Congratulations, British Immigration. You’ve Obviously Just Caught a Dangerous Criminal.

Apr 11, 2013    /    stories & photos

Dangerous criminal in the making. Obviously.

British Immigration, Eurostar Paris, Hour One

The stocky British immigration officer next to me was chewing out a tiny, timid Asian girl.

“Why did you lie to us?” the stern-faced officer shouted, leaning over the frightened girl.

The petite girl, who was clearly not a native English speaker stammered something about not lying or not knowing what she meant.

The angry British immigration officer continued: “When we first asked you why you were visiting, you said you were just visiting for no particular reason. Then we asked where you were staying and you said you were staying with a friend. When we asked you why you were here, why didn’t you say ‘to visit a friend’?”

I couldn’t hear the soft-spoken Asian girl’s reply, but I could feel her anxiety. The poor thing clearly hadn’t lied to anyone: she’d said her purpose in the country was tourism and then told them she was staying with a friend. Since when are tourism and seeing a friend mutually exclusive reasons for travel?

And yet there she was…stuck in customs and being treated like Al Qaeda.

Eventually, after a few more long minutes of lecturing, they let her through.

I watched her walk through, glad they’d stopped berating her publicly and jealous that I wasn’t allowed to leave myself. I’d been sitting on the same freezing cold bench for almost an hour waiting for the immigration officer (and my passport) to return. I was anxious, but even moreso I was cold and so was the poor, sweet dog, who was curled up quietly in her carrier shaking.

British Immigration, Eurostar Paris, Hour Two

“When did you arrive in Europe?” a pudgy agent with slicked-back hair was taking notes across the cold metal table.

“The day after Christmas.” I said.

“And when was your last trip to Europe before that?”

“Last summer.”

“So, in the past nine months, based on your passport, you’ve spent six in Europe.”

“That sounds about right.”

“Sounds like you’re trying to establish a base in Europe.”

“Actually, I’m just traveling.”

“No you’re not. You’re trying to establish a base.”

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I don’t understand the problem,” I said, apologetically and confusedly. “I’ve left every country or zone before the time on my tourist visa was up. I’ve never overstayed. I’ve never tried to move anywhere in Europe…I don’t understand the problem.”

“The problem is that you’re gaming the system.”

It was pointless to reason with her, so I eventually stopped. But the irony of the situation wasn’t lost on me. Because I’d been meticulous about entering and exiting on time, I was now “gaming the system.” If I’d not been meticulous, I would have been flagged for breaking the law.

There was absolutely no way to win.

British Immigration, Eurostar Paris, Hour Three

I guess I didn’t really believe I was being detained until hour three. I just thought that, like with the little Asian girl who eventually made it through, they were being nit-pickingly thorough.

Because I wasn’t planning anything nefarious, I’d just assumed they’d let me through in the end. I assumed we’d clear up any concerns. I assumed “travels too much” wasn’t a good enough reason to deny someone entrance to your country.

But I assumed wrong.

I was back in the chairs-bolted-to-the-floor back room again and this time I wanted to vomit or cry (or possibly both at the same time). The glinty-eyed British immigration officer was asking deeply personal, prying questions about my health and my need for an ESA. Despite my utter politeness and cooperation, she’d stopped using reasonable language and started implying that I was a liar:

“You allege that you have $X dollars in the bank.”

“You allege that you have family in the states.”

“You allege that you have a permanent address in North Carolina.”

I’d answered every question politely and directly. I’d not complained once about the freezing cold bench or the three-hour delay. I have no criminal record or history of overstaying my visas. And yet I was assumed to be a liar.

And I was totally helpless to do anything about it.

I couldn’t help but wonder about this process. Does it really take hours to decide whether I can enter your country? Is it really okay for agents to assume we’re all lying without any shred of evidence? And if there’s no real evidence against me, can’t they at least let me sit in a warm room and have a glass of water while I wait?

British Immigration, Eurostar Paris, Hour Four

I was ushered in the scary little back room one last time. This time, I was told that I am not allowed into the UK. The thin evidence supporting this choice was that: A) I’d been traveling too long/don’t have a permanent address in the states, B) I had mentioned I was going to watch a friend’s dog and that is “work,” and C) she believed I was lying about the money I had in the bank.

A smile—no, a smirk—played on her face as she told me I was not coming through.

