/ UK Border Agency

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mountainpunk - on 12 Feb 2013
My girlfriend is a US citizen who's just finished her degree over here, she's now got a job that pays her enough to allow her to apply for a work visa. She has stuck to all the rules governing necessary money in bank accounts, etc., filled in all the forms and sent her original documents (passport, bank statements, proof of degree) to UKBA.

She received a letter from them saying that they didn't have any of her documents and she needed to send them in or else they would reject her application.
However, she sent everything via Royal Mail Special Delivery and has the receipt and tracking number which suggest that the documents were signed for at the Border Agency office.
When she phoned them on the number they had provided on the letter to mention this she was told that the helpline could not put her through to the office that dealt with visa applications as they have no phone contact, nor could she e-mail or even fax them, the only option was to write a letter back.
She did this about 2 weeks ago and has received no further information either way.
The US embassy told her not to worry as the UK Border Agency are absolutely f*cking useless and will sort it out eventually.

Just wondering if anyone has had any dealings with the UKBA or any advice on what to do next?
MG - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk: A while ago now but yes I have. There are indeed f*cking useless and also liars, arrogant, inconsistent, threatening and generally appalling. Don't believe a word they say or believe anything is sorted out until you have the paper stamped and sealed. If possible, it is probably worth going in person to one of their offices and applying in person (if this is still possible?). Even then, expect them to have forgotten to mention so crucial document, that you were meant to have to have to come back again in the future. Good luck.
highclimber - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk: If the UKBA is anything like the DWP then anything you send via mail will go to a PO box and as such it doesn't matter that it was signed for as it will not have been recieved in the relevant department. keep on at them as you have the evidence you did all you could.
digby - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk:

The Guardian have a lot of horror stories about the UKBA eg http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/2013/jan/24/uk-border-agency-your-stories

I'm afraid you are not going to have a good experience.
Postmanpat on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk:
>
>
> Just wondering if anyone has had any dealings with the UKBA or any advice on what to do next?

MG's description is about right. Utterly incompetent bastards. Keep a full record of all interactions.Never give up. If you can actually get to talk to any human being beyond the gatekeepers do anything to keep them onside and help get action.
If things become desperate then paying a lawyer who will have contacts if you can afford it may help.

mountainpunk - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to all:

Thanks for the replies, unfortunately exactly what I expected to hear.

I was worried about the PO box thing particularly but am encouraged that she has kept a record of everything she's done so far and will get her to keep trying to get information.

Was definitely thinking lawyers but would struggle to afford it, will see how things are panning out.

Such a frustrating process dealing with incompetant w*nkers, sounds like you're right, digby, we're not going to have a good experience!
jonny taylor on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk:
Afraid I can only confirm what others have already written. Plus, make sure you check carefully that the visa they eventually give you matches exactly what you asked for(!)

Also, do not be surprised if after it's all finally sorted out she gets a letter saying "we may have sent you somebody else's documents. If that is the case, please send them back to us". This is not a scam. They really are that feckless.
IainRUK - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk: Useless..

Complain.. complain.. complain..

My ex was told she had to apply for residency after 4 years.. in that time they changed it to 5 years but the call handler hadn't realised.. so she sent in the application and a 1000.. they took all the money .. gave her a 1 year extension and said pay 1000 next time..

They even 'lost the recordings of the phone conversation'... eventually afetr the MP got involved and assistance from a mate with the UKBA we got the money back..

horrid organisation..
hokkyokusei - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk:

I occasionally deal with them at work. Officious and obstructive. Their rules are so complex and hard to comply with (some impossible to comply with) that they have a set of officially condoned "excuses" for non compliance! That says it all really.
jonny taylor on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk:

On maybe a slightly more positive note, my experience is that the US embassy advice not to worry is not entirely unreasonable. The UKBA did sort things out in the end in my gf's case, albeit with delays, cockups and incompetence along the way - no apologies of course. What I would say though is that even if you don't get the progress updates they promise, replies to your letters, and suchlike, don't necessarily assume that means nothing is happening (glacially slowly) behind the scenes.
mountainpunk - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny taylor:
> Plus, make sure you check carefully that the visa they eventually give you matches exactly what you asked for(!)

