Sunday, May 31, 2020

UK VISA - Tier 2 Change of Employer

After working for a year with my current employer here, I decided to apply in Central London for a change of environment. So finally, I got the OK of the interviewer and got the conditional job offer (in the condition that I'll pass the pre-requisites). I did my ID check with the new employer however they noticed I'm under a Tier 2 visa. Tier 2 is usually for skilled workers sponsored by the employer. Even if I hold a current Tier 2 visa, I still need to apply for a new visa under the new employer. It was a big shock for me because I didn't think about it before applying. Mind you the certificate of sponsorship that the employer needs to issue for you costs them thousands of pounds. In my case, it was around more than £3000!!! Okay I feel bad for my first employer. If I had known this, I wouldn't really leave the trust (maybe lol). So here comes the other shocking part, I paid £1700 to apply for a new visa. The visa application alone is £483.20, then IHS was 400 per year, total of £1200 for 3 years (as of May 2020, this IHS has been scraped off). And £110 for the visa appearance.

Once you pass the employer interview, they will issue you a conditional offer. I would suggest you inform the HR or the interviewer about your Visa status upon receiving the conditional offer. The employer will issue a COS (certificate of Sponsorship) and give it to you. Then it's already your job to apply and pay for your new visa. I searched "Tier 2 change of employer" in google. Or go to the website

https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/extend-your-visa

https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/product/tier2-general?_ga=2.27411836.1303653552.1581374890-1567857868.1581075261

You must apply online and follow the steps until after you paid for it.
1. Apply online and pay for your visa and IHS. Link here --> Tier 2 Leave to Remain
2. Book your Visa appointment.
3. Upload the necessary requirements which are the following:
     a. Passport
     b. BRP ID
     c. NMC evidence of full registration
Yes only 3 requirements. I went into my nmc account online and downloaded my NMC Statement of Entry and used it as evidence.

3. Go to your appointment. Have your biometrics and photo taken
4. Wait for 2-8 weeks.

After 4 days, I already received an email saying that my application was successful. Then 7 business days later, I received my new BRP via post.

So that's it! I hope you find this blog helpful. When I started to process my new visa, I felt lost and I didn't have anyone to ask about it. And even when I was doing it, I was doubtful if I was doing the right thing so I hope this will guide you and save you a lot of time. Goodluck!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Solo Travel Story in Rome 2019


colosseum rome italy imperial roman great building, attractions in rome

So here I am again. Your little pinay being all brave and confident to travel alone. Last time I went to Paris, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca - all 3 cities in a span of 9 days. It was something that I wouldn't do anymore because it was exhausting. This time, I decided to focus in just one city for 5 days, in the imperial city of Rome! I want to share this especially to my fellow filipinas who are on a limited budget and are travelling alone.

If you want to explore the city on a budget, I suggest you get an unlimited travel pass ticket from one of the stalls in the airport. Depending on your length of stay, you can choose from a single journey ticket to a 24-hour, 2-day, 3-day and 1-week unlimited travel pass. You can use this ticket to ride buses, subway trains and trams within the city.  Just take note that it could be very crowded during peak hours. 

Getting around and visiting attractions is just easy with the use of Google Maps! All you need to do is follow the directions and calibrate your compass. Calibrating the compass of your Google Maps app will help you get the right arrow directions when you need to walk a certain distance from one platform to another. Please know that I have been lost a few times because I didn't calibrate.

For my first day in Rome, I travelled from the airport to my accommodation using public transportation. Again I used Google Maps which directed me to ride a certain bus then train. I booked my accommodation thru Airbnb which is a bunk-bed room good for 6 people and it was very close to the metro train station. It was an apartment owned by a live-out landlord and it has everything that you need like a cooking area, microwave, lockers, hair dryer, etc. I only paid £12 (800 pesos) per day. No one else was booked so I was lucky to have the entire apartment to myself!