And that was, honestly, the worst part of the whole day. Even after three and a half hours of patience and politeness, of answering every question, of freezing half to death and never complaining…that horrible, power-drunk British immigration officer was smirking at me. She was happy—thrilled even—to be ruining my trip.

So, there I was. Shocked. Overwhelmed. Crying. Fighting off a panic attack. Being smirked at. And then they stood me up, marched me to a low table and fingerprinted me like a criminal.

When I finally composed myself, I asked when I could try to re-enter. Was this trip totally out-of-the-question, I asked, or if I came back tomorrow with proof of funds, a cancellation email to my friend whose dog I was watching, etc., would I be able to come in?

The smirking officer was, as you may have guessed, completely unhelpful.

“I can’t tell you what will happen tomorrow,” she said.

I tried to ask the question a different way: “I’m asking you if, based on your knowledge of UK immigration and customs procedures, it’s going to make any difference if I fix the reasons you’ve outlined for not letting me in?”

“Can’t you just go home?” she asked sharply.

Dear British Immigration Office: this is a ridiculous question.

Of course I can go home. I can go home and forfeit two weeks worth of rent. I can go home and forfeit the opportunity to go to a really important business conference. I can go home and forfeit the costs of train tickets, change fees, and re-made plans.

Is it so hard to understand that people who have spent hard-earned money on a trip to your country would want to use the hotels or tours or trains they’ve paid for?

The Moral of the Horror Story

I eventually did make it into the UK…after printing out confirmations of my “alleged” funds, changing my plane ticket to leave just after my conference, and taking an early morning train to Calais to catch the ferry instead of chancing another run-in with the smirking Eurostar immigration officer.

Instead of the normal stamp, which allows American passport holders to stay in the UK up to six months, I was stamped in for two weeks—just long enough to attend my business conference.

The smirky agent told me that my passport is now in the system for 5 – 10 years and I’m going to get flagged every time I try to enter. She also said I could try again another time.

To her I pose this question now:

Why the [insert chosen expletive here] would I?

Why would any person spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours on accommodations, transportation, planning, and other advance payments knowing that it’s possible—and not just possible, but likely—that they’ll be detained for hours, treated like a criminal, called a liar, and possibly ultimately forced to lose all of those deposits and get right back on that plane?

No thank you.

So, congratulations, immigration office. You’ve just put off this terribly dangerous criminal mastermind with her tiny dog, growing travel blog following, and ethical business.

Excellent work.


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87 Comments
  • Felicity
    April 11, 2013

    Man, this sounds like a nightmare, but British immigration really can be horrible.

    My brothers girlfriend (a kiwi and therefore allowed several years working visa in the UK), didnt fill her application in right the first time to enter the country, now she is banned from entering the UK for 5 years (apparently shes at risk of overstaying!) I also know another man (also kiwi) who was entering the UK to marry his british bride. When entering, the customs officer asked his purpose of visiting, and instead of just saying ‘holiday’, he was so excited and naturally a friendly bloke, that he told him happily ‘to get married’ not knowing of a very old and obscure form one must fill out (thats never usually inforced) if you are wanting to enter the country to marry. He was sent on a plane back to New Zealand straight away.

    I honestly dont understand them…and im moving to London in 2 weeks…eek

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Yikes – that’s so sad for your banned friend! I guess I knew British Immigration was strict, but didn’t realize how completely unreasonable they are until now.

  • Rebeca
    April 11, 2013

    What (insert chosen explicitive). What a bunch of bull and mularki. I am so sorry that you were treated so harshly. I certainly do not blame you for never wanting to return to the UK. Yup you look like a criminal mastermind based on the above picture lol.
    I wonder how long the other poor Asian lady was detained before you got there.
    Wow your passport will really be in the system for the next 5-10 years and flagged for that long even after submitting proof. That is just not cool. On the upside France seems really nice.
    Rebeca recently posted…Holy GrailMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Totally. And you’re right – I’m lucky I got stuck in France, since the people there were so lovely to me. :) Luckily, now I’m sitting on a beach about to enjoy two days of real vacation…so I think the universe has balanced itself out a bit.

