Monday, February 11, 2008

Phoenix Rising

On Thursday 19th July 2007 my wife received a letter that was to have a profound impact on our lives. Her application for a spousal visa from the British Embassy in Seoul was refused, and during the following six months of fighting back against my Government while my father's health gradually failed, we expended considerable quantities of time and energy, and underwent a great deal of stress, to fight for a right which I had previously assumed was mine to begin with as a British citizen - namely, to live with my wife in my country.

Our battle culminated in a Hearing at the end of January, and we have now received the result. The judge ruled that the Embassy's decision was 'contrary to law' so we've won... for now. The Government have two weeks to lodge an appeal, but the thinking is from the judge's determination that they won't have any grounds to do so.

I would not describe it as a victory, because legal battles are like wars - the only way to really win is not to start them in the first place. It's cost us a lot, financially and in time we didn't have, and it's left me completely alienated from my Government and possibly the country it represents. Having your own Government fight to keep you out of your own country can have that kind of effect I suppose.

So, it looks like I might finally be heading home, but we're not breaking out the metaphorical champagne until my wife has that visa in her hands...

21 comments:

Mosher said...

Mike, when I read this I got genuine goosebumps - like at the end of a really good film when it all seems to be coming together.

Fingers crossed. I know enough to be aware that the British government can't be trusted to find another way to try and f*ck people over, so yes - let's wait until that important piece of documentation is in your sweaty hands (or your wife's lovely, manicured and perfumed ones!) and we can all raise our middle fingers in salute to the bastards that tried to keep you down :)

But where am I going to stay for free when I make it to Busan now? ;)

Mike said...

Yes, fingers crossed or raised as appropriate :-) Sorry about the free stay in Busan, but we still have friends here so you never know what we can work out!

Mosher said...

No worries, Mike! I'm sure there are a few couchsurfers or hostels there I can stay with. Getting you "home" is more important!

Looks like Korean Mother is getting her wish for her daughter after all. Make sure you have a hell of a party before you leave Korea and when you get back to the UK :)

almostwitty.com said...

Congratulations and good luck!

There does seem to be a spate of stories in the UK about Immigration kicking out people by following the letter of the law, with no regards as to the personal circumstances. Too many stories for them not to have been spread by spin doctors.

But if they're applying the *letter* of the law, and a judge rules that there are no legal reasons, it's looking good. ;)

Mosher said...

I may be pushing it here, but if the judge ruled that they were wrong to make the decision in the first place and this is upheld so your wife is allowed into the UK... then surely there's grounds for legal action to get recompense for the additional expenses incurred in mounting an unnecessary appeal? Plus emotional distress, etc etc?

Mike said...

Well, I think the point is that these officials might have thought that they were applying the letter of the law, but the judges ruling is in fact that they made a decision which was contrary to the law, and over an issue which, when I'm finally free to detail it, might strike people as so irrelevant and trivial as to defy rational explanation.

I'm not the only one to have fallen foul of some very curious immigration decisions in the last few months and it's quite concerning.

Mike said...

Mosher - I don't think you're pushing it; it's a very reasonable thing to believe. Sadly I don't believe there's any recompense though - I suppose the argument is that ultimately there's a legal hearing, one side wins and the other loses, and that's where you fight it out. Beating the Government isn't easy, and you take your victory for what it is while the Government walks away thinking that they tried, but 'no harm done'. Of course, there's a lot of harm done, but not to them. But to take them on again to argue some form of malicious prosecution? Maybe achieving one impossible thing in a year is enough for me :-)

There are some residual issues though - I'm concerned that the process has not been executed in the best possible way, and there are some questions which need answering, and I intend to ask them when this is officially over. I may not get answers, it's the Government after all.

Eliza Bennet said...

Congratulations!
I hope that you'll make a wonderful new life with your wife in UK.

(I have been a silent reader for so long, it actually feels a bit weird to reply)

Mike said...

Thanks for the congratulations Eliza, and thanks for posting after reading silently for so long :-)

mark said...

Best of luck Mike. I hope its all smooth sailing with your potential return to the UK.

Maybe our visits to Busan will coincide at some point in the future.

Mark

Jon Allen said...

That is great news.

Dale Mountain said...

SUPERB. I'm made up for you. Finally our own government has been made to give you your basic human rights!
Look forward to seeing you when you visit the UK next (won't say when you come to stay, because you may not!)

rwellor said...

so cool...

Mosher said...

As Dale said, enjoy your time in the UK but I can't say if I blame you if you just make it a stopover looking for a decent country to live in for the long term. You know, somewhere which treats you as a human being and not a potential terrorist.

Which kind of rules out the US.

daeguowl said...

That's good news.....after following this saga for so long I am really curious as to what the whole story is...

Mike said...

Mosher - I'd certainly settle for somewhere that treated me as a human being; there hasn't been a lot of that in this case.

Hopefully once I'm back in the UK I can get on with things and put this attempt by the Government to keep me out behind me, but I'm afraid that the way I've been treated is reflective of a wider official attitude back home, and I think I'm going to be very sensitive to that after this experience. It's troubling.

Mosher said...

You're not wrong. It troubles me when you look at how much of a giggle we found the USA with their "Patriot Act", increased molestation of tourists at the airports, attitude to anyone non-white as potential terrorists... and then we look at what's happened in the UK over the last few years.

You have more rights in the UK as a 2nd generation immigrant just by waving the "race card" around and claiming you're being harassed for your colour. Anti-social behaviour is treated as the norm - you just have to put up with it. We have to let prisoners out early as our prisons can't hold them when we should be deporting them or hanging the b*stards.

Even my mother says that the whole place has gone to sh*t (direct quote), and she's not wrong.

Still, at least we let the fire brigade deal with major fires at national monuments. When our children aren't throwing bricks at them.

Mike said...

Daeguowl - yes, unfortunately I've not been in a position to reveal specific details while there are ongoing legal proceedings, or the possibility of them. We're waiting to see if my Government will appeal the judge's decision right now. Even then, paranoia suggests waiting until my wife actually has that visa in her hands before I reveal the details.

But I can't wait to tell more, it's just eating away at me to have to hold my silence. Sadly, I fear the whole affair is so Kafkaesque it defies simple explanation, which is why I felt writing a book about it might be the best option. But for this blog, I'll do my best to write some kind of summary when the time comes. Apologies for the unintentional cliff-hangers in the interim!

daeguowl said...

As someone that has flitted back and forth between the UK and Korea, I somewhat fear for my own wife's status....

ChildofHope said...

Congratulations! I have commented before, but I enjoy reading your blog. I hope everything continues to go well and your wife will have that visa in hand shortly. :)

(by the way, that little children's website for learning english has sent me, and many of my friends, into giggle fits...thanks for the laugh)

Mike said...

Thanks, ChildofHope. Glad you liked the children's website!

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