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Tips on Smooth Sailing through UK Customs (Immigration)

Tips on Smooth Sailing through UK Customs (Immigration)

Old Dec 12th 2010, 12:30 pm
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Thumbs down Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Hi there i have posted before but i have just been through a very traumatic experience but im sure im not the only one who is feeling like this right now.

Today i have just had to go through taking my fiancee to the airport to have her deported after 4 days of gruelling 10 hour "interrogations" through UK immigration.

This is my point of view of what has happened and my fiancees view but i will tell u the scary part later which is why i believe everyone should read this story.

My fiancee arrived on 9th December in Gatwick after having a bit of a rough flight as she was incredibly sick and had to change her clothes she arrived early and went to immigration.
Now we knew that she maybe asked some questions as she is my fiancee but as we have applied for me to emmigrate on the I-129F that none of this would b any problems and as she came for a 2 week holiday back in May and was let in with very few questions it would b no problem.

First of all she was pulled through to a secondary because they suspected that she hadnt left the UK which should have been a simple look in the passport or verifying by computer.....

I then get a phone call on the outside as i was just walking into gatwick asking me simple questions like my date of birth occupation and various other questions about my family and hers which were obviously verifying questions that had to tally (which they obviously did)

Ok so after 2 more hours later i still hadnt heard anything so i decided to find out what was going on. I spoke to the immigration officer which said they were still interrigating oops sorry i mean questioning her.
I asked what was the problem of which they replied that as she had only been sent over with $200 that it wasnt enough money to live on for 6 weeks BUT as i pointed out i have sufficient funds and that she would b staying with family for christmas AND her mum was wiring money over to her as a 20 year old travelling with alot of cash is very vulnerable!. Again they said ok fine we will question her some more.

Finally after 3 more hours (and a hefty car parking fee later) i was called to say they didnt have time to verify her information and that she was allowed temporary visa until her interview on Saturday morning at 7.30am the reason why they let her home with me was because of her medical conditions (social anxiety) that i mayb able to calm her down and rest her in time for the interview.

When she walked through security i did not recognise the woman standing 3 feet before me and thats not an exagiration until she said my name.
She had told me that she had been locked up with other deportees that were in there for drug running and bringing weapons into the country (a real great crowd) and had more or less been imprisonned back in immigration. She was treated like a criminal.

When i told my fiancee what they had told me she said they had told her that they didnt believe that she had returned to the US then they told her they were also worried about her medication (of which some of it was being shipped over due to the 6 week stay and her pharmacy unable to give her prescriptions in advance). So so far we had 3 different reasons why she was being held.

So we get to work .... her mother faxes over to immigration drs notes showing appointments and prescriptions for her meds and the fact that my fiancee has CVID and needs regular infusions every 4 weeks and explained that she had a top up of her infusion before she left so it would last the 6 weeks. Just going to add in if she doesnt have these infusions there is a possible chance of death.

We also contacted the US embassy for support as we were lucky and my future father in law went to school with a congressmen who was very interested to know why she was being stopped. When we contacted the embassy we were told she could recieve no help as she wasnt technically inside the UK (if u have ever seen the film with tom hanks the terminal u will understand how frustrating this is).

Anyway we seemed to have got a very strong case together as i also supplied my savings and bank statements showing the money that we all had so yesterday we travel to the aiport yet again (luckily i only live 1.5 hours away although still) and await whilst my fiancee gets another lot of interrogation ooops i mean questioning!

After 3 hours (still no contact from immigration) i get a call from a payphone that was my fiancee who was using a payphone in a CELL! all the chairs were bolted down and she was extremely scared almost having panic attacks despite asking to b able to call me she wasnt allowed and that a payphone was there (luckily she had a spare £1 that we had given her). She told me that although they had questioned her and had been thorough they only seemed to b noting down half the information.

