good-bye to friends and family
- Missing the Cape Town summer (because let’s face it December is still average)
I am looking forward to:
- Having a 3-year UK visa (which can be extended to 5)
- Using the tube 🙂 (even though Londoners seem to complain about it a lot)
- Buying a whole new London-proof winter wardrobe
- Looking for a flat in a new city (most-likely built-in the 1920’s or 1940’s)
- Collecting new travel trinkets from all my European wish list destinations
- Meeting up with old friends and making new (posh) ones
- Seeing snow for the first time (and Instagram-ing it in true Cape Town tradition)