17th Mar 2013 4:17pm | By Carol Driver
Thanks to you, our TNT UKBA Balls-Up campaign is gaining momentum.
Our petition has now received more than 1000 signatures and counting. And, this week, high-profile politicians have announced they’re backing our cause.
We had tonnes of support at the TNT Travel Show – I spoke to hundreds of readers who had either been affected by incompetency at the UKBA or knew someone who’s had to put their life on hold due to its inefficiency – from not being able to travel, and forking out for the wrong visas due to misinformation, to not being able to get through to the office that seemingly never answers its phone.
Cases like Sean Spurdle (below), a business owner who’s planning on getting married this year whose passport has already been held by UKBA for eight months with no end in sight.
We know it’s not good enough – and that’s why we’re campaigning for improvements.
And UK MPs are supporting our campaign as well: the shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper (below) and shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant announced this week that they’re on board.
Bryant (below) told TNT: “At a time when the UK economy is struggling, it is vital that we are open for business and tourism.
“The UK Border Agency’s failure to deal with visa applications promptly is a major own goal and it is time the government realised they are undermining our chances of turning the economy around.
Since the 2010 general election, the UKBA has had to cut thousands of staff, which has only lead to things getting worse and worse.
This is why I support TNT Magazine’s campaign – we need a border agency that operates efficiently, is customer-friendly and provides value for money.”
The only way we can change things is with your support.
Sign our petition, send it to your friends and family, post it on Facebook, tweet about it on Twitter – whatever it takes to get enough signatures to make those in charge sit up and take notice.
Shadow Minister for Borders and Immigration Chris Bryant: "It is vital that we are open for business and tourism. The UK Border Agency’s failure to deal with visa applications promptly is a major own goal..."
"Having lived and worked in Kingston, London, for the past seven years, Sean Spurdle applied for indefinite leave to remain in June 2012.
He proposed to his long-term girlfriend last year, wants to settle down and runs his own business.
The wedding is booked for July, with friends and family flying over from New Zealand.
However, the 35-year-old’s visa still hasn’t been approved, so it could prove a wasted trip.
“I have no passport or visa. No visa equals no marriage licence. Not good!” he says.
Spurdle had originally employed the help of a law firm, but only weeks after he paid them £1700, they went bust.
He was told by the UKBA no one would be able to help him until his application had been in the system for six months.
Spurdle, who arrived in the capital the day after the 2005 bombings, missed his mum’s 60th birthday as well as a friend’s wedding, for which he was supposed to be best man.
But it’s not just his wedding plans on hold. Spurdle has run landscaping firm Natural Elements Landscape for the past four years, employing up to seven people.
“It’s affecting the expansion of my business,” he said.
“I want to invest in vehicles but no bank will give me a loan because technically I don’t have a valid visa. If my visa doesn’t get granted, I’d have to lay off the seven people working for me.”
Eight months after applying, there’s still no news.
“I am worried about the time. We want to buy a house, we want to plan the honeymoon, but, more than anything, we just want to move on with our lives,” Spurdle added.
UPDATE: 26/03/13 - Home Secretary Theresa May has announced the UKBA will be split into two organisations, with one dealing with visa services, following a damning report highlighting backlog and admin issues. However, our demands, still stand for the new organisation.