Ok so after 4 hours (and yet more parking fees) later i call down to immigration at gatwick and explain the whole situation AGAIN that she is here on holiday she has to have regular infusions and HAS to return to the US i am applying for immigration to the US on a fiance visa she has around 50K of financial resources available immediatly not including assets! (more than most immigrants getting sponsered to the UK probably and this is for a visitor visa lol) I was told she was noting all this down because she was going to her supervisor but it was quite obvious she wasnt notifying anything down.

finally at 12.30pm yesterday after 5 hours they finally had made a decision to deport her and let me know by phone that she was coming through security however this was not true as i approached the gate i saw my fiancee on the ground by the exit totally distraught and left with her baggage in a totally inhumane way.

The reasons they were deporting her was as follows:

firstly they described the state of my fiancees apartment and how she was living with her parents due to bad conditions (almost made her sound like she was asylum seeking!) despite all that they had been told was that water had got into the basement and that it was damp and being sorted. They made it sound like she was living in poor conditions and that she had no intentions of returning to the US.

Secondly her medications were due to run out in 2 weeks and that she would have to buy them privately but none of the drugs were life threatening and as we told them we have proof for 50K worth of funds even if they didnt get shipped over.

Thirdly they brought up about her regular infusions about how that in the UK her infusions were not available ..... this was THE most rediculous and made up comment ever! people have CVID here and they goto hospitals in the UK here all the time pia.org is the website to find out about it and i already had found out about it for EMERGENCY reasons! BUT also note doesnt this conflict with first point about she has no reason to return to the US? well its a choice of being with me and certain death or returning to the US and living according to them!

Fouthly according to UK immigration people who are unemployed and people who are retired have no money or assets. They made it out my family were destitute .... plus they assumed my mum and dad are still living together which they are not ..... not ONCE did they note down ANY financial records or amounts of funds that were immediatly available only her $200 that she travelled with.

As you can see from the above reasons its obvious that they "cherry picked" through the statements which looked the worst and ommitted vital information ..... i was never formally interviewed and the US embassy could do nothing to assist because it hadnt been going on for 7 days (no immigration lawyer can assist until 7 days according to the notice we recieved from uk immigration)

Now remember i said the scary part??????
My fiancee was locked up with 3 other americans that had applied for I-130s 2 of them were deported yesterday again for very weak grounds like ours.
One couple had been seperated as they had both came in from getting married and were on honeymoon .... the husband was escorted through immigration out to the other side!

When we had phoned up the US embassy the duty officer (remember our interview was on saturday and the Embassy closed how convenient!) accidentally let slip that 4 other women had called that day to complain about the same thing!

I dont know whether UK immigration law has changed or something but it seems that they mayb targetting american women that are applying to get their fiances over to the US. I dont know whether this is just coincidence but some of these women knew some of the laws and basically uk immigration told them they were wrong.

Not only did UK immigration use intimidation and scare tactics they also did NOT care about anyones individual needs as to my fiancees mental health and didnt want to deal with it as thats why they sent her home with me as they would have been liable if she had a panic attack with them in a cell!

I feel terrible as a UK citizen and my whole family are completely let down by the system that is put in place to try and find fraudsters not deport innocent americans that have no rights! and after that experience i have had with my fiancee i will be sending an email of congratulations and thanks to US CBP agents for how they have handled me in my previous visits even when i had travelled in too much with the visitor visa.

So in short to summarise if u are a US woman with a petition in place to bring over ur UK husband make sure everything is iron clad and show that u have no ties to the UK for EITHER of u if u are travelling into Gatwick airport.

I appologise about me abreviations and spelling but really its the last thing on my mind and i want people to be aware.
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 12:38 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Originally Posted by nmoon83 View Post
I appologise about me abreviations and spelling but really its the last thing on my mind and i want people to be aware.
just going to play devils advocate a minute, but don't take this personally because I'd be pissed off too if i were you.

no-one has the right to enter the UK apart from British citizens.
she had immigrant intent being your fiance.....
she has health issues and may have been a public charge to the NHS
she had no money
she had little ties
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 12:49 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Originally Posted by Manc View Post
just going to play devils advocate a minute, but don't take this personally because I'd be pissed off too if i were you.