  • Lisa, a.k.a. The Bold Soul
    April 11, 2013

    Wow, and I thought US immigration could be tough. I co-authored a memoir for a German woman who, back in the 80s in the pre-terrorism era, got caught by INS when trying to re-enter the US after a trip back to Germany. She had overstayed her tourist visa by… 2 years. She spent 3 days in immigration jail and spent the nights sleeping in a hotel room (because the jail was overcrowded) HANDCUFFED TO A FEMALE INS OFFICER (yeah, I’m sure the officer wasn’t crazy about this arrangement either). Finally, she opted to “voluntarily” go back to Germany instead of being officially deported, which meant she could re-enter after 1 year (the rules have probably gotten even more strict since then). In that year, she and her boyfriend worked out how to get her back to stay in the US permanently, and it meant them getting married within 3 months of her return a year later. So that’s what happened. And she’s still living in San Francisco. (By the way if anyone’s interested, the book is “To Drink the Wild Air” by Birgit Soyka. This is only one small chapter in her very interesting story.)

    I mention all this just to say that YOUR story? Sounds even worse to me in terms of how you were treated overall. I’m going to England in May for 5 days of vacation and already thinking what documents should I bring to PROVE that I live here in France legally, in case they give me a hard time. I have applied for French nationality but haven’t received it yet, so still traveling on my US passport.
    Lisa, a.k.a. The Bold Soul recently posted…Four cents per gallon (or, Not Everything in Paris is Chic)My Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Wow…sleeping handcuffed to an INS officer sounds like a nightmare of a whole other caliber. If I never see my Immigration lady ever again, it’ll still be too soon.

      Definitely bring as many documents as you can think of. And, honestly, choose a male Immigration Officer. I’ve noticed overall that the ladies seem to think they have something to prove, so they’re bigger jerks. Sad, but seems to be how it is.

      • David
        February 11, 2017

        I got rejected at the Paris Eurostar entry back to the uk in 2011 because I said the wrong thing, I stupidly thought I was having a friendly conversation with the customs lady. I was on a short holiday from Australia and was flying home from Heathrow the next day. I had young children to get home too. I didn’t realise I was talking to an evil monster. I got that same smirk when she realised she’d got me, it’s the face of evil that I’ve never erased from my mind. It and the little cross stamped in my passport caused no end of trouble and grief, let alone the scary night I had in Paris in peak season with nowhere to sleep. i got detained again because of that stamp the next time I went to china (I got through eventually). I now have a new passport and am meant to go back to the uk this year but I’m very nervous about it. any advice anyone?

        • gigigriffis
          February 12, 2017

          So sorry to hear it! I don’t have any advice about going back, as I’ve gone out of my way to never pass through again.

  • Rob
    April 11, 2013

    Every time I hear something like this I remember that the best of the UK left the country to colonize Canada and the USA. The ones that were left were the weak and cowardly. I suppose their descendants haven’t improved much.

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Aw. I don’t know about that. I did meet some lovely people who live in the UK (including my wonderful roommates – more on them later). It seems to be the Immigration officers that are the problem, not necessarily the locals. And don’t forget that US Immigration folks have our own horrifying reputation (see German lady’s story in the comments – yikes).

      • Rob
        April 11, 2013

        Don’t ruin my narrow prejudgement of Brits! I like my broad brush. :)

        My problem with this sort of thing is that there’s no need for the immigration people at any border to behave like asses. Ask your questions, make your evaluation, but don’t revel in making people upset. That’s just being mean.

      • Mike Charalambous
        May 15, 2013

        Your comment, Rob, which I can’t actually reply to – is shocking. You have no place on a great blog like this.
        Mike Charalambous recently posted…It’s Time to Go My Own Way: Taking A Leap of Faith to Catch a View from HeavenMy Profile

  • Brandi
    April 11, 2013

    I don’t condone what happened to you but the fact if the matter is if you are working in projects while in the UK that you will be paid for you are breaking the law.. I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but it is the truth.

    British border agents are a bit asshole-y, but the honestly thought you weren’t a real tourist.
    Brandi recently posted…Overheard in EdinburghMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Hi Brandi,

      I wasn’t being paid for the petsitting gig they had a problem with. They knew I was a writer and was being paid by my clients through my company in the states and didn’t have a problem with that (the law is there to make sure people don’t take jobs from locals, not so that you don’t do any work for your foreign company), so I wasn’t actually breaking any laws.

