I'm a writer and theater/film director who has been traveling nearly all my life without incident. In February, I decided to pull up stakes in NYC and move to London. I am a freelancer and I'm working with three different organizations in NYC so I wasn't working illegally in the UK. I was, however, seeing if there might be some opportunities in London, ie. meeting with Artistic Directors of various theatre companies to see if they might be interested in producing my work.
In April, I was invited to a conference in San Diego and then a film festival in Switzerland. I didn't think it would be a problem if I went and then bummed around in France for a few days since I hadn't broken any laws and had left the UK well under my six month leave to stay. Well, when I tried to return to London, I was denied entry at Luton. The border control officer said I didn't have enough funds for a two month stay and put a black cross over a stamp in my passport. They put me in a detention room until the next flight back to Lyon, which was the following morning. I don't know anyone in Lyon so I ended up going to a friend's place in Paris.
After a few days of not knowing what to do, a friend suggested that perhaps I should try going back to London on the Eurostar since border control is in Paris. I wondered if I ought to go to the British Embassy but was deterred by something on their website that says that a visitors visa could take up to three weeks (I can't sit around here in Paris for three weeks) and anyway, the decision ultimately is with the border control, so I decided to take a chance on the Eurostar. I bought myself a return ticket in two weeks to Paris just so I had something to show.
Well, the UK border control denied me entry after giving me a third degree. They accused me of lying and seeking work in the UK. They also insisted that the amount of money I had was not enough to live on for two weeks. So I'm back at my friend's place in Paris, wondering what to do.
Is it possible for me to ever get back to the UK? I had to cancel one meeting and I'm wondering if I have to cancel going to the Sheffield DocFest. (Two of my projects were accepted to programs there.)
Should I apply for a visa from the British Embassy? Will this really take three weeks? When I started to say something about obtaining a visa, the border control officer cut me off and said, "Why are you going to the Embassy? This has nothing to do with the Embassy. We make the decisions."