no-one has the right to enter the UK apart from British citizens.
she had immigrant intent being your fiance.....
she has health issues and may have been a public charge to the NHS
she had no money
she had little ties
ok thanks for the reply and its cool.
1. understand that.
2. She doesnt have any immigrant intent as only a short stay surely CVID infusions and drs appointments back that up as to returning to US as NEEDED.
3. No public charge to the NHS as she can only apply for NHS treatment in emergency we know this and none of her medication would have been an emergency. Her CVID in emergency would have been paid by ourselves IF that arose.
4. she was a guest and WE had money which we proved to immigration. As they were asking for sponsor information they should have taken my financial situation into account.
5. Ties are that she lives with mum and dad and other family nearby, her medical treatment and doctors appointments..... lol plus my fiancee told immigration she hates it here lmao!!!


Plus 3 other americans married all women having no ties to the US as well? bit extreme when they only have very few american flights into Gatwick? .... the americans being deported within 3 to 4 days and a candaian in the same situation held for 7 days? (rights to a lawyer)

Last edited by nmoon83; Dec 12th 2010 at 12:53 pm. Reason: adding a bit ;)
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 12:59 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

I do have to say I'd have been knocking on the door of my MP after driving away from Gatwick
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 1:02 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Originally Posted by Manc View Post
I do have to say I'd have been knocking on the door of my MP after driving away from Gatwick

Ok well its not just me then it does look like we have been mistreated .... dont worry my parents are so disgusted that u might see this in some newspapers and a few letters at some influential people. That is just on the UK side.

The embassy hinted to my fiancee to go to the media in USA and speak to various goverments officials which i am quite sure her family will be doing!
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 1:05 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

I don't think her going to the press or her government would help much.

she has no right to enter the country.


you on the other hand, as a British citizen have invited someone to the pleasures of all the UK has to offer and have had it slapped in your face.


that's the way I'd go and play the oh mighty taxpayer angle a bit too.

Last edited by Manc; Dec 12th 2010 at 1:08 pm.
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 2:07 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

I'm sorry your fiancee had to go through this. I can see the why of it when it became known that she has a UK fiancee. Don't know how they discovered this but they did. It wasn't from the filing of the I-129F because AFAIK that information is not shared info.

From my reading, my thoughts are that they suspected her because:

1. Lack of meds for the entire trip;

(not sure that drugs are allowed to be mailed across countries)

2. Lack of funds for the length of her trip;

(why not have American Express checks or show them a debit card)

3. Confusion on blood transfusions;

(how can you top up a transfusion so that it lasts for six weeks when you medically need one every four weeks)

4. The severity of her disease;

(length of trip with a life threatening disease without proper meds)

How did they learn of her living conditions?

All in all too much in her life to make lengthy foreign travels. Did she have travel health insurance?

It sounds as if they made the right decision in her case. Not because she is a risk for non-approved UK immigration but because she is definitely one that will draw from the UK coffers due to her illness. BTW whatever is CVID? And what type of mental problems has she been diagnosed with at the young age of 20 regarding her social fears?

Last edited by Rete; Dec 12th 2010 at 2:11 pm.
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 2:33 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

I have to say, some doesn't make sense, but could be the state in which you wrote this.

1. Meds cannot be sent through the US Postal Service. With a doctor's note - you CAN get all the meds you need. My last contract was for 1 year outside the USA and I had one year of all meds that I may need. I merely had to carry the doctor's prescription and note of explanation for any customs officials that would ask.

2. It is clear that your fiancee is not too savvy in travel - this should always be taken in account. Maybe next trip is for you to travel to the US or meet in a 3rd country until everything is sorted. (No matter, she won't be able to enter the UK for the time...)

3. She should have carried all manner of paper about the impending marriage. Are you guys officially engaged? For me going in and out of the UK, we had already contracted the reception hall, placed adverts in local papers, etc., to prove what we were up to.

