26 February 2013

Dear Mr Whiteman, I write to comment on your dismissive reply to my MP, Mr David Morris, concerning my wife's settlement visa application and refusal. He wrote to Theresa May, however I presume one of her underlings referred it to one of your underlings. Please note that I live on [Primrose] Drive, not Lane. Details (should) matter to you (e.g. I am not the local MP), details matter to me. Thus, note also that my wife Phataraporn's nickname is Vilai, not Vilia. It means 'lovely' (not luvly) ... and she is a lovely woman. That is why I married her, over a year ago, around the time that we became aware of and started to negotiate your bewildering assault course. Because that is what it is, a series of ever moving, rising and changing obstacles designed to hinder decent married couples wishing to live together, as married couples normally do, presumably in the hope that we will tell others not to bother, so you can, in that way, do the Home Secretary's nasty bidding and cut net immigration – and keep Britain British! Nice. I find your explanation about dealing with cases in strict order to be in very poor taste. The truth of the matter is, I think, that your staff in Bangkok will not take ten minutes to examine some very straightforward crystal-clear documentation which establishes, beyond all reasonable doubt, that my income exceeded £18,600 in 2011-12 (and does so already in 2012-13 – just ask the accountant you made me use) until the 2 May deadline set by First-tier Tribunal (FTT), i.e. when they really, really, really have to. They will of course spend much longer composing emails saying we must wait ... and keep waiting and waiting and waiting. The days when staff might have shown a little decency and common courtesy, some vestige of humanity, to British citizens and their spouses, to married couples, to newly-weds, are I think long gone. Now the aim seems to be to punish us – simply for being married, to bleed us dry, to delay/avoid issuing settlement visas, or any other visas for that matter, whenever possible. Because 'rules is rules'. Perhaps some individuals get some perverse pleasure from that, perhaps they revel in Schadenfreude, I can think of no other reasonable

'I must to go now. When I needed an affidavit of freedom to marry your staff were quite happy to issue that. I have seen Vilai's written English progress well in recent years: impressive spelling and vocabulary.g. over a year ago (ask George to do the maths). I took advice from a proofreading customer. read and write. in a matter of minutes. for about £60. e. in Thai. no one understands them – doubtless no one is supposed to understand them. not English. Once back in the UK. At this point I should explain our situation. She had another test in April. and get it wrong. whereupon her level will rise rapidly. acquire and learn. while I waited. Around the time we married I/we realised that my wife would need to take and pass an appropriate English test before applying for a visa. waiting lists or processing times that day – just take the mug's money and put it in petty cash. that too was clear.explanation. Clearly that was very easy money. But curiously. in February. thank you punter! No wonder they smiled. So 2 . As my MP said (not me). on which no immigration consequences hinged – no question of queues. and thus my wife took Cambridge KET in March – and passed first time – that's before she has the opportunity to be immersed in an anglophone environment. My MA is in TEFL so I do have some understanding of this domain – e. We married on 7 February 2012. a routine test organised by her then long-term employer (Redalpi) at the same place. speak. I was with her) as she knew a test was required. in late February. with a smile. delays. Stephen Krashen and his input hypothesis. but needs to work on her short infinitives. a helpful and obliging Taiwanese woman (strange character traits these Taiwanese) who works for Pearson Education in London. for doing a very simple task incorrectly. my wife went for a TB test. of her own volition. i. when I was 58 and my wife 43. we were naive virgins with respect to your unfathomable rules and regulations. it became apparent that she had gone to the 'wrong' hospital.' Whilst I was out there early last year.g. much faster than it ever can in Thailand. hidden deep in the bowels of your obscure annexes. where most people listen. to a reputable hospital in Bangkok (Ramkhamhaeng. like so many others.e. unless of course there is some sort of unwritten political directive? Very nice. when she came to apply for a visa in late May (I have a screenshot saying her application was 'submitted successfully': GWFxxxxxxxx). buried as they are. It was clear.

