Monday, 29 March 2010

Bureaucracy At It's Worst

Fijian Fereti 'Freddie' Burequele, 28, will need to find £1300 to renew his visa if he wants to stay in Scotland with his wife Nicola, 30 and their three young children.

Nothing strange there you think. Most foreigners require a visa to stay in the UK unless they are EU citizens.

But Freddie is no ordinary foreigner. He has served with the Royal Scots in Bosnia and Iraq when he served with the army for six years and he is now a member of the Territorials. He's due to leave for a tour of duty in Afghanistan in October, where he will be based for five months.

But he's been told he will have to pay the UK Border Agency for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) visa on his passport or be departed back to Fiji.

He is being forced to pay £1000 to fly to Fiji to get a new passport, as his current one is running out, then pay another £300 to get a new UK Border Agency stamp. He already paid £750 to get the stamp when he left the army in 2008.

Under strict immigration laws, Freddie must always have an up-to-date passport or he will be booted out of the UK. If he wants British citizenship, he will have to pay another £800 and sit the Life in the UK test - the government exam immigrants must pass before being granted a UK passport.

His wife Nicola said: "The government were happy for him to join the army and send him to Iraq to fight yet they make it so difficult for him to stay in Scotland."

His former sergeant major in the Royal Scots, George Gaff, said: " Freddie was a brilliant soldier and I'm furious that the government are treating him like this.

"It makes me so angry that a fine man like Freddie, who served this country proudly, is now facing a fight to remain in the UK with his family."

Figures released four years ago revealed that Fiji was the top Commonwealth country for new recruits. More than 2000 Fijians serve in the British forces.

The UK Border Agency said: "The cost to apply for settlement within the UK and from abroad is the same for everyone, including soldiers and individuals. The requirement to pay the fee is set out in law and we have no provisions to waive it."

What an appalling story. There are thousands in this country here without any authority, contribute nothing to our society and yet a citizen of the Commonwealth, who gave service to this country, is treated so shabbily.

I trust Freddie has already contacted his local MSP who I understand is Christine Grahame, and also his local councillors. Something has to be done to ensure this ex-soldier and currently TA member, is permitted to stay here without going to further expense.


William said...

I wouldn't have much hope of Christine Graham helping him.

It's a pity that a decent man like this is having to jump through hoops when his decision to fight, and possibly die, for the country should be reason enough.

God knows the UKBA have a difficult job to do and I don't believe they're ruthless enough but when they get it wrong, they certainly pick their cases.

subrosa said...

Of course they're not ruthless enough, the UKBA are only interested in ticking boxes William. This case is an easy box to tick.

Sue said...

That is so disgusting. They let useless people stay, forever protected by the socialist system and make life impossible for those who should be handed a passport!

What do they want?

subrosa said...

They want boxes ticked, the country full of labour voters and the rest of us silenced Sue.

Surreptitious Evil said...

That's the rub though, he's in the TA now, not in the Regular Army. So the same rules that apply to any other Commonwealth citizen apply to him (I had a Kiwi with dual citizenship working for me, Kiwi wife, baby born in UK - he used to complain bitterly about the cost of his wife's permits.)

I am fairly sure that, while he was serving, he either didn't pay or the Army met his costs. That this allowance doesn't apply to the TA is just another example of the differences in Ts&Cs that make a mockery of the "One Army" slogan. (I would note here that this isn't all preferential treatment of Regs: Reservists Award - matching your civvie pay when mobilised - and bounty are both benefits the Regular Army don't see.) I would also note, not that it is anything like the distress being caused to Mr Burequele, that the TA require me to hold a passport but will not pay for renewals - whereas the Regular services can claim passport fees as a work expense.

It is unfortunate the the Fijian High Commission in London will not issue him a replacement passport - but that is an internal matter for a friendly foreign state (although their website implys that you can renew by mail).

I'm sure Christine will be as useful to him as she always has been to the people she was elected to serve. So he's going to have a hard time of it!

subrosa said...

Thanks for that SE. Passports weren't something I was ever involved with so I don't have a clue about the military system.

I wonder if the publicity will push Ms Grahame into action? Won't hold my breath.

Joe Public said...

Unfortunate typo alert:-

"He's die to leave for a tour of duty in Afghanistan in October."

Dramfineday said...

Ha, Ha, Ha - and this is what we do to our friends! You couldn't make it up. More dunderheeded laws from Labour

Surreptitious Evil said...

The inevitable ARRSE thread.

subrosa said...

Pity he didn't have Joanna Lumley on his side Dram.

subrosa said...

Ah thanks SE, I forgot to look.

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