Dear UK Visas and Immigration,
Firstly, let me make it clear at the outset that I greatly value the hard, honest, and diligent work that you do. Truly, you make the nation proud by making it unbearably difficult for highly-skilled non-EU workers to come and positively contribute to our society, crushing their morale and reducing them and their families to tears in the process. Good job!
Also, please forgive my not writing this email directly to your Contact Centre - I decided to economise the £5.48 it would have cost to do that. Cutting costs -- I'm sure you'll approve of that. But don't worry, I'll be sure to donate that money to a worthy cause. Maybe to your Christmas Party Mulled wine fund? Or to the Conservative Party?
So anyway, I'm writing about a friend of mine, Dr. Thi Thanh Mai Duong, a pharmacoepidemiologist who studies the pharmaceutical safety of many important medicines, including paracetamol and ibuprofen. Originally from Vietnam, she received her PhD from université de Bordeaux in France, where she has most recently been working on a postdoctoral research project funded by the European Medicines Agency.
She received and accepted an offer to work in London for a London/Madrid-based epidemiology company back in April, who then set about obtaining her Certificate of Sponsorship. Even though their completed application was returned to them unprocessed a month later, with you claiming that it had arrived after the deadline (nice one! even though they have proof to the contrary, what good will it do them?), you did finally issue the Certificate last month in September.
Dr. Duong then applied for her UK Tier 2 (General) Visa in Paris, submitting her passport and biometric data on the 29th of September, together with all supporting documents. In case you're wondering, her application number is GWF045793638. On top of the £1,174 application fee, she also paid an additional €220 for the "priority service" to have the application processed in five working days, and indeed, a week later, the passport was ready for collection in Paris. So far, it seemed as if you'd been making it too easy for her.
But then, in a totally unforeseen stroke of brilliance, the punchline was delivered when she opened the package containing her passport -- there was no visa inside! And nor was there a refusal letter! I mean, I knew that you guys were good, but this just takes the biscuit. In one fell swoop, to neither grant nor deny her a visa, putting her in visa limbo, and to make a complete mockery of the priority service she paid a tidy sum for (sucker! she can't even get that money back, because you returned it within the timeframe!)...I really should have taken a photo of her at that moment, full of bitterness, agony and tears, and sent it to you for your Wall of Fame. Another one bites the dust!
And when she tried to contact you through your Contact Centre? No chance! She first called, handing over her credit card details for the £1.57 a minute call, where your well-trained staff made sure that she spelled out every last character of her application details at least three times phonetically, before telling her that they can't actually tell her anything about her case. That's over £20 for your Secret Santa Fund at your upcoming Christmas Party. Kerching!
She then paid the £5.48 to send you an email asking what is going on; but this is easily fobbed off, as you demonstrated aptly: just count the number, x, of visa applicants you've managed to screw over thus far today, and reply saying, in effect, ``We have x working days to look into your query. If we don't reply in x working days, then pay another £5.48 and we'll look in why we didn't look into your query''. Now Tuesdays must be slow, for x in Dr. Duong's case was a modest 20.
But you're not even aware of the best part -- in 20 working days, her French visa would also have expired! She'll have to go back to Vietnam! Oh, my sides! That's right, you guys have employed a creative, ingenious and eclectic bag of filibustering tricks over the last six months to seriously jeopardise Dr. Duong's visa application and her promising career in pharmaceutical research. Oh, the hilarity! Surely that's got to feature in your Christmas Party's "Success stories of the past year".
Signed, Your greatest fan,
Barinder Singh Banwait