The next day, I started my DIY tour and went to the most renowned structure in Rome, the Colosseum. Looking at it from the outside gave me a feeling of nostalgia. Maybe I was one of the roman goddess in my previous life LOL. Anyway, to avoid the hassle of lining up for a ticket, I suggest you buy it online and print it yourself (link here). Buying a ticket at the actual site is quite a hassle due to myriad of tourists everyday. To be honest, I wasn't very thrilled to see the inside of the Colloseum (even if I have read all about its history beforehand) however, you can use the same ticket to enter the neighbouring attractions - Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. My favourite is the panoramic view in the Palatine Hill. It was a very posh neighborhood during the ancient Rome and some of its poshness is still seen until this very day. The rest of my tour is visiting the following attractions: The Pantheon - a former Roman temple turned church; Spanish Steps - 135 beautiful steps with luxury brand shops nearby; Piazza Navona - a beautiful plaza with restaurants nearby; Campo de' Fiori - an interesting marketplace with local produce, flowers and delicacies. A little bit near the Pantheon is the Area Sacra de Largo Argentina. It's a historic area where Julius Caesar, the man who changed Rome forever, was assassinated. But what's more interesting here is the cat shelter and the chubby and friendly cats. You can visit the cat shelter at the corner and pet the cats!

inside the colosseum, roman empire
Inside the Colosseum

The Pantheon

palatine hill, rome attractions, trees, blue sky, hill, ruined buildings, rome, italy
The panoramic view in Palatine Hill
spanish steps, stairs
Spanish steps
Cat shelter at the corner of Area Sacra de Largo Argentina


For my third day, I went to the Vatican. I bought my ticket online for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel a day before going there. I couldn’t find the option to buy a ticket for St. Peter's Basilica (maybe it was too late for me), but I suggest you buy one with access to the dome where you can have a panoramic view of the Vatican City and the rest of Rome. Just be prepared to be on a long queue for security check before entry. It's a huge area to be touring around so make sure to wear your best walking shoes and be mindful of your outfit since it is the centre of Christianity.

staircase beautiful, bramante, double helix stairs, vatican staircase
The modern version of the Bramante staircase located in the Vatican Museum

artwork, sistine chapel, vatican
Sistine Chapel in Vatican Museum

Somewhere in Vatican

For my fourth day, I woke up early and went to the Trevi fountain for a less crowded photo session. I think the best time is around 7am. Since I'm alone, I just relied on my tripod and bluetooth shutter. Just take note that you cannot sit at the edge of the fountain or else you'll hear a loud whistle from one of the security guards. One thing you should do here (so you’re not missing out) is to throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. One coin means you’ll return to Rome; two, you’ll return and fall in love; three, you’ll return, find love and get married. I didn’t know this until I went home so I missed my chance of wishing to get married! Anyway, moving on to the next spot, I visited Transtevere, a bohemian area which has its own special set of restaurants, shops and a plaza. I just had my lunch there and went back to the city. Since I still had free time, I bought a bus tour ticket from one of the street vendors. The cheapest was the EnjoyBus company but they have lesser bus in operation which means a longer wait time compared to other bus companies such as BigBus, City-Sightseeing, etc.

The trevi and me

cute pink bike, cute cafe in rome
Just a cute cafe in Transtevere



The fifth day was my last day in Rome. Since my flight was in the afternoon, I decided to continue with the bus tour which was valid for 24 hours from the time I bought it. It was a sunny day, so the bus tour was all worth it with the beautiful sceneries of Rome.

Some photos I took during my bus tour:

Basilica Papale de Santa Maria Maggiore, basilica
Basilica Papale de Santa Maria Maggiore

River Tiber


Of course I wouldn't end this blog without talking about the food in Rome. "When in Rome, your tummy will not be doomed!" Food is literally just everywhere so it wouldn't be a problem getting hungry. Well, it was a bit of a problem for me because I don't speak Italian and I was just alone so making an order was usually awkward and challenging. However, they usually understand English so it's not a big deal really. For coffee lovers, you can try the coffee in 'Sant' Eustachio il cafe', which has been serving good Italian coffee since 1930. You must make an order and pay at the cashier first, then bring the receipt to the bar. To try the best pizza, a lot would recommend 'Forno Campo de Fiori'. It’s a small bakeshop selling traditional pastry and pizza near the market. What I suggest is if you see a lot of people ordering then most likely it's a good one. For gelato, you can try 'G. Fassi'. They claim to be the very first ice cream shop in Rome. I like how affordable it is there and it was close to my accommodation. You can also try 'Frigidarium' which is within the city centre and has good reviews. For dinner, there are so many restaurants everywhere especially in Piazza Navona and Transtevere. If you really want an authentic Italian restaurant, look for a restaurant that closes after lunch and opens back at dinner time. I'm sure our Google friend can help you with that

gelato rome cone

pizza rome


Soo… I hope you learned something today my friends! Travelling alone could be one of the loneliest activities to do but on the other side, it is empowering, fulfilling and hassle-free! So book it already and go for it. Fly and soar high just like a bird! LOL Okay I'm talking nonsense now, goodbye!


