Several cases have come to light in recent weeks of the treatment of Commonwealth citizens who came to the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971, known as the ‘Windrush generation’. Those who have lived continuously in the UK since before 1 January 1973 are entitled to indefinite leave to remain pursuant to the provisions of the Immigration Act 1971. However, the Home Office did not keep a record of these individuals entering the UK and many did not receive any official paperwork to confirm their status.
In line with Theresa May’s policy to make the UK a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants, a large number of people who could not produce paperwork to evidence their right to live in the UK have been affected, losing their jobs, pensions and access to the NHS.
Following significant adverse publicity, the Home Secretary has promised to make it easier for Windrush generation residents to regularise their status at no cost. The Prime Minister has also said that anyone who has lost their job, pension or access to benefits as a result of this scandal, or had to spend money seeking legal advice, will receive compensation. A consultation process is currently underway regarding this.
Plans to close bank accounts of individuals previously identified by the Home Office as illegal migrants have been put on hold, so the list can be checked. The Home Office has also issued new guidance on right to rent and right to work checks, to help landlords and employers who are dealing with the Windrush generation. For further details see Landlords: guidance on right to rent checks on undocumented Commonwealth citizens and Employers: guidance on right to work checks on undocumented Commonwealth citizens on www.gov.uk. Prospective tenants and employees are being urged to contact a dedicated Home Office team for help.