British By Inconvenience

The British passport has always been one of the better, if not the best, passport to be packing in your travel bag. Easier access to former colonial territories. Friendly relations with the US. And the benefits of being part of the EU. My British passport may not, one day in the future, be the one I want to use though. It’s an EU passport too, and as an EU citizen (for the moment…!) I actually have more rights. Even in Britain, as a British citizen. Us Brits have become second rate citizens subjects in our own country. Why? Where shall I begin.

Mrs P came to the UK in the summer of 2011. The date is important. Had she arrived after July 2012, I would have needed to prove that I have an income in excess of £18,600. Like nearly half the UK population, that’s an income level I do not boast. In one swift stroke, nearly 50% of the UK population were forbidden from marrying a foreign person and living in Britain. You can do one, or the other. Not boast.

I understand the need to regulate immigration. Some of it is easily solved. Asylum seekers? Well, we could stop bombing other countries to smithereens. The ‘hordes’ of Eastern Europeans that ‘invaded’ the UK when Poland joined the EU? Well, perhaps we should have followed most of the rest of Europe and put a block on them. Although, quite frankly, I find the Poles to be a much nicer, harder working and integrated bunch than an awful lot of Brits. Illegal immigrants? We’re an island for goodness sake. We have it a tone easier than the rest of Europe. We just chose to be lax. Skilled foreign workers? I’m not aware that anyone’s claiming they are a problem.

And then there is Mrs P, and the tiny teeny fraction of immigrants in the UK who have married a British citizen. It was already ridiculous that we had to pay an extortionate £1000 for her initial visa. It’s outrageous that an Indefinite Leave to Remain visa is another £1000. And that a year after that it’s another £1000 for naturalization. There’s no justification for those sort of fees, especially given the absolutely awful level of service you get.

It’s a combination of knee jerk politics and a culture of ripping off anyone who finds themselves at the mercy of the state. If you are the citizen of a country and you wish to marry a foreign person, there should be a streamlined and sensibly priced procedure in place. Not barriers deliberately designed to keep families apart. Even as Mexico is moving away from an archaic immigration policy and towards a  system designed to keep families together, the UK goes in the opposite direction.

But I am not just a British citizen, but also a European citizen. As such, I can move to any country in the EU and live and work there. The rest of Europe is more in tune with humanity. In Europe, I can bring my Mexican wife with me. There are treaties that are enshrined into law to give me this right. And there are laws to ensure my wife and I can move freely around Europe. If we wish to move from another European country to the UK, then the UK Border Agency cannot stop us. I just have to show I worked in that EU country for three months.

On arrival, she can get a five year Residence Card and legally work here. The cost? As far as I can see, the cost is entirely measured in time and patience. We could simply bypass the ridiculous, exorbitant and unfair processes of the UK Border Agency, and have a three month European adventure to boot. The biggest cost has already been paid. By the wonderful Surinder Singh. There always has to be a test case. For a test case, you need a person on the wrong end of an unfair law to stand up for himself and take on the state. Good for you Surinder! Does any of this matter to us? We are going back to Mexico, right? But who knows what the future holds…

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11 Comments

  • The thing I don’t get about the whole immigration thing is this. And it especially applies in the USA, which is enormous.

    So in 1995 I moved from California to Massachusetts, where I took a job. (Which was the reason for the move in the first place.) Had I come from Mexico, I could have been accused of taking that job from a native Massachusetts resident. Since I came from California (just as far away), no one said a thing. In fact, economists consider “labor mobility” to be a good thing.

    Further, the state doesn’t regulate births. Yet kids grow up and take the jobs of older people. No one complains about this “threat to established employees” either. You want to have twelve kids? Knock yourself out. You want to import a foreign-born spouse? Well, we have about a gazillion forms for you to fill out, several interviews, and of course fees. And if you hope to navigate this maze successfully, you’d better hire a laywer too.

    And in the USA in particular, people seem to be incensed about the idea that Mexicans would cross the border to get work in construction, as gardeners, etc. But in my profession (finance), no one seems to be even slightly worried about all the really good jobs that are lost to Indians, Europeans, and worst of all, British people!!! The capital markets are full of these people, yet I don’t hear many complaints.

    Anyway (rant over), it seems that British immigration law is ridiculous. In particular, other EU countries should complain as it gives people such as yourself the incentive to bring your wives to France (or some such place) and work there while making everything legal, and then moving on to Britain.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we hope you don’t take the comment on “British People” too seriously.

    • Inconsistency and incoherence seem to be key in developing any immigration policy. I know there’s plenty who rant on in the US about the ‘wetbacks’, We have that type in the UK too. My favorite complaint is the moan that all the hospital beds are taken up by bloody Johnny Foreigner. Send ’em all back home!

      It’s true, there will be more hospital beds available. But no nurses or doctors to attend to those beds. Because we sent ’em all home.

      Your comment on British people was taken in the spirit it was meant! I did like your wording though….Europeans and the British… 🙂

  • Godwin said that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.
    Oh, now I get it!

  • Oh my god, I’ve literally been reading about this the last couple of days! It’s shocking that as a British person you can’t bring your non EU spouse with you, yet any other European can! I’m actually a bit shell shocked by it tbh (I guess somewhere in the back of my mind it’s an idea or at least I’d like to think of it as an option!)

    • It’s completely daft. Absurd. No, it’s worse than than. It’s opportunistic exploitation for those that pass their tests and an abhorrent burden on those who don’t. The spouse laws should be scrapped and replaced with something along the lines of the rest of the EU.

  • What a raft of manure – who are these people that can tell us who we can marry and where we can go on the planet. There are no “blessings’ here only rights – and most of them stepped on. I say screw the Queen and the rest of those demagogues!

    • I suspect the monarchy would be most against these new rules and regulations! After all, they have spent centuries marrying their foreign cousins and bringing them back over here… 🙂

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