UK is holding my passport hostage. HELP!

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iwanttogohome
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UK is holding my passport hostage. HELP!

Post by iwanttogohome » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:53 pm

I am writing this in the moment of complete desperation and utter helplessness due to the fact that UK embassy has been holding my passport in unknown to me location for over a month and I can’t even travel back home for my sister’s wedding. There is no way to contact UK visa and immigration people directly. I don’t know what this post will give me but at least I will be able to publicly express my endless frustration with this outrageous situation.

Let me give you the full picture: I am a Russian citizen, a long-term-ish resident of Cambodia, legally employed: contract, work permit, visa - all the shenanigans. I don’t sleep on the concrete curbs and generally may pass as a respectable PP expat on good days. Beginning of this year I completed a master’s degree and wanted to attend my graduation in London held on July 24. This time also coincided with a work conference in Barcelona on July 4, a wedding of an old friend in Newcastle on July 7, and my only sister’s wedding on July 19.

I am very well traveled and had numerous visas to many non-shithole states ever since I was 19 and I have never had any visas refused, canceled, or overstayed including UK, USA, multiple Schengen, Australia, New Zealand.

I travel frequently for work and that is why having my passport is kind of important. Having booked business class tickets in November last year on a good promotion PP-LHR-PP July 1 to July 25, I planned my visa application appointments for May (I needed Schengen from French embassy to go to Barcelona, and obviously the UK). The earliest you can apply for a visa is three months in advance. I had no reason to think that I might not be able to make these timelines. I applied for my visa application appointments online in April and got two appointments to go to the French embassy and UK embassy on the same day on May 21. I was due to travel on May 24 on an unrelated trip, so my plan was to apply and then come back with my passport after the trip when the decision would be made as I did multiple times with other embassies when I needed to keep my passport. I successfully applied to the French embassy and was told to come back whenever my passport was available. But UK visa application center refused to take my application saying they had to keep my only travel document for up to 15 working days - this was not possible for me. My options were to cancel that application (with no guarantee of getting an appointment any time soon) or use a walk-in service for $100 extra where I could come any day and submit the same application.

Once I returned from my trip and waited through endless public holidays and weekends, I headed straight for the UK visa application center, paid an additional $100 and submitted all biometrics on June 4. I was told that the normal process would take up to 15 working days. I did simple math and figured that it is cutting it slightly close to July 1st but I didn’t feel there was anything wrong with my paperwork and I should be able to get it in time and even go back to French embassy for my Schengen visa.

To my disdain, on June 21st (!) I received an email from NEW DEHLI (!) notifying me of the receipt of my application (!) and saying that it might take another 15 working days and that they might require more information. UK visa immigration has a contract with a call center where you can call or email for a fee on top of regular charges to ask for a status of the application (they cannot provide any more information other than it is under consideration or the decision has been made). I called on June 25th that was only 6 days from my initial traveling date, I was informed that my case was escalated and it would take them up to 15 working days to respond to the escalation request. I started getting seriously nervous about missing my flights, so I started considering various options I had at the time including withdrawing my application so I can get my passport back - to which I was informed that it may take up to 15 working days to get it back from the moment I cancel my application. I also sent paid email request for the information and received the same answers: that my application was escalated, 15 working days, 15 working days, 15 working days - I thought that if I hear 15 working days one more time I would throw up. I took my best odds and decided to wait since that was supposed to be earlier than canceling my application and then certainly risking to miss my entire trip.

Here I am, July 11 - I still haven’t heard from anybody from UK visa and immigration, they haven’t requested any additional information, they haven’t refused my visa, they haven’t made any decision on it. I had to change my outbound flight twice now and pay for the privilege to downgrade it. I missed 4 flights (that I couldn’t refund or change due to the fact that my husband is traveling on those bookings and the time frame was too short to do it without affecting his travels). I missed work conference in Barcelona, friend’s wedding in Newcastle, and now I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that I am very likely missing my baby sister’s wedding in Saint-Petersburg in my own country. I don’t care about attending my graduation anymore and even considered claiming my passport lost so I can get an emergency travel document. However, I would rather not go the illegal way and mess up my documents or future travels. Yesterday, I was able to get them to escalate my case again to which they are required to respond in the next… wait for it…. 15 working days….

