Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My visa situation: thank you for praying

Thank you to the many of you who have expressed concern about my visa situation, and especially for praying about it. Here's the low-down:

BIRD'S EYE VIEW
-Due to a mixup within OM that I don't need to go into here, I left Canada without a long-term visa to the UK (where I have been based this year, in London) in August.
-So I have been coming in (five times so far, as we have been traveling so much) on a visitor's visa
-Theoretically, a visitor's visa lasts for six months; but because I am borderline "working," UK immigration started giving me trouble the second time I came in, as well as the fourth time and last time (especially!)

WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK
-Due to the factors stated above, the immigration officials at Heathrow airport (London) decided to investigate my case when I arrived at about 5:45am (!) last Tuesday (a week today). This resulted in seven hours of detainment. They didn't give me any indication that this could take a long time, so, as well as not having slept for 24 hours, waiting the hours I did was stretching.
-After looking into my case for an hour or two, I was handed over to two different immigration officers, one of whom photographed and videotaped me in a room that reminded me of prison. I think they forgot to fingerprint me because they said they would and didn't (and the others I was detained with--all pretty regular people--were fingerprinted).
-They treated me very courteously and offered me tea, which I accepted... something to be thankful for. :)
-A couple more hours of waiting, then an interview with two guys: one middle-aged, one young (the latter clearly in training). They asked me questions and I answered, and they wrote down both the questions and answers almost verbatim. The interview lasted an hour or two, and at the end I was asked to sign each of seven pages of the hand-written transcription; which I did, after requesting one legitimate modification. I think at one point during the interview they tried to get me to say the "work" word. "So, Mr. Barham, wouldn't you say that you are basically *working* for Mr. Verwer?" ... "Well, I would say it is a very gray area," was my response. Anyway, we were pleasant to each other. :)
-The two people before me got "returned" (not as bad as deportation because it's not permanent), and I knew that my case was right on the line as the hours passed. Two or three hours later my two officers came to get me. They had me get my bags (which they had *completely* looked through). It almost seemed like they wanted to hold me in suspense as the minute passed. I knew they could be sending me home. Anyway, they let me. Part of it was that they knew that I had a plane ticket to Uruguay the following Thursday (9 days later), and they told me that I would not be able to get back into the UK without a longer-term visa. I understood.
-I believe it may well have been your prayers, some of which came from this blog, that tipped the decision in my favour. Thank you.

THIS WEEK
-As if all of that wasn't enough (and I am even leaving out a lot of further-complicating details), my Canadian passport is in a London passport office right now to process a "British Overseas Citizen" passport (which I qualify for, due to my father's being British). I will be getting the passport on Thursday *or* Friday. But there are two problems: (1) this BOC passport doesn't give me any more right to live in Britain than my Canadian passport (I still need a visa); all it really is is a travel document, (2) I have an expensive, 100%-nonrefundable flight to South America on *Thursday*. Without either passport in hand, I can't travel.
-When I called the British passport office last week, a glimmer of hope surfaced: they could send the Canadian passport to me one day earlier than my BOC passport--so it would arrive on either Wednesday (tomorrow) or Thursday morning of this week--just in time to travel on it.
-I called them again today, and they said that it will now arrive on Thursday morning--two hours before I leave for the airport! Please pray that it does. (The possibility of either passport getting here a day early now seems remote.)

NEXT WEEK
-The longer-term visa I qualify for is the "working holiday visa," which will enable me to live in the UK for up to two years. This visa is for Commonwealth-country (eg, Canada) citizens between the ages of 17 and 30.
-We're going to try to get this from the embassy in Argentina next week. If that doesn't work, I will have to fly to Ottawa for a face-to-face interview (which I can't do it Toronto).

THINGS TO PRAY FOR
#1. God's will: whatever that is. His plan is always best!

Some hopes. That:
-my Canadian passport arrives in time
-there is no immigration trouble in South America
-I get the working holiday visa from a British embassy in Argentina and don't have to fly to Ottawa
-if I do have to fly to Ottawa, I get the working holiday visa without trouble
-the headaches will be over soon :)

Thank you!

Nigel
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ar TORONTO, CANADA | 2018+

MAY

22 Tue (1) 3pm mtg (JC), (2) 7:15pm patch prayer mtg
23-25 Wed-Fri holiday
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29 Tue (1) 2:30pm coffee (BD), (2) 7:15pm patch prayer mtg
30 Wed (1) 9:30am VT Bible study, (2) 10:30am mtg (MF), (3) 11am leadership mtg (MF,SN,VS,DN)
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JUNE
2 Sat am & aft speaking at Guelph Men's Conf
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... May 28-7 Fri-Sat holiday - Arkansas
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