Government issues guidance for undocumented Commonwealth citizens
Following a statement to parliament on 23 April 2018 by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and intense media scrutiny, the Home office has issued guidance to all Commonwealth citizens who are long-term residents of the UK and are currently without appropriate documentation to prove their status.
During the statement, Amber Rudd also announced the Home Office will be putting in place lasting measures for those of the Windrush generation, and their children, and offered free citizenship to those that arrived before 1973.
What advice is being given?
The advice explains, if an individual has arrived from the Commonwealth prior to this date, and lived in the UK permanently with no lengthy absences in the last 30 years, they have the right to be in the UK. They are advised to get in contact with the Home Office to receive support in locating documentation and applying for a permit card that proves their status.
As well as waiving the application fees, they will also not have to take the usual Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK test.
The guidance also clarifies the position for those who arrived after 1973. While they may not have an automatic right to be in the UK, they may still be permitted to stay permanently, and will be given support and guidance with this.
The Home Office – what are they doing to help?
A dedicated new customer contact centre offering further advice and guidance is being set up at the Home Office, with the promise that all cases will be resolved within two weeks of documentation being compiled.
There still remains the issue of locating documents that span 40 years of a person’s life, but the Home Office will work with other departments to assist applicants in building a picture of their life in the UK and will accept a wide range of evidence, from employment records to exam certificates.
In reference to those who have already left, voluntarily or otherwise, the Home Secretary also went on to say that those who built a life in the UK but have now retired to their country of origin will be able to return to the UK, with the fees relating to this process waived.
In addition, an independent scheme will also be set up to compensate those who have suffered a loss as a result of previous policy.
Yet what is still unknown is precisely the number of those affected, and those who will now come forward for help from the very place that caused the problem originally.