  • Ali
    April 11, 2013

    Andy told me some of this from when he was talking to you on Skype, sounds horrifying! I understand they don’t want people to “game the system” but if you’re clearly following the rules, I don’t see the problem. I can’t imagine having things planned and paid for and having some wacky immigration officer tell me I can’t come in because I travel too much! Obviously if you’ve been traveling, you have money to pay for it. And plenty of people come to Europe to travel around for an extended period of time. Stuff like this makes me so angry. And to flag your passport for 5-10 years? Yikes.

    Worst thing I’ve ever dealt with was last year after living in Germany for 3 months and traveling around the world for 4 months, I landed in LAX in route to visit friends in Seattle, starting a month of US travel before returning to Germany. I just put “Renton, Washington” in the field for where I was going to be staying because I didn’t know my friend’s address. The lady got irritated that I didn’t put a full address, asked me where I live (even though it said Germany on the form) and then yelled at me for not putting the whole address because I “don’t live here anymore.” Um, sure but I’m a US citizen and I had every right to be in the country. She made me get out of line and find the address, which I guess wasn’t a big deal, but annoying.

    I hope you have better luck with immigration in the future. And I’m sure your future plans won’t include the UK for a very long time. Such a shame.
    Ali recently posted…7 Quick Tips for TravelMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Ugh. That sucks. And it’s not like those checks and balances help anything. Someone could just lie about their address if they wanted to.

      And, yeah, definitely not going back to the UK if I can help it.

  • Karen Lagerberg
    April 11, 2013

    In 2002 my husband and I went to Sweden to pick up a Volvo that we had purchased and intended to drive over Europe to see the sites. We also took the ferry from Calais to England. We purchased a temporary license plate (good for a year), and had our passports from the US. When we got to the line to enter, the immigration service was pulling over cars and going thru them like drug agents in San Diego looking for drug dealers! We got the 3rd degree and they were quite confused as to why we had Swedish plates and US passports! What a deal. At least they didn’t look thru the car like the poor Arab looking folks pulled over. I never plan on visiting England again. Too much trouble and they are too rude.

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Ugh. Sorry you had to deal with them too.

      • Pops
        July 8, 2014

        I’m British,was born and raised here,but father is African,mother is English.
        I travel quite a lot,have a very strong regional English dialect,and mostly,even with my kids in tow,I get the same shitty treatment that you’ve been subjected to for the last 30 years or so.
        Nowadays,I tell them to fuck off,and don’t tell them anything because I’m sick of their shitty attitudes,and want to go home cos I’m tired of getting profiled everytime I come home.
        Of course,I have a British passport,so they can’t chuck me out,but they really get upset that I don’t swallow and take their whipping like a good boy.
        100 years ago,no-one had passports.What the hell happened here?

    • Rob
      April 12, 2013

      Anything out of the ordinary bothers border people. I had forgotten, until this discussion, the time back in the 80s when I was flying from Stockholm to Los Angeles. The US passport person insisted that because I *lived* in Sweden I needed a visa to enter the USA, even though I was carrying a Canadian passport. It took a supervisor to straighten her out.

  • Kristin
    April 11, 2013

    Ugh, that sounds like such an awful experience! It’s terrible what a power trip immigration agents are on, especially those in the UK. I’m currently in the UK for 5 months to spend time with my grandparents, who are 91 and have been unwell, yet when I first arrived here in February, I got the 3rd degree about why I was visiting. Granted, I only got questioned for 5 minutes instead of 4 hours, but they questioned things I thought were pretty obvious, like “why are you visiting your grandparents?” (Err, they’re my grandparents?) She also didn’t seem to believe me about the money I had in the bank, and made me show her all plane tickets that I had booked during my stay (even though I’d already proved I had a ticket back to Australia in July, well before my 6 months would run out).

    Like you say, this was a female immigration officer.

    The next time I entered the country, I had all of my savings accounts, plane tickets, proof of employment circumstances that they didn’t believe, all printed out. The male immigration officer asked me how old my grandparents were and whether they were British and then smiled and sent me on my way.

    I’m a bit concerned now since I plan on coming back in on the Eurostar in June. Maybe I’ll print out photos of me with my grandparents near obvious British landmarks just in case!

    Anyway, so sorry to hear this happened with you, and I completely don’t blame you for not wanting to book a trip here again!
    Kristin recently posted…Snowmobiling into a Whiteout in the Lyngen AlpsMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Haha – your comment on printing out photos near British landmarks made me laugh. Sorry they gave you the third degree for visiting your grandparents. It’s crazy how many stories like this there are out there. And sad. I guess they figure if they barely let anyone in they’ll cut back on illegal immigration by default (even if they kill tourism in the process).

