Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Filed under: codegarden
- by Douglas Robar
The short of it
In order to travel to the annual CodeGarden conference I
need my visa application approved and passport returned from the UK
Home Office Border Agency within the next week.
Yes, you can help!
We now have an answer
I am requesting an expedited decision of my case, now
two months old.
Applicant: Douglas James Robar
Case Ref: 014264466
The long of it
I'm an American living in Cambridge UK for 2.5
years. My wife is a PhD student at Cambridge University and has a
student visa. I have a student dependant visa that allows me to
work in the UK.
I own and run Percipient
Studios. Not only do I offer website design and
implementations using the Umbraco CMS, I am also the only official
Umbraco Level 1 Trainer in the UK and have taught hundreds of UK
software developers, webmasters, and IT staff attain the valuable
Umbraco Certified Developer certification and tens of
Umbraco Solution Providers.
I like being in the UK. My family and I would like to stay for
some time even after my wife finishes her PhD. And I want to
continue my business here.
For this I need a new visa and have applied for a
Tier 1 General visa. I fully qualify according to that
points-based system, provided all needed documentation and
biometric evidence, and even used the excellent Global Visas to ensure a
flawless application. My application was delivered before the
deadline of 4-April (two months ago).
In mid-June I am to give a
presentation at the annual Umbraco conference, CodeGarden, and will also be
moderating a panel discussion. CodeGarden (twitter: #CG11) is
the single most important event of the year for my
business; I get work as a direct result of attending in
addition to its being a key source for my own professional
development in the field.
Though the Home Office suggests that
75% of cases are decided within four weeks, my case is still
outstanding after 8 weeks.
I need a miracle. The Home Office won't discuss my case with me
14 weeks have passed. I've called. Multiple times. It will only
(only?) have been ten weeks by the time CodeGarden begins. But
without my approved visa and passport returned I can't
leave the country.
I had thought of getting an emergency second passport from the
US Embassy in London (which they can do within 36 hours). But have
found out from the Home Office that if I leave the UK before my
visa has been issued, even on a valid passport, my visa application
will automatically and immediately be cancelled.
At the Home Office's recommendation I have faxed a request for
urgency to 0114 207 2536. I was told that no reply to my request
will be given and no assurance can be made of fulfilling my request
for urgency. Also at the HO's recommendation my fax included the
important "do not withdraw my application" sentence. I'm not sure
why this should be necessary but twice I was told it should appear
on the fax.
Blog post and tweet to escalate issue in the hope that something
can be done to ensure I will be able to attend the CodeGarden
UPDATE: I contacted my local MP (Julian Huppert, twitter
the recommendation of many and his office was very responsive. They
called me back within two hours with the news that "You will be
pleased to know your application is nearing the end of the review
process and you will be hearing shortly." I then asked when
"shortly" might be. "If you have not heard from UKBA by Sunday 12th
June please do contact Julian again."
Potentially hearing something by 12 June is not sufficient - I
would then still need to wait to receive my passport by post.
I am still looking for assistance to successfully complete
my visa application and return my passport (in my hands) by 9
June. That's only one week away.
Others have suggested these avenues, which I will be following
- "Contact the US Embassy Consular Affairs section and have them
intervene on his behalf. They are the only outsiders with enough
juice to make it happen."
- Continue tweeting and include @UKBorderAgency_
@UKBAinUSA and possibly
- Contact Jim Paice, MP for SE Cambs and somehow involved with
the UK Border Agency.
- If you have other suggestions please leave them in the
UPDATE: Benjamin Howarth has
contacted his MP and discovered "MPs have access routes to
the UK Passport Agency that are not available to the
public, so Julian Huppert is your best bet.
Letters of commercial support as well are also
helpful apparently, so I sorted a petition for you: http://www.petitiononline.com/drobar11/petition.html"
The volume of petition
signatures (currently 140 signatures!), tweets, retweets, and
outpouring of concern and support is overwhelming. Thank you!
I've emailed my MP again and am awaiting a response. I'll keep
you posted, and as ever please accept my deep thanks and let me
know if you or someone you know can assist in expediting the
approval and return of my visa application and passport.
Things seem to be moving!
I received this note from Julian Huppert's office today:
"I have been in touch with the UK Border Agency about the need for Doug
to receive the determination of his visa application and passport
returned. The issue has been referred to the Border Agency MP Account
Managers Office. I will contact them again first thing on Monday
morning and let you know the outcome."
So far there are 177
signatures on the petition, thank you!
If you know anyone at the Home Office or Border Agency I
would greatly appreciate your assistance.
Please sign my petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/drobar11/petition.html.
Email a personal recommendation to my MP,
Julian Huppert to give urgency to Douglas Robar's visa
We now have an answer.
Good and bad news
I just heard from from Julian Huppert's office, who have been
tremendously helpful. There is good news and bad news:
- Good news = My passport will be dispatched today!
- Bad news = my Tier 1 General visa application was denied
This means I can attend CodeGarden! And my existing visa is still in force
so I can stay and work in the UK until my wife completes here PhD sometime
in the next year.
I have hugely mixed emotions right now. On the one hand I am disappointed
in the visa decision (I'll find out the reason when I receive the paperwork via post
in a few days). On the other hand I'm overwhelmed by all for your efforts, good wishes, and prayers! How could one man be blessed with so many great friends and colleagues?