Five years ago we were able to enter the UK on an Ancestry Visa because Peter’s grand-father was born in the UK. Our visas are expiring on September 6th and the last couple time we re-entered the UK, we have been reminded of their impending expiry dates.
This is what the ancestry visa looks like in the back of our old passports. We will now get a card.
These reminders meant one thing, Mama had to start the process of renewal of the Ancestry Visa. Yes, that is correct, in this household Daddy is the CEO and I am the CFO and Homeland Security officer. I make sure everyone has all the proper papers at all time wherever they live.
When I started looking into the renewal process by calling the Home Office of Immigration Services in Croydon, I learned that I could also apply for UK Citizenship but in order to do so, Peter and I would have to take a UK history and an English test. I am sorry but I am NOT interested in taking anymore F*&%ING Tests! Bad enough I have taken driver’s ed three times already and I just finished being on probation with the UK driving scheme. I would like to move on already, enough with the testing!
So the result of my many phone calls to the Croydon “Home Office” was that we would simply renew the Ancestry Visa. In order to do so, they instructed me on the link to the application on-line. Along with this 43 page document that I simply had to print and fill out, I had to get the usual documents for the Ancestry Visa. They are; Peter’s birth certificate, Our marriage license, Peter’s grand-father’s birth certificate, Peter’s parents’ marriage license, Peter’s grand-parents’ marriage license and Peter’s dad’s birth certificate. Also required, our current and our old passports, last three months of bank statements, last three months of Peter’s pay stubs and Peter’s letter of employment saying he is allowed to work in the UK.
When I started this process about a month ago, Peter was in Dublin. I did not want to use my home printer to print out a 43 pages document, twice. So I emailed Peter the link and asked him to print it for me at his office. He did not. When he saw the link and the 43 pages, he asked the head of HR who happens to be in Dublin, is there an easier way? She told Peter, “We have lawyers for that!” Peter called me almost instantly and said, “We have lawyers for that!” My response? WOOHOO!
Another thing I had found out by calling Croydon so often is that they offer a “Premium Service” for Visas. The way they explained it is, for the fee of £1500 per person, you get to make your own appointment and when you come in, you will get a decision right away and you will get your visa within 24 hours. We also had to pay £1000 each for NHS. We never use NHS, don’t trust it. We go privately, thank goodness for Peter’s insurance, but this is a new thing, people applying for Visas and citizenship have to pay some NHS fees in advance. Maybe because of BREXIT??? Who knows? I am also happy that Peter’s company was footing the bill for this!
I started working with the lawyer. I made my appointment. I brought all the documents in person to the lawyer. The lawyer looked at everything and said, ”all looks good, should take no time at all.”
Last Friday, I even confirmed with the lawyer whether or not we had to leave our passports because we don’t like to be without our passports for long periods of time and the lawyer said, ”actually, they no longer put the visas at the back of your passports. Now they issue you a Visa card. They will give you back your passports after the appointment.” Awesome! I was relieved.
Saturday our appointment was at 11 am in Croydon and we were instructed that for security measures we should be there for 10:30. Croydon is 9.8 miles from our house but would you believe the GPS and WAZE both indicated that it would take us 45 minutes to get there. Go to love London traffic! Sadly, both GPS and WAZE were spot on. We left at 9:30 am, got there at 10:15. Circled the area, found a parking and entered the UK Home Office of Croydon at 10:30 right on the nose.
Okay, this is where I question the ”Premium Service” that was sold to me. I was under the impression that since we had paid that we did not have to go get a number and get in line with the general population. Boy was I wrong. After going through ”airport security” and walking up three flights of stairs (elevators don’t work on the weekends), we were asked to get a number and wait with everyone else. Lucky #159 finally got called at noon. That person looked at all our documents and 15 minutes later said ”everything looks good, please come back in two hours, go to counter 44 and we will let you know if we approve you at this time.”
Hummmm, not much of a premium really, I have been waiting for almost two hours and now I have to come back in another two hours….So Peter and I found a place for lunch.
By the way, if you ever find yourself in Croydon and you are hungry for Chinese food, I would like to recommend, ”Wei Dao”. Excellent Chinese, their crispy beef and Kung Pao chicken were quite good. You should check them out.
Okay, at 14:30 we re-enter the UK Home Office in Croydon, again go through ”airport security” and walk up to the third floor and go to counter 44 to see if we have been approved only to be told, ”Sorry, nothing yet, please take a seat.” Thank goodness there were two waiting areas because the one near counter 44 was occupied by someone who needed a massive dose of deodorant. I am NOT JOKING you could not stand there. It was worst than driving back from Wilvaken with Thing 2.
So we parked ourselves in the waiting area down the hall and waited….and waited…and waited…at 16:05 I jumped for joy when I heard #159, please come to counter 42. Peter and I got to counter 42 and the guy just handed back the file with all our documents and passports and said, ”You’ve been approved, you will get your cards in 7 to 10 days.” We just grabbed the file and left the building. The lawyer told me 24 hours but WTF I just wanted to get home. Traffic was worst on the way back. We made it home around 17:15 and just realized we had spent an entire day sitting doing nothing.
Back at home I was complaining about the ”Premium Service” and Peter said, ”I know what you are saying but I think the ”Premium” part is the fact that they give you a response in one day and promise to get a card back to you within 7 to 10 days. ” He reminded me unlike the first time when we applied from Bermuda. All documents went to consular office in NYC and we were told to wait 4 to 6 weeks to get our passports back. I remember we were in Bermuda and we couldn’t leave the island because we did not have passports. We got our paperwork and traveling documents four weeks later….I guess Saturday was Premium after all but they need to do a better job explaining it.