  • Brandi
    April 11, 2013

    Gigi,

    I’m only on my phone at the moment, but if you search the UKY website you can find people banned for writing or telecommuting and being in the UK on tourist visas. You can’t even volunteer on tourist visas! They are really meant for you to come for a short time, have a looksie, and go home. I know someone who was banned from the UK got ten years for babysitting a friends kid for a few hours.

    I don’t agree that any immigration officer should make you cry, but you should always being prod of being able to support yourself when you travel and want tourist visas.. No country, other then the one you have passport from, has to let you in..
    Brandi recently posted…Overheard in EdinburghMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 11, 2013

      Thanks for the info, Brandi. I know now that they consider babysitting and petsitting (even without pay) to be work; I just didn’t know then. And I definitely didn’t need to be treated like garbage because of an honest mistake. Plus, it’s mind-blowing that traveling too much was one of their reasons stated in the official letter they gave me. It’s wild that traveling in other countries made them think I wanted to move to theirs. :(

  • Brandi
    April 12, 2013

    Gigi,

    The UK thinks everyone who visits wants to live there.. If you need to go to the UK again, I would do it via Ireland add they are both in the common travel area. No nasty UK immigration officers then!
    Brandi recently posted…Overheard in EdinburghMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 12, 2013

      Thanks, Brandi. If I do have to come back for some reason, I’ll keep that in mind.

  • Neens
    April 12, 2013

    When I moved to the UK about a decade ago, I flew from Norway to Heathrow. I stopped in the customs room, which was completely empty, because I figured surely someone would want to talk to me; I was moving here and had flown in with a one-way ticket, after all. Eventually a man came in and said “hi, where are you from?”. I answered “Norway” and showed him the front of my passport. He said “You just want to get the hell out of here, don’t you?”. I answered “Err… yes?”. And he pointed and said “The door is there. Have a good day!”. And that was it.

    On the other hand, my friend who comes from a former Russian state is stopped at every airport. She was once turned away from Dublin; they threatened to deport her to her homeland even though she could prove that she lived in the UK, was married in the UK, owned a house in the UK, ran a business in the UK and also studied in the UK.

    Sometimes I wonder if it all just boils down to the immigration officer’s preconceived ideas about the country your passport was issued in. So it’s a shame that you had to come across a power-crazed, anti-American, PMS-ing beeeyatch… If you’ll pardon my French. ;o)
    Neens recently posted…A little self-love can go a long way!My Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 12, 2013

      Interesting! It’s actually nice to hear one nice story in the bunch. And perhaps you’re right. Perhaps she has a thing against Americans, or young women, or people who get to travel more than she does. Thanks for the support.

  • Suzanne Fluhr
    April 12, 2013

    My son was pulled out of line re-entering the US from a two week trip to Panama. He’s a US citizen (travel blogger) and resident. He thinks it was a random stop. He said a light came on when it was his turn to approach the officer. Does anyone know if they do more extensive interviews on a random basis no matter whose turn it is?
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…Ireland Road Trip — Part Three (The Ring of Kerry)My Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 12, 2013

      Hmmm, interesting question. I have no idea.

  • Brad
    April 12, 2013

    I know That I’m dating myself with this comment, but it “Alice’s Restaurant” 2.0. The one item you were lacking in your defense was the “27 8×10’s with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.” I guess the British are getting tired of its “guest workers” mining the system, so they turn their field officers on unsuspecting folks and intimidate them from coming into the country, legitimate reasons or no. If the situation weren’t so pathetic it would make for a great Monty Python skit.

    • gigigriffis
      April 13, 2013

      Pathetic situations do sometimes make for funny satires.

