Monthly Archives: April 2013

UKBA Complaints – Why Did I Bother?

On 18 February 2013 I sent in a complaint to the UKBA via email to UKBACust1568@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. I finally heard back last weekend. Let’s just say it’s another department at the UKBA that seems to be utterly useless. Here is my response to them.

To Whom it May Concern,

Your response to my complaint email of 18 February 2013 is absolutely unacceptable.

Firstly, I had been informed by someone (of course no names were given) who responded to my call to 0870 606 7766 that I would hear back within 10 days. The email auto-response I received said it would be 20 days. Your letter is dated 17 April 2013. Your agency does understand that my life is essentially on hold until this is decided? Every delay causes issues to applicants.

Secondly, key information is missing from the letter regarding my case – an entire application was left of the timeline summarised in the letter. Does it change your response? Not really. But it does show how little attention has been given to my application overall.

I draw your attention to the third paragraph of the letter you sent (I trust you have retained a copy for your records) in which you admit that the letter I was sent in response to my first application contained erroneous detail – to wit that the payment details had not been provided (which they had) and that rather it should have said that the agency was unable to draw payment. The final line of this paragraph is “I apologise for the confusion that this may have caused you.”

You apologise for the confusion? Seriously? The “confusion” that this has caused me is a rejection of my application and I am now facing deportation. The extent to which your agency is trying to downplay this is insulting.

Finally, I would like an explanation as to why your agency does not simply request an alternative form of payment when they are unable to take payment with the details provided. The funds were definitely in my account. Was it possible that my bank disallowed a payment that size? Possibly. But because I had no idea that the UKBA had failed a payment attempt and there was no record of it on my bank statements, how was I to know?

Further, had I gone into your offices to process my application and my payment had failed, would you have just said “sorry, that’s it, you’ve been rejected”? Of course not, that’s ridiculous. You would have asked for a second form of payment. Why are those applying by post being punished in this way?

Rushanara Ali, my MP, has written to both the UKBA and the Home Office on my behalf because of how my application has been handled. I have also applied to appeal the decision at the First-Level Tribunal. I was hoping that it would not have to come to that, but based on how my application has been handled since the beginning and now how my complaint has been treated, I cannot see any other course of action.

I have also sent in a letter and all supporting documentation to the “case worker” who refused my application. He’s not responded, naturally. I would have attached the documentation for your convenience, but your systems will not allow a file that size. I hope that you will be able to access it via your internal systems and perhaps someone at a higher level within the agency will be able to look at this situation more reasonably.

Grayling’s Attack on Judicial Reviews of the UKBA

A friend of mine forwarded a relevant Guardian article to me today written by barrister  – Chris Grayling’s attack on judicial reviews is itself ‘meritless’.

UN. BE. LIEVABLE.

The UK has an immigration agency so broken that the Home Office has deemed it “not fit for purpose”. You hear stories all the time – like the Welsh gent’s Canadian wife who was not granted a UK visa because he wasn’t British (yup, you read that right) – of how the UKBA makes grotesque mistakes that ruin people’s lives.

And now they want to take one of the routes of holding the UKBA accountable away from those who are at their mercy?

I believe the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, may be out of his mind. He says that people are only using claims as a “cheap delaying tactic” in planning and immigration appeals.

What?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure this actually does happen. We all know that if there is a system in place, no matter how tight, there will be people who abuse it. However, this attitude of punishing everyone to stop a handful of dickheads who game the system is why the UKBA is being constantly taken to court and why there are so many judicial reviews. If you assume every immigrant is here for the wrong reason or illegally and blindly apply the same draconian laws to everyone, you are going to have to defend your reasons for doing so.

I do not deserve to be punished for wanting to be in the UK. I do not deserve to have my right to appeal taken away from me via time restrictions and financial burden when I was not the one at fault in the first place. I do have the right to stand and fight a faulty decision in a broken system. And so do we all.

Lawyer o’ Awesomeness

When I first received my decision letter from the UKBA, I was fairly paralysed with shock. It was completely unexpected. So I came home, blindly wrote a Facebook status and a tweet letting people know what was happening and asking for help, then just sort of sat back, numb.