4. I don't think that UK Border folks are doing this to stop UK men from getting spouse visas to the USA. The UK Border folk obviously found some reason in her case to be concerned that SHE was going to STAY in the USA. That could come from some comment, real or misunderstood, from her. Having only a few hundred $ on her may have tipped them to understand that she was coming to STAY illegally. Even if the situation is wrong, I don't believe there is a conspiracy to keep US women out of the UK to visit or for US citizens to avoid the UK for Christmas.

5. Each country does not ask another country to go to someone's apartment to 'see' how they live. This could come down to a he said/she said situation. Each country manages their own borders - even if silly scare tactics, the UK border folk could not have possibly called up some local police station in Somewhere, USA to go round to an individual apartment to 'see' how they live. They need warrants, etc., to begin with, to enter her abode.

6. She can call her Congressperson all that she wishes, but that will not affect anything in the UK. YOU need to get your local MP involved, and since I'm unsure how things work with UK Border, here in the USA, the Congressperson can work to get transcripts of the proceedings, which are videotaped, by the way. We can't sue the government but we can make things difficult for the various agencies through other ways of accountability.

7. US Embassy is not at all able to assist with anything like this. State Department is very clear on this issue of its citizens abroad.

I know you are upset. I know the situation is devastating for you and for her. However, this is wholly unrelated to your US immigration. She missed the mark at Gatwick, but it doesn't matter - she isn't immigrating to the UK. YOU are immigrating to the USA, so your relationship with USCIS and the NVC is separate. With the I-129, you are getting married in the USA it appears, so I'm sorry that she couldn't get in for the holidays however maybe best to meet up in a third country and make the immediate upset go away together?
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 5:23 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Originally Posted by nmoon83 View Post
5. Ties are that she lives with mum and dad and other family nearby, her medical treatment and doctors appointments..... lol plus my fiancee told immigration she hates it here lmao!!!
I'm sure that went down real well with the immigration officers...
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 5:52 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Ok sorry i tried to provide as much information as i could without going in too deep but i dont mind providing information.

CVID is common variable immune dyficiancy the sum of it is basically she doesnt have the blood cells in her body to fight off infection and has an infusion to give her those cells ..... after a while they die out so her body needs to be "topped up" after a while in her case they normally do this every 4 weeks however they gave her twice the amount as a once off.
In an emergency situation we would have gone to Great Ormand Street Hospital and phoned up prior to make an appointment and get her infusion that way. I had found out that IF a situation arose that it wouldnt have been a problem.

The other medication that she was bringing in was things like anti anxiety medication anti depressants and acne type pills. None of these would have been considered life threatening or expensive to be able to buy in the UK as for mailing i dont know the rules or regulations regarding this BUT if you look on the NHS site there isnt a way she could have cost the taxpayer anything at all and she did have the nessisary financial backing IF a situation arose but that WASNT taken into account and any prescriptions could have been faxed or emailed from one doctor to another.

My fiancee doesnt have a bank account or anything but me as her sponsor have plenty of funds for her once she had been released into the UK and to be honest if we didnt have those funds why was it ok for her to be granted temporary visa rights i mean she didnt have to report in after she went home with us and she wasnt tagged. They could have even done this for a 2 week period just so we spent the time together for christmas if they wanted to have a compromise.

Ok i can understand in my fiancees situation that her medication and HER specific refusal although has some extremely big holes in it and on their statement they contradict themselves BUT the other women entering the UK DID have reciepts of I-130 applications marriage certificates and everything to prove they were going through immigration to enter the US and they still got deported.
The reason i think there is something funny going on is because the US embassy were kind of biting theyre lips and hinting to my fiancee .... it was like they couldnt say something which is why the US embassy told her to go to the media on this in the US. They also told me to not mention our status of fiancee at all even when i mentioned about the fact i could get copy of the I-129F reciepts they said there was no point yet it should make a huge difference but it clearly wasnt to even the people that WERE prepared entering the UK.
What seemed pretty clear to me that if an american was entering with a UK fiance/spouse no matter what documentation or anything that had been held they were deporting them ..... its like some huge security issue and im not sure if it relates to anything that has been going on in the last few days or they are searching for someone.

