Failed UK Border Agency backlog hurting Kiwi migrants

Published:  11 Apr at 6 PM
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In spite of the sudden shutting down of the failed UK Border Agency and its subsequent splitting into two separate divisions, its massive backlog of visa applications is still hurting Kiwis.

Known in New Zealand as the UK Backlog Agency, the now defunct department’s total failure to deal with visa and other immigration issues has meant that New Zealanders have had to abandon offered UK jobs, miss out on family weddings and funerals and have even been deported from the UK. The backlog is estimated to take at least several decades to clear.

Expats’ travel plans are in ruins as the agency is still holding their passports, and some applications date back as far as 2003. The London-based New Zealand High Commission is being inundated with pleas from Kiwis stuck in the UK or unable to enter.

TNT magazine, a favourite read for antipodean expats and travellers, is urging affected readers to sign a petition calling for the agency’s visa services to be put on the fast track. Editor Carol Driver said the worst problem was the refusals from the UKBA to give details of progress being made on applications until at least six months had passed.

One New Zealander, Melanie Quin, arrived in 2009 on an ancestry visa and ultimately decided to apply for a British passport as she’d built her new life in the UK. She applied to extend her stay, but was told to apply for naturalisation once her present visa expired, was given the wrong form to fill in, and later informed she had to leave the country as her visa had expired and she must start the five-year visa process again from New Zealand.

Having been made redundant due to her situation and now in overstay, Melanie and her partner Paul are heading for Sydney. She’s totally disillusioned, but is still determined to get her British passport.
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