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UK dream turns to nightmare after Kiwi's passport and visa are lost

Publish Date
Mon, 25 Mar 2024, 8:55AM
Adam Breen (right) said he felt 'helpless' about the situation. Photo / Supplied
Adam Breen (right) said he felt 'helpless' about the situation. Photo / Supplied

UK dream turns to nightmare after Kiwi's passport and visa are lost

Publish Date
Mon, 25 Mar 2024, 8:55AM

A Kiwi’s dream OE has become a nightmare following a bizarre visa issue. 

When Adam Breen began planning his big two-year move to London, the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) website said visa processing took three weeks. 

The 23-year-old posted his visa application on January 31 and booked flights for March 31, allowing for twice the recommended time. 

Yet, his flight is days away and the young Kiwi has no clue whether he’ll be allowed on the plane as his visa application, including his passport, has not been returned. Locating it has also proven an expensive exercise, with the UKVI charging between $5 to $10 for every email and phone call he makes to find answers. 

UKVI said their policy prohibited commenting on individual cases when questioned about the incident. 

On February 7, VFS Global (the organisation that deals with applicants in NZ) emailed Breen to confirm his biometric test and application had been sent to the UK Visas and Immigration. 

“That was all passed on and all good,” Breen said, who paid for tracking and knew it was delivered. 

Around 10 days later, his partner received her approved visa application and passport. 

“We were wondering where mine was at and what was going on but obviously you just have to keep waiting for the three weeks,” Breen explained. 

However, the three-week date arrived and he’d received no updates. 

On February 28, he emailed UK Visa and Immigration, a courtesy Breen said costs £2.74 ($5.74) per email. 

“They eventually emailed me back saying ‘your application number is invalid’,” Breen recalled. 

Confused and, by this point, a little panicked, he called UK Visa and Immigration, which cost around £5 ($10.47) plus additional money for every minute on the phone. 

Hopeful for answers, Breen was offered little reassurance. 

“They sorta just told me the same thing, that the number was invalid and ‘we’ll escalate it to the appropriate team, which may take up to 15 working days’,” he said. 

The representative said the issue could be resolved sooner but he was not allowed to contact them again before the 15-day window had passed. 

When that date arrived, March 20, Breen had gone weeks without any communication, not even an email, so he rang again. 

By this point, even the employee appeared shocked no progress had been made, Breen said. 

“The lady on the phone sounded a bit surprised herself that we still hadn’t heard anything. She then told me she’d flagged the enquiry and put a wee note on saying my flight was leaving in just over a week.” 

While his flight is 11 days away, he said there is “nothing they could do” but wait another 15 working days. 

“You sort of feel a bit helpless I suppose, when you’ve got one number to call and they tell you to just wait and that’s all you’ve got.” 

UKVI said it strongly encouraged applicants to use tracked postage to ensure their passport and application reach the intended destination, however, Breen used tracking and new it was securely delivered to VHs Global. 

Breen could not understand how the process could be seamless for his partner but “an absolute nightmare” for him. 

“For me, it’s been stressful, very stressful,” he said, adding that he hasn’t been able to sleep due to the worry. 

On a Facebook group for Kiwis living in London, Breen said he’d seen the odd person posting about UK visa issues but he always ignored them. 

“I just looked past that thinking ‘that’s not gonna be me’ but here we are.” 

Now, what was meant to be a thrilling start to an adventure abroad has turned into a big question mark. 

The duo planned to travel around Europe before settling in London but are now doing the disappointing work of calculating how much it would cost to change their flights and travel dates. 

Even if Breen wanted to go for a holiday, he’s unable to as visa applicants must send their passports away with their visa application. 

“I suppose it just takes away the whole excitement of the experience,” he said. 

The Herald has contacted the UK Government for comment. 

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