Into the Great Wide Open

“It’s like Plato once said…It doesn’t matter how the fuck you get there, as long as you get there” —Conrad Brean

Three things have happened in the couple days since I wrote the previous ILR post.

Yesterday, the Home Office sent a response to the Pre-Action Protocol to the “bad cop lawyer,” dismissing it and saying that the process would be resolved through the administrative review request, which – the letter noted – was only 4 weeks into its six month expected duration. The review, it said, would be decided “in due course.”

I didn’t find that particularly encouraging.

Once I got done wishing ill on all forms of intransigent bureaucracy, I forwarded the response on to the “good cop lawyer.” We agreed that the likely outcome was that I’d need to reapply on return from my business travel next week.

This morning, I sent a follow up email to our MP, explaining the response I’d received and asking her (office) if she could reengage and offer additional assistance. I explained the upcoming business travel and provided the evidence her staff requested.

And went back to waiting.

While sitting at my desk writing a document, my phone buzzed. Twice.

It was a message from the “good cop lawyer” saying “Hi Dan. I am pleased to advise that a decision has now been taken on your Administrative Review…”

…I hesitated a moment at the line break…

“…and ILR has been granted.”

I went back and read it again.

And it didn’t change.

I opened the letter from the home office…

Dear Mr Berger

Your application for administrative review has succeeded.

You have been granted indefinite leave to remain. I enclose your approval letter.

“Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”

Continue to Part 4

Don’t Do Me Like That

I had a catch up with the “bad cop lawyer” this morning. When you submit a Pre-Action Protocol letter the Home Office says they “endeavour to respond to your letter within 14 days.” He’s had no response to the pre-action protocol letter we submitted 18 days ago. His advice, which I’m sure was only slightly influenced by his going on holiday next week, was to wait a bit longer.

I might have mentioned how much I love waiting.

To be honest, I’m mostly just taking the piss about the going on holiday thing – the reality is that we’ve got no leverage, so there aren’t many great alternatives to consider.

As this drags out, part of me is finding it increasingly difficult to not view UKVI’s silence as a not-so-subtle request for a bribe.

If I resubmitted my application, and paid them for expedited service again, they’d answer me “tomorrow” – so the extended silence seems to say “grease our palms and we’ll answer quickly. Or … don’t.”

So my next step will likely to be email our MP. Again.

Our MP? Again?


A few weeks after the Home Office refused the application, while looking to book a tour of the Houses of Parliament, Dawnise suggested that maybe I should contact our MP.

“What the hell,” I figured. Little point in holding back – I might as well hit it with everything I‘ve got.

So I sent our MP an email explaining the situation and asking for help.

To my surprise I got a response from her office saying they would talk to the Home Office on my behalf, and requesting some information about the application and the review request. I provided what they requested, and they said they would bring up my case during a scheduled call with the Home Office on Friday the 9th of September.

Then Thursday took an unexpected, but not entirely shocking, turn, and I assumed all forward momentum would be lost.

I got a (surprising) follow up from our MP’s office on the 14th saying “Our liaison at the Home Office has updated us to let us know that you have submitted an administrative review and your solicitor has submitted a Pre-Action Protocol, and that there should be an update on your case soon.”

It was the first (and so far only) confirmation I’ve had that any of the actions we’ve taken have been noticed. “Soon” was encouraging, but frustratingly vague. And the British version of “soon” and the American version of “soon” aren’t necessarily the same “soon.”

The message closed saying “Do keep in touch, and let us know if you would like us to chase this up again.”

I’m not sure they really meant that I should keep in touch, but given that we’re coming up on two weeks since that message, I’m willing to take them at their word.

Continue to Part 3

Stillness, Silence, Pipes & Drums

We paused this morning to watch as, after 70 years of service to her country, Queen Elizabeth II was memorialized and will, later today, be laid to rest. I was struck by the silence and the stillness of the honor guard, standing statuesque around the gun carriage as her coffin was transferred from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey.

The stillness disturbed only by the honor guard moving the coffin to the carriage, and the silence broken sound of pipes and drums.

I was reminded by the stillness of the last time we saw Her Majesty in a church. Still. Silent. Marking and mourning the death of her husband and companion. Alone.

Today, Westminster Abbey was full of mourners – family, subjects, and – I hope – some friends.

The service ended to the call of trumpets. And stillness. And silence.

And the sound of pipes.

He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.

Hamlet 1:2

Rest in peace.

The Waiting (is the Hardest Part)

I expect it will be a while before this post is published, as it’s generally not a great idea to talk about a conflict until it’s over and the dust has started to settle. Especially when it’s a disagreement with a government. About immigration. And they say you should never publish angry. So, yeah.

When we moved to London in 2019, our visas were attached to my employment. I was sponsored by my employer for a “Tier 2 General” visa (now known as a “Skilled Worker” visa).

A year and a half in, with the pandemic still in full swing, Dawnise and I decided we wanted to remain in the UK long enough to experience living here without a global pandemic restricting travel and activity. And it wasn’t obvious if my employer would support that desire.

So in the fall of 2020, after doing some research, and with the support of an immigration law firm and kind letters of recommendation from some former colleagues, I applied and was endorsed for a “Global Talent” visa – that decoupled my “leave to remain” and work in the UK from the sponsorship of my employer.

Applying for this type of visa is a multi-step process. First you express your intent to apply to the UK Home Office. You tell them what skills category you want to apply under, and they direct you to submit supporting evidence of your qualifications for evaluation to an endorsing body specific to that skill category.

Then you submit your request for endorsement, and the supporting evidence, and you wait for a decision. Oh, and you give the Home Office some money. Of course.

The endorsing body looks at the evidence and tells the Home Office what decision they reach. The Home Office informs you of the decision and, if you’ve been endorsed, invites you to apply for the actual visa. For a(nother) fee, naturally.

