Archive for September, 2011

Indefinite Leave to Remain appointment in Croydon

September 26, 2011 8pm in Random Ramblings | Comments (39)

Finally after being in the UK for five years, I get to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Actually, I’ve been here five and a half years, but the first half a year was on a Working Holiday visa and so didn’t count.

A month ago I booked an appointment for 3:30pm for today’s date at the Croydon Public Enquiry Office (PEO), and the big day has finally arrived. So I left my house in Tower Hamlets at 2pm, with my 276 pages of documents, plus two photos and two passports (current passport and last expired one):

My indefinite leave to remain application

Arriving in West Croydon there was even a sign pointing towards the Home Office, so I followed it, but that was the last of the signs. Lucky I had maps on my phone, although I wasn’t very happy using my phone in Croydon because it’s not the nicest part of London.

It wasn’t long before I spotted the Home Office’s beautiful building known as Lunar House in Croydon:

Lunar House in West Croydon Lunar House in West Croydon

I had arrived at 2:55pm for my 3:30pm appointment, about right given that they ask you to get there half an hour early to get through security. Well, security was the first step, it was just like being at an airport with an xray with conveyer belt and a metal detector. That took all of about 2 minutes.

Then, I went up to window 6 and talked to a woman who asked me for various bits of my application, including the application itself (known as SET(O)), three months of payslips and my passports (current one and expired one). When I suggested that she take all my documents, I got told “please just give me what I ask for”. Oops. She sent me up to the payment area, and I hoped that that was it. But I knew it probably wasn’t.

The next bit was the easy bit, I put my credit card into the chip-n-pin machine and paid my £1,350. Ouch!

UKBA Indefinite Leave To Remain Receipt

At least the UK Border Agency admit that the extortionate fees go purely to the government, and don’t pretend that it’s to administer the scheme or anything like that. Apparently, Indefinite Leave to Remain was free before 2003.

So by now it was 3:10pm. I was directed to a waiting room with a heap of other people. I sat there for what felt like ages, not playing on my phone because I am a good boy who observed the “turn your mobile phones off” sign, although nobody else did.

A lot of time passed, it was 4:45pm after a while, and absolutely nothing had happened. I was sure the kids nearby would have stopped screaming by now but no, they still had plenty of air in their lungs. I was getting very agitated. The worst bit was that the interview booths were in the waiting room, I figured you would get called to a separate area but no, you have to have your interview in the same room as screaming kids, people talking on cellphones and just general noise. I think that’s totally unfair, and I was sure to mention that on the customer feedback form!

I didn’t take the following picture, I found it on another website which you can get to by clicking the picture. That’s where everybody sits waiting for their interview, but when you’re called, you have your interview in the front row of seats there – the interview booths are there but you can’t really see them in the picture.

Lunar house waiting area

I still hadn’t been called by 5pm, and I noticed that when the staff were finishing with their applicants, they were closing their booths. This of course got me worried that they’d forgotten about me, because the number of people in the room was dwindling. So I asked at the customer service desk, but they assured me that my turn was coming. Really, what’s the point of booking an appointment if you just have to take a number?

Well at 5:15pm I did finally get up there. The woman asked me for some of my documents, and then asked me why I’d spent a lot of time out of the country. I’d been out of the country for around 240 days in five years, but only 81 of those days were not Annual Paid Leave. I pointed to the guidance notes and showed where it clearly stated that absences from of the country consistent with Annual Paid Leave may be disregarded, but she didn’t seem to believe me. After she went and discussed the absences with her supervisor, she returned and told me that everything was fine and that I would be granted the visa.

So I just had to wait another 10 minutes for them to put the visa in my passport and then I was out of there, thank god! I never had to show all the bank statements I had prepared, nor anything over a year old, the checking was overall a lot less thorough than I expected.

EDIT: A bit of further information for people who have googled this story, I came to UK on 19 April 2006 on Working Holiday, changed on 23 October 2006 to Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) – you were allowed to switch while in the UK at that time. 13 October 2008 I renewed my visa under Tier 1 (General) for three years and on 26 September 2011 I applied for Indefinite Leave To Remain. I was not subject to the Life In The UK Test because my five-year period started before 7 November 2006, nor was I subjected to do the points assessment again for the same reason.

Chances of me getting hit by satellite debris are 1 in 3200? Ummm… wrong

September 23, 2011 3pm in News Stories | Comments (1)

I haven’t been updating my blog for a while, but I came across this story in the NZ Herald and had to vent my frustration.

This quote in particular annoys me:

Experts say there is a one-in-3200 risk of the six-ton space junk hitting someone – considerably greater than the chances of winning Lotto, at just one in 3.8 million.

Now… that is a totally inaccurate and misleading comparison. The 1-in-3200 chance refers to the chance of *anyone in the world* getting hit by debris. The 1-in-3,800,000 chance of winning lotto refers to the chance of *one person in particular* winning Lotto. The chance of *anyone in the world* winning Lotto (which would be a fair comparison) is actually extremely high!

To put it a different way, to calculate the chances of *me personally* getting hit by debris, I have to multiply 3200 by the population of the world, which was about six billion last time I checked, so the chances of me personally getting hit by debris is 1-in-19,200,000,000,000. The chances of me personally winning Lotto is, as the article stated, 1-in-3,800,000. Therefore I am much more likely to win Lotto than to get hit by space debris.

But as they say, never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right NZ Herald journalists?

Here’s another quote from that article:

…though given more than three-quarters of the earth is covered in water, NASA is expecting a splash-down, rather than a smack-down.

Wow, so it took a NASA scientist to work out that because more than 75% of the earth is water, it’s more likely to land in water than land? AMAZING! Well done, NASA!

Seriously, who writes this stuff?