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Questions on arrival at Heathrow/Gatwick

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Marie B
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Location: London

Questions on arrival at Heathrow/Gatwick

Post by Marie B » Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:51 pm

Hello - sorry about the really long post -

My husband is on a spouse visa (expires May 2007). We have travelled abroad a number of times this year and I'm a bit worried about some of the questions he has been asked on entering the uk. A few times he has just been asked the usual but many times now he has been questioned about his previous status in the uk before getting his visa. Why would IOs be asking this?

Two examples -

1. On our return from Greece at heathrow T2 he was asked 'did you overstay', to which he answered 'no' (he thought she meant on his Greek Schengen visa). She went off to check something, came back ten minutes later to ask him again 'did you overstay', he again said no before she asked 'I meant did you ever overstay in the uk before you got your marriage visa', to which he answered yes. He explained he had said no as he thought she meant on the Greek visa. She said ok and stamped his visa.

2. This weekend he flew back from Albania and the IO at Gatwick was really rude. The first question she asked him was 'did you arrive on the back of a lorry'? He answered - 'no, I travelled with British Airways'. This seemed to make her angry and even more rude. She then started firing questions at him and he answered yes to all of them (he was a bit angry too) unfortunately two of the questions were 'did you arrive on the back of a lorry' and 'did you get married just to get a visa', then she said she was going to check something. He stopped her straight away to tell her that he had answered yes to all the questions as she had confused him, and was being rude, but he didn't actually arrive on the back of a lorry and he didn't marry just to get a visa. So she disappeared for 10 minutes. When she got back she started asking the same sort of questions so he just told her that there was no need to be so rude, and no need to ask questions like that. Then she started ranting at him, the IO at the next desk and the whole airport 'you arrive in the uk on the back of a lorry in 1999, return home voluntarily March 2005, get married April 2005 just to get a visa and come back to the uk May 2005 and you expect me not to ask questions about it'. She then asked him if he had any diseases and had he ever had a medical. He said no and yes respectively. She then stamped his passport and threw it at him.

He is now quite upset that he answered yes to the 'did you marry to get a visa' question, do IO's make a record of what is said each time people arrive in the uk? Will this affect his ILR application next year? We are also worried that he told the IO at Heathrow that he hadn't overstayed. Does anyone think any of this will be a problem? Has anyone else been treated like this on arrival in the UK?

It's very lucky I wasn't with him at Gatwick as I would have smacked her round the face.

Rover8098
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Post by Rover8098 » Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:22 pm

Hey, I really wouldn't worry about the IO's at the airports - they are nothing but a bunch of miserable, low life so and so's........not all of them, but a majority of them. I think it's in their job description to "be as miserable and unfriendly as you can"! :lol: It's a shame that most people when first arriving in the UK have to face them first!
I have a resident permit and I once got asked by the IO "what's the purpose of your visit to the UK and how long do you intend to stay?" to which I answered "I'm coming back home and till the day I die"!! My point is, some of them do ask pretty stupid questions and without reason, as for why they asked your spouse whether he had overstayed previously, when (presumably) he has a valid visa to return to the UK is beyond me. As for the 'lorry' comment, that's just plain discriminatory and if I were you, I would lodge an official complaint with the immigration service (I think there is a way to identify who served your husband by the number on his passport stamp when he returned to the UK). I also do not think there is any link between the questions asked (and answered) at the entry point and the home office computer which holds details of your husband's immigration file, so I really wouldn't worry about what he told the IO......I've learned to deal with the IO's at the airports - if you don't have anything to hide, then don' be afraid of them. Tell your husband to do the same next time.

BG101
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Post by BG101 » Mon Dec 18, 2006 5:59 pm

When my family do finally return I will fly out somewhere (maybe Holland or Germany) and arrive at the same time as Wifey does ... and INSIST on going through the same channel (have proof of residency as a ****an courtesy of driving licence etc) so when they start putting barricades up I'll be there to witness it & have this as further proof of how bigoted our immigration department is :mad:

We are a family & we have the right to be treated as such? :roll: or does this gov't really have a problem with mixed-race couples
Last edited by BG101 on Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John
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Post by John » Mon Dec 18, 2006 7:45 pm

Marie B, I have just one word to say ... complain! Well actually more than one word .... no one should be treated like that. Complain to the Chief Immigration Officer at Gatwick, and if that produces no joy, write to IND HQ at Croydon.

Enclose a photocopy of the name/pic page .... and visa page .... from his passport and ensure that the latest stamp from Gatwick is clearly visible.