So I submitted a dossier, the endorsing body evaluated it, and they informed the Home Office that I had been endorsed, and the Home Office informed my solicitor (lawyer, for those who don’t speak The Queens’ Kings’ English) who forwarded the letter from the Home Office on to me.

Endorsement in hand, I submitted the visa application. A short wait later and the visa was granted, and life went on mostly as it had done. When I decided to part ways with my employer, it was a non-event, at least from an immigration perspective.

…Fast-forward to June 2022… And allow me to introduce a few devils that live in the details…

This sort of visa comes in two flavors; promising applicants without much experience – like post-graduate students for example – can be endorsed as having “promise,” whereas more established applicants with experience can be endorsed as demonstrating “talent.”

On advice from my solicitor, despite my being “established” and having a body of experience, we submitted for endorsement in the promise category.

The theory was that if you if you ask for a talent endorsement but fall short, the endorsing body is likely to say “sorry, no.” On the other hand, if you apply for a promise endorsement and the endorsing body sees more, they can “step up” to a talent endorsement.

And this is exactly what happened in my case – I asked for “promise,” they endorsed for “talent”.

Either endorsement (“promise” or “talent”) is enough to get a “Global Talent” visa. Critically to our story, the specific endorsement changes how long the applicant has to be in the UK before they can apply for “indefinite leave to remain” (ILR). ILR is the transition from having a time-limited visa, with a fixed expiration date, to having the right to live and work in the UK “indefinitely.”

Since I had been endorsed in the “talent” category, I was eligible to apply for ILR after I’d been in the UK for three years and passed a “Life in the UK” test. By late June 2022, both conditions had been satisfied, so I moved forward to apply.

I didn’t urgently need to apply – I had time left on my visa – and the requirement to remain physically in the UK while the application was processed meant I delayed application until we returned from New Zealand.

Unlike the initial visa application – which was reasonably complex and seemed to benefit from having a solicitor – the ILR application was simple and self-service. Even the solicitor said as much. So I gathered the needed information – itemizing all the travel I’d done out of the UK for the past three years (a very short list, thanks to the pandemic), official evidence that I’d earned income in my “specialist” field, and a few other bits and bobs, and submitted the application and fee in the middle of August.

And I paid to get “super premium” expedited service, so my application would be processed in 24 hours instead of the 26 weeks applications were nominally taking. Because one of the other devils in the details is that traveling outside the UK while the application is in process invalidates the application.

Imagine my surprise when I got the official response via email the next day from the Home Office saying: “your application for ILR has been denied. You were endorsed in the exceptional promise category which requires five years of UK residency before being eligible for indefinite leave to remain.”

You might recall that I said I applied in the promise category, was endorsed in the talent category, and had that endorsement decision in writing from the Home Office.

So what, you might ask, the actual fuck?


That was my reaction, too.

I looked to see if there was a way I could reach a human at the Home Office. Impossible. (The jokes just write themselves.)

So I reached out to the solicitor who’d helped with the initial visa application for advice. He was on holiday but I connected with one of his colleagues who agreed that the refusal from the Home Office looked to be made in error, and we started talking about paths forward.

One possibility was to request for an “Administrative Review” and challenge that decision (for another fee, naturally) within two weeks of the decision. But, the solicitor informed me, the timeline for administrative reviews was several months, and just like during the application, travel outside the UK would nullify the review request. And there is no option to pay extra for an “expedited review.” And I had work travel at the beginning of October.

The solicitor argued (to me) that Administrative Review wasn’t necessarily the right course to take. The decision, he said, was egregiously wrong. It wasn’t that I hadn’t neglected to provide some bit of required information, there was no questionable interpretation of evidence, the Home Office had just seemingly made the decision based on the wrong facts. We couldn’t even be sure they’d read my file or if they had confused me with someone else.

So the advice from the lawyer was basically “we can file a legal complaint, and we could ultimately bring a suit in court, but if you want prompt resolution, you may be best off re-applying.” So I started to wrap my head around the idea that I might need to pay the Home Office again – both the application and expedite fees – if I wanted any hope of them fixing their screw-up in reasonable time.

After sleeping on it, I instructed the solicitor to start with the formal complaint – called a “Pre-Action Protocol” – where he would lay out the situation, explain why their decision was wrong, and not-so-subtly say “please fix it, or we’ll be forced to seek redress in the courts.”

The lawyer got to drafting and over the weekend I reached out to my (limited) network of UK contacts to see if I knew anyone with connections in the Home Office that might be able to solve this with less lawyer.

It turned out I didn’t find anyone I knew with contacts at the Home Office, but I knew someone who knew someone. That second-degree someone turned out to be an immigration lawyer who had a scheduled call with their Home Office contact early the following week. They were happy to discuss my case during that call, but I needed to be a client before they could represent me. A quick letter of agreement later and I had not one but two immigration solicitors.

So much for less lawyer.

I decided I might as well play “good cop lawyer, bad cop lawyer.” With one lawyer preparing a “Pre-Action Protocol” and the other lawyer trying to make progress through a side-channel.

In the middle of the next week the “good cop lawyer” got a response basically saying “submit an Administrative Review.” So I did – the day before the review submission deadline. And gave the Home Office a little more money – ’cause that’s clearly how you effectively penalize poor performance.

And the following day the “bad cop lawyer” submitted the Pre-Action Protocol.

And I waited.

The next milestone is the response deadline for the Pre-Action Protocol on Monday the 19th – which of course is massively overshadowed by other events (and a bank holiday).

There was no news as of the close-of-business Friday, so I’ll spend the weekend waiting.

And in the words of my favorite fictional Spaniard,

I hate waiting.

Continue to Part 2