When in Rome, buy a leather bag




If you will be travelling in Rome, it's best to watch my video here. I'm embarrassed with my bedroom/lazy voice here but anyway, it's the thought that counts right? haha



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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Schengen Visa process for Filipinos in the UK

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area. That includes Paris, Greece, Iceland, Switzerland and a lot more. Basically these are places that we were always dreaming of and couldn't even imagine of travelling to when all we could afford was just to look at photos online. However, if you're a Filipino nurse with a working visa in the UK, the Euro-trip dream is just within reach. All you have to do is to apply for this Schengen Visa. The best country to apply first is France because they usually give 6 months to 1 year of multi-entry visa which means that you can freely travel within Schengen countries until the visa expires.


WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS 

  1. Application form dated and signed. You can get this from the France Visa site -- click here. Create an account and just follow the steps. Fill-up the form and print it.
  2. TLS Appointment. TLS is the French Visa Application Centre in the UK. You will need to go to their site and register (click here). Then you can choose the available date and time for your Visa appearance. Please note that the nearest available appointment date is usually a month after and the processing time is 15 days maximum from your appointment date. These are the things you have to consider when booking the plane tickets. It's best to start the application 2-3 months before your planned trip. You have to print the booking appointment confirmation.
  3. ID photograph. Usually a photobooth is available in every UK mall. You have to choose the passport option and the machine will just guide you there. 
  4. BRP ID. Prepare a photocopy.
  5. Passport. It should be valid for at least 3 months beyond the planned date of return, containing at least two blank ‘visa’ pages. Prepare a photocopy.
  6. Proof of travel. A confirmed return ticket to France. 
  7. Travel health insurance certificate. I've got mine from Coverwise. I applied for an annual multi-trip insurance for only £10. https://www.coverwise.co.uk/
  8. Hotel booking or rental agreement. It should be showing your full name as well as dates and address of stay.
  9. Planned itinerary. Reservation confirmation of an organised trip or any other document describing the planned trip. Mine was just a word doc with the dates and activities or places to visit. 
  10. Last 3 months worth of bank statements (UK current account) showing your full name and address, and proving that you have enough funds for the whole duration of the trip. I suggest you put all your money in your current account before printing your bank statements in your bank. The higher the amount, the longer validity they can give for your visa.
  11. Certificate Of Employment. I just sent an email to our HR for a copy and they sent me the COE via email. Should be less than 3 months old from the date of issue.
  12. 3 months Payslip.


HOW MUCH TO PAY

Application fee is 60 euros (or around £54) plus TLS service fee of 30 euros (£27). I paid a total of  £81.82. Fees can be paid in cash, credit or debit card at the centre.

HOW TO GET TO TLS CONTACT CENTRE

The address is Suite 18, Exhibition House, Ground Floor, Addison Bridge Place,London W14 8XP. Just follow Google Maps and make sure not to be late.


WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE VISA APPEARANCE

Upon arrival to the TLS contact Centre, they will check your booked appointment confirmation and ask you to turn off your phone before you enter. Present your Passport and BRP with the photocopies and your appointment booking receipt to the receptionist. Wait for your turn for an available agent to check on your documents. Pay for the fees in the counter and last step is the picture taking and fingerprinting.


IMPORTANT REMINDERS

  • Children under 12 years old are not allowed in the visa centre 
  • Bringing luggage is not permitted  
  • Please have all your documents organized according to the checklist (the requirements above are in order)
  • After the Embassy processes your visa (usually around 15 working days), your passport will be given back to you in a sealed envelope. You have an option to have this delivered or picked up. You will receive an email notification if it's already available for pick-up.


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My UKRN Q&As - A little guide for aspiring Filipino UKRNs

With the last blog entry I posted, I've got loads of responses in my FB page from aspiring nurses who are interested to work in the UK. It's amazing to know that people are actually reading my blog! So now, I'm making myself more helpful to you guys by giving you more tips! :) Here are some of the questions that I usually get and my answers. Please note that these are just my personal opinion and others may have different experiences.

WHAT IS THE BEST AGENCY?

