2007-09-13

The triumph of bureaucracy over matter

Well, it took some doing, but I finally got from the Home office notification of the status of my visa application. It turns out I was refused (Jelenko, gdje si?), for reasons that I believe I will be able to contest. But let's get to the first step: how does one receive information about the disposition of his or her own case? It turns out that it can be done in several hairpulling steps:
  1. Ask to be informed.
  2. Fail to receive a reply.
  3. Ask for intervention by the complaints unit.
  4. Receive a bewildering variety of contradictory replies, some stating that the case has already been taken up, some stating that the case will be taken up in the future, and some stating that the case cannot be taken up.
  5. Ask to be informed again.
  6. Fail to receive a reply again (repeat two times).
  7. Find the address of the head of the Border and Immigration Agency.
  8. Ask her to intervene ("Hej ministre, jel mogu da dobijem jednu garažu za svoj bend?").
  9. In the meantime, continue to receive correspondence telling you that it is impossible to be notified of the status of your case in less than twelve weeks "due to security reasons."
  10. After a short interval, receive the document that they were obligated to supply in the first place, along with a note stating that informing applicants of the status of their cases in a timely manner "is not common practice and has been done on this occasion exceptionally."
The details of the matter and the grounds on which I will appeal are, I do not doubt, too boring for any of the readers here. But there is a nice little gem in the letter I finally did receive, which contains the passage:
You may request one reconsideration of your application. This will be carried out on the basis of exactly the same information provided in your original application. If you wish us to review our decision, you should clearly set out the reasons why you believe the decision is incorrect in a letter to the HSMP Team or complete the review request form available on our website: www.workingintheuk.gov.uk. This must be sent within 28 days of the date of the decision. Please note that any review requests received more than 28 days after the date of the decision will not normally be accepted and any verbal request for a review cannot be considered as valid.
Considering that I was able to be notified of the decision within 17 days only by virtue of the extraordinary intervention of a powerful individual, and that otherwise the Home Office seems to insist that twelve weeks is a reasonable amount of time in which to be notified of decisions, an interesting possibility arises. Since weeks, if they are calculated using base-10, generally last 7 days, and since 12 x 7 = 84, and since 84 - 28 = 56, it looks as though somebody has calculated a way to deprive every applicant of the right of appeal by design.

Quod erat zajebatum.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Given the circumstances you allude to, I kinda suspect they will also 'exceptionally' reconsider your case and 'exceptionally' change their mind rather quickly...

Eric Gordy said...

Hej, iz vaših usta u božije uši.

Anonymous said...

Do you know any British politicians? Preferably NOT anyone in the Sinn Fein party! :)
Sometimes intervention by a political person is helpful in the U.S. and it might be in the U.K.
Katja, escapee Yakima Gulag

Eric Gordy said...

I dont know Tony Blair, but I once watched a film with Linda Blair.

Owen said...

It seems standard practice for the Home Office to refuse almost everyone, most reasonable cases included. A certain number of stupid or anxious foreigners will drop out at this first hurdle, making targets for deterring these crazy people that actually want to come here easier to achieve.

You're right to be wary about trusting your documents to the Home Office, from experience of acquaintances they manage to lose an awful lot. The positive side of this is that once they've lost your application, in about a year or two's time in response to an MP asking them what they've done about finding your application/all the other significant papers in your life they'll grant you permanent leave to remain. But you won't get the papers back though.

Katja's absolutely right, you need someone to raise a question with the Home Office. Have you already got your accommodation arranged? I presume you're able to come and go on a visitor's visa anyway. If so, go straight to the local MP's next surgery. They know the form for dealing with Home Office nonsense (not that it will necessary help you get past it). But in any case make sure the Home Office are aware that you are keeping a named person of public standing - preferably an elected representative - aware of the progress of your application.

If you know Peter Mandelson you're probably about two months too late to get a British passport (she's right about 3rd-Worldisation).

Check that it's not illegal for the Home Office to refuse certified true copies of documents notarised in an EU country (eg Hungary). You'd need to check that out, it's just off the top of my head, but I suspect a lot of this demand for original documents is simply for deterrence purposes.

The important thing is one way or another to get over here and get started in the job so you don't waste time in the meanwhile.

Eric Gordy said...

Thanks for the advice, Owen. Unfortunately, I've already lost a lot of time! But I sent off my appeal today, with copies to all of the people I've corresponded with in the meantime (including the head of BIA, which used to be IND). If this doesnt work, the SSEES-ovci are working on Plan C.

Owen said...

I'm sure SSEES have to deal with this situation on a routine basis (if not, I'm sure SOAS have plenty of experience and can offer them some advice).

The other people you might find helpful are Immigration Advisory Service - Address: County House, 190 Great Dover Street, London SE1 4YB (Tel. 020 7967 1200 / fax 020 7378 0665)
http://www.iasuk.org/C2B/document_tree/ViewADocument.asp?ID=49&CatID=10

- if you're in London in the time before you need to start work go to one of their drop-in sessions (I think they can be difficult to get through to on the phone) and as long as you've got an address in their catchment area hopefully they'll give you an appointment with an adviser who's likely to be competent and helpful from what I've heard.

(Mon. 09:00 - 09:30 / Tue. 13:00 - 13:30 / Wed. 09:00 - 09:30 and
Thu. 09:00 - 09:30)

Near Borough Underground station - http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=532514&y=179663&z=0&sv=SE1+4YB&st=2&pc=SE1+4YB&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf

I do get angry that the Home Office for years has been as incompetent as people I know have found it to be (over and above its political role in immigration control) since after all I am paying for it (a little bit, any way).

Owen said...

And I'd advise you not to be too smart in your correspondence with them. Irritate the person handling your application at your own peril. If you write don't think in terms of a debate with the individual concerned, just set out the facts that a case review should take into account.