Marie, your husband's 2-year spouse visa expires in May .... 5 months time! Hey, doesn't time fly ... as they say.

When in May does it expire? Just trying to work out whether he might be able to submit the SET(M) application prior to 02.04.07, or alternatively do you appreciate that he will need to pass the Citizenship Test in order to get ILR?
John

Kayalami
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Post by Kayalami » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:44 pm

Marie,

IO's have a duty to conduct their role in a corteous manner. Where such has not been the case there is a complaints procedure as highlighted by John.

On the whole though IO's have the right to ask pretty much any question to reach a decision pertaining to leave to enter - sometimes this regrettably results in an unpleasant experience for some. Anecotdal evidence in the immigration field is that IO's who either don't receive a complaint (too soft) or who receive too many complaints (overly agressive) are closely scrutinised. Not saying this applies here but likewise bear in mind that passengers can and have falsely accused IO's of all sorts of ills. There is CCTV and recording in the area so it would be relatively easy to revisit events on the day in question.

IO's will sometimes appear to ask irrelevant questions but such can lead to revealing facts that are key in deciding whether to land a passenger. The question of previous immigration history is one that often catches out those travelling on forged documentation. Such has also historically been a problem with those countries who are high sources for asylum seekers in the UK to include Albania. The introduction of biometrics in the next year should hopefully minimise this incidences and make passport control a more smoother zone.

BG101
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Post by BG101 » Tue Dec 19, 2006 6:12 am

Sorry for my rant above (one has to get rid of frustration somehow!) but on a serious note would you advise me to forewarn my wife about the questioning? Reason I ask is she's been treated very badly by the BHC, who up to now have been needlessly, and consistently, rude and unhelpful. I have serious concerns about further upset on arrival in the UK whenever that may happen.

Thanks

BG

John
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Post by John » Tue Dec 19, 2006 9:21 am

We are a family & we have the right to be treated as such? or does this gov't really have a problem with mixed-race couples
I can only answer from personal experience. Personally us in this house have never encountered any problem whatsoever, either on entering the UK, or at any time in the UK.

It is very reasonable that IOs ask sensible and relevant questions. Every time a spouse visa holder re-enters the UK it is to resume residence. So a simple question like "How long have you been abroad?" is totally reasonable, and a (truthful) answer such as "We have been on a 2-week package tour holiday to Lanzarote" undoubtedly stops the questions there.

Indeed on that occasion, at Birmingham airport, it was great! Charter flight from Lanzarote ... two passport queues ... EEA and other ... huge queue for EEA ... no queue for other .... wife and step-daughter travelling on Thai passports at that time undoubtedly meant we cleared passport control quicker than if we had all had British passports (as we do now).
John

Kayalami
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Post by Kayalami » Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:11 pm

John,

Concur there are occassions where the EU/EEA qeues are significantly longer than those for 'other passports' and as such it takes longer to get through - this is often the case for smaller/ regional ports or from observation when I've been on transatlantic flights getting here at dawn. On the flipside there is guaranteed entry irrespective of timeline getting through for EU/EEA nationals (exluding those limited circumstances exempt under EU law).

clairey
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Post by clairey » Tue Jan 02, 2007 5:40 pm

Ooooh, Marie, I'd have been right behind you in the queue to smack them! My husband is also Albanian (applying for ILR at end of March) and when we came back into Gatwick from our holiday in Ibiza in 2005, the immigration officer said to my husband "Albanian eh? Usually we only see Albanian passports in the queue for asylum at Terminal 2 at Heathrow". Can you believe it? I told him I found his manner to be extremely offensive, and then he gave us a very half-hearted apology.

We had a similar thing happen when we came back from Tirana after getting his fiancé visa. The IO said to him "What will you be doing in the 6 months before your wedding?", clearly trying to catch him out as he wasn't able to work until we got married. Luckily I'd told him about a million times that he couldn't work until after the wedding, so he said back to her "It takes a long time to plan a wedding. Once we're married, I'll look for a job. As I'm not allowed to get one before."

I think it's people who feel they have a sense of power over others. It does something to them and they like lording it over others.

Rover8098
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Post by Rover8098 » Tue Jan 16, 2007 11:28 pm

Anyone ever get the feeling that Immigration Officers and Traffic Wardens (yes, I do put them in the same category!) were all maybe bullied as kids at school/playgrounds and now they are taking off their anger at innocent people :twisted:
sorry to anyone who was bullied - no offense meant -just trying to put a lighthearted approach to this frustrating matter.

destiny20484
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Post by destiny20484 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:37 pm

...................................
Last edited by destiny20484 on Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

coconutsforme
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Post by coconutsforme » Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:04 am

Interesting topic!

