Tag Archives: UK

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).

Continue reading

Hoping for some CBC love

If you are going to try and make your story heard, you try to make it heard everywhere. I just sent an email to the CBC in hopes that they might be interested in my story when (if? when?) they cover the scrapping of the UKBA. 

A long shot? Yes. But in the wise, wise words of fellow Canadian Wayne Gretzky, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So I’m taking every shot I can.

My letter to the CBC:

Hi CBC,

I’m from Vancouver, BC but have been living in the UK for 5 years now. I haven’t seen any coverage on the CBC website regarding yesterday’s breaking news that they are shutting down the UK Border Agency for being “not fit for purpose”, but I’m sure you are aware of it.

I’m currently the victim of their incompetency – I have had my Ancestry visa renewal refused and have been told I have no right to appeal the decision. I do have the right to fight it though and I am.

If you are going to cover this story and would like to include details of how it is currently effecting a Canadian abroad, I’ve written all the details of what has happened here: wp.me/p1CyWc-um

I hope that in light of this news, my personal story is of interest to you. I’m sure there are many of my fellow Canadians also struggling with life-altering decisions made by the UKBA.

Thank you for your time.

Most sincerely,

Jodi

My life, pending.

After getting over the initial shock of receiving my get out letter last Friday (just five days ago – this has been the longest five days ever), it has been hard to pinpoint how I am feeling about everything.

Mostly I have been feeling like I need a grown-up. Sort of like when you would get bullied as a kid and got a parent to step in for you. I’ve been wanting someone smarter and stronger than me to hold my hand and assuredly walk me through all of this. Someone with all the answers. Someone with authority. Having a lawyer and my MP on my side is helping alleviate this feeling, but I still wish I could have my dad (or my moms – even more powerful, she is) beat up the UKBA’s dad.

The other feeling is harder to pinpoint. I think it can best be summed up like this though: When I was showering this morning I looked at my half-empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner and wondered if it would be worth it to buy more. If my life in the UK will even carry on long enough to warrant buying another set. 

That’s a gross feeling. Walking around my lovely little flat, looking at all the bits and pieces I’ve gathered over the last five years, and wondering the best way of getting rid of it all if I have to.

My life, pending. It’ll be good to get living it again, no matter what the outcome.

UKBA Getting The Boot

It’s amazing how things just align sometimes, doesn’t it? Just four days after telling me I have no right to exist in the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May gives the UKBA a taste of their own medicine.

For anyone not in the know, today Theresa May announced that the UK Border Agency will be scrapped and split into two.

From her speech today:

I believe the Agency’s problems boil down to four main issues. First, the sheer size of the Agency means it has conflicting cultures, and all too often focuses on the crisis in hand at the expense of other important work. Second, its lack of transparency and accountability. Third, its inadequate IT systems. And fourth, the policy and legal framework within which it has to operate.

How happy am I that the HOME SECRETARY also sees these as massive issues that need reform? All the happy.

As I mentioned in my first post about my situation: I truly do understand why a firm yet fair immigration system is needed. But I came to this country 100% legally and with entry clearance. Now after more than five years I’m being told to leave because the UKBA was incapable of processing payment. How is that a fair immigration system?

I sincerely doubt that this change will have any impact at all on my situation but it is so relieving to know that the problems are very real and that I’m not the only one who sees the need for things to change.

And I know it is all just coincidence… but it is nice to believe that this is the universe telling the UKBA that they shouldn’t have ever messed with me. Awwwww yiss.

First follow-up: Letter to my MP

If you read the earlier post of my letter, you probably deduced I’m one of these people that has difficulty asking for help, which is why I made my request about everyone suffering at the hands of the UKBA, not just me. From all the feedback I have received (thanks!) I should have asked for Rushanara Ali to deal with MY case specifically. Oops.

But there is good news. I called her office today and spoke with a few very helpful people. The first got me through right away to a Senior Caseworker who was extremely understanding, patient and helpful.

She has said that it is possible that Rushanara may be able to do two things in light of my email and subsequent phone call: Contact the UKBA about my case specifically (and contact from MPs = priority) AS WELL AS ask the Immigration Minister my questions.

How awesome is that? The caseworker emailed me immediately with a form to complete with more of my details. I have done so. Now to try and keep calm whilst I await their response.

And thank you again to all who had feedback about the letter (especially @ifenn and Hemma’s mysterious “friend”). It really helped me focus my request when I called their office.

Props to Shadow Minister Chris Bryant

You know what feels good? When you write a Minister and they write back. Like, immediately. His response to my email to him:

Jodi
I’m afraid to say that UKBA will only reply to any correspondence from your own MP, so there is not much I can do other than raise the issues in general.
Chris

You know what? That’s good enough for me. It isn’t his fault that the UKBA will only reply to correspondence from my own MP (let’s hope my MP is awesome and will fight for me). It means a lot that he personally responded (within minutes) and is continuing to support those having issues with this system.

Letter to my MP

Nearly every person who has come across my story has suggested that I contact my local MP for support, advice, and assistance.

My MP Rushanara Ali has a simple webform for submitting enquires, so I kept mine as brief and simple as possible. I will also be sending her office a paper letter with more details as well as a giving them a call.

Here’s the letter I have submitted:

Hi Rushanara and team,

I am reaching out to you because I desperately need your help: Due to internal errors made by the UKBA, my application to renew my visa has been refused. Any advice or assistance from your office would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, I would like some answers from Parliament regarding how many people have been effected by these exact same issues and why they are doing nothing to rectify it.

Specifically, I would like answers to the following questions:

 1. How many applications made by post to the UKBA are deemed “invalid” due to payment processing issues?

2. Why is the workflow of who is handling applications from receipt through payment to review and decision not documented?

3. Why is the UKBA incapable of requesting an alternative form of payment, much as they would if an applicant had been present in their office? Why are they punishing those who are applying by post?

 The specifics around my situation have been detailed here: http://wp.me/p1CyWc-ub 

 I will also follow up this email with a detailed letter and a call to your office tomorrow. As I am sure you can imagine, I am desperate to get this situation resolved. In the meantime, everyone has suggested I contact my MP for support. I sincerely hope that I can count on yours, Rushanara.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my email. 

With kindest regards,

Jodi