Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

How to be a legal illegal immigrant in the UK

Many years ago when Wendy was first in the UK we applied for and received a European residence permit but after we went to France we didn’t bother to renew it.

To get the European family permit (ie entry clearance visa) whilst we were in France would have entailed a three or four day trip to the embassy in Paris and a wait of anything up to a year. This made it impractical for us so we didn’t bother and instead just went without the visa. Wendy’s Australian so doesn’t need a visa to get into the UK but as it turned out, the immigration people at Rosslare just accepted our statement that we were living in Belfast and let us pass.

So, we’re in the UK sans visa. Interestingly, since there’s no requirement to register with local authorities in the UK, there appears to be nothing stopping you just staying on regardless of what any stamp in your passport may say about when you should leave.

Anyway, to get Wendy legal we, in principle, are supposed to apply for a residence permit for her. Snag is that when we arrived the processing time for this was getting on for two years (despite the legal obligation for the authorities to do it within six months) and we knew that we needed to go back to France that summer. So we didn’t bother. Next time we came back the immigration people accepted our statement about living here (which we had been doing) and off we went again.

Since we’re notionally in the process of selling our place in France we knew that we’d need to go back there at some stage to finish packing etc. but didn’t know when so a two year processing time (during which time they keep your passport) also wasn’t on. Thus we find ourselves living in the UK for getting on for two years now with nothing to show any right to do so and nobody making any attempt to deport Wendy as yet.

The one problem is with social security who have already stated that they don’t believe Wendy is here legally but, despite their obligation to do so, have done nothing about reporting her to the border agency people although they do insist that we need a European family permit.

Funnily enough, we’ve since found that, courtesy of a determination made right here in Belfast, we were correct in our assumption that we didn’t need a European family permit to enter the UK. Just as well really since it’s a visa and you can’t get a UK visa when you’re actually in the UK as you can only get UK visas from British embassies and, of course, there are no British embassies in the UK.

What we are doing, somewhat belatedly, is applying for a European residence permit. At present, the advice is that we may be turned down for this (although we may not). Being refused this permit doesn’t appear to be a problem though as there are no limits to the number of applications and appeals that you can make (all of which are free) and you’re legal in the UK whilst they’re processing the application. Since it currently takes them about six months to process an application, all that you need to do is to reapply if/when you get the refusal and you’ve another six months legality. Weird, huh?

Quite why anyone bothers trying to stay here illegally when they can legalise things seemingly permanently so easily is beyond me.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

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Extricating oneself from the French administration

When we moved here it took us four years before all the various authorities recognised that we were actually living in France. That started quite a flurry of back-administration obviously and it still isn’t entirely cleared up (eg we still get three separate bills for the TV license).

However, it would appear that it’s going to take quite a substantial amount of time for the authorities to recognise that we have now left France and are no longer French residents. Although we ceased to be French resident in January we are still receiving reminders that we’ve not paid various social security and health charges some eight months on.

It’s not that we have ignored their demands for money though. In fact, we informed them in January that we had left, then again almost every month since using their Internet service, email, fax, letter and even recorded delivery letter. In fact, it would appear that all missives from us are completely ignored. Last week we even resorted to writing to them in English as it would appear that they don’t understand French!

Actually, that last letter from us was in a response to a demand from them that it would actually be illegal for us to pay!

Perhaps another couple of years will see it sorted out…

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Isn’t is it annoying the way thieves trash your place as well as stealing stuff?

Sadly, we’ve just heard the news that some ******** have broken into our house in France and trashed the place.

What seems pretty much a cert is that the things that they took (seemingly less than a dozen things in total although we need to do a full check) will be appearing in one of the vide greniers (car boot sales) over this weekend. Some of their customers will be less than pleased with their purchases as they include, among other things, a TV that can’t receive French TV programmes and a number of region 1 DVDs that won’t play on French DVD players.