I think you should not focus with the agency itself but the actual trust or employer that you will be working with here in the UK. I understand the desperation to leave the country for a greener pasture but your employer is the one that you will be dealing with for about 2-3 years away from home. No matter how good the agency is, they don't have control on the turnaround time of your NMC application (maximum of 60 days) and the Certificate of Sponsorship (depends with the employer sometimes maximum of 3 months). It's also best to choose the employer that will give you more benefits such as free accommodation, free OSCE exam, etc. In my case, we were not offered free accommodation but we were given £1k allowance within a week from arrival. Our OSCE exam was also covered by my employer which is a good deal because other trusts don't offer that. You can try the popular agencies like Omanfil, ASC, ABBA and IPAMS but each agency has its own pros and cons. My agency, which is GHR, isn't really popular. Although my entire application took almost 1 year, I'm happy that they guided me all throughout and they paid for almost everything (which I think is different now because that was the cause of some delays before). And with this agency, I've met three lovely ladies who are now my family here in the UK. So basically, to really answer the question, the best agency is the one that He will give you. Just trust in His ways. ;)

WHICH IS BETTER, CENTRAL LONDON OR COUNTRYSIDE?

It really depends with your personality. If you're the outgoing type and single, then I suggest central London. It offers higher pay and lots of fun things to do when you're already very stressed at work. Some are worried about the high cost of living here but actually you will just feel that if you eat out in restaurants most of the time and if you choose to rent a posh room or apartment. You have an option to cook your meals and choose a cheaper room and save more money! On the other hand, if you're more like an introvert or married, the countryside would be better for you because the house rent would be cheaper and it would be easier for you to bring your family once you're settled.

HOW MUCH IS THE SALARY?

It varies from person to person. However, According to PayScale.com, the median salary for a registered nurse (RN) in the UK is £23,000. Just do the math but you have to consider your rent (approx. £500 per month), food (depends how hungry you are, let's say max of £200) and other bills to pay. You'll earn more if you have more night shifts, weekend shifts and overtime (we call it bank shift). I've heard that the pay in other countries like USA and Canada is higher but I think the quality of life here in the UK is higher. We usually have 3-4 days off per week and around 5-6 weeks of vacation leave credits in a year. I might want to talk more about this in another blog post.

IS OSCE DIFFICULT TO PASS?

Yes if you're not practising enough. There were times when I thought I've memorised everything and I thought I will not miss anything anymore but then when I had another round of demo, I missed small important steps and it was just unbelievable. The more you practice and the more mistakes that you do, the more chances of winning! Don't rely on memorising the steps. Make it more like a habit by doing the steps over and over and OVER again because when you're in a nerve-wracking situation, you can just do the steps even without thinking anymore. And honestly, it's hard to think straight when you're doing it in the actual exam!

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO REVIEW FOR MY OSCE?

Once you are booked, the test center will send you emails with links and some review materials. This is the best time to get serious. Just make sure to read these materials because of course it's directly from them and they are the one who will assess you. If you're still waiting for your application, it's best to read the Royal Marsden book, not necessarily for the OSCE but in preparation for your actual work in the hospital.

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I PREPARE?

It depends if your employer is giving you free accommodation. In my case, I brought £1200 because we had to look for our own accommodation and pay for the deposit and advance payment. If your employer is offering free accommodation for your first month, then 500 pounds should be enough. Your agency should also advice you on that a few days before your departure.

WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT THINGS TO PACK OR PREPARE?

1. Thick coat (at least one) - From the moment you step outside of the airport, you might desperately need this especially during winter. I bought mine in an ukay-ukay store in Baguio for 500 pesos and until now I'm still using it.
2. Tabo - it's very rare to find one here. As a Filipino, you will need it after your poop session.
3. Black shoes - it doesn't matter if it has shoelaces or not. It should be like leather or rubber in material that if fluid spills into your shoes, it will not enter and have a contact with your skin. You can also buy this when you arrive in the UK.
4. Heattech thermals (from Uniqlo) - these are just inner thin clothes that helps retain the warmth in your body especially during winter.
5.  Filipino condiments or seasonings - magic sarap, ginisa mix, sinigang mix, and all the mix that you like. Also 3-in-1 coffee for coffee lovers like Nescafe creamy white or Kopiko brown.
6. Cough and cold meds - I brought Bioflu with me and it has been amazing. You can also bring vicks, whiteflower or maybe salompas.
7. Cash - should be Pounds (GBP) or if you can't find one in the Philippines, just convert it to USD. When you arrive here, it's easier to convert from USD to GBP.
8. Laptop - if you have one, better bring it. NHS trusts usually have these e-learning and quizzes online that you will have to comply.
9. All your documents. You will present some of it during your OSCE.

