Legal Action Group requests for the establishment of expert division to handle applications by those whose passports do not need relevant stamps
According to a presentation by the charity Legal Action Group, thousands of migrants who have resided and legally worked in Britain for so many years, in some cases they came to the country as infants, are now becoming victims of the government’s more obstructive immigration laws.
Thousand of long-term legal migrants – many of whom schooled, married and had families in Britain – have been cut off from revisions in the recent legislations that have left them in a legal purgatory and usually without employment. This is in spite of the fact that not too long ago many of them could work and legally claim benefits.
Many of them had problems after misplacing their original passports, which included the all-important indefinite leave to remain (ILR) stamps. Others discovered it was difficult to achieve the necessary points to meet stricter conditions for ILR.
In a certain case that was highlighted by Legal Action Group is the case of 53 years old Aubrey (not his real name). He arrived England for Jamaica at the age of 12 in 1973. His Jamaican passport was endorsed with indefinite leave to remain. But when it was changed after he misplaced in four years ago he did not request from the Home Office for the ILR stamp. Because he was a single parent with very limited resources, he did not want to spend £600 for something he felt was not that necessary.
He was later haunted by this oversight. Under the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, which brought about civil punishment for employers who hired people without approval to work, Audrey was requested by his employer of three years for his papers. What his employer wanted from him was not proof of his employment record (P60s and P45s), but proof of his immigration standing, which he did not possess because he did not have the ILR stamp in his passport.
In February Audrey was suspended without salary because he could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had the lawful permission to live and be employed in this nation. He had been out of work since then, having to live by borrowing from friends and family.
Roopa Tanna who works at the Islington Law Centre as a solicitor agreed to handle his case. She presented a judicial review proceeding against the Home Office, which responded with a defence but decided to give in before the judge looked at the case.
The case was traumatic for Adurey in spite of the positive result. He had stayed here since he was a child, now he suddenly felt like a criminal. He now knew what an illegal immigrant felt like.
The author of Chasing Status Fiona Bawdon has said that it was difficult to get an accurate figure of similar cases but an estimate would be in the 10,000s.
Getting proof is not simple. Audrey had to go through his life and gather paperwork from his parents and siblings.
Other people in the report stated their annoyance with the strict and very slow UK Border Agency which has now been substituted with UK Visas and Immigration.
The report suggests a number of revisions to handle the problem of “surprised Brits” – so-called in view of their sudden denial by the country that they have resided in for decades – including the opening of an expert Home Office Unit to handle such requests, and approval for applicants to continue being employed or to collect benefits while their requests are being handled and looked into.
The report says that the 2014 Immigration Act which prohibits access to NHS services and stated a status review by private landlords, is another attempt to make Britain an unfriendly environment for unlawful immigrants.
According to Tanna, government laws which are made to be hard on migrants through employer scrutiny and Department for Work and Pension reviews are having terrible results for migrants who have been residing in the UK for so long, many of whom had come here as little kids.
To her, these people were actually British because they had supported British society by being employed, rendering taxes and having families. All of a sudden, because of ‘get cruel” policies, they discover that they are unemployed, cannot assist themselves and are falling into debt. In summary, their existence is almost eroded because they are asked to make better their status when they never were.
The Home Office stated that it did closely work with the necessary authorities and groups to see that individuals with an “unusual immigration position” would get the necessary aid in that activity.
A statesman stated that when such individuals are discovered they will look into their immigration situation. However, it is the responsibility of any one who does not possess a genuine immigration status to correct their position, no matter how long they have dwelt there. All requests are looked into along with immigration laws and nationality laws, bearing in mind pressing or sympathetic situations.