The level of my frustration from the fact that my husband had to go on the trip to the UK and Russia all planned around my graduation and my sister’s wedding or from a small fortune I have lost by now or from the fact I would not attend the graduation I worked very hard for or the fact that my sister picked her wedding date based on my travel plans is nothing in comparison of how I will feel if I have to tell her, my mother, my grandmother I can’t come to the wedding. Nobody can give that back to me.

A Cambodian friend of mine told me that UK visa is one of the easiest he had ever received - three working days. Embassy website statistics claim that 100% of visa applications in PP visa center were processed within 15 working days in May 2018.

I know that they are within their legal timelines and I inadvertently agreed to those when I submitted my application and handed my passport over. I know that I booked all the travel plans at my own discretion as they are not responsible for any such arrangements missed. However, I don’t even know which country my passport is currently in when it will be shipped back to me and what kind of national threat I present to the United Kingdom that the high commission wouldn’t even get back to me on what they want from me.

My tinfoil hat has been collecting dust for many years now but I can’t help but reach for it in the light of the political climate between Russia (where I haven’t lived for 8 years) and the UK

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fax
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage

Post by fax » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:59 pm

The priority service sound pretty cheap now eh...
iwanttogohome
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage

Post by iwanttogohome » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:00 pm

I was told it was not available
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fax
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage

Post by fax » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:06 pm

Fantastic. Is there anything they can do properly? Was the WC clean at least?
Berend
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage

Post by Berend » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:13 pm

They are a shame really, I once asked them for help since a friend from the UK was in serious trouble with some ministry.. they wanted to know everything about me personally and after that said ok we can not help you bye bye. but first let me spend 2 days to explain everything without even comment one word about the situation.
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage. HELP!

Post by General Mackevili » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:16 pm

That's hardcore. I'm guessing just slower than usual, and nothing to worry about (besides messing up your travel plans, which sucks).
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage. HELP!

Post by Username Taken » Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:42 pm

iwanttogohome wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:53 pm
Yesterday, I was able to get them to escalate my case again to which they are required to respond in the next… wait for it…. 15 working days….
So, did you throw up?
... give 'em a quick, short, sharp shock ...

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Jerry Atrick
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage. HELP!

Post by Jerry Atrick » Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:01 pm

Poison the cunts.
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Bosco
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage. HELP!

Post by Bosco » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:03 pm

Whilst the British Embassy in Phnom Penh now completely washes its hands of visa applications (shameful in my view), surely there is someone in there with enough national pride to out a phone call in on this. Perhaps if anyone has a contact in there they can share this link.

Whatever about missing your sisters wedding, you also miss your graduation from a UK University. Makes no sense.
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Re: UK is holding my passport hostage. HELP!

Post by Anchor Moy » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:23 pm

@ OP. This is only my opinion, but I would concentrate on getting your passport back. I think you should withdraw your visa application (too late now anyway for your visit to the UK), and ask the British embassy to return your passport, which theoretically belongs to the Russian government. If you are no longer requesting a visa, the British have no right to keep it without reason.
IMO, forget your trip, and make sure you get your passport back.

I feel for you, because I have had to deal with other sorts of problems with immigration authorities in the past. The thing is that they do not have to justify anything, and you have no right to know. I see that in your case the British say that they want further information, but will not tell you what they want to know. Don't even try to understand. Just ask for your passport back.

As a matter of interest, has anyone here been applying for UK visas recently for foreign nationals ? It's possible that visas are more difficult to obtain at the moment, due to Brexit turmoils and promises by the government to stop immigration. But sometimes there is no special reason. Or it's simply because the guy who dealt with your case decided to make you wait, because he can.
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