Links and internet resources

UKBA on the net

The UK Border Agency starting page is at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/  But most people reading this page will want to see the immigration rules, and specifically the rules for family members.  Visitors can check on what healthcare is available on this page.

If you have submitted a visa application from the US and it is taking too long, you can initiate an enquiry by following the steps on this page.

An UKBA booklet describing public funds as they relate to the immigration rules is here.

A parliamentary briefing on asylum claims made on the basis of sexual identity is here.


EU Resources

The Citizens Signpost Service (CSS) is aimed at EU citizens who encounter problems with mobility in the European Internal Market. The CSS is an advisory service which gives guidance and practical advice to citizens on specific problems they encounter in the EU and its Internal Market.

Freedom of movement in the EU is a advocacy blog that tracks the implementation of EC directives and provides numerous relevant links for those with EU mobility problems.


UK Organizations

Advice Now is funded by the the Legal Services Commission and the Department for Constitutional Affairs. (impressive internet FAQ with annotated links)

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. (publications and a free advice hotline)


Internet discussion forums

A note about discussion forums:

There's lots of discussion forums on the internet where the members offer immigration advice and help of one sort or another.  These can be helpful for learning about the personal experiences others have had, but it's a foolish idea to base your immigration strategy solely on advice from an internet discussion forum. Why?

  • Discussion forums very rarely (if ever) issue a retraction or correction when they give poor advice.
  • Inaccurate or misleading information is often vectored on the internet from one forum to another.
  • There are major changes to UK immigration law at least once a year, but more often two and three times a year. It means that personal experiences are often out of date.
  • Stickies.  Stickies are very often out-of-date, or broken, or irrelevant.  This is an endemic problem affecting any site that offers stickies and we have yet to encounter a site that has managed the problem effectively.  The problem is exacerbated because many forums post advisories imploring newbies to read the stickies before doing anything else.  This practice invariably gets the newbie confused with misleading or otherwise out-of-date information.
  • "Pimping" (meaning posted articles which are meant purely to promote or advertise an immigration service or to draw attention to a particular service being offered) and  testimonials from unscrupulous agents using multiple identities are rife in discussion forums, and in some cases with knowledge of the forum management
  • Undocumented or obscure affiliation policies from forum management make both 'expert advice' and personal testimonials dubious.

Having said that, there are a few high-quality discussion forums on the internet worth mentioning. These forums have a track record of giving high quality advice and/or having a regulated advisor who monitors the discussions:

UKLGIG  is devoted to gay migrants, but its archives are superb for migrants of all sexual orientations.  Their affiliation policy  is arguably the best on the net and suggested reading for anyone who contemplates engaging professional legal advice.  Of particular interest to us are their 'Partnership Meetings'.  These are real-life gatherings where the attendees have an opportunity to mingle with qualified solicitors.  Their relentless fixation on gays, rather than embracing all sexual orientations prevents us from bestowing the highest accolades, but otherwise we give UKLGIG an unqualified endorsement. 

Immigrationboards.com covers all aspects of UK immigration except asylum. This forum has a highly informed set of moderators, and is monitored by one or more regulated advisors. Of particular interest are their PBS boards, which has an up-to-date FAQ. This forum is not aligned to a particular nationality but tends toward expertise in Pakistan-to-UK immigration.  This forum remains our top pick for 2012.  The upsides are its horizontal integration and coverage.  The downsides are the abysmal 'sticky' system, and an abundance of whacos and self-styled 'experts' making the overall accuracy a dubious gamble.

Stonewall is a solid internet resource for enquiries about student, visitor, and unmarried partner applications.

The Thailand-UK Forum is oriented towards UK/Thai relationships, but it's a "must read" for any visa national contemplating a visitor or settlement visa to the UK. There's a FAQ, and a permanent thread entitled Build your own settlement visa supporting evidence folder. A well presented site, and sympathetic moderators make this a valuable internet resouce!

The Filipino UK Forum is oriented towards addressing the problems Filipino/UK couples have in migrating to the UK.  We like the subforum that helps new arrivals find work and we're impressed by another subforum oriented towards migration issues in the EEA.  The membership contains a small core of seasoned and knowledgeable forum members who do well on mainstream enquiries.  Trustworthy for most users.  Good expertise on internet relationships.