  • Gary
    April 12, 2013

    Gigi… I am absolutely sick to the core thinking of the trauma. I am also devastated that some pumped up official can give the UK such a bad name…sorry. I was harbouring a similar feeling about the US immigration when they stopped me coming across from Canada some years back so I guess there are self important numbskulls in all countries. You ordeal is amazing though considering there were no language barriers to overcome…sorry it happened to you and that it has blighted what can be a great country to visit…:(
    Gary

  • Brief Roommate
    April 13, 2013

    Ugggghhhh. Flagged for 5-10 years because of their completely speculative assessment of your circumstances?!?! No doubt that any immigration officer has the *authority* to turn anyone away, but it seems ridiculous that the burden of proof should be on the traveler to show that they are *not* a criminal versus on the institution to demonstrate that they are. Fine, they need a bank statement before they’re comfortable letting you in, so they should tell you sorry for the inconvenience, please go get a bank statement and try again tomorrow, not hold you in a cell for four fucking hours. I’ve no clue why customs is a profession in which it is permissible to degrade and yell at strangers – I realize many countries take immigration seriously and are following a mandate to maintain rigorous border control, but that doesn’t change the fact that travelers are your clients, the very vast majority are doing exactly what they say they’re doing with perfectly innocuous intentions, and your job as a customs officer is to politely and professionally process them through your system, even if you are obliged to refuse entry to some of them.

    I’ve never dealt with someone so heinous, though I did have a rather grumpy official in the UK who didn’t like me and Eric because we had (stupidly) not checked his dad’s address before we arrived in London for a visit and had put down “London Bridge” as our intended place of residence while we were there. He was not amused and was doubly grumpy about the phone number we used for Eric’s dad, which was an internet-based Vonage line versus a local landline with a recognizable number. I also once had a Canadian customs official gesture impatiently for me to elaborate when he asked what my relationship was to my traveling companion and we responded, “We’re friends.” He was all, “…AND?!?!” as though this needs some sort of explanation, like “We’re friends AND we were in grade school together AND we share common interests and values AND go out to dinner sometimes or enjoy the cinema AND occasionally our menstrual cycles will sync up with one another when we’ve been hanging out too much over the summers! Whee!”

    • gigigriffis
      April 13, 2013

      “AND occasionally our menstrual cycles will sync up…” <-- HA! Your first paragraph hits the nail on the head. There are reasonable ways of handling tourists who don't have whatever silly piece of paper you need. Professionalism shouldn't be optional.

  • Courtney
    April 15, 2013

    Quelle nightmare! That sucks that this happened to you. That’s all I can say. What a terrible experience!
    Courtney recently posted…Weekend Wear: Bridal Shower and Bachelorette PartyMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 15, 2013

      Thanks, Courtney. It so did.

  • Kerry
    April 16, 2013

    I wonder if we got the same woman – I also had a bit of a hassle with the UKBA Eurostar desk from Paris to London last week, and I live here! (I’m an American married to a Brit.) I was lucky enough to be travelling with him, but when I plonked down my “indefinite leave to remain” card (which usually settles it, because…I already have indefinite leave to remain, which was a GIANT hassle to get but never mind), she asked:

    “How did you get indefinite leave to remain?”
    “So you’re married, but you didn’t take his last name?”
    “Ah, so you’ll bear his children but you won’t take his last name?”

    We laughed (because, hello, don’t want to make trouble at the immigration desk) but…we’re not even planning to have kids! What a bizarre thing to say!

    Anyway, I’m sorry it was such a problem for you and I hope you have a happier experience in the UK soon!
    Kerry recently posted…Eight quotes from Isaac Asimov’s Guide to ShakespeareMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 16, 2013

      Ha! What a totally bizarre line of questioning. Hearing all these stories makes me think that British Immigration is basically just flailing in panic and has no idea how to really identify illegal immigrants and dangerous individuals. Because, really, they’re wasting their time asking people why they didn’t take their husband’s last name?

  • Kit Whelan
    April 20, 2013

    Woah. Just… WOAH! I’ve had some immigration issues in my past (I’m looking at you Canada!) but this one just takes the cake. I am amazed that you resisted using expletives throughout this whole process.

    There needs to be some sort of formal complaint we travelers can file when this sort of power trip happens. The UK seems to be sending all the wrong messages when it comes to immigration these days, and soon travelers will take their money somewhere else.

    Good on you for writing about it!
    Kit Whelan recently posted…5 O’Clock Photo: A Boston Riverfront WalkMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      April 20, 2013

      Hear, hear. It’s definitely become part of my mission to warn other travelers off the UK. And I’ve been encouraged by one or two people who work for or in conjunction with immigration (not in the UK, but in other countries) to file a complaint via letter, so I suppose there is a system for it – just perhaps not a great one (I spoke to a guy down here in Mexico who had a similar experience ten years ago and still gets treated like garbage even if he just has a connecting flight through London; he said he’s been given the run-around as he’s tried to get the illogical flag off his record).

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