Deportation… part 1.

on December 28, 2011 in Scotland with 16 comments by

I’ve been strategically waiting until there was no way I would go to jail or be banned from the UK to tell you this story.

I’m thinking that since I’ve been home for one month + one week, now is an okay time.

Thesis statement: In October, Scotland tried to deport me.

Supporting details:

If you’ll recall, during the latter half of October, I spent a weekend in Prague with some of my dearest college friends who live there now. These people.

[I didn’t do a great job blogging about Prague because it was right smack in the middle of 31 Days of Courage. Forgive me. But I did make a facebook album of pictures. Hopefully that will suffice.]

A simple mistake I made is I thought, “Oh, I’m just hopping to another EU country… no biggie.” So I didn’t bring my folder of paperwork [bank statements, printed flight info, etc.] with me to Prague. It was just a weekend visit between two friendly European countries.

Well, I had a lovely time in Prague and landed back in Edinburgh on Monday night around 9:30pm. There are two lines at customs- EU residents and other. In our entire flight of people, there were only two ‘other’ – me and a blonde gal. The blonde gal went through the line and then it was my turn.

I stepped up to the gentleman at customs. We’re gonna call him Richard. I’m not going to actually call him by the name on his nametag because a) you wouldn’t believe me and b) it is a cuss word and you’ll think he totally earned the nickname. Anyways, Richard.

Richard looks through my stuff and says, “How long have you been in the UK?”

I say, “Since July.” Which is a totally true and perfectly legal answer.

See, there is a rule that you can be a tourist for up to 6 months out of a 12 month period without having a visa. Since I was only going to be in Scotland 5 months and 28 days, I did not have a visa.

He shows me on my passport that back in February, when I returned from my month in the UK, I did not get a stamp on my passport saying I landed in Atlanta.

So pretty much, it looks like I’ve been living in Scotland without a visa since January [because I have an entrance to the UK stamp in January and an entrance stamp in July, but no exit stamp.]

Not good, my people. Not good.

Richard says, “I’m sorry. But I’m going to have to send you back.”

And I’m like, “BACK!!?? I WASN’T EVEN HOME! I WAS JUST IN PRAGUE FOR THE WEEKEND! I HAVEN’T BEEN IN AMERICA SINCE JULY! BUT I WAS IN AMERICA IN JULY! I HAVE A FLAT FULL OF STUFF AND I DON’T KNOW HOW MY FLATMATES WILL PACK IT ALL AND I AM ALLOWED TO BE HERE AND PLEASE DON’T SEND ME TO AMERICA TONIGHT!”

I panicked.

Then he asked to see my paperwork [yep, the paperwork I mentioned above that I didn’t have].

Then he asked for details of what I would be doing every.single.day. for the last four weeks of my time there. I answered with a shaky voice.

Then he asked for my flatmate’s phone number.

He tried to call her and for some unknown reason, it wouldn’t go through.

So he comes back to me and says, “Ms. Downs, that is a fake number and both you and I know it. Please give me a real number of someone I can reach.”

[PS- he copied my flatmate’s number OUT OF MY PHONE so obviously, it is the same one I used every day. Crazy stuff.]

At this point, I am sweating like I’ve run a half-marathon, I can’t exactly breathe, and I’m shaking like a polaroid picture because I am working through in my mind what happens to a person when they get deported.

Because Richard is about to deport me. For realz.

to be continued…..

16 comments

  1. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 9:24 AM  |  reply

    Oh Annie!! CRAZY! I live in the UK now and let me tell you, we learned early on that they don’t play around with deporting folks here. Our neighbor (who is also military) went to pick up his sister in law from the airport because she was coming for a visit. After waiting forever, she never came out and they were paged. Long story short, they deported her without ever letting her see her sister and brother in law. She was suspicious because she is a resident of Honduras but was coming from the US (she’d been there visiting other family) and was only 18. They wouldn’t give our neighbor any info and wouldn’t send her back to honduras because she came from the US. They plopped her on a plane to Los Angeles (OF ALL PLACES) where she knew no one. It was a mess. She has vowed never to come here and visit!!

