There is this program I watch. It is meant to show how the UK Border Force tackles illegal immigration. Compelling viewing, it highlights how the system works. If it were up to me, I would have edited the content slightly, but since they have made the decision to show me, tell me, I believe it is only fair to share what I have learned. And so, an alternative title for this post might just be…
An idiot’s guide for illegal immigrants
You have made it into the UK, one way or the other. You are fully aware that you have overstayed your visa. And that if caught, you will be deported. Here are some dos and don’ts.
- Obey the laws of the land. Fine, you are breaking the law anyway by being an overstayer. Do not compound it by sheer stupidity. Pay the appropriate fare on the buses, trains, tube etc. Quite a few people are picked up while trying to dodge their fares.
- Do not drive without a valid licence, Make sure the documentation for your car is current. And resist the temptation to drive as if you are behind the wheel of a danfo.
- Do keep your head down. Do not engage in activities that will draw unnecessary attention to you. Like driving around in a flashy car,
- Do carry yourself with confidence. Walk like you belong here. Practice walking past policemen without breaking into a sweat, a run, or both. So that the day you see immigration officers checking people as you are heading to your tube station, you can carry on walking without breaking your stride despite your mental turmoil. Your greatest threat does not come from the uniformed officers. It comes from the plain clothed ‘spotters’. Yes, the people who are mingling in the crowd, just watching to see if you will break into a sweat, or try to run.
- Never, ever, carry documents on you that will identify you as an overstayer. This includes letters from home asking how your job is going etc. If they can’t establish your real identity, it’ll be a lot harder to deport you.
- On being apprehended in spite of following steps 1 – 3 above, say for instance you are ambushed at work, do not give the immigration officers any incriminating information. They are not your friends, don’t start gisting with them.
- Do not have your passport at the address where you live. They need to see your passport to confirm a) your identity, and b) that you are an overstayer. Without your passport, their hands are tied. You can’t be deported. I think. So do not give them your passport. No matter how nicely they ask. And if they do not find your address on your person, you do not have to give it to them. It’s not like they’ll allow you to take a change of clothing if you lead them to your house, all they want to do is gather evidence against you. Don’t make it easy for them.
- Please, please, please. If all else fails, do not start begging. It is uncomfortable viewing seeing my countrymen kneeling down, and begging. Man up and face the music.
- Do try to remember your date of birth. By this I mean the date you are claiming you were born on. If you are over 35, there’s no point in claiming to be 17. Be realistic when choosing a date, and memorise it. When asked your age, don’t stutter.
- If you are claiming to be a student, do show up at your course from time to time. Don’t get so caught up in chasing Charlie’s mother that you forget your cover story.
- If you intend to travel to the States from Nigeria to have your baby, choose a direct flight. Do not travel via the UK. Do not wait till you are almost popping before making your journey. There is this nice lady who works at the British High Commission in Lagos. Her job is to spot and stop people like you at Murtala Mohammad Airport. Even if you have valid visas. She has no business with you if you are flying direct to Yankee. If however, you decide to break your journey, you will not even make it unto the plane. She will pour sand into your gari. She will phone the Americans, and they will invite you for a chat. You will miss your flight, the Americans will cancel your visa. You have been warned.
This is all I can remember for now. This information is not legally binding. I am not an advocate of illegal immigration. If despite following the instructions above, you are deported, tough luck.