Back in May I updated my blog saying that Cheryl’s visa appeal hearing was scheduled for August. Some time in August we got a letter saying that the hearing was going to be re-arranged for January. It was frustrating to find that out at such short notice, and it seemed weird that they only knew two weeks in advance that they had no space for 4 months, but what can we do about that?
January eventually turned up and Cheryl and I asked my dad and Rik to be witnesses at the hearing. Rik took a day off work and my dad travelled down from Mansfield for the night, both so they could give evidence to help us out.
We got to the hearing and discovered we were on a “float list” because our case was a simple one. We weren’t supported by a solicitor, so we went to the back of the line. We spent 6 hours sitting in a waiting room for the hearing to begin.
When we got in there the judge asked if my dad and Rik were there to give evidence, and we said yes. The judge asked everyone but Cheryl to wait outside, so we went into the hallway. After about 10 minutes they called me in to sit beside Cheryl.
The judge had asked Cheryl why we didn’t have a solicitor. Cheryl had told her that it was too expensive, and this is pretty much true. We thought our case was simple enough and we didn’t have £3000-5000 spare to pay for one when we organised the appeal.
The judge asked me about a bank statement we submitted with my train journeys on it. I’d submitted it because it showed that I used to buy a season ticket every month to get to work in Nottingham from Mansfield, but that the purchases stopped when Cheryl and I moved in together. She thought we’d submitted them to show that I was going to visit Cheryl. I corrected her for about 2 seconds at which point she dismissed me with a wave of her hand and changed the subject.
I don’t handle people being rude very well at the best of times, and I was pretty annoyed by her dismissal and lack of interest, but I couldn’t very well say anything because she’s a judge. Any argument would end up with our case being thrown out or something.
The judge then went on to state that since the home office had no representation and we had submitted new evidence that it would have to be sent to the home office. I asked if them not turning up had any repercussions for their side and, again, was dismissed in a very rude manner.
It’s extremely frustrating that after a year of waiting for this court date the home office didn’t even have to turn up. We spent a full year unsure of our future thanks to a shitty decision and had to spend 6 hours waiting to be all-but ignored by a judge and the people saying we are essentially lying didn’t even have to show up to prove their statements at all.
The judge didn’t ask to speak to my dad or Rik. We, somewhat naïvely thought that was a good sign, as if she thought she required more evidence surely she would have asked for them to speak.
Fast-forward to today. We got a letter from the judge saying that she had ruled against us based on a lack of evidence. The very first paragraph of the letter refers to “refusing his application” which goes to show the care and attention put into these matters.
Later in the letter she gives an account of her conversation with me: “He was somewhat anxious [understandably] about the procedure and I explained that the situation was somewhat now[sic] because they were married and that I might send this back to the Secretary of State to look at the matter again as there was no Presenting Officer.”
The situation was somewhat what?
There’s also a couple of mentions of a tenancy agreement. As far as I can tell there were only two tenancy agreements included in the documents we submitted: the tenancy agreement for my house in Mansfield, and the tenancy agreement Cheryl had for Ropewalk Court. The judge states, twice, that “her name” does not appear on the tenancy agreement.
Of course Cheryl’s name appears on her own tenancy agreement, so perhaps the judge is talking of the tenancy agreement for my house in Mansfield, but Cheryl served as my witness on that document, so her name appears there too. The other pertinent information on that document is that I give my address as the same address Cheryl lived at in Nottingham. This is a mere month after the date we have to prove we lived together. Since the case is supposed to be judged on a balance of probabilities I thought this would easily sway it in our favour.
So, all in all it’s safe to say I’m generally upset about the lack of attention that has been given to various aspects of the case.
Cheryl and I are now faced with a decision of either appealing once again (potentially another year, or longer), or applying for a married partner visa, which must be done from outside the UK.
Neither one is a tempting prospect.