Do I have permission to live in the UK? It’s a question we’ve been asked many times over the last few days and months from people who’ve lived in the UK for many years but are now wondering what their legal status is. We’ve had enquiries from many local people, born in Jamaica and other Commonwealth countries and arrived in the UK in the 1970s. They are now scared about their citizenship and rights to basic services in the UK.
The Guardian newspaper has done a fantastic job of highlighting the plight of people who have been cruelly affected by the Home Office’s insistence that people prove their right to be here despite having lived in UK for the vast majority of their lives. In the worst cases the windrush generation have been threatened with deportation, held at detention centres, faced large bills for NHS services, and been made redundant. Our very own James Wilson has been involved in the case of Paulette Wilson, who was held in Yarl’s Wood detention centre and came very close to being deported. Thankfully she now has received a biometric residence permit and is in the process of gaining British Citizenship and damages from the Home Office for the treatment she suffered.
For everyone else who is in a similar position, we are glad to see that, finally, pressure on the government, from a wide range of individuals and organisations including from David Lammy MP and David Harewood has led to an apology from the Home Secretary. The gov.uk website has been recently updated too.
For anyone who is worried about their immigration status and right to remain in the UK, work here, and access services, this is the latest advice from the Home Office.
It explains the legal position, acknowledges that the documents asked for can be difficult to source, but also states:
“We are clear that no one with the right to be here will be required to leave. There will be a solution available for your situation.”
The information also explains some of the options available to you and contains links to the forms needed, along with examples of the evidence needed. We know that this isn’t easy to wade through if you are unfamiliar with the process. We’ve been giving out lots of advice and information to concerned residents recently and will continue to do so. We hold a series of free immigration advice sessions each month, no appointment is needed, if you need our help simply turn up. If you can’t make any of these sessions then you can also contact us.
Commenting on the situation, Sanjeev Sharma said: “Unfortunately I am not shocked by the way the Home Office have treated these types of cases. The Home Office has never applied a common sense approach to cases. Instead they put the onus on the applicant to provide evidence, evidence that is often in the possession of the Home Office. This is why it is important that before any applications are made you obtain legal advice to ensure your application has the best chance of succeeding.”
For advice please contact our Immigration Department.