The Interrogation — oops — Interview One More Time

15 06 2018

It’s been three weeks since we saw our heroes leaving the UK Registry office carrying a list of additional required documentation (passport photos and proof of residence consisting of a council tax or energy bill because providing title to their house was not sufficient).

So. Here we are on June 5, back at the Registry Office. As required, before coming to this meeting, we confirmed and paid for the wedding venue on a date well past the up-to-70-days waiting period: August 28.

We’re feeling confident because our previous interviewer had said that all we’d need were the photos and proof of residence, although we again brought along everything (plus some).

Promptly at the scheduled time, 4:00 pm, we are greeted by Louise, another of the personnel in the Department of Marriages and Civil Partnerships. Her style is totally different from Carol’s three weeks ago. And, since we were unable to complete the previous interview (and, thus, did not pay for it), there were no notes from that meeting.

Complete Start Over.

Louise begins with me individually. After accepting my new photo and comparing it, me, and my current passport, she begins.

All questions relate to Peter – his full name (why no middle name?), birth date, occupation, previous occupation, about his life. Because, I suppose – do I really know this person I’m hoping to marry?

Then she moves to my details. Have I gone by any other name? Duh. This is not my first rodeo. And to husband-Jim’s death certificate. It’s déjà vu of the last interview: “Why does the death certificate say Mary R. Denton rather than Mary Denton Jordan?”

“I don’t know, it’s the way Colorado did it. Here’s my birth certificate showing name Mary Raye Denton.” Having been through this before, I quickly produce what worked the last time: bank card with name Mary R. Jordan.

“Oh, this won’t do. We need to see a government-issued card.”

After several back/forths, Louise excuses herself to check with a superior, documents in-hand. Eventually, they agree that I am, indeed, the same Mary R. Jordan, Mary Raye Denton, and Mary Denton Jordan.

Then, to our place of residence.I tell her the address, carefully explaining that because this is a “holiday home,” there is no mail delivery. “That’s fine,” she assures me. “We just need to know where you’re living.”

We, naturally, must show proof of address. During the last visit, we could not use the Council Tax bill which includes both our names because it is mailed to Peter’s sister at her address, not ours. Which of course has — No mail delivery. We had provided the title to the house, but that was not acceptable. They needed a current energy bill. It’s issued quarterly (most recently, February 22), and I receive it online. So I’d called EDF, the energy company, to find out when the next bill would arrive. June 7, two days after this appointment. The EDF lady kindly agreed to provide an interim bill. It arrived, I downloaded to a memory stick and went to the local library for printing. So I confidently hand her this document.

“Why is only your name on this?”

“Because it comes to my email address.”

“We need something showing Peter’s name at this address.”

“Well, I have title to the property.”

“Yes. That will do.”

I just smile. I feel like screaming! It didn’t “do” last visit – otherwise I wouldn’t have wasted half a day on the phone, downloading the bill, having someone drive me to the library, and then figuring out how to use their printer.

Having (finally) satisfied these legal requirements – so far – she states that we both may need to be available for further interviews or perhaps a home visit. “You will be here during the next 70 days?” My heart drops. I’m flying to the USA to take my granddaughter to New York City to celebrate her 10th birthday. I may be out of the UK as long as two weeks. Louise frowns. “Maybe there won’t be any problems. Or maybe they can work out the schedule. If not, you’ll have to start this entire process over again.”

She thanks me and asks Peter to come in, alone.

I again remind her that we receive no mail delivery at our address. Again, I’m reassured that this will not present a problem.

Peter flows through the interview with flying colors. After all, I’m the possible-problem immigrant from the USA.

Exactly at the end of the allotted one-hour interview, Louise escorts us to the payment window, £46 each, She informs us that the Plymouth UK office is now officially out of this process; it’s all up to the London Home Office. Everything we need to know is in this leaflet, Home Office Referral and Investigation Scheme. (Interesting title. Especially the word “scheme.”)

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We walk out of their office approximately 5:15 pm.

The leaflet explains that “The Home Office is taking tough action to tackle sham marriages….” It also states that it may decide to investigate further and that “The Home Office will make this decision and inform you of it in writing before the end of the 28 day notice period.” (Italics mine.)

In writing.

To our address.

Where we do not receive mail.

Probably to be returned as “undeliverable.”

Think this might be a Red Flag to the Home Office?

Danger! Danger! Danger! Sham address! Sham marriage!

Permission denied!

Lovely.

And, of course, the Plymouth office is now closed.

Promptly at 9:00 am the next day, I call to see if they can put a different mailing address on our application – perhaps get it changed before it gets to London. I am informed I need to talk with someone in the “marriage and ceremony team.” Not available, of course, but someone – yet a different person – calls back in late afternoon. After being told the previous day that this office is now completely “hands off” the process – and reading in the Scheme leaflet that “Staff at the Designated Register Office you attended or wrote to will not be able to tell you how your referral is progressing” — this lady on the phone says not to worry. “They write us at the same time, and we call to let you know.”

Needless to say, I’m not confident.

To be continued (once again)….

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