a long time comin'

despite a recent bout of bad luck, November has been good to me. it's flown by in a flurry of lazy evenings and plan-making and Christmas shopping, and now it's almost over! December is creeping up, and I'm ready to greet it with anticipation and a fresh dose of holiday spirit.

these boots, thank goodness, are not bad luck. I'll stick to the good kind from now on, just in case.

dress + cardigan- forever 21 // tights- h&m // boots- seychelles

well, today I promised to tell you the deportation story. I'm realizing now that it's a little depressing, very long, and not all that interesting after all, but a promise is a promise. so here goes. 

Brando and I got engaged last June. at the time we were living in Halifax, with plans to move back to Newfoundland while we figured out where to go from there (you're going to need a little back story to understand why all the visa confusion and fuss). 

while we were home Brando applied to masters programs across Canada, and in the UK and Australia as well. we liked the idea of getting to travel and experience something new for a couple years. in a nutshell, Brandon didn't even find out he had gotten into school here till October.

I say this to clarify that we had planned to get married well before we decided to move to the UK. this was a questionable subject for many people, including the border agency. 

the decision to go to Scotland threw a bit of a wrench in the wedding planning, since we had decided on March early on, and Brando's school would now be starting in February. meaning our options were a) to plan the wedding in full before both of us moved to Scotland in January, or b) have me stay behind to finish planning- and save an extra plane ticket- until March. we chose option b, meaning the last two months of our engagement were very stressful and at times lonely. but the plan was for me to fly back to the UK with Brandon a couple days after we were married. 

here's where the complication starts; obviously to move to another country, one requires a visa, a permit to live and/or work there. these can be very hard to get. because Brando had already been accepted to university, he was a shoe-in. it was determined that I had a much better chance of getting into the country- and of paying slightly cheaper fees- if I applied for a visa as his dependant. this would still allow me to work while making it clear that I had a reason to be moving to the UK; Brandon. 

the thing about that was the timing was all wacked out. because you have to apply for a visa as far in advance as possible, but I was not planning on going till after the wedding, I was applying as a dependant while engaged. not married. this proved to be a great source of confusion for border control. they thought I was claiming to be already married to Brandon without having any proof. so I was denied my visa. I tried contacting them to explain the situation, that we weren't married yet but we would be by the date I had hope to leave, but they said unfortunately I would just have to apply again. 

which sucked big time for two reasons; one, it's really freaking expensive to apply for a visa. and there are only five cities across the whole of Canada where you can get your "biometrics" done (ie frackin' fingerprints taken), meaning I'd have to fly somewhere again. for the second time. thus adding to the already high cost. two, the rejection didn't arrive till about two weeks before the wedding, so I wouldn't have time to reapply before then. meaning I couldn't move to the UK yet. 

I guess this is where my mistake was made. 

I decided that it was very depressing to get married to my fiance, who I hadn't actually seen for over two months, then say goodbye at the airport two days later, not knowing when I'd actually be with him again. so I decided to use the plane ticked I had already bought to go Scotland for a couple weeks, maybe take a trip to London, see our new home, then come back to Canada to reapply for my visa.

please bear in mind that I was never told by any of the many, many visa-application-people I talked to over this process that I could not go visit my husband in Scotland. no one mentioned that. proooobably should have mentioned that. 

it was also never mentioned by anyone at either of the airports we were in prior to landing in the UK. even though a person's entire passport history appears on the screen when you check into an international flight. no one told me I wasn't allowed to leave Canada. 

so I land in Heathrow airport, after an 18-hour flight and an all-nighter of packing up my apartment due to a last-minute flight change. we're both exhausted. I'm cranky. I haven't slept in a bed in two days, and had a very stressful wedding week before that. I had said a tearful goodbye to friends who I thought would be long gone by the time I returned. I was not happy. 

then the most horrible woman on earth finally told me what everyone else had forgotten to. once you have been denied a visa to a country, you cannot EVER visit that country again without one. even for a vacation. which was a complete shock to me because I had been to the UK three times before and never needed a visa. I have travelled enough to know that you can go to almost any country in the world and stay for 90 days without a visa. CANADIANS, which I AM, can stay in the UK for SIX MONTHS. I told this horrible, rude woman that I was only staying for three weeks. 

"yeah, right." she says. 

they THOUGHT I WAS TRYING TO SNEAK IN. from CANADA. helloooo, it's Canada, I'm not exactly a refugee. I'm not fleeing my country or trying to get in on the "land of opportunity," since the UK's economy is and was total shit. I'm in the freakin' commonwealth, for crap's sake. I was baffled. 

so I was not allowed to journey on to Scotland, was separated from my newlywed husband, and put in a room with no windows or door handles on the inside. there were people sleeping on benches, some of whom had been there for days. there were awful fluorescent lights and locked interview rooms and people kept asking me if I wanted a sandwich. YOU'RE HOLDING ME CAPTIVE, I DO NOT WANT A FRIGGIN SANDWICH. 