I DO think that someone will need to get copy of the transcripts of the interview though as it would explain a whole lot. I mean there is nothing to stop border control putting down whatever the hell they want anyway and putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5 ..... they just didnt take ALL the evidence down into account and thats whats wrong and why was this not an issue back in May??? the same situations were there then.

When proving ties to any country they can go as far as they like really i would say that my fiancee had a hell of alot more ties to the US than alot of those other deportees for medical reasons .... i mean some of those women had jobs back in the US they all had ties and even had paperwork to prove it.
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 7:24 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Sorry to hear about your experience at Gatwick. A friend of mine was also refused entry at Gatwick, treated badly and detained in a cell overnight a couple of years ago. SHe was a 19 year old American who had been visiting family friends in France for a few weeks and wanted to come visit me in London for a weekend. We (she and I) wrote letters of complaint about her treatment but they didn't believe us (her word against that of the immigration official) and nothing got done about it.
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 7:36 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

If US employees of the US Embassy are saying this, then you should contact the State Deptartment to provide the discussions and names of those US employees that are stating these things to your fiancee in order to ensure State knows what is going on.

In my experience in many places around the world, State Deparment employees well know that they cannot assist any US citizen with immigration, deportation, legal, criminal or other types of problems unless they are directly affiliated in a diplomatic capacity to the US Embassy. Otherwise, it is back to he said/she said.

If you find this all very serious, then venting on this forum isn't the answer. Talk to your MP. Have her Congressperson lodge formal complaints to the State Department. Have all the facts sorted and corroborated.

You do realize that US Embassies (under State Department) are not under any jurisdiction or connection to the UK Border Force, right? And vice versa? Actions that the UK Border may take with American citizens is of the UK only...they made a determination about the situation with the information they had at that time.

(No mention of the wellbeing or whereabouts of the fiancee US citizen. Did she make it back home to USA okay? If her condition is that life threatening, I'm surprised her doctor even okay'd the trip at all!)
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 7:58 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Originally Posted by Bomjeito View Post
If US employees of the US Embassy are saying this, then you should contact the State Deptartment to provide the discussions and names of those US employees that are stating these things to your fiancee in order to ensure State knows what is going on.

In my experience in many places around the world, State Deparment employees well know that they cannot assist any US citizen with immigration, deportation, legal, criminal or other types of problems unless they are directly affiliated in a diplomatic capacity to the US Embassy. Otherwise, it is back to he said/she said.

If you find this all very serious, then venting on this forum isn't the answer. Talk to your MP. Have her Congressperson lodge formal complaints to the State Department. Have all the facts sorted and corroborated.

You do realize that US Embassies (under State Department) are not under any jurisdiction or connection to the UK Border Force, right? And vice versa? Actions that the UK Border may take with American citizens is of the UK only...they made a determination about the situation with the information they had at that time.

(No mention of the wellbeing or whereabouts of the fiancee US citizen. Did she make it back home to USA okay? If her condition is that life threatening, I'm surprised her doctor even okay'd the trip at all!)
Ok i am well aware that noone can help me on this forum and im not venting (trying not to) but i do know people that are on this site know a hell of alot about immigration and border control ... whether on the UK or US side and i wanted to make this post so people are aware. I am doing this so that future occurances of this do not happen and that anyone who is planning to travel needs to be fully aware of the situation in gatwick airport (may not b the case in other airports) and really i wanted to know whether there is a good case to go forward, which as it looks like there is a strong case i will do.

I am fully aware of the US embassies position which is why both me and my fiancee found it strange that they were encouraging us to go to the media back in the states and the proper channels will be opened.

As for the wellbeing of my fiancee i will find out shortly as she is probably going through border control right now in charlotte.
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 7:59 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

Usually these reports are about entering the US.

I have turned up with a lot less cash than that when entering the US, when asked I said I had my CC's with me.

I can see how it happened. Not nice.

Bearing in mind you are heading to the US is it an issue for the foreseeable future?
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 8:00 pm
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Default Re: Warning to USA citizens travelling to UK for Christmas

PS I have seen people recommending not going through Manchester.
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