IS IT DIFFICULT TO WORK AS A NURSE IN THE UK?

It depends with the area. There are chill areas, there are some busy wards and there are those toxic wards. Most (not all) of the managers are kind and understanding. Just hope and pray that you'll be assigned in a not-so-toxic ward. And just prepare yourself in cleaning people's bum. It's a bit messy sometimes. It could be difficult at first when you're still adjusting but you'll eventually get used to it.

HOW IS IT DEALING WITH BRITISH PEOPLE?

British people are generally kind and polite. They tend to be more understanding and appreciative than the others. But of course there are good days and bad days too. There could be some language barrier especially with small talks and some humour because we are used to the American English and not the British English. Please take note that the word 'pants' here means underwear. If you mean like the American pants, they call it trousers. Elevator is lift, comfort room is toilet or loo, like is fancy, fries is chips and you'll eventually learn more words as you go along.

HOW DO I GET STARTED? WHAT'S THE PROCESS?

First, take the IELTS (Passing IELTS - self-review). Once you hit the target score, look for an agency. The agency will arrange the employer's interview which could either be face-to-face or via Skype. Once you get a job offer, prepare for CBT (computer-based test). If you pass CBT, you can register for the NMC (which is like PRC in the Philippines). You will have to wait for your decision letter from the NMC (max of 60 days) then after that, another waiting time for the COS (certificate of sponsorship) from your employer (1-3 months), last step is the Visa application. You can read more about this from my other blog post --> UKRN JOURNEY.


So that's it! These are just the most common questions that I usually get but if you have further questions, comment down below or message me in my FB page. I remember a year ago I was heartbroken, jobless, broke, depressed and desperate. Although I still have a fair share of life's challenges here, I am more happy and fulfilled this time. So my message to you aspiring filipino UKRNs, if you're feeling depressed now for whatever reason, that too shall pass and you'll be happy. Tiwala lang.🙌


(November 2018) Literally my second day in the UK and with my 500-peso ukay winter coat

(September 2019) 10 months after, ready na for mature roles😂 






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Thursday, March 21, 2019

My UKRN journey (a little guide)


So it has been months already since my last post. In the past few months I was busy "adulting". I have been so tied-up with my OSCE review so I didn't have a chance to finish this blog until now. Finally I passed that nerve wracking exam and I'm now enjoying my UKRN (UK Registered Nurse) title... or maybe not? haha. Before I talk more about that, let me show you the timeline and fees of my UKRN application first:

Friday, March 1, 2019

Passing the IELTS - Self Review

PASSING THE IELTS EXAM  (SELF REVIEW)


IELTS consists of 4 sections - ListeningReadingWriting and Speaking. The highest score is 9 and you need to hit at least on all sections to continue with your job/student application abroad. You already know the struggle here right? Aside from the expensive test fee, most of us would fail in the writing section. Some will need to do a retake for like 3,4 or 8 times just to pass. It's that scary. I would recommend everyone to enroll in a review center before taking the test, especially those who easily get distracted. For my part, I wanted to save money so I decided to do a self-review. I gave up all my hobbies just to focus and after 2 months of intensive review, with all my hard work and by the grace of God, I passed on my first take. With this, I want to share some techniques that helped me during the exam and this might help you as well. Take note that these strategies were effective for me and you always have the liberty to do it your own way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Limasawa Island Travel Guide 2018 (Southern Leyte)

Limasawa, aqua, ocean, leaves, breathtaking, tower, cliff, hill, hill beside the sea, limasawa travel guide

Prior to a few days ago, Limasawa wasn't really a place I knew too much of. Although I've heard about its religious and historical significance in the Philippines, I wasn't really interested because history is a part of our past. I just want to forget the past and move on. LOL. But kidding aside, it's a four-hour drive from Tacloban and I just didn't have the chance to do so. Fortunately, I got invited by a friend and with my very limited budget, I just went for it because... YOLO! 😁

UK VISA - Tier 2 Change of Employer

After working for a year with my current employer here, I decided to apply in Central London for a change of environment. So finally, I got ...