, 30 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I see squabbling over visa fees for non-UK folks. As someone who has paid non-EU visa fees here & now has a UK passport, hear me out.
1. Non-EU nationals have struggled with an arcane, Kafkaesque Home Office & paid extortionate "fees" for years. 80+ pg forms, no visibility.
The Home Office has always viewed (see statements, docs, Parliamentary discussions) non-EU visa fees as a way to subsidise other services
As the public hysteria was whipped up over the years, with Daily Mail headlines raging about immigrants, the Home Office was blamed for it.
About a failure to control illegal immigration, to stop the floodgates, to save all those benefits from being scrounged on. Their. Fault.
So what did the white upper middle class Oxbridge civil servants sitting in Whitehall do? They made policies more arcane, fees even steeper
Because a failure to control EU FoM (WHICH WAS NOT A FAILURE BUT NORMAL COURSE OF BUSINESS) needed to be mitigated elsewhere.
So the only area that could have greater scrutiny applied were those not covered by EU FoM rules. Students. Tourists. Family Visas. Business
And what did the good bureaucrats in visa processing centres in cosmopolitan centres like Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Croydon do?
They followed orders: reject any form with even the slightest human error. Because it was meant to about discourage further applications.
(Meanwhile EU nationals continued to move about with ease, the Daily Mail continued to rage, and the monster in the kitty heels raged)
Fast forward to a post-Brexit vote (skip the detours into refugees and hardening of "Western" hearts) and the monster in kitty heels is PM
And suddenly, there is hope to finally exact revenge on the very group that for so many years tainted her former Office for failure
And even better: there is a heartless, cruel and extortionate machinery already in place, well-trained to extend and implement that edict
There is one problem though: all machinery can fail if overwhelmed.
And, in an austere era with downsized departments, the Home Office suddenly panicked about suddenly surging views volumes from EU nationals
Hence the strange messages, websites etc asking EU nationals to NOT APPLY. (At least they were honest about it)
(Ask yourself, in a time when you can pay taxes online, you can't submit your personal details and proof of address online.)
(Because it's not about automation and efficiency - hard to program a machine to find unintentional errors)
So now we have a situation where a flawed and unfair machinery, previously applied to a small, easily ignored group, is extended to others.
And - as someone who dealt with that machine and survived - the urge to shrug my shoulders and so "big deal" is very, very easy.
(I went to hell & back, so why should I really care if you do? When you had it easy, I never got your sympathy, your opeds, your tears
Because, not caring would be petty. We need to work at making things better for EVERYONE, not worse for all people concerned
The real issue is not about EU, or non-EU - it's about changing the rules of the game retrospectively. About moving goalposts.
(The Home Office has prior form in this - google "HSMP" and look at how the UK courts ordered it to honour rules it later tried to change)
Moving goalposts when things are going as you'd wish is not the mark a strong and stable leader. It is of a monster in kitten heels.
So fight for improving the lot of EU nationals facing an arcane, cruel bureaucracy. But also fight for the non-EU nationals who face it too.
And maybe then, one day, we will talk about visa systems as how imperialism was kept alive by being introduced after World War II.
Or why your passport has that strange note at the front from the sovereign who issued it, asking for your protection and safe journey.
(Today, however, is not that day.)
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