Hi every one, Let me share with you with my experiences in the past!!

I was asked why me and my wife after being married for more than 5 years still haven't got children!!??

this was probably the most ridiculous question i will remember for the rest of my life...

I looked at this IO and said ' we'll have children, when we are ready for them''.

Another incident, happened this year, when i was returning to UK ( Gatwick Airport) after a family visit. Travelling alone. I approached the IO and having seen my EU Family Permit he asked the following:

IO: Who is your EEA family member?
Me: Missus is
IO: How long have you been living in the UK?
Me: nearly 7,5 years
IO: Do you live together?
Me: Yes, we are happily married and live together.
IO: Married????
Me: Yes! We married in sept 2005, why ??
IO: How come you are married??
Me: Well, when people love each other, they get married, sometimes... Is there something wrong with that ???

He looked at me, holding my passport in his hand and says:

IO: I'm afraid, you will have to come with me...
Me: Excuse me, Sir... can you please explain what is going on, is there anything wrong? I haven't got a marriage certificate with me, but i can get it for you...if you really doubting that...

We passed along the coridor and came accross a tall man with a tie and a Immigration badge. The two of them starting whispering to each other, and eventually 3 of us went into some room.

So the new guy took my passport and says..

- so Mr. Xxxx, just to let you know that our conversation is being recorded.

Me: I'm fine with that.

IOs: Are you claiming that you are married and a family member of the EEA national, right?

Me: Yes, we married in sep 2005 in the borough of Croydon, You may contact my wife to confirm that. Can you be so kind to explain to me, what is the fuss about?

IOs: Wife??

Me: Yes, wife, i have a wife, i told your colleague already..

they looked at each other and smiled...

IOs: What is the name of your WIFE??

Me: such and such...

they talked to each other, and then the 1st IO looked and me and said:

IO 1: My Apologies, sir, i have misheard some information, now this all has been rectified''

we left the room..

Me: (with a smile on my face) Now tell me, what was the problem???

He stamped my passport handed it to me and said:

IOs: I thought you said you are married to your SISTER !!!! Simply misheard, sorry about that!

I just looked at him, and hard to tell now what i thought at that time. i just wanted to get away from there)))

I came home, we had a dinner with my Sister)) oh, sorry, my WIFE, and were laughing to the limits...

ElenaW
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Post by ElenaW » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:57 pm

Coco, that is so ridiculous.
I tell it like it is.

alikhan28
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Post by alikhan28 » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:50 am

Hi
He stamped my passport handed it to me and said:

IOs: I thought you said you are married to your SISTER !!!! Simply misheard, sorry about that!

I just looked at him, and hard to tell now what i thought at that time. i just wanted to get away from there)))

I came home, we had a dinner with my Sister)) oh, sorry, my WIFE, and were laughing to the limits...
Was he badly drunk?

Oh my God what was that?

I belive there were trying to tease you. :lol:

Ali
..................................................................................................
This is simply a general discussion not an immigration advice. I not necessarily correct on everything I would say. I am learning too

coconutsforme
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Location: london

Post by coconutsforme » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:32 am

alikhan28 wrote:Hi
He stamped my passport handed it to me and said:

IOs: I thought you said you are married to your SISTER !!!! Simply misheard, sorry about that!

I just looked at him, and hard to tell now what i thought at that time. i just wanted to get away from there)))

I came home, we had a dinner with my Sister)) oh, sorry, my WIFE, and were laughing to the limits...
Was he badly drunk?

Oh my God what was that?

I belive there were trying to tease you. :lol:

Ali
He wasn't drunk, but might have had a rough night))

lkpone
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Post by lkpone » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:00 pm

I wish I'd known about the complaints procedure last year when I came back from a holiday in the US. I am on a South African passport and my husband is English.

I arrived back at Heathrow, after having gone to visit family in the US for 5 days on my own, leaving my (then) fiance at home.

