Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mad dogs and English visas, a day out in the midday sun

Drove down to Canberra this morning, a 2 1/2 hour journey along the Hume and Federal Highways, to visit the UK High Commission and drop off my paperwork for a multiple re-entry visa. There were only 3 people ahead of me when I got in at 10am, so I took a number to await counter service.

To cut to the chase, I had a half hour interview with one of their officials, where I was told at the outset that the UK doesn't give such visas to Australian nationals, as they are supposed to be able to enter as frequently as they need for up to 6 months at a time anyway. I had carefully explained my situation, in both a cover letter, and verbally that I had been denied this in April. To which I basically got sympathy but no solution. I brought up the issue of not getting a passport stamp when I exit the UK (which is what the inward-bound visa officers looked for) - and was told that it's policy to not stamp Australian passports, so I'm obviously getting the short end of the stick from visa officers who aren't aware of this, or of the UK/Eire common travel area, or that ATMs allow withdrawal of funds internationally. There's not much I can do at the border except perhaps ask for a senior officer to talk to, but clearly, once you're over 30, the "cultural experience" of 2 years offered to young backpackers, is withdrawn from foreigners.

Needless to say, it was a long despondent drive back to Sydney.

I tried to get sympathy from Phil as he staggered in from lunch at Ottos, but he spied the enormous Amex bill from his recent Oddbins London trip, and disappeared into his own little world of tragedy: "Gee I hate safety pins", "Yeah so you had a bad day huh " and then he went nuts. "So do you have any other avenues ? "[we both sniggered for some reason] "Don't write that, you'll make me an international laughing stock!"
While I was in Canberra, flogging myself for nothing, I thought it appropriate to visit the Percy Grainger exhibition at the National Library. They had a framed first page of a klavier (piano) concerto he'd written around 1896, which looked interesting as I wasn't aware he had written one.

Chris has returned to UK from his Indonesian diving trip, mixing it up with eagle rays and other aquatic fauna. Read about it all here.


  1. Andrew7:07 am

    This is rather crap news! I often wonder how the seemingly illiterate taxi drivers in London gain permanent residency while people like us have to beg, borrow and steal to gain the same right. I know who I’d put money on with regard to making a more meaningful contribution to the fabric of UK life (or indeed its economy). At we’re not going to suck public funds raising illegitimate children in our spare time.

  2. I should hasten to point out, that I'm not looking for back-door residency - just the ability nto travel as a tourist around the UK and in/out of Europe. I've not yet stayed more a few months at a time in the UK between visits to other countries (for periods of 1-3 months).
    The advice is essentially that I should apply for a work visa or a civil partnership visa in order to be a tourist. If I decide that working in the UK is desirable, then I would apply for such status. Similarly, pushing people towards a marriage-type solution to address minor visa issues would seem to be state-sponsored devaluation of the institution.


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