Turkish Love Let's get something straight right away: this forum  is not going to win lots of awards for insight into UK immigration law; but as a compendium of personal experiences, it's quite likely the best on the net.  The forum is populated mainly by British women who have fallen in love with a Turkish national and are now facing the hurdles of fiance and spouse immigration.  Personal experiences run the gamut from con artists all the way to allowed appeals, and there's lots of them.  There is something invigorating about reading an account from a woman with only secondary education somehow managing to reach the upper tribunal to get her husband a visa and finally win her case.  It's a great site for personal experiences.

BritishExpats This forum has a section entitled "Moving back to the UK" which contains some valuable threads on obtaining Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) for a spouse.  There are also some threads offering good advice to prodigal Brits over 50.  Moderation can be sluggish.

UK-Yankee Arguably the most profitable of UK immigration forums, con artists and bottom feeders are an on-going presence. 

 New York Consulate General offers a page for 'others' and this page is quickly becomming a question and answer resource.  Take note that the answers are provided by random Facebook people and not by UKBA staff.  As a result, the accuracy rating is about the same as found anywhere else on the net.   This resource was closed 22 Jan 2013.


And a few forums to avoid are...

Google Groups.  In a word: terrible.  Don't even bother with this one.

UKResident.  This heavily commercialised forum is populated almost entirely by practitioners pimping themselves out.    Beware of phony accounts/phony testimonials and other promotional content of questionable authenticity which appear in forum threads.  Beware of multiple accounts, imposters, and other sock puppet gimicks.   Beware of practitioners pimping themselves out as "OISC Registered Immigration Consultants" or "Immigration Lawyers" who troll the net looking for new customers.     

Russian Women Discussion Forum is too off-the-wall and just plain weird to take seriously. It seems to have an odd preoccupation with sex tourism and related scams.  Steer clear.


Some final notes about internet forums

An estimated 7% - 9% of family migrants interact with a forum at some point, and this may not be enough to assure a representative population or broad enough viewpoint for any individual enquiry.  By far, the most frequent topic comes from applicants whose financial standing is borderline, or where the sponsor is receiving benefits (i.e., public funds); and to complicate things, the UK is migrating to an entirely new paradigm in this area beginning in 2012 which may make the existing 'knowledge base' obsolete for a while.

There is an inverse relationship between accuracy and post age.  This is to say that forum articles that are older are less reliable simply because they are likely to be out-of-date or less relevant.  Always check the posting dates.

Also, immigration happens in a lot of different contexts.  So be sure that the article you are reading pertains to your particular situation.  For example, if you are a spouse, there is little point in following articles about somebody's experience getting a work permit or claiming asylum.

A contributed article relevant to LGBT applicants using internet forums is here.

As a matter of disclaiming, we visit all of the forums listed for FAQ research.  But we are not associated with any of the above forums.  We do not receive compensation or other benefit for issuing a favourable review, and we have no conflicts of interest in issuing a negative review.  Webmasters at the forums above always have full right of reply. 

If you have used an internet forum for immigration advice we would love to hear your experiences.  Confidentiality assured.  Telll us what happened at talk@transpondia.co.uk


What about Yahoo Answers, and related services?

These services allow you to make an enquiry, and respondents compete for the best and most complete answer.  What we have observed is that the 'best answers' are those which have collected the relevant links from the UKBA site along with a few credible FAQ's (like us, there are 150+ inward links to us from Yahoo Answers), and posted all of these together as a kind of mashup approach.

All well and good, but if you can't do that on your own, then you shouldn't be on the net in the first place


Further research

Looking for something?  It might be in our News Watch archives.

If you want to learn about the Voluntary Assisted Return Program for overstayers, visit IOM

Civil registration procedures are documented at the General Registry Service

Comment?  Is there a forum we should check out?  talk@transpondia.co.uk

Complaint?  complaints@transpondia.co.uk

 

Reviewed/updated 5 May 2012

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