I’ve been owing you guys a final update on the situation with the UKBA and as I sit here tonight all deported and stuff in my mother’s kitchen in Canada, I thought it was about time to give you one.
1. The “Interview”
I spoke a couple of times with some very polite (and understanding – whoo boy… because was I upset with them) people at Beckett House over the phone in my last few weeks in London. They are the ones that deal with getting folks out of the country once they had agreed to go. They were the ones that got blasted when they told me that a) I *had* to go back to Canada and b) I wasn’t going to get my passport back until I was at the airport. It would have been nice to know that much, much earlier.
They asked me to come in for an “interview” with the UKBA in the days prior to my flight. They told me I’d be able to explain my story and that perhaps my case would be escalated for review by a senior case worker. That I should bring my papers. That I should be ready to explain what happened.
What a crock.
I went into their office, which felt a lot like going into a Job Centre. Dire. So very dire. My “interview” took place at one of the windows through a pane of glass. The guy asked me a couple of questions, one of which was how I had been supporting myself whilst in the UK. And a few others that were on my flipping application. Then he disappeared for a good 10 minutes.
When he returned, he gave me all my supporting documentation (like birth certificates, etc) except my passport. He gave me a letter to give to the ticket counter at the airport and said that they would give me my passport. The letter said I could be “detained at any time” and really didn’t make me feel very safe.
He also gave me a form to fill out to appeal the decision of “overstayer” which had to be sent in from out of the country. That’s what I filled in tonight. More on that below.
2. The Airport
First, if you are going through this: TAKE A COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT PICTURE PAGE TO THE AIRPORT WITH YOU. No one told me that. I just did as my passport is my only ID, so I always have that copy with me. Without it, I don’t think I would have received my boarding pass.
I also didn’t get my passport at that time. I had to go through security first, and then call immigration on a phone at the other side. Several times. Because first the person on extension 2019 told me to call extension 7026. There was no answer. So I called 2019 back. They asked my name. They asked me to hold. They asked me to call them back in 10 minutes. I feeling panicky at this point. I mean, after everything I’d been through with immigration, I didn’t really trust them to actually get my passport to the correct airport.
I called them back after 10 minutes. They put me through to another line that rang and rang and rang. So I hung up and called them back. They said that the “department” that had my passport wasn’t in until 9:00 (just about the same time as my flight!) but they would see what they could do. Then I was told to hang on, someone would be there in 15 minutes with my passport.
Once the immigration officer finally showed up with my passport, she actually escorted me through to the waiting area where all the food and stuff is. And boy oh boy… for someone who knew fuck all about my situation was she ever condescending. She already had her mind made up that my deportation was all my fault. I would have been a lot more argumentative with that bitch but I was still nervous about getting detained, as they said I may be in their vaguely threatening letter. So I kept my mouth shut and got on my plane.
3. The Appeal
I now have a final option where I can send a bunch of information (again) to the Tribunal to ask them to overturn the decision that I’m an Overstayer. I don’t even care about getting chucked out and a 12 month re-entry ban at this point: I have my year-long job to do in Korea now. HOWEVER… not having to claim on any future applications to the UK that I “overstayed” (with a lengthy explanation) would be nice. So I filled out their form. In a last little bit of awesomeness though, the directions included with the form had a) the wrong website given for you to access for information, b) spelling error on the form (it said “her” instead of “here”), and c) they had the sections that needed to be filled in for non-asylum appeals incorrectly labeled. Amazing.
Hopefully there are only two more things I will have to endure in what has been a stressful, long-running, agonising and ridiculous process: 1) waiting for the decision regarding my appeal from the Tribunal and 2) the re-application process 13 months from now if I choose to go back to the UK. 🙂
As always: If there is anyone out there that is reading this that is going through their own nightmare with the UKBA… you are not alone. Reach out to others online. There are some really great resources. Share your stories. Every situation is different and there may be someone out there that could benefit from knowing what you went through, just as you may benefit from reading someone else’s story. Get legal advice. I recommend Gary McIndoe of Latitude Law (www.latitudelaw.com) who gave me great advice and was so much help.
Thanks to everyone for reading this saga and your support throughout it. Hopefully as my new adventures kick off (more on that soon!) my blog will be much more entertaining and a hell of a lot less gloomy going forward.