Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reason Number 37 Expats are Made to Feel Like Criminals

It's rough enough going thru passport control in the UK these days.  My passport is scrutinized.  My ID Card (acting as a proxy for my Visa) is scrutinized.  I'm scrutinized.

Apparently that isn't enough for UK Immigration.   They're now starting to monitor immigrants at work.  This just landed in my work inbox.  I can't help but add my own [editorial commentary]:

"I am writing to inform you of the upcoming right to work checks that {your employer-aka YE} will be conducting. As you may be aware [no, I wasn't...], YE are required to conduct annual right to work checks on employees in order to comply with UK immigration legislation. Although we already have on file copies of the required authorizations for your right to work in the UK as a non-EU National [which should suffice...], UK legislation requires us to take certified copies of these documents on an annual basis. For more info please see the UK Border Agency guide.

We are arranging for these checks to be carried out by our specialist immigration providers.  They will need to meet with you personally to view your Passport, visa, or other relevant documentation, as appropriate. [Shall I also provide a blood sample, iris scan, or DNA string?...] It is extremely important that these checks are completed and we ask for your assistance in accommodating the request. [Like I have any choice?..]"

Relative to the US, I generally acknowledge that the UK is much more flexible on these types of things, so it's correspondence like this that makes me wonder just what Simon & I are opening ourselves up for if he ever gets a greencard & we move to the US.  'Life Admin' as an Expat is exponentially greater as an expat.  I can only imagine how much worse this will be in the US.  Good times.


  1. Well, that is one of the downsides of cross-border living. 18 years and counting. Being an expat in the US is generally not bad, though it's getting worse. I think this is a general world economic climate - as things get tougher, people defend their home turf with tooth and nail, despite any rationale or thought.

    Specifically in the US what is worse is the risk of indiscriminate deportation. You have a DUI (not that I condone that by any means) as a citizen, you end up in jail. You have a DUI as an expat, you land in jail and then in your home country. You are expected to live to a higher standard on many levels than their own citizens, yet you have fewer rights. A bit lopsided. But then freedom and opportunity have always come at a price - whatever it is that you're chasing. It's those that make creating and enforcing all these odd rules their purpose in life that I cannot understand.

  2. That's interesting, I've never had any issue with any treatment from immigration (I do have issue with how slow they are, but that's another story). I wonder if it matters the kind of visa you are on. Or possibly the passport you have?

  3. I guess I see it as the nature of living in a foreign country. I expect when I get there (in July!!) that I'll be asked for my visa and passport everywhere I go.

  4. Well, in a timely newsstory from one of your neighbors to the South - police in Alabama just arrested a Mercedez Benz executive on business travel for not carrying his passport with him...

    So much for that...

  5. Back when I had my "Leave to Remain" certificate in my US passport (I am now a full-fledged British citizen) I would often get attitude from the immigration clerks at Gatwick or Heathrow when I returned form abroad. One looked at my certificate and demanded, "How did you get this?"

    I resisted the urge to tell him I found it in a box of Cracker Jacks but, flustered and confused, I did say, "Well, I went down to Luna House in Croydon, filled out a bunch of forms and they gave it to me..."

    They let me in anyway.

  6. @Jan: Saw your commentary on FB about this. Even more ridiculous than my little whine about presenting my papers.
    @MikeH: I've not yet had anyone utter the words, 'How did you get this?' to me, but the implication of that question is there in the look! I guess it helps that my visa sponsorship has largely come from companies that everyone knows and (most) love. A little street cred goes a long with with immigration. :)

  7. Wow, from what I read about the UK online, the media makes it seem like it's almost too easy for anyone to get in (and stay in) to the UK, yet from what I'm seeing here, the Border Agency is acting almost militant about all of you. Also seeing that immigration is taking jobs away from British citizens and that they need to crack down on immigrants. Does it seem like this is a new trend with UK immigration, or have all of you been experiencing this for some time now? Anyone have any thoughts on this they want to share?

  8. They need to make sure illegal entrants are not working. Usually they will have jobs under minimum wage. It causes all sorts or problems for the host population.

  9. Hi Kristina,

    My name is Alana and I'm a student from NYC. I currently am studying abroad in Edinburgh and came across you're blog. I graduate in May and am really hoping to relocate and work in London. Is there any advice you could give me? Or do you know any companies that are exceptionally open to American expats?

    I'd greatly appreciate any help.


  10. Ha! It IS easy to get in if you are from any "war-torn" country. Basically if you claim that you'll be killed/imprisoned/tortured if you go back home, UK will let you in.

    Now, people who would work, pay taxes, etc, those are the ones that they are tough on...