What would you do at the crossroads?
December 18, 2007 10:38 AM   Subscribe

After 5 years of working in the US, I was laid off last week. My chances of being able to stay here are slim, and I'm rather upset at the thought of returning to the UK. If you were in my situation, and had a bit of savings, what would you do?

Some additional info:

I'm a DVD author, have 7 years experience, and it's a pretty specialized job so it's been a nice little earner. But there's not much legs left in it - particularly in the UK - so whilst I'd like to capitalize on my experience, I'm feeling it would also be a good time to change tack.

Prior to the layoff (which came out of nowhere) I had been looking into returning to school (in the US) to study counselling.

I do like to travel, I've been all over Europe, North & Central America, so one option I'm considering is taking off for 6 months to Asia (someone suggested teaching English, but I don't have teaching qualifications) and then returning to school the fall. But if I tried to go to a US school, I believe I'd have to be around to do whatever tests are required to join a program. Also, I'd be studying with a view to getting licenced in a country I'm not sure I would be able to work.

Part of me also thinks I've spent so long building up a good resume that I should return to Europe - perhaps try and find work in Paris (I can speak a bit of French and I have some friends there), or at worst try to find work in London (Note: if I could find work, it would have to be in media center like LA, NY, London, Paris. Possibly some locations in Germany or Australia too). And that part of me also is concerned about blowing a bunch of cash that's taken me a long time to acquire on travelling, and the collateral implication of then having to return to the UK with even less funds.

Another part of me is highly concerned about not really having anywhere to go back to in the UK. Most of my friends from when I lived in London have moved away, and whilst I get on with my parents, living with them (they're in Scotland) would drive us all very crazy very fast. Part of moving so far away was about creating space for myself and I have an enormous fear that staying with them would precipitate some terrible regression. Also, I don't have any friends at all there.

And of course there's a part of me that's very sad that I put so much work into moving and building up a life here, and now it looks like all that's going to go up in a puff of smoke. :-(

Maybe I need to read more Camus.

Savings = $40K
posted by forallmankind to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't you love Hollywood holiday layoffs? I am really close to your situation (and I'm pretty sure I know who you are IRL).

In similar circumstances, I'd go back to near family (not with them, dear god) and try to find a meaningful job that allows for either some leisure time or going back to school.

$40K is nice to have in a city with social service job opportunities and public transportation, especially if you're thinking about reinventing yourself. It's also nice if you want to hit the books hard, learn Blu-ray/HD DVD, and then go back to your employer at double the salary and job security. :)
posted by infinitewindow at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2007

First off, do you want to stay in the US? Do any of the conditions here ("I Am a Nonimmigrant; How Do I Extend My Nonimmigrant Status in the United States?") apply to you? (I'm gathering you had never applied for a green card...?) Have you considered becoming a U.S. citizen?

Also, if you decide to study counseling in the US for two years or more, and can wangle a job offer before graduation, you would be eligible for an EB3 visa. (As for earning money while you're in school, international students can get F1 visas that allow them to work on campus.)

If you've applied to a graduate program and been accepted, the university admissions office will be able to tell you more.
posted by GrammarMoses at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: (A quick word on my immigration status - I'm on an H-1B work visa and I'd just filed the second stage of my green card process.)
posted by forallmankind at 11:22 AM on December 18, 2007

Sorry I can't really answer your question, but if you're looking for a legal way to stay in the US, you could try asking the British Expats. They know a lot about this kind of thing and may be able to help.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:09 PM on December 18, 2007

Ugh, I feel for you having been in a similar situation myself last year. I mulled over the same options as you are.

I went back to the town I'd left 6 years earlier (something I'd sworn I'd never do), and I'm in my late 30's so most friends were married with family etc. In the end, it wasn't as bad as I'd feared and the dread of going home was much worse than the reality. Luckily, my stay in the UK was only temporary but had I left the US permanently I would have done this; work for a short time, build up my savings further, and then take off travelling with a view to finding another country to live in (Aus, NZ, France, etc).

Not sure what that advice is worth, but anyways, good luck. I would also check with an immigration lawyer about being able to transfer to a new job on your current H1.
posted by poissonrouge at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2007

Sorry, I missed the green card app part in your post. If you have an employment-based green card application, it has been pending for 180 days, and you have your EAD, you may still be in status. If so, you need to find a new job in the US ASAP to continue your I-485 petition or lose your green card.

"Formerly, if you were laid off after filing the I-485, your application was likely to be denied. However, pursuant to the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (“AC21”), if 180 days have passed since you filed an I-485 AOS application and your I-140 immigrant visa petition has been approved, you may switch employers as long as you remain in the same or similar occupation with the new employer. If both your Adjustment of Status and I-140 petitions have been pending for more than 180 days, but your
I-140 has not been approved, current USCIS guidance is that AOS “portability” does not apply, although this guidance may change in the future." Linkie.

You require competant advice from an immigration attorney ASAP.
posted by crazycanuck at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: Just to clarify - I do have an immigration lawyer and I'm not looking for immigration advice.

I'm not really looking to be kicked whilst I'm down, either :-)
posted by forallmankind at 1:07 PM on December 18, 2007

OK, non-immigration advice: You can travel in Asia and South America cheaply, and now seems like it might be a good time to do it (assuming you don't jeopardize your status by leaving the US at this point). If I were in your situation, I would certainly do that. Time alone, seeing other places and meeting new people -- it sounds wonderful to me, actually. :-)
posted by GrammarMoses at 2:18 PM on December 18, 2007

Are you happy living where you are? Because if you are, and it sounds as if you're not dying to go back to the UK (to which I can relate: I spent five years in the states before going back to England, and can't wait to leave again) then why not apply to school in the states immediately? It does seem a pity to abandon a life you've built up for an uncertain situation elsewhere...
posted by Gamel at 2:24 PM on December 18, 2007

posted by A189Nut at 3:07 PM on December 18, 2007

We are desperate for workers of all sorts in Canada. Please come here and work.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:17 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

You don't need teaching experience to teach English in Asia. Not sure how great a job you could find last minute, but it would be worth it to look. It's a lot of fun.

I got a job through JET and it's a great company. Heard other good things about teaching in China and Taiwan, not so good things about teaching in Thailand. But every program is different though. Be wary if they don't compensate some of the flight there.

If you're interested, be aware and research thoroughly. A friend of mine recently got screwed when NOVA went under, when he could have just researched on the internet and find loads of articles about how troubled the company was for the past couple years.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 4:45 PM on December 18, 2007

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