27th August 2015
Anyong! (Korean)

Our meetup earlier this month was well attended, with about 20 people present. Most were there to find out about exercising free movement rights, and a couple of BC members who are now united with their family in the UK simply came to help and share their experience - thank you very much Mark and Sree for dedicating your Saturday afternoon to this cause. 

It was especially rewarding as attendees stated they learnt more in these few hours than they had in the past three years!  All thankfully appeared to leave with a clear understanding of how free movement works, what the requirements are and what Surinder Singh route is.  We expect Ireland and Germany will see a few more happy families coming their way. 

Fantastic Fran - volunteer and BC representative in Scotland - is organising a meetup in Edinburgh on 4th September. Please attend if you can and show support in the opposition to these roles.  It will also provide you with a chance to meet other like-minded people and kids are of course welcome too.

Two bits of good news on the general immigration front. 

Germany has chosen to adopt a humane stance towards those seeking refuge, ensuring loyalty from generations of Syrians who also won't forget any time soon the UK government comparing their existence to that of insects.  Just hope Syrians know British politicians don't in fact speak for us all.

You will all also have heard people fleeing war, famine, persecution being referred to as migrants - a massive bug bear of mine, not because migrants is a bad word - not remotely, as at one point or another all of us are migrants - but because of the tone the word is used in.  It's therefore been fantastic to see responsible journalism from Al Jazeera English, which has announced that it will now refer to these people simply as people, refugees or families.  Slowly, but surely, we're seeing some positive change, in politicians (albeit not British ones, yet) and the media.

In a bit more detail below we share what appears to be yet another questionable decision by the HO and some disappointing statistics from the visa unit in Manila.

Wish you all a lovely long weekend from all at BritCits.
This week we heard of Mr and Mrs Summer, who find themselves falling foul of UK immigration, with a refusal on several grounds.  Finances is one of them, even though the couple indicates they are self-sufficient and own their own home (which of course has no worth to the Home Office unless it's sold for cold hard cash). 

The incredibly absurd reason though is that the Immigration Officer doesn't seem to believe the couple is affectionate enough!  In the words of Mrs Summer "To say our marriage isn't genuine after 50 years and a son together is ridiculous." 

(Reminds me of Izzy and Phil whose marriage of over 10 years with three children was deemed insufficient evidence of a genuine relationship!)

Thanks to Tom's investigative skills, we've contacted Mr Summer to let him know about free movement: SS route and in case his wife is eligible for Dutch citizenship.  However, Mr Summer exercising FM rights himself could be difficult given his own health and the need to care for his 95 year old mum.
Amanda & Tony - British citizen Amanda, after years of living in New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, expected that when she decided to move back home to be with her family in Scotland, her husband would be as welcomed in the UK as Amanda had been in his home nation.   Reality came as a nasty surprise.
A Freedom of Information request recently brought to our attention proves what we have suspected for some time - Entry Clearance Officers and Managers do not spend anywhere near the time required to properly assess applications.

The response to this request indicates that the Visa section in Manila processes on average 10,500 applications a month which are looked at by 18 ECOs.  20% of the applications are reviewed by ECMs.

Under the very generous assumption that all 23 of these employees work exclusively on cases 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month (any additional hours let's say is for admin, training, breaks, chatting to colleagues, meetings, holidays, sick leave etc) this indicates that ECO's spend a maximum of 16.45 minutes on each application and ECMs no more than 13 minutes. 

How the HO can reconcile higher fees and increasingly complex requirements with such little casework time is quite baffling.  But for those who have fallen victim to poor decision making, with submitted documents overlooked, this will unfortunately not come as a surprise.

What can you do? Write to your MP and request an explanation for how the rules can actually be implemented properly with such little time allocated for each case.
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