Saturday, February 25, 2006

Immigration blues

My missus has for weeks now been having kittens about our visit to the Home Office of Immigration and Naturalization to acquire her 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' stamp in her passport.

Being from the other side of the pond and married to an Englishman (best thing she has ever done), Mrs K had to apply for her ILR after living here two years after we were married. This allows her freedom to come and go as she pleases from this country, without all the hassle everytime she re-enters the UK.

Are you still with me?

She has been persuading herself that we had not provided enough evidence (bank statements, utility bills or receipts) to convince immigration that she was a happily married and fine upstanding citizen who was not going to fleece the state for all she could get and that I could care and provide for her without any problems. Myself, I could not see any complications, but you know women.........

Arrived at Croydon with time to spare so we visited the local shopping centre. Isn't it amazing that wherever you go in this country, all the big centres are basically the same. Apart from one or two exceptions, the same stores have all mutated in these emporiums. You could be anywhere within the UK.

Re-fuelled on McDonalds. Why?

To cut a long story short. And it was a bloody long one let me tell you, we breezed through the initial interview, where the guy behind the glass barely looked at all our records that Mrs K had meticulously placed in order and labelled accordingly and as for taking the £500 required for the privilege, they nearly took me arm off when I offered my debit card.

The problems start now. Instead of waiting around an hour to be processed, we had to endure five, yes five hours sitting on the most uncomfortable seat that you can imagine. The designer of those seats was a sadist. Made of steel, they were slatted like a park bench, so after several hours of sitting on them, your arse resembled the local tram lines and it felt like the number six to Purley had run over it. They had a 'technical fault' and were very sorry but they insisted that everyone would be seen that day. It was like the league of bloody nations in that waiting room. I swear I was the only Englishman in there. We had a two o'clock appointment. Eventually, we were seen at around five o'clock. I cannot begin to think what time the people with four o'clock appointments left the building.

Needless to say, Mrs K. got her ILR and weren't we glad to get out of there.

And now we can get on with the rest of our lives.


Alison said...

I know what you mean.

I remember those seats. Standing in the queue in the freezing cold at 6am in the morning with Alex, both worrying we had all our statements in order, cash in accounts, a thousand languages all around, me the only Englander apart from the security guard! We were expecting to be grilled like the scene in Green Card after we were married. That was the best of a lot of visits.

Prior to that Alex used to go alone to extend the now infamous student visa. Those visits were horrendously scary as he did used to get grilled intensely by someone he always asserted barely spoke english. He would come back with horror stories about people passing out in the queues from stress, tears, fights. He would always arrive home sullen faced and need to sit quietly somewhere and watch Alan Partridge or Monty Python, poor sod. To survive he needed to work a lot more than the part time hours permitted. To get a visa he had to show he had attended school all the hours he was supposed to. Often he would work til 4am in a hotel, then go to school then go straight to work til 4am again. Sometimes he would miss school and we would worry his attendance would be docked. Often it was & we would have sleepless nights working it out. And thats just the half of it! Considering he pays his taxes, loves this country, the opportunities he now has (he now has a job in the city in IT) and worked his ass off to stay here legally, it makes me beyond angry when i think of all the people shepherded in on dubious asylum visas fast tracked through the whole process and barely quizzed.

Somehow it always seems appropriate that the immigration office is located in Croydon. Its souless!

krip said...

Yay to all that Alison. Nobody should have to go through all that crap.
And your right about Croydon too :)