My name is Olga Childs, and I am “an individual at war against stupidity”. This was actually one reviewer’s description of John Malkovich’s character in a Coen brothers film, but it suits me very well.
I used to tell people that “I was born and grew up in the Soviet Union”, but that really makes it sound more ominous than it was. I am from Moscow, and grew up in rather privileged circumstances — which, as I realised only after growing up, were not indicative of the Soviet Union as a whole.
My parents were simultaneously privileged, because of their own parents’ positions in the Communist Party and the Soviet Navy, and dissidents, because the enlightenment brought by privilege inevitably led any sensible person to dissent.
They raised me in a belief system that did not value status, which was taken for granted, or money, which was regarded as a petty concern, and was also quite useless in the USSR. Rather, I grew up in a subculture preoccupied with one shared goal, that was, at the time, unquestioned: emigration.
Since then, I have come to question it. I have left the USSR, for the first time, aged 16, the same year it would later, coincidentally, self-destruct. Since then, I lived in 6 different countries, and have been to around 50 – and, ultimately, have come to accept that I am, inevitably, Russian.
I may have been educated in the United States and lived there for most of my adult life, and be an American in terms of world view and perception of reality. I also may be British, as I live in Britain now and this country gave me a new meaning, especially professionally, and my three daughters, frighteningly, identify with Britain.
Those Russians who know me, would perhaps tell you that I am a “very typical Muscovite”, or “more a Muscovite, than a Russian”. Not that these two are mutually exclusive — rather, it’s a question of identity.
My entire life, all over the world, was overshadowed by migration, emigration, immigration, visas and residence permits, borders and more borders, and then when I fell asleep, a typical nightmare would include not being able to cross a border. My family’s passport drawer could feed a small library. I rallied, demonstrated, debated, wrote, held clinics, chaired NGOs and ran public interest campaigns, be it in the States, Russia, or now here in the UK.
I now, 40+ years later, believe that ultimate satisfaction, and ultimate ability to make a difference in the world, probably lies in making your own country of birth a better place. I wouldn’t know – it is too late for me. I move perpetually, and hence belong nowhere, plus, as many of those who grew up in the USSR, primarily identify with a country that exists today only in idyllic memories of my childhood. Perhaps one day I will just have to start my own country.
Questions of migration policy and citizenship identity have been central to my inquiry and research. I have some background in IT management, as well as journalism, politics and Real Estate. I have an MBA (Baruch college, CUNY, 2002), LLB (Univeristy of London, 2013), a soon-to-be-hopefully finished LLM (Temple, 2017), as well as several other not fully finished degrees (JD, PhD in Public affairs, and degree in creative writing among them). I also have a CILEX Level 6 diploma in Immigration Law.
I am not a solicitor or barrister in the UK, but I am regulated by OISC as an immigration advisor at Level 3 (the highest OISC level) , and my UK-based company, World Without Borders LLP, is licensed to provide immigration advice and services, including representation in appeals in front of Immigration Tribunals. Our current registration number is N201800011 (new number due to recent re-licensing as a non-profit). I occasionally operate independently in Russia. Until September 2016, we operated an office in Spain, and are still able to provide some services there. World Without Borders LLC, a company registered in Delaware in the United States, provides our services there.
I maintain an exceptional success record in all applications filed so far in the three years of my UK practice. Even if something goes wrong, I aim to resolve it so it’s been put right.
Other crucial facts about me:
I am not a “people’s person”, which is to say, I will tell you exactly what I think. You may not like it. Some people call me rude, although I think I am simply efficient.
I am a communist, a raging atheist, a tee-totaler and a lesbian. I was indeed a member of Mensa once, until I stopped paying fees — not sure if this made me any stupider, although if the society’s marketing materials are any guide, there must be a correlation.
I question all and any authority — I believe that doing so is what keeps civilization alive. Many years ago, I ran for a seat at Moscow City Council, and a friend of mine, who helped run my campaign, told campaign staff: “There is one thing you need to know about Olga. If one of you tells her to do something, and then five minutes later Putin calls her and tells her to do that same thing, this will make absolutely no difference as to whether or not she will do it”.
That pretty much sums it up. I try to use my own head — and, by the way, if you do the same, you will do very well in UK immigration. On this site, I will try to teach you how to do it.