Saturday, March 21, 2009

An open letter to Jacqui Smith MP
From "a quondam lover of England"

From the Japan Times :
When recently I fell in love for the first time (at 40-something) — to an Englishman — I felt happiness overflowing. Career and caring for my elderly parents mean I cannot consider leaving Japan, but at least I would be able to get married in beautiful England.

Think again. Unromantic apparatchiks have taken over the U.K. To get married in England, even to an Englishman with his own property in England, I need a visa. (My husband-to-be comes from generations of English and Irish stock — and his grandmother was a Claypole, archetypically English, from the same family tree as Oliver Cromwell.)

I can visit the U.K. freely for business or pleasure for six months, but for a fleeting visit to get married I need a visa. We can get married in Japan, the U.S., Canada, France or Italy without a visa between us, so why is the U.K. different? Where is the reciprocity so beloved of diplomats?

My next surprise was that the U.K. no longer has visa officials in Japan whom I could approach. Visa applications have been outsourced to an Indian company owned by a Swiss travel concern, which then sends the form and passport to Manila for processing.

Was Japan consulted? How would Britons react if visas for Japan were handled in Russia or Mongolia?

First I had to fill in an online application. After standard information about age, address, marital status, etc., I had to supply my father's and mother's names, their dates and places of birth, whether I had a criminal record, had been deported from any country, or had been a terrorist or involved in war crimes or genocide. 

Read the whole thing here.


Francisco Castelo Branco said...

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John B said...

Absolutely hilarious stuff. "I shouldn't be discriminated against because I'm not an ignorant peasant like those Pakis. I'm Japanese, we share a common history of having an empire and treating darker-skinned people like crap, surely that should get me in without any hassle...?"

Political Scientist said...

John: That's an excellent "shorter".

I'm a little surprised she doesn't object to her husbands situation under Japanese law: he won't become a permanent resident or a citizen. Spousal visas only last for 3 years: you have to renew them. It's practically impossible for a foreigner to get naturalized.

From an immigration law perspective, I don't see why she doesn't just come in on a 3 month visa (ironically, we have a reciprocity arrangement with Japan) and have a marriage blessing while she's in the UK. Under Japanese law, she's married once the
Ward Office Marriage Officer issues a CAMN: you don't need to have a ceremony, or can have several.
As she wishes to remain a Japanese permanent resident, she can't become a British citizen anyway: you can't hold dual Japanese nationality.


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