ILR Application at Birmingham (Solihull)

A rather dry topic for my second blog! But my readers might realise that marriage does squeeze out everything interesting about you and in turn leaves you with limited interests. So forgive me and read no further if you are never going to be applying for an ILR or will never have to seek the government’s permission to sleep with your wife daily (as if asking her dad wasn’t hard enough already!!)

Being a Londoner one gets spoilt for choices. On the other hand queues are a part of life. Two very different things, I know. But although we live in a first world developed country, when it comes to showing foreigners how developed the UK is, the Border Agency leaves no stone unturned in proving otherwise. Since you are still reading you are familiar with (or rather should be) what a monumental task it is to get a (supposedly) premium appointment for applying for a visa in person (if you need a date urgently, that is). You have a slot between 12am and 1215am when the dates for new appointments open. Only a single day opens each day -this day being 42 days in the future. So if you try booking an appointment on 1st Jan, expect to see available dates only for 12th Feb. Everything upto 11th Feb is already booked and 13th Feb won’t open until tomorrow!! The 12th Feb dates will be gobbled up in 15 mins by people trying to stay awake at midnight like hungry scavengers waiting for the butcher to throw the leftover skin and wastes out at night. Either be a scavenger or apply by post and wait for at least 6 months for your passport. I had travel plans so…..

Anyway, a friend suggested that getting an appointment in Birmingham was easier. I immediately took the advice and managed to snap up a nice 9am Friday slot for myself and a1pm slot for my wife. I must say that the whole experience was very good, contrary to everything I had heard about the Croydon visa office. I was taken in at 0830. First in the queue. Documents submitted by 9:05. That’s when I mentioned about my wife waiting outside. The case officer was kind to ask me to get her in as well so her slot got bumped up immediately. However once all documents were submitted, the case officer started questioning whether we have filled the right form!

CO: Who asked you to fill the FLR(O) form?

Me: (without batting an eyelid) The UKBA website.

CO: Its the wrong form. You need to fill the FLR(M) form.

Me: (wanting to kill the guy who made the questionnaire based form suggestion tool). Ok, that’s not what the website said but I’m happy to fill the other form if you can give us some time.

At this point, I was in no mood to create a scene. I wanted to be simply done with it and went into crisis resolution mode. To my surprise, the CO was so friendly and even gave us directions of the local library where we could print a copy of the form and fill it. He did give us a 3 hour deadline to come back which was more than generous.

After printing and filling the form carefully and taking a much deserved sandwich and coke break, we headed back to the visa centre after about 2 hours. Our forms and biometrics were taken and then started the awful 2 hour wait when they deliberate over every little detail mentioned in the form and do the necessary checks.

Finally a lady came out and handed us our approval letters and we heaved a sigh of relief. The drive back home to London didn’t feel long at all !