So I was suppose to start my job the second week of September. And I did. For two days.
On my second day, my mobile rang. I was home, as I work 10 – 2 five days a week. And it was around 330 when my phone rang with the name of my company on the display.
I admit, I panicked. Why were they calling so long after the end of my day and on my mobile? It’s my private mobile, so the only people who have it are HR, recruitment, my bosses etc. So I answered it.
It was the Head of HR. And a solicitor. It seemed that I was wrong about it being okay that my Indefinitely Leave To Remain (IDLR) visa was in an expired passport. Well, half wrong. It was fine to travel on it that way. It no longer gave me the right to work. It had to be moved to a Biometric Residency Permit (BRP) and until that happened? I was fired.
I had an email from my boss mere minutes after that phone call ended telling me she would keep my job open. She wanted me for it and no one else. So get it sorted and come back to work as soon as possible.
I, of course, spent a few minutes crying and kicking myself. I used to check the IDLR rules regularly! Why had I stopped? When had I stopped?
Simon and I had a small amount of money set aside for something else but agreed using it for this was bettter. So I started to get organised to get my visa moved and looked into doing an ‘emergency’ application.
Remember how this was the second week in September? The first ‘emergency’ appointment available at any Home Office Visa office was 29th October. In fucking Liverpool.
I thought for sure that had to be an error. Surely there was some sort of problem with their online system!
So I rang.
Nope. No problem. That really was the first available appointment.
So Simon and I talked about it and I did some more research, which was telling me that people were getting their moved visas in just weeks. Not the six months the Home Office claims it can take.
So I got my stuff together and sent it in. That was around the 3rd week of September.
And I waited.
And then I panicked again. The rules about IDLRs had changed in 2012. I had been working for myself this whole time. Had I been breaking the law?!?!
So I found an immigration lawyer and gave them a ring.
I had not. In fact, by law, I didn’t actually have to wait to go back to work until the IDLR was moved. Having the IDLR, no matter what document it was in, gave me the legal right to work in the UK. But the lawyer wasn’t surprised my company didn’t want to take the chance, considering the fines start at £10,000.
So I kept waiting. And I got a text saying they had the information. And then another text saying it had been given to a case worker to review and I’d be contacted if they needed any other information.
What? Why did it need to be approved again?!?!
Because it was still in my name of origin. And to change it to my chosen name, I had to prove I had lived in the UK for the whole 15 years that I claimed.
So then I waited some more.
And then I got an email. Did I have any proof that I had lived in the UK from 2009 until 2017?
And I replied, um, I sent you all of the passports I have.
And she replied, no. You didn’t. There’s a gap.
And I hit my head on my desk and remembered that I had gotten a new US passport around the time Adam was born so our passport surnames would match. That’s a US government requirement, by the way. Not sure what they do about parents who have a different last name from their kids, as happens in this world, but for me it was easy fix nine years ago when we registered Adam’s birth with the US consulate and got his US passport and social security number.
So I replied again, I can overnight you my passport or can I just email you my tax returns for that time period?
And she replied that tax returns would be great and that I should have an answer in a few days.
And a few days later I did indeed have an answer. And my BRP arrived a few days later.
And I went back to work 3rd December.
So all in all? Not paying the urgent price (plus flight and hotel) meant I only waited about a week past how long it would have taken had I paid and gone to Liverpool.
And my theory as to why there are no emergency appointments for weeks?
Which doesn’t even affect me personally in terms of immigration as I’m not an EU national. Of course it affects me personally in all the ways it will affect all of us in the UK. But not for immigration.
So I’m now legal again, until my BRP expires in five years. But I won’t be fired this time. There’s a grace period to get it sorted once you have one and need another one.
And I have a permanent reminder in my diary to check the IDLR rules every six months.
Just in case…