Bristol, United Kingdom
51° 27' N 2° 34' W
Jul 11, 2009 10:13
Distance 595km

Text written in: English

The Troubles Begin

Bristol Airport. Saturday, July 11th.

The goal and Mecca of this trip is to arrive in Swansea almost three weeks before my wedding, so I can help Jane in the final details of the wedding, help her ready her house for renting in the fall and assist her in moving away.  Twenty days to do all that sounded plenty, and even allowed for some rest and relaxation.


Well, the best made plans were not to be.  I was literally the first person off (and on)  the Ryan Air plane and headed to the border official to be processed.  Her question was simple enough: “Why are you here?” and I proudly said, “To get married!!”  That was the most wrong thing I could have said, as it turned out I needed a Marriage Visitor Visa to get married in the UK, as I am not an EU citizen. 


In January, Jane and I had visited with her local Vicar and asked precise questions as to what was required for me to marry in the UK. He stated that other than looking at my passport, that was it.  We thought with being Canadian, widowed, and married three times prior, there would be all sorts of papers to complete.  Jane and I repeated this line of questioning a few times, until we were satisfied that the Vicar had checked with the authorities in Brecon that he was correct.  Well, guess what, he was wrong!!  Seriously and completely wrong, as we found out over the next hours, days and weeks.  I was asked to sit on a bench until everyone else had gone through immigration, put into a simple detention room, complete with chairs screwed to the floor, finger printed, and questioned.  Eventually, my passport was stamped “Refused entry”.  Note, this is not the same as deported, but at the time it felt the same.


However, the border officials knew I was not the one they were trying to catch. They are after the marriages of convenience, where a non-resident of the EU wants to marry a UK citizen and gain immigrant status and entitlement to the generous social benefits of Britain.  So she kindly allowed me to stay 5 days, but I had to be out of the UK by Thursday, July 17th.  As it was the weekend, there was no one we could contact to figure out how much trouble we were in.  On Tuesday, we learned that I had to get out of the country, and it appeared unlikely I would be able to get back in with the correct visa until well after July 31st, the scheduled date of the wedding. And without the visa, I could not get in.  And for very strange reasons, Jane could not get out of the UK, as she had already changed her passport to her married name, in anticipation of the wedding. 


Each person who heard our situation was first appalled that we were in this pickle, and then suggested we contact the Members of Parliament in London, so we did.  Starting at 11 AM on Tuesday, we contacted two MP's and by 3 PM the same day, we had two letters supporting my application to say in the UK for the wedding celebration and for getting married later and with the correct visa.  On Wednesday, despite these petitions, the UK Border Agency could or would not allow me to stay beyond July 17th.  But they were prepared to let me back into the country on July 28th for five days for a celebration.  However, they recommended that I return to Canada and apply for the correct visa. So off I was on Thursday, July 17th to Vancouve,r for a mad race against time to get the visa.


Oh, besides visa matters and the related stress, I painted Jane's kitchen with two coats of paint, visited with her parents and had a re-uniting time with Jane.  At least some things went well and I was kept engaged (as in busy and still going to get married).