The IO - a grumpy looking woman - asked me what visa I'd been on before getting my Unmarried Partner Visa. I explained that I'd been on a Student Visa. She asked me what I had studied. I told her that I'd studied a Diploma in HR Management. She then asked me if I was still studying. I replied that I wasn't, since I had finished the course. She did all the above without the decency of even looking at me. She then raised her eyebrows and gave a big huffing sigh and asked why I hadn't carried on studying when I got the Unmarried Partner visa. I explained that I had carried on with the course initially to finish it, but since I had finished and passed all my exams in the January, there wasn't much more that I could do, since the Diploma was finished (I'm not sure what she was looking for, but how can you carry on with a course, when it's finished??) :shock: I also added that since I was now on a visa that didn't require me to study full-time, I wasn't sure why it was relevant.

She then asked why I didn't do a degree and I answered that I was waiting until I had enough money to do the degree level. She then rolled her eyes and asked AGAIN why I hadn't carried on studying. I said that firstly, I was on a visa that didn't require me to study further and secondly (because I do want to complete it at some stage), as an international student, I'd be charged £7k for the last year to complete the degree level, which I can't afford at the moment. She then asked me if I was 'actually going to get' married - never mind that getting married is NOT a requirement on that visa!! I wanted to hit her by this stage! :evil: I said that I wasn't married yet, but that we were getting married in December. She just rolled her eyes again and huffed at me and said 'well, why doesn't that surprise me?'!! Bloody cow! I wanted to smack her! My fiance was SO angry when he heard that... I was so upset. It's as if she thought that I'd had the forethought to move in with a British citizen for 2 years just so that I could get a visa at the end of it.... OH... and that I forced him to buy me a big diamond ring to pose on my ring finger!

I totally get that some crooked people out there do these things, but one look at my clean immigration record and my stamps in my passport would have assured her that I'm one of the ones that play by the rules! And I took offence to the fact that she automatically assumed me to be one of the crooked people! :x

I purposely didn't lose my cool with her, but it would have been SO good to know that I could complain about her... she was horrific and shouldn't have been an IO. She clearly wanted to be one of the people making the decisions on visas, so I wanted to suggest that she applies for a job at Croydon PEO!! :x

Lindsay :)

ElenaW
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Post by ElenaW » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:53 pm

lkpone wrote:I wish I'd known about the complaints procedure last year when I came back from a holiday in the US. I am on a South African passport and my husband is English.

I arrived back at Heathrow, after having gone to visit family in the US for 5 days on my own, leaving my (then) fiance at home.

The IO - a grumpy looking woman - asked me what visa I'd been on before getting my Unmarried Partner Visa. I explained that I'd been on a Student Visa. She asked me what I had studied. I told her that I'd studied a Diploma in HR Management. She then asked me if I was still studying. I replied that I wasn't, since I had finished the course. She did all the above without the decency of even looking at me. She then raised her eyebrows and gave a big huffing sigh and asked why I hadn't carried on studying when I got the Unmarried Partner visa. I explained that I had carried on with the course initially to finish it, but since I had finished and passed all my exams in the January, there wasn't much more that I could do, since the Diploma was finished (I'm not sure what she was looking for, but how can you carry on with a course, when it's finished??) :shock: I also added that since I was now on a visa that didn't require me to study full-time, I wasn't sure why it was relevant.

She then asked why I didn't do a degree and I answered that I was waiting until I had enough money to do the degree level. She then rolled her eyes and asked AGAIN why I hadn't carried on studying. I said that firstly, I was on a visa that didn't require me to study further and secondly (because I do want to complete it at some stage), as an international student, I'd be charged £7k for the last year to complete the degree level, which I can't afford at the moment. She then asked me if I was 'actually going to get' married - never mind that getting married is NOT a requirement on that visa!! I wanted to hit her by this stage! :evil: I said that I wasn't married yet, but that we were getting married in December. She just rolled her eyes again and huffed at me and said 'well, why doesn't that surprise me?'!! Bloody cow! I wanted to smack her! My fiance was SO angry when he heard that... I was so upset. It's as if she thought that I'd had the forethought to move in with a British citizen for 2 years just so that I could get a visa at the end of it.... OH... and that I forced him to buy me a big diamond ring to pose on my ring finger!

I totally get that some crooked people out there do these things, but one look at my clean immigration record and my stamps in my passport would have assured her that I'm one of the ones that play by the rules! And I took offence to the fact that she automatically assumed me to be one of the crooked people! :x

I purposely didn't lose my cool with her, but it would have been SO good to know that I could complain about her... she was horrific and shouldn't have been an IO. She clearly wanted to be one of the people making the decisions on visas, so I wanted to suggest that she applies for a job at Croydon PEO!! :x

Lindsay :)
Oh my gosh that's horrible! They're supposed to be professional, that was so not professional. How rude!
I tell it like it is.

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