I rented out my home (and had it somewhat trashed). printing. No problem with the English test. we're not interested in your poxy 'benefits'. in June. Valenciennes). whereupon everything was fine. to support my family. never claiming 'benefits'. I can submit them as evidence – but mind your toes) and a partner (with my ex-wife until she went off with the fat teetotal chain-smoking Greek Cypriot motorbiking social worker who knocked her around a bit. As a photographer I worked very long hours. pushing me into severe clinical depression. laminating and mounting – burning a lot of midnight oil. I did six months in a BT call centre to help get through the depression. to make the business pay. I got into academic proofreading (masters' dissertations. especially as exactly the same thing happened to a friend of Vilai's (in the TB test this month Vilai got her new certificate without any wait. 3 . the fiveyear shop renewal has just been signed). Before I discuss that I will tell you that I was a professional photographer for around 25 years (I still have a large heavy bag of Hasselblads. despite no treatment or medication. allegedly. and into taking a sabbatical – I had a rough decade. sorry Sun and Daily Mail hacks. not just photographing but processing. very nice work if you can get it. no Valentine's Day material there). the supposed 'problem' was the lack of documentation to prove my income. I worked as a language assistant in France twice (Rennes. innit? Vilai (not Vilia) applied in August and was rejected in October.she went to the IOM... instead.. accommodation or genuineness of our marriage (just imagine. hein ? But still I did what needed to be done to pay my way and pay off my mortgage . not a 'sham' marriage but a real one. TB test. as I was starting the final year of my French degree . no.. very. and the savage vicious draconian new rules were in force – odd that. and charge extra juicy rising fees too.e. flat and shop (I still do. you can keep your 'benefits'. I rented out my old studio. After my first marriage folded – my wife of 24 years had an affair and left. without ever claiming a penny in 'benefits' (I don't do 'benefits'. i. and eventually succumbed to lung cancer) in a gîte-letting agency for a decade (to help that I did a French degree to add to my collection). three weeks after the empty nest. That means you can try to torture us for five years rather than two. c'est la vie quoi. but yet more expense of course). Very. okay? T'as compris ?). not long after I closed my studio. And of course they decided there might be something awry and so she had to wait and go back in August.

And we will need nothing like the threshold income to live on (in Lancashire. just the usual bills. It is of course at that point.PhDs.06am just 23 days after my wife made the long journey from Borabue . Clearly I/we don't qualify for any benefits . It seems that if you do 'allow' applicants the opportunity to submit more documents the most you 'allow' them is ten days. exactly what is missing – a legal requirement no doubt. 25960) is quite illuminating. No benefits sought or wanted. My ex-wife came out of it very nicely too.. I never get rich but I always manage perfectly well. or her friend's (as in TB testing) case. Well they didn't do that in my wife's case. So these days.. you know?). book manuscripts). In my case I had to organise a lot of documents (you don't seem to like someone who doesn't draw a regular salary. similarly my proofreading income – just sitting on the settee at home with Sasha my Dalmatian (she's a dog. and only at that point. outside your experience perhaps. to be refused. not London) as I pay zero rent or mortgage – I have no housing costs. My rental income nearly satisfies the income threshold. don't you? Do you not think that that is rather sadistic – hit them with a very depressing refusal when they are already tired and thus vulnerable? Do some of the VFS staff enjoy that scenario too. and they were in Leicester at 8. I submitted an FOI request in relation to this and I think the recent reply (attached.. though I won't suddenly be made redundant.. when an application is received with insufficient documentation they claim normally to contact the applicant and give them a timescale to supply what is missing. after starting with nothing material. and to remind you: we don't want any benefits. I do peculiar things like that when people are nice to me and treat me/us with respect. when the emotions erupt and the tears flow? Thais 4 . i. shop and flat – in a nice village where the doctors live. that your 'helpful' staff (as if) specify exactly what is required. They did it quite quickly too. I own outright my house. we pay our way. they just refused them. not a cat) – my two sons being long gone. a family trait.e. I was impressed with their speed and their courtesy – so I told them they did a good job. okay? According to your staff in Bangkok. You do frequently make applicants make very long journeys to collect refusals in person. it's a self-employed mindset.