As the well-wishes, advice and rage (loved having people rage for me… thank you lovely ragey people!) rushed in, I was overcome by the kindness of others – especially the friends of friends who stepped in.

A retweet by Mr. Felix Cohen triggered this exchange:

twitters

I don’t know Michael Vachon, but how happy am I that he responded and included a connection to Latitude Law? ALL THE HAPPY.

Since the beginning, I’ve been in touch with Gary McIndoe at Latitude, who was really the one who gave me the confidence to fight this. I thought I was right and the UKBA was wrong (of course) and so did all my friends… but to have a FOR REALS LAW GUY step in and say “yah, fight ’em”? That made a huge difference in how I was feeling.

It was Gary who told me how to get my appeal put together and submitted to the courts. And it is Gary that I’ll hire to stand with me in court if it should come to that. He’s been responsive, helpful and just generally awesome. Even without an outcome, I feel really grateful to Gary and all he’s done to date.

If you need advise and perhaps a lawyer (do get a lawyer, if you can); get in touch with Gary at Latitude Law. Even if it is just to have him say that it is worth fighting for.

Gary McIndoe, Solicitor
Latitude Law
Direct: 0161 234 6801
Skype: gary.mcindoe
www.latitudelaw.com

This guy really has been one of the heroes for me throughout this horrible ordeal. I thought contacting a lawyer would suck. It doesn’t suck. It’s awesome. If you need help with your immigration case, it is definitely worth contacting Gary.

Limbo

I’ve been quiet about my situation for awhile because I needed some distance. I also wanted to give my initial activities some time to bear fruit, if any. I also needed a small break from thinking about it; I’ve been finding this situation (perhaps unsurprisingly) rather consuming. Even when I’m not directly thinking about it, it feels like it is eating a portion of my brain.

So where am I with all this? In limbo.

1. My lovely MP wrote two letters; one to the UKBA and another to the Home Office. I’ve not heard anything back regarding either, I’ll be following up this week.

2. My application to appeal has been received and acknowledged by the courts. I need to submit a fee (I bet they are better about taking fees than the UKBA – sigh) and I’ll be good to go.

3. I’ve finally heard back from the complaints department. That’s one for another post. Unbelievable.

That’s about it, to be honest. But I’m getting tired of being in this no-place place so I’m going to get back to actively making the UKBA rethink their ridiculous decision. My next steps (other than writing a recommendation for the lovely law firm that gave me some advice and a post about the complaints people):

1. Phone call to the ONE NUMBER you can find for the UKBA to see if they are doing anything with my case or what.

2. Writing my MP to see if their office has heard back.

3. Requesting all the information and notes they are holding on my file.

4. Reach out to the reporter who emailed me and see if she’s still interested in my story.

5. An anonymous tipster suggested that I should go to their offices (if I can find them in Croydon or Swindon or whatever) and stay there until I am allowed to speak to a human being. Challenge one: Finding a human being (with a heart and all) to speak with at the UKBA.

Has anyone who might cruise by this blog and have had their own issues with the UKBA ever tried going to visit them? Any tips or recommendations?

My Letter to the UKBA

I thought it might be useful for anyone else that finds themselves in my position – at the mercy of the UKBA and in receipt of a letter telling them they have to leave their home with no right to appeal – to have a sample letter from which they could form their own response to the UKBA. Note this is NOT my lawyer’s letter for the appeal, this my letter  to the UKBA.

If you ever are in receipt of such a letter, that you have “no right to appeal” might be only a partial truth. It means that you cannot appeal directly through the normal UKBA channels. You can, however, call them or your “local enforcement office” (do this right away) and tell them you are disputing it. You can get your MP to make enquiries. And you can get a lawyer (get a lawyer) to file an appeal through the courts.

You may not have the right to appeal; you do have the right to fight.

I’ve redacted the names of the caseworkers (I don’t know if they are actually real people, but just in case) as I am trying to not lay individual blame. Don’t hate the players, kids. Hate the game.

Warning: This letter is pretty long. Awesome (of course), but long. It printed out to four pages and had 23 pages of attachments (not included, just listed).

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