It isn’t so much the things that they’ve taken which is annoying though: it’s that they simply trashed most rooms in the house looking for stuff that just wasn’t there. Thanks to the high prevalence of the black economy in France, most French households are likely to have quite a pile of cash stashed away but us foreigners just don’t work like that so their cash take amounted to a few euros at best.

In other countries there’d be an insurance claim, of course, but in France the insurance only pays out when you have the original receipts and, for the most part, people don’t have them so you end up paying a whole lot for insurance that realistically you will never be able to claim on.

Anyway, it looks like our notional holiday will be taken up with cleaning up the mess that they’ve left behind and wasting time with the insurance company.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Was tying down the Roma Gypsies really such a good idea?

Up until recent times the typical Gypsy image was of the cute caravan going along a country road in Ireland or perhaps of one of them coming round offering to tell your fortune.

However that changed towards the end of the 20th century with the cute caravans being replaced by ordinary ones and the images of the rubbish strewn wastelands created by roaming bands of these gypsies. Add to that the increase in petty crimes that always seemed to be associated with the arrival of a new band of these caravans and you can see why everyone else became less and less enchanted with them going from camp to camp.

So they were given housing.

Remembering that these people have a long tradition of being a travelling people dating back to their probable origin in India around a thousand years ago. I say “probable” because it’s next to impossible to truly trace the origins of a group of people who are nomadic as they don’t generally leave much evidence of their passing. You obviously can’t look for the typical archaeological remains that you would find with a settled group and are left with considering written accounts of their passing (of which there seems to be very little) or looking at less tangible things such as the structure of their language.

The snag is that giving them a fixed location without considering the substantial changes that would be necessary in their culture seems to have created major issues with their new neighbours. What seems to have happened is that some of the things deeply ingrained in their culture as a travelling people just doesn’t sit too well when they’re doing them constantly in a fixed location. For example, you’ll run out of people who want to get their fortune told after a few months which is fine if you’re moving on but not so good if you’re not. Thus, the fortune telling degrades into begging which itself isn’t well received and becomes more and more pushy over time too.

That life of travelling also had the problem that the children didn’t get educated as well as they might so there’s a tendency for the Gypsies to be pretty much totally unskilled. It’s not that they weren’t educated at all but that the education that they received was generally from within their families. Even when they did attend normal schools, a life of moving from school to school throughout a year obviously isn’t ideal for learning.

So in the end their name becomes “Gypsy scum”, the tolerance goes, they’re actively disliked and finally the local scum do something about it as happened recently in Belfast.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that it’s almost certainly going to at least a generation to get this fixed. Their culture needs to adjust to living in a fixed spot but to do that they’ll need to drop some of the customs that they’ve carried out for centuries as otherwise they’ll remain despised by the locals. Without that their children won’t get enough of an education to get out of the “unskilled trap” that they’re currently in and moreover their children will grow to hate the non-gypsies which will only cause them more trouble. Already their holocaust history has caused some of them to accuse any anti-gypsy feeling as coming from Nazi tendencies which definitely isn’t helping their integration.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Cutting yourself off from the world by promoting local languages

In the days of Franco, the various local languages in Spain were, by and large, suppressed. The overall effect of that was that they were on the way to dying out.

However, since the early 1980s single language schools in the local language have sprung up in all areas of Spain where there is a local language. That’s particularly important in the Basque region as their language is so different from all others that it’s said to be virtually impossible to learn unless you learn it as a child.

But there’s a downside to all this promotion of local languages and that’s that it’s beginning to cut those taught in them from the rest of the world. This morning we had one of an increasing number of Spanish guests who couldn’t really speak any language other than Catalan. We could barely communicate with them at all because they couldn’t speak more than a few words of English, French or Spanish.

Now, I can understand that in some areas they would prefer not to be taught in Spanish but they really need to learn one world language or many people will find themselves virtually cut off from the world. Remember that these are local languages: if you only speak a local language you’re going to have trouble outside that region.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.