It took weeks to have that confirmed by email by Bangkok. 'they' are people. lied to me (in August I think the 'Appendix 2' that my wife got useless 'help' with from one of the hangers-on near VFS. a NI statement. my last tax return (prepared by an ex-Inland Revenue employee whose letter confirming my income was considered insufficient for a visa application).have emotions too. though two legal opinions were that an official Land Registry entry was quite sufficient. I sent that information again. what was already done. an income tax statement. as advocated by Lord Avebury. And the best bit is that if I want to complain I must do that by sending an email to the same email address that is often the cause of the complaint – no doubt to be ignored again? Oh do please beam me up Scotty! In addition to a solicitor-certified official Land Registry entry. and even then it was only after the intervention of the wonderful Baroness Smith. to within £20. and ignored me (the repeated requests I made in early January for a timescale to check through the appeal documents). too scary!). And when you advise 'refusees' they can appeal. at a cost of £70. Regent House. But then of course FTT can take weeks to do not a lot (in our case five weeks). but no reply of course). I had to submit copies of: leases for my two tenants. On that occasion Bangkok obstructed me. an additional set of chartered accounts (they cost £384 and simply repeated. so I was advised by your staff that I could redo it – I did do that and your staff denied having received it in the refusal. a blatant lie. and after I had spent a long day driving 100+ miles to 'borrow' my deeds (having tracked them down) and do 200+ scans. just like 'us'. which I had to ask for later). proof of 5 . and Bangkok can have much longer. under duress from VFS staff. to do even less. was wrong. to prove a point. How on earth do you justify that glaring discrepancy? For the appeal I was expected to produce a copy of the deeds to my old premises (imagine submitting original deeds to UKBA. a very abusive requirement if ever there was). just in case. a letter confirming registration for selfemployment. 16-19 weeks (much more than it takes to process a whole visa application). On other occasions they have: insulted me (when they initially refused my then fiancée a visit visa they sneered at what they thought was a derisory amount in my current bank account – my substantial savings are kept in a deposit account – and withheld an original bank statement. the most you 'allow' is 28 days.

very hard to find some flaw in my wife's appeal so they can delay issuing a visa for many more months – i. As stated above. but they won't will they. not exactly 'swamped' (I'm always amused by the threat from water metaphor). refusing to kowtow to the killjoy UKBA. in December. and now for Bangkok. pestering them. j'y crois pas ! No wonder John Vine talks of a 'culture of disbelief'. we want to start our married life together. I nearly forgot that bit amidst all this dingy dismal dross.e. being critical. You know as well as I that your staff could check through those appeal documents in minutes. You give some information on the website about processing times for visa applications. many times Mr Whiteman: for the English test. And I feel sure they will try very. approaching two grand in total I dare say). but there are no statistics for what should be a very simple. Marital bliss? No. for the refusal. scandalous isn't it? Are you married Mr Whiteman? If so you should try spending a year apart.ongoing income. You really don't take anyone or anything on trust do you. not cringing in a corner. there are no figures for January yet. Why is that? You see we have already waited many. enforced separation. plus all the other costs incurred. Bangkok processed seven settlement visa applications. for the TB tests. Oh yeah. after a court hearing and the two months they are then allowed to issue a visa. eventually. I did all that in just three weeks – some straightforward. as used to be the case I believe. very. and I love my wife. After I turn 60 and my wife turns 45. not even a respectable chartered accountant's accounts? Mon Dieu. this cesspit of human misery that we wade through. to reply to the 6 . straightforward and quick perusal of documents referred back by Leicester. some difficult. for FTT to open an envelope and charge me another £140 (that's over £1. for daring to challenge them. being interviewed for Radio 4 'Today' and by Radio London – for all the good that (and this missive?) did/will do. I have a wife. a full year's bank statements. Why? Because I'm married. not until it's near the court deadline.000 in fees for doing not a lot. Perhaps they want to 'teach me/us a lesson'. I have responsibilities (I support my wife and help support her mum). and as a final insult. when they 'must to do that'. Or if they have already checked through them then they will sit on their response until the deadline no doubt. Your 'system' is booby-trapped to make us starting our married life as difficult as possible – so we'll tell others not to bother? Shameful and repugnant isn't it? Mr Whiteman. Yes.

And as for offering world-class service. Truly. Shame on you. What God hath joined together. to see this nasty pernicious process. 'a deeply shameful event in British history' (nice phrase David). Frank Carson never told one as good as that. I've now been well and truly shafted by my ex-wife and by my own government. I suggest you remember that Mr Whiteman. This all seems designed to rip us off and wear us down. However hard you may try Mr Whiteman. it's a #settlementvisanightmare. your cold. Yours sincerely. this blatant abuse of power.court. But what it does is make us all the more determined. calculated and cynical system will not prevent us having our married life together. 7 . a very sad reflection on the UK in 2012-13. via the Surinder Singh route if necessary. forget – or forgive – the truly appalling way we have been treated by your agency. Gerard Hearne MA. let no man put asunder. I don't take kindly to being treated like something someone has stepped in. ever. Part of your job is to support genuine marriages. d'accord ? Note that I will never. not to seek to destroy them. stoical even. through to the bitter end. cruel.