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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