By Shane McGinley
Many cannot escape region's hot summer as they face long delays waiting on documents for newborn babies
Many British expat families are being forced to spend the hot summer season in the Gulf as a 12 year high in passport applications means they face long delays securing documentation for their newborn children to travel back to the UK, Arabian Business has learned.
"Her Majesty's Passport Office took over the processing of all passport applications from British Nationals across the globe in March 2014,” a HM Passport Office spokesperson told Arabian Business in statement.
As a result, British Prime Minister David Cameron said up to 30,000 passport applications have been hit by delays, with expats likely to face the longest delays.
"Overseas applications are now subject to further security checks to align with our processes for domestic applications. These checks can take significantly longer than those made in the UK. We will not issue a passport until all checks have been satisfactorily completed.
"Processing times have therefore increased for UK passport applications submitted overseas. We acknowledge the frustration our customers may be experiencing and will continue to review our guidance on estimated processing times," the statement added.
Cameron said the Passport Agency is currently dealing with about 465,000 renewals and first-time passport requests, and it is sending out around 150,000 passports a week. With passport applications reaching a 12-year high, 250 extra staff have been deployed to help clear the backlog.
While reports in the UK claim tens of thousands of British holidaymakers are being forced to delay or cancel their holidays as a result of the delays, expats based in the Gulf are unable to travel back to the UK and have been faced with excessive delays, especially those with newborn children applying for their first passports.
“Some women have been waiting nearly four months and are furious. Some have given their kids their husband's nationality rather than British - Italian and South Africa in two cases - just to try and get a passport,” one Dubai-based mother with a two month old baby told Arabian Business.
“Those of us with new babies face daily fines of up to AED100 once our visa grace period of 120 days is over, because we can't get our kids visas without passports. I strongly suspect the UK passport office doesn't have targets for overseas Brits in terms of how quickly they have to turn around their passport applications - for UK-based Brits, it's three weeks - so expats are getting the worst of it,” she added.
Another Dubai-based mother said she had been waiting eight weeks for her applicant to be processed and was still hoping she will not have to cancel her travel plans back to the UK and she and her newborn child won’t be stranded in the UAE for the hot summer months.
“I haven't cancelled my flights yet but we are preparing ourselves for that. Am just about to ring the passport office for an update as I am now officially 8 weeks waiting and was told I could only really get some 'progress information' once I'd hit that waiting time.
“I lodged a complaint with them and was told that someone would call me back within 3 working days. Nobody has. Since then I have written to the CEO Paul Pugh [the interim chief executive of the Passport Office] to complain and not received a response. I am now about to write to David Cameron,” she added.
When Arabian Business contacted the British Embassy in Dubai to ask what they were doing to help expat mothers facing such long delays it declined to comment.
A Passport Agency spokesperson was asked to comment on the delays facing expat mothers but said it was unlikely it would have time to respond.
Oh, the shame of it! Having to spend the hot months in Dubai. What an awful prospect, strangely not one faced by the other few million of the temporary residents who actually go to work and do so in the sun. Does Dubai actually need this kind of parasite?
Time for Dubai to give exit visas to all whinging expats who can't take the heat but like the indoor loo and kitchen and servants and champagne brunches.
@Ronald, I'm surprised AB published your comments calling expats parasites, tell me something, did you apply to come here, was your application denied Ronald?. Oh boo hoo, well tell you what dear chap we will reserve a glass of champagne for you but I fear it may evaporate and decay before you ever get here. This is about passports delays you twit and peoples annual vacation back home for the holidays. Go hate elsewhere.
The inhumanity of being forced to spend the summer in Dubai! Millions would gladly take on the plight of these expats rather than continue to live without water, food, jobs, medical care, education... Time for these expats to take stock and be grateful for the bountiful lives they live!
The UK government is justified in delays during operational transition and for additional security checks. The whining and wingeing is simply, as my American friends would say, "rich peoples' problems"...
@twisted - AGAIN this is not about workers in the sun......I just find it amusing how you haters use any excuse to bash the a Brits, you have no point and the one you made was inaccurate. The government have made a royal mess because some security elements were REMOVED without their clearance so now they have to be added which is a mistake by the immigration people resulting in huge delays. First world problems is such an idiotic statement to make, people just want to be able to take their leave as many work bloody hard and deserve it as it runs in line with the kids holidays. Get your facts straight next time.
So what is the problem with getting and Italian or a South African Passport instead of a British one?
If I was the father I would rather have my child with a passport from where I am from not just for the convenience, or now inconvenience, that a British one gives.
Hey that would also ease the burden on the Passport Office if people actually acknowledged where they were from rather than causing unnecessary delays to actually UK citizens who are now probably in the queue behind these 'parasites' claiming to be British when if fact they are not.
To those who cant get away, don't worry it is actually very nice here in the Summer with plenty to do..
Grow up Chalky and recognize that poor pitiful you might actually have to suffer in your luxurious air conditioned home and air conditioned car in the warmer temps. Guess what: most people DON'T receive summer leave, Mr/Ms. Entitled! We are granted leave at the convenience of our employers, not at our convenience. And we are still grateful for the opportunities and lives we live here in the UAE.
If you have a beef with your government, take it up. But don't expect sympathy from those who toil through the summer months - many outdoors - because you are suffering a wee little administrative delay.
@twistedtory: I'm sorry but are you dim? No really, are you dim, or perhaps you just dont understand the article which, again, deals with and discusses delays with regards to UK passport issues, there is no mention of the 'poor workers' and the 'Summer heats' that they have to endure, it's about delays, that's D-E-L-A-Y-S. If you want to address workers conditions then let's talk about the Indian agents ++ that trick and sell these workers into what is effectively modern day slavery, why don't you talk about that????? because it's not the Brits that sell these people out ok, so stop bleating about poor this and poor that and get your facts straight, In other words educate yourself. It's quite clear to me that you are just another one of those low down the ladder socialist dullards. Tip! Get a job that pays above minimum wage and stop resenting.
@Chalky6766, there is a big difference between the concepts of hate and contempt. You know all about the contempt, clearly being on the receiving end of it. It is souls like you who give voice to the whinging Brit caricature so beloved of us other expats. Enjoy your cheap champagne, while you can.
Well said Telcoguy these two seem to think that by rightly questioning extremely inconvenient delays caused by our useless government that we somehow are whining because we are over privileged. It's just another excuse for these unfulfilled, unhappy, under paid twits to hate. Thing is they have both not even understood the article with one actually defending the chaos now incumbent within the passport system. The delays are not the fault of the people they are as a result of a communication and breakdown from the government. Dear oh dear where do you people come from.
@chalky...By the way he comments and I quote "We are granted leave at the convenience of our employers, not at our convenience" obviously means he is at the lower level of the ladder because he could not apply for leave at his convenience. So I guess, give the poor guy some slack as he is not aware that people at the higher ladder can get his annual leave at his convenience. LOL