18th Mar 2013 11:57am | By Carol Driver
A New Zealander was forced to return home for six months after five years in the UK after being given the wrong information from the UK Border Agency.
Stacey Williams had been living and working in London on a five-year ancestry visa when she applied for indefinite leave to remain in July 2011 – costing her £3000 in total.
Williams got in touch with TNT as we launched our campaign demanding improved services from the UKBA for those applying for visas or to extend visas while in the UK.
The 28-year-old booked a £1350 premium appointment – only to be informed by text message her slot had been cancelled due to strike action.
She wasn’t able to book another appointment until the day before her current visa was due to expire.
Before her appointment, Williams tried to call the UKBA to ask whether it would be an issue that her original passport was stolen while in Egypt in 2008.
First a Border Agency adviser told her it was told info couldn’t be given over the phone.
Calling again, another adviser told her applying without her original passport wouldn’t be an issue as long as she had a police report.Williams did, so she paid to get the document translated from Arabic.
At the UKBA office on the day of her appointment, Williams was then told she had been given the wrong advice.
“They said they would have no proof of whether I had been out of the country for more than three months of any year – one of the conditions of the visa,” she said.
"They’re the UKBA, shouldn’t they have that information?
"They gave me 15 days to provide further documentation, after which time my application would become void, I would lose the fee and be considered to have overstayed my visa and would have to leave the country immediately."
Williams was told to provide payslips to cover the period of her previous passport – but the company she worked for had gone bust, so she asked for her application to be withdrawn.
“I was told it would take another 15 days to return my passport – even though I had a flight booked, I was told it wasn’t urgent.”
Williams was then informed by another adviser that there was no wait, and she could collect her passport from a UKBA office.
Williams had to go back to New Zealand for six months, and save for a second ancestry visa – she returned to London in May 2012.
"I am lucky enough that I was still under 30 and therefore able to apply for a new ancestry visa and I am now back in the UK," she said.
"Aside from the money wasted and the stress of the whole ordeal, my main gripe is that I now have to start my five years all over again before I can apply for indefinite leave and eventually a British passport, as I had really wanted to be able to go and work in the EU which now seems a very distant dream when I had been so close."
Got a UKBA horror story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org