Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Achievement Unlocked: FLR(M)

My Biometrics ID card arrived today so I officially have Further Leave to Remain (for two more years)!

Chris and I took the train down to Glasgow Friday morning, or rather we tried to - the East Coast from London never showed up the night before so there was no train to take back down. They found three coaches, two of which were going directly to Edinburgh and one was hitting the scheduled stops in between - only no one really knew what was going on. There were four railway employees standing around in the station telling people to "go over there" and no one by the coaches to say "Where are you going? You want this coach." There were no loos on the coach and no trolley service and the coach took the back roads rather than the A9 so it took about 3hrs to get to Perth where we were transferring to a train to Glasgow. Not the train we had seat reservations on, of course, as we'd already missed that one. But we could finally use toilets and drink water, the sun had come out, and we would still make it to Glasgow a few hours before my UKBA appointment.

We stayed at the Carlton George which is half a block from the train station and has king-size beds as standard (Chris hates sharing a double). The room was very nice, though very loud with the window open and/or the AC on and very stuffy if they weren't. There was a complimentary (read: already paid for) mini-bar though that didn't get restocked until later. We dropped our bags and made sure we had everything for our appointment and took a taxi from the station to the "business park" where UKBA is housed. We were a little early so we got sandwiches at the forgettable place across the street and then walked around the block a bit and found the subway station, and we were still a little early (my appointment was 2:20, they advise you get there half an hour early, and it was about 10 minutes before that window) but they decided to let us in. I'd brought my knitting, my kindle, and a paperback in case they took those away when they collected our phones. They did take my knitting (because of the needles) but let me keep my kindle. Almost as soon as I got my number and sat down I was called up and handed over my documents to Worker 1 who said it would take him ten minutes to look over so we sat down again. Very shortly thereafter he called us up again, told me he'd hand it over to a second set of eyes (per regulations), in the meantime I would have my biometrics (fingerprints and photo) taken and then if I wanted to leave and walk around, someone else would call me up in about 40 minutes. About a minute later I was called up for biometrics and Worker 2 was laughing and having a gay old time, though she did lament the "no smiling" rule for photos as everyone turns out looking like a serial killer. I did like that they did the four fingers together, rather than trying to do each individually. The two previous times I'd had biometrics done took forever, trying to get a clean scan of each fingerprint, without smudging or smearing.

I sat down again and very shortly thereafter I was called up by Worker 3 who asked if I had anything with regards to my Tier 4 (student) visa, to show that I'd been attending and passing my course. I explained that it had ended in June, the weekend before we got married, and that I hadn't had any communication from them since. He grumbled a bit about needing proof and that chasing down information like this isn't part of the express service of an in-person application and that they could refund us our money and we could get the proof and either mail it in or apply for another appointment, grumble grumble, but he'd ask his supervisor if he could try calling UHI to see if they could confirm my being in good standing. His supervisor said to go ahead and call and, if he couldn't get a hold of anyone that I could get something typed up by UHI and have it faxed in on Monday and they could approve it then without the postal application or having to come back. Phew! Chris was still very angsty, but Worker 2 was able to get through to Claire, the guidance councillor for international students (like me!) and she verified that I showed up for classes and had passed them and was eligible to enroll in the next years' course! So that's two happy things for the day - FLR(M) and an HNC in Computing!

He returned all of my documents and a letter saying "You can stay! Here's how! (not all guidances will apply to everyone we hand this sheet to)", put a "superseded" stamp across my previous visa, and told me that my biometric card, which replaces the traditional sticker in one's passport, would arrive in the post in 7-10 business days. It showed up today, a mere three business days later. I am now a Probationary Almost-Person!

We took the very cute subway (third oldest in the world!) back to the train station and our hotel - much easier and quicker than ordering a taxi, though I wouldn't have wanted to wander around looking for UKBA before my appointment. We spent quite a bit of time grinning at each other and doing little happy dances. Chris had forgotten his nice trousers (which I'd ironed for him) so after dropping the visa stuff off at the hotel we wandered around Glasgow for a bit and found a nice pair of trousers that fit (Chris is tiny so this isn't a given) but continued to be unsuccessful in our quest for a non-black or grey cardigan for him. We had a cuppa at Costa and by then the excitement of the day had caught up with us so we went back to the hotel room, Chris opened the half bottle of Muscat d'Asti he'd brought, and we collapsed on the bed until it was time to get ready for dinner at the rooftop restaurant in our hotel. I wore my wedding jewellery and shoes, a black velvet dress, and my wedding shawl. Chris wore a black shirt and trousers with a red tie and his nice cuff links and tie pin and we were by far the gussiest people in the joint. We ate too much and drank till we giggled and generally celebrated getting to stay together (for two more years!) in this country we call home.


  1. Yay congratulations and I say to heck with "two more years," here's for you staying together for the rest of your lives, may they be long!

  2. Chris and I are planning on a rolling "next 50 years"