Saturday, 31 October 2009

UK Immigration: Residence Card Application

Philippine passport
Originally uploaded by tony_081983

Immigration is such a very complicated process especially for Philippine passport holders. There seems to have wall that we have to climb over in order to get admitted in another country whether as tourists, job seeker or immigrant. Whereas for Europeans, Americans and other developed countries they can just go in and out without a fuss.

After my wedding I had to extend my visa. Naturally, I asked other Filipinos who got married to a British for advice aside from looking for information from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website. So I gathered that I had to apply for a definite leave to remain which is valid for 2 years and costs around £400? I have yet to verify this. However when I was skimming through the application form it said that "if you are a family member of an eea national this form is not for you." I got confused and there was no follow-up link pointing to the right form. Again, I had to ask some reputable people and agencies like the Citizen's Advice Bureau but they are also daft on immigration issues. They can only advice on financial and employment matters. My visa expiration was getting closer and I was getting frantic. I tried to call UKBA support but it was just ringing and the number was not free to call. I was getting more and more frantic. Gladly after a week of poring over online leaflets I found a landline number, called it and took me about an hour to be finally put through. When I heard the voice from the other end of the line I quickly asked what type of visa application I needed and he said EEA2 otherwise known as the "Residence Card Application by Non EEA National..." and the best thing about it was that it's free compared to the other visa application I earlier was going to fill up. A couple of days later, my application was sent to the Home Office (HO) or immigration as we know it in the Philippines.

Two weeks later I received a letter of certificate of application from the HO stating that I could already "seek employment" while my application was on process. I was ecstatic. Work at last after more than half a year.

Well, I thought I was lucky that I didn't have to pay for the application but  six months later and there was no sign of my passport I began to worry. I couldn't get a proper job, couldn't leave the country, couldn't open a bank account, I felt so helpless. I tried to ring the HO but they couldn't address my question. Seven months had passed and I was getting desperate. By the eighth month I decided to write them and told them that my passport was expiring in a few months so I pleaded that they resolve my case as soon as they could. Two weeks later I got a packet containing all my documents and my husband's and my passport with the Residence Card Documentation.  Whew! I could jump up and down for joy. I couldn't contain my happiness.

This experience made me mull over it. It is actually against the law for them to keep my passport longer than six months. And it was so inconvenient on my part. I asked the wind and the moon why the hell it's so unfair. Europeans, Australians, Americans and the rest of them go through immigration as if they were invisible. This is actually never-ending issue for Filipinos who are married to Europeans, Americans, Australians having to go through the loophole when moving to another country. I even came to the point of cursing the Philippine passport. If I had UK or European passport things would have been so much easier especially with immigration matters. I don't regret being a Filipino, I just hate having a Filipino passport. I can't wait to have it changed.