Another example of inconsistent British immigration law

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.

UK Immigration Injustice and the ‘Freedom of Movement’ – My Dog has More Rights than my Partner

A few years ago, I proposed to a blue eyed, blonde haired American girl named Grace. She lived in Denver, Colorado, and I in Glasgow, Scotland. I told her I knew it would be rough, but I was prepared to do whatever we had to so we could be together. We agreed that we would pursue the legal path of least resistance – which was for her to move to the UK. This was partly down to the minimum income requirements imposed by our respective Governments (I had a higher paying job at the time), but also to do with having more experience of the British legal system.

Despite being the lesser of two evils, the process itself was hellish.

There were endless contradictions, blatant flaws, and convoluted evidential requirements. Just when it seemed like we had gotten over one obstacle, another illogical one would present itself. Often, I would literally be ripping my hair out in sheer exasperation at the injustice of the whole thing. How could they get away with this? It seemed clear that the problems were there by design rather than incompetence. Every part of my being wanted to scream from the rooftops to tell people about what was really going on; to publicly question why – despite all of the rhetoric from the UK Government about wanting immigrants who add value to our society – my future wife was banned not only from working, but from volunteering.

I didn’t. To this day I am still wary of openly criticising the policies on immigration too heavily, as we are locked into the process for years to come. The decisions that we would be calling into question would be made by the very same people and organisations that could deny any of our future applications on a whim.

With just days before the people of Scotland decide to vote on independence, it’s important that I make this clear: The UK’s immigration policy is fundamentally racist, with the system deliberately left broken. As a result, British citizens have less rights in their own country than those from elsewhere in the EU.

Actual paperwork aside, here’s a specific example:

* Grace requires a specific residence visa to live in the UK. To avoid waiting weeks for a decision, we have to go to a dedicated UKVI (formerly the UKBA) office. As there is only one office in Scotland (with limited hours), this meant travelling to Liverpool to get an appointment. The cost for this privilege (which has to be renewed every couple of years) is around £1000.

* Each time Grace arrives in the UK, she has no automatic right of entry. She must present her passport and residence card, along with a completed landing form. Providing that entry is granted at the border, her passport is stamped with the entry date, and her fingerprints taken.

* If a German citizen came to the UK, they would have the right of residence under the European Union’s regulations on freedom of movement.

* The German citizen’s partner would automatically have the right of entry to the UK, as long as they were either travelling with them at the time, or coming to join them in the country. Their passport would not ordinarily be stamped, and they would not require any visa or residence permit, as they were there by virtue of the German citizen’s Treaty rights.

The UK cannot impose restrictions on the freedom of movement of citizens of the EU or their families (allowing for the relevant definitions in question), but they are able to impose whatever restrictions they like on their own people. This is because it is not counted as discrimination against the citizens of another member state.

In short, this means that because of Westminster immigration policy, I (as a British person) have less rights than somebody from anywhere else in the European Union.

In order to gain the same protection as other European citizens, I would first need to move to a different country within the EU, stay for three months (in the ‘pursuit of an economic activity’ – working, basically), and then return to the UK with Grace. This is a complicated route, and one established by the case of Surinder Singh.

So why does this ridiculous situation exist? Simple. The ideological pursuit of the Tory government. Hey, Better Together, right?

But hey, want to bring your dog with you from the USA? Not a problem.