Today I came across yet another example of how the British approach to immigration law is completely inconsistent, and penalises those of us with non-EU spouses disproportionately.
There are various ‘global entry’ style schemes where frequent travellers can pay for additional background checks, which lets them go through an expedited customs and immigration process when travelling to certain countries.
Here’s a recent explanation of how Canadian and US nationals who are a member of this scheme can get preferential treatment when coming to the UK:
Registered Traveller was launched by the UK Border Force to give faster and more convenient entry to the UK for eligible nationals from the United States and Canada. Membership of Registered Traveller costs £70 in the first year and £50 per year thereafter.
Membership of Registered Traveller includes the following benefits:
- Access to ePassport gates
- Use of the UK / EEA queue
- No requirement to complete a landing card on arrival in the UK
- No routine credibility interview with a Border Force officer.
All of that sounds great, until you consider how this approach differs from the way we treat British citizens who have non-EU spouses.
For example, my American wife has lived in the UK for the past 2 years. We have gone through two (soon to be three) separate visa processes, paying thousands of Pounds, and providing an incredible amount of evidence about our backgrounds, finances, and relationship. Yet, she still has to fill out a landing card on arrival in the UK. This landing card includes questions like: “How long do you intend to be in the UK?”, which is totally inappropriate for residents – but who cares about that?
That’s the logic of British immigration law. Give foreign business travellers a pass on basic checks if they spend fifty quid a year and do an interview, but completely shaft British citizens and their sposes that go through the most thorough of application processes and spend thousands of Pounds.
Makes you feel really proud to be a British citizen.