Thanks, will look out for that!

> They really are that feckless.

F*ck sake . . .
mountainpunk - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

> they took all the money .. gave her a 1 year extension and said pay 1000 next time..

sounds about right, looks like they've taken her money as well, before they supposedly haven't received her documents.


mountainpunk - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny taylor:
>
> don't necessarily assume that means nothing is happening (glacially slowly) behind the scenes.

That's what we figured thus far but will definitely go on all the advice of complaining to the relevant authorities and chasing up what we can.

Was thinking of writing to my MP (one David Cameron) as well, no idea whether his immigration caseworkers can get anything done though.
IainRUK - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny taylor:
> (In reply to mountainpunk)
>
> On maybe a slightly more positive note, my experience is that the US embassy advice not to worry is not entirely unreasonable. The UKBA did sort things out in the end in my gf's case, albeit with delays, cockups and incompetence along the way - no apologies of course. What I would say though is that even if you don't get the progress updates they promise, replies to your letters, and suchlike, don't necessarily assume that means nothing is happening (glacially slowly) behind the scenes.

It took 2 years or so before we got a refund...
Jon Stewart - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk:

I worked there for about 8 years.

My advice is to pray.
RockAngel on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk: When I rang the BA about which would be best for me, visa, work permit, right of abode or citizenship, the guy on the other end of the phone was very helpful, explained what each one was and actually listened to what I had to say before advising me. I applied for my citizenship in the November of 2011 and signed the register last March. I sent everything recorded delivery and had no problem but they didnt lose my documents.
jonny taylor on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to RockAngel:
I was just thinking that it was very telling that nobody had been along to say "actually it was fine for me"! Glad to hear things sometimes work.
syv_k - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk:

Your MP's office is a good idea as there is a special phone line that MP's staff can use to chase up applications. I volunteer as a CAB adviser and there is no way that I or the client can check the progress of an application - are there any other organisations where you send them hundreds of pounds and vital documents and after months or years have elapsed they still don't want to tell you if either you are still in the queue and they haven't done anything yet, or perhaps they decided your application ages ago but sent the letter to the wrong address.
Irk the Purist - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to syv_k:
> (In reply to mountainpunk)
>
> are there any other organisations where you send them hundreds of pounds and vital documents and after months or years have elapsed they still don't want to tell you if either you are still in the queue and they haven't done anything yet, or perhaps they decided your application ages ago but sent the letter to the wrong address.

Student loans department?

Co1in H - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to mountainpunk: Write to your local MP and also to the head of the Border Agency and title that letter "Complaint". These are processed down a different route and have to be answered within a given timeframe. Copy each in to the other's letter.
If you have kept copies of the documents sent in, copy them again and send them with each letter, along with a copy of the follow up letter.
The phone line is a waste of time for this. They will be remotely based and have no influence or direct connection to dealing with the paperwork.
Check out via the tracking that it has been deliverd as it is their responsibility once it has.
You should also perhaps do the same thing and write to the Minister concerned.
UKBA may well be useless, but the government sanctioned these processes and should be called to account for the s***e that they create.
Good luck.
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Bimble on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to syv_k:

And the CRB checkers, it seems. Mine's now at the stage where it's with the local police who have up to 60 days to turn it around before I can chase it up with them. Don't worry boys, I don't need it in a rush or anything...
mountainpunk - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to jonny taylor:
> (In reply to RockAngel)
> I was just thinking that it was very telling that nobody had been along to say "actually it was fine for me"! Glad to hear things sometimes work.

Second that!
mountainpunk - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to syv_k:
> (In reply to mountainpunk)
>
> Your MP's office is a good idea as there is a special phone line that MP's staff can use to chase up applications.

Thanks, will get on to that!

mountainpunk - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Co1in H:
Great, thanks, sounds like the way to go.

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