  2. Lisa
    posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 9:26 AM  |  reply

    aaaahhhhhh – part 2, part 2! Come on, Paul Harvey – give me the rest of the story! (even though we know it has a happy ending) 🙂

  3. merideth
    posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 12:08 PM  |  reply

    I can’t believe you just put to be continued at the bottom of this post. I want to hear the rest of the story!.
    I actually had a similar experience in college. You may know this, but I was on the UGA Wesley mission trip team to Jamaica(spring break 1999). I had to fly down by myself(that’s a long story in and of itself), and when I got to Jamaica they almost deported me. I forget why. I had my birth certificate and state ID, but for some reason there was a problem(I think it might have been that I couldn’t remember the name of the place I was staying in) and they said they may have to send me back to the states. I was so nervous because this situation had already been a mess in the first place. But, they called the missionary house where I was staying with the rest of my team and thankfully they let me go. They asked me some of the same questions they asked you. What I was going to be doing while I was there, where Iwas staying, etc. It was crazy. Thankfully it all worked out, like I know your situation did.

  4. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 1:12 PM  |  reply

    Oh yikes, ha! Can’t wait to hear the rest. When I was living in France, we took the Eurostar to London for a weekend. On the way back, the French “border” people were very suspicious of me (despite my big fat shiny student visa) because I’d been to the middle east and had Arabic writing all over my passport. I was all, “JUST GIVE ME THE CHOO CHOO TRAIN STAMP MONSIEUR” except not really. He had a big dog.

  5. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 1:38 PM  |  reply

    What? I have to wait for the rest? Oh please do hurry!

  6. Angelica
    posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 1:48 PM  |  reply

    Annie Downs, you make me laugh a whole lot and i can’t wait to read part 2, this is crazy that this happened to you! 🙂

  7. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 3:57 PM  |  reply

    Oh, wow. I would have been flipping out. I can’t believe the guy took the number from your cell then insisted it must be phony! I probably wouldn’t have handled it calmly (or politely!). Eagerly awaiting part 2. 😀

  8. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 4:55 PM  |  reply

    Ms. Downs,

    In your Thesis thus far, you have successfully outlined my personal hell/ nightmare with insight and depth. Please, continue on your pursuit of an A+ dissertation. {read: I’m dying! Write more!!}

    All the best in your studies,

    Mrs. Duggar

  9. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 7:54 PM  |  reply

    I’m wondering how you kept from posting this until now! I laughed out loud with your explanation of why you were using a fake name for the guy. Even though I know how this ends, I’m waiting on the next installment with bated breath.

  10. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 9:31 PM  |  reply

    SO CRUEL not to post all of this story! Can’t wait to read the rest!

  11. posted on Dec 28, 2011 at 10:37 PM  |  reply

    Umm….hello! Please finish the story!

  12. Julie
    posted on Dec 29, 2011 at 1:12 AM  |  reply

    Most curious and sorry that you had to deal with that!

  13. Diane
    posted on Dec 29, 2011 at 4:45 AM  |  reply

    As always, you provide real life stuff with lots of laughter! Ur awesome, can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

  14. posted on Dec 29, 2011 at 8:40 AM  |  reply

    I don’t even know if I can read this because having spent most of my adult life on visas and passports and green cards etc, I am totally paranoid about that kind of encounter““` EEEEEEEEEEE {runs from the room in a panic}

  15. posted on Jan 02, 2012 at 8:22 PM  |  reply

    Maybe i would be able to laugh a long, very long time afterwards. Like Lisa, we have spent a lot of time getting visas, renewing passports, holding our breath in each passport control line, coming and going and in and out of countries whose agents glare when you say thank you I would be having heart failure. Did I mention we always bracked our kids never knowing if we might be seperated. On the bright side, at least you could communicate!!! Look forward ot the happy ending.

  16. posted on Jan 03, 2012 at 7:02 AM  |  reply

    Wooahhh. Scary stuff! I can’t wait to hear the rest:)

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