I had no contact with anyone except my dad, through a pay phone, which I had to max out my credit card on because I had no British money. I wasn't allowed to have my computer or my book or my luggage or anything of comfort at all. 

I was there for nine hours. nine hours, after an all-nighter, an overnight flight across the atlantic sitting next to a creepy guy who wouldn't stop asking for peanuts, and fighting with a border agent who was not prepared to take a single word I said seriously. 

I had an "interview" to determine, basically, if they should kick me out or not, and I use the term interview lightly because the woman berated everything I had to say. she criticized my life choices, asked me why I didn't have more money, and rolled her eyes at me. it felt like crap. in the end I was deported from the UK without ever leaving the airport for three main reasons, and I shall dispute them in full. 

first, I apparently had "too much luggage." they cited this as proof that I was secretly planning on staying in the UK without a visa and living off the wages of my jobless, student husband. I will point out that I had two suitcases. two. for three weeks. I know people who take one-week trips and take more luggage than that. I will also point out that obviously they think I'm an idiot who would first apply for a visa to alert the country of my intentions before trying to sneak in. 

second, I could present no return ticket leaving the UK. ok, this I admit was a bit of an oversight on my part. we had planned to buy my ticket home after landing in Scotland, simply because there was no time to do everything beforehand. but I knew people who had done that before, and lots of people fly into a country and plan to leave some other way, like by train or something. it happens all the time, especially in Europe. people fly into London, take a train to Paris, fly to Spain, and so on. so again, I think this is a stupid reason. 

third, two tickets to an Eric Clapton concert were found on my person. yes, that was seriously one of the official reasons. not because they really hated Eric Clapton, but because the tickets were for May. they were a present for Brandon, but horrible woman thought I was obviously lying and the tickets were for me. because, she said, "no one buys two tickets as a present." well, I did. for Brandon. for Christmas. I happened to take them in my purse because we were travelling together. duh. who gives a person ONE ticket to a concert?? then he'd have to go alone! 

and so, based on these clearly sound and logical arguments, I was sent back to Canada. they lead me around the airport in special passageways and drove me around in a van with cage on the windows that locked from the outside. they kept trying to make cheerful small talk with me. they told me I might just be flown to Toronto and have to find my way to Newfoundland on my own. gee, thanks. if you're gonna deport someone to a Country as big as Canada, at least get them close to their actual home. 

anyways, after another 13 hours of flying, I arrived back where I had started just two days before. that's three whole days without a bed, mind you. I was functioning on a grand total of about four or five solid hours of sleep in 72. I landed in St. John's at 3am, fell into my sister's bed at 4, and slept till 5pm the next day. 

then I had the unseemly task of facing everyone and explaining what happened. I felt stupid and depressed and was completely broke. and now I had to start the whole process over again. 

but, as you can see, I survived. 

and that, my friends, is the long and detailed account of how I was deported from the UK. 
tell it at dinner parties like it were your own. 
and congratulations if you finished this!


brando said...

She really was a terrible lady. That smug bitch - obviously she's never been laid and goes to concerts alone all the time, judging all the couples who came together.

When I came back to try to to see if I could see you she said I should be on my plane by now; as if I was going to leave without finding out whether or not you were going to be allowed to stay in the country. Blah, this is why I don't like people.

amberly said...

The boots really are cute, so please don't stop wearing them! In fact, I bet the fact they are so cute is another reason that lady was such a bitch!!

This story was so entertaining, but I can imagine your stress and your frustration. You poor thing :( I have never had to deal with visas or anything of the sort, seeing as I have never really left the US, but a friend of mine is trying to get his wife over here, and they got married in England, and it's proving difficult for them as well.

Why the hell are they focusing on innocent people like you and my friend's wife? I feel like when they go to such lengths for something so 'minor' and misunderstood, something more pressing/important slips through the cracks!!

Also, this story really shows your love and dedication for Brandon :) I know he realizes how lucky he is to have you go to such lengths just to be with him!!

OH - and I kept flashing pictures of your gorgeous wedding in my head I read this story, it was so beautiful and you two truly deserve such a wonderful day!

Thank you for writing this whole story and sharing it...so glad you survived!! VIVA LA BOOTS!

Suze said...

I'm pretty sure I cried when I first found out what happened to you, like never felt worst for another person ever. Anyway I'm glad that you are gracing Scotland with your gorgeousness on the regular now.

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Laura said...

Oh my gosh! That is HORRIBLE. Glad it worked out in the end, but geez how judgmental was that woman? Gross.