British Consulate General New York

British Consulate General New York Review

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Published: 29 December 2017

Posted by: Anonymously

You have probably read Bikozulu’s famous ‘Visa Denied’ article,bikozulu.co.ke/visa-denied/ and you are already familiar with what may befall you if you are an African trying to apply for a UK visa. I will try to be more civilised than the UK consular officials, and stick to the facts of the matter regarding my UK visa application. I’ll explain why, at the end. First, my home leave is on -the only time my employer pays for me to go and bond with family and friends, after every two years of service- and I should have flown out of New York on December 1, 2014. As I write, I have no idea when I’ll be able to fly out – having cancelled my flight – because I have no passport, thanks to the UK Consulate in New York! I normally plan my things fairly early. This is especially true with all my leave days or vacations, which I start planning for as soon as I finish one. This year, things happened to work against me a bit because, 1. My passport needed to be renewed. The condition for renewal was that I could do it if I had 6 months left to the expiration date. That left me with no option but to send my passport to our embassy in DC for renewal in October, as the old one would be expiring in April next year. I must say, our embassy’s service was exceptional, as within 3 working days, a new passport was on its way back to me in New York. 2. I knew I would be going home somewhere after November 26 when my home leave was due. This, I thought, was a perfect opportunity for me to stop in London for a few days to see my best friend and my BBC family: a mix of lovely Brits and Africans, and warm people from other regions of the world that I worked with in one way or another for 6 years. I submitted my documents to the UK Consular General in New York on the 30th of October. I was working on a precedent: I had been granted a UK visa in Kampala within 5 days of submitting my application in 2010. If that was my first visa application to the UK (I had only ever been to Slovakia, beyond the borders of East Africa, then) and I got it within 5 days, I thought, a visa application now should take an even shorter time. But I didn’t want to take any chances, so I made sure that I submitted my application in good time, on the 30th of November: at least 22 working days before my departure date- 7 days more than the maximum number of days required to process a UK visa application in New York. Also, their website says applications are assessed on a case by case basis, and the more checks, the longer it may take. I thought, since I’m clearly not the Mediterranean Sea boat-crossing kind of African that might seek to melt into the UK, mine would be an easy ride. I was very wrong. I received an email notification on the 5th of November, informing me that my application had been opened and prepared by a consular assistant for visa processing. The following information was included: As an organisation, UK Visas and Immigration endeavours to process 100% of applications (other than Settlement/Family Migration applications) within 15 business days. The British Consulate General in New York aims to meet the 15 business day target and exceed it when possible. Our average processing times for visa applications submitted to the British Consulate General in New York as of week commencing 3 November 2014 are: – Non-settlement applications…………………………………… 13 working days – Current and forecasted delays to our service………………… None to report If your application is considered to be complex and we project that we cannot process your application within the 15 business day target, we will inform you by email. Once a decision has been made, you will receive an email advising you of the outcome of your application. That, I thought, meant that I would have my visa and passport within a few days, as I didn’t expect to be denied a visa for any reason on earth (I have a stable job, an annual income that dwarfs that of many British nationals back in the UK, and a substantial amount of money on my account). I was right re the visa, but dead wrong on the temporal front. As I write today, December 2, I have neither a visa nor my passport back. To get a clearer picture of what has been happening, I am sharing excerpts of my correspondence with the UK visa officials here: First, I wrote to them on the 19th of November, to enquire about my application. On the 20th of November, I received the email below: Dear Joshua Mmali, Thank you for contacting the UK Visas and Immigration International Enquiry Service. Could you tell me the visa application ID (GWF) and your date of birth, please? Though we try our best to complete the visa application process in 15 working days, each application is subject to an individual assessment and processing times may vary, hence applicants are requested to be patient and wait for the processing to be completed. You can check how long you’ll have to wait for a decision on your visa application in your country (if you applied from outside the UK) by entering your details at the following link: www.gov.uk/visa-processing-times. Please note that the actual processing times may vary depending on a range of factors.

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