British woman helps reunite families
A British civil servant has returned home to Jamaica and set up an immigration business uniting estranged families and people denied entry to the United Kingdom (UK).
Kingstonian mother of two, Rotendo Mukulu launched her company UK Visa and Appeal five years ago, offering a full range of UK immigration services such as citizenship, visas, legal services and support for removed or deportees needing to return to the UK.
"Our services are open to all Jamaicans and any national across the Caribbean. We are proud to have supported a full range of people in need of immigration advice and support. We also have a large number of clients who live in the UK but need a professional, reliable company based in Jamaica to assist with applications for their relatives."
Back in Jamaica for six years, Mukulu explained why she set up shop.
"There was a need. It started with me helping my older relatives, who were not computer literate to complete forms online and type up documents and letters. My help turned to frustration with the UK Home Office when I became aware that my family and fellow Jamaicans were having challenges. I started to support them and I was always successful and the demand grew," Mukulu said.
Her passion was further fuelled when she came to live in Jamaica, Mukulu told The Gleaner, "I felt moved to open a company specialising in UK Immigration only after I was made aware that most immigration services in Jamaica, offered advice on immigration requirements for several different countries such as the United States, Canada and UK. This concerned me because different countries have different immigration agendas and laws," she opined.
With a 100 per cent success rate for all spousal visa applications completed in 2014, Mukulu said she is always in demand because, "A former client who was removed from the UK due to overstaying, left behind her one-year-old son. She had to wait five years for the re-entry ban to elapse before being able to reapply for a visa. Due to her illiteracy, she was left vulnerable because an error had been made on her application leading to a further 10-year ban.
"She came to me distraught having not seen her son for more than seven years. I took on her case and successfully assisted her to gain limited leave to remain in the UK," Mukulu said.
The most common errors found on applications, Mukulu said, are the failure to prepare and use of a casual approach when gathering supporting documents. She adds, "Sometimes I have to inform a client at the end of the consultation, that they are not ready to submit a strong application and advise them to go away and return, strengthening their chance of success."
The biggest mistake, she said, is withholding information about one's immigration history or past criminal record, because with biometric data technology, immigration authorities are now able to retroactively identify fraud. People who previously travelled on fraudulent passports can now be identified.
"Plus with the 2009 Five Country Conference data-sharing protocol, countries can also 'share' biometric data, meaning criminal offences committed in the USA or Canada can now be known by UK immigration authorities."
Mukulu added, "It is not automatic that if you have committed a criminal offence or have been removed or deported, you will never be able to gain a visa to enter the UK. However, if you lie about your criminal record or have a poor immigration history, this will make the application significantly more challenging."
There is no 'best' or 'bad' time of year to submit an application. Success rates are dependent on applying for the correct visa; meeting all the requirements, accurate completion and supplying of all relevant supporting documents to the correct standard and immigration history.