Windrush Generation

Windrush Generation

The British Nationality Act 1948 enabled citizens of Commonwealth countries to become citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) and Colonies – an automatic right to remain. As a result of this the ‘Windrush generation’ are not in the UK illegally as they came to the UK under provisions made by the British Nationality Act 1848. The Windrush generation refers to Commonwealth citizens who came to the UK between 1948 to 1972 – named after the ship which brought the Caribbean workers to the UK.

However, subsequent rules and legislations changed this standpoint. The Immigration Act 1971 which was implemented in 1973 meant Commonwealth citizens arriving in the UK would only be granted limited residence - temporary residence and so those arriving after 1973 could only settle in the UK if they met certain criteria.

Commonwealth-born individuals and their dependents, currently residing in the UK and that have remained in the UK ever since entering, before 1973 have a right to continue to remain in the UK under the current immigration rules. These individuals believed that they were already British Citizens.

However, due to some significant changes which were brought in 2014 with the new immigration rules which included requirements for landlords, employers and the NHS (among others) to obtain proof of residence in the UK before providing certain services, meant that Commonwealth citizens were also being required to confirm their status in the UK for the first time.

The problems predominantly faced are with regards to the children which arrived before 1973 on their parent’s passports and had never sought to confirm their status through their own passport application, naturalisation process and/or do not have the requisite evidence of their full residence history in the UK. These individuals have therefore been unable to confirm their legal status to remain in the UK.

Furthermore, the Home Office had not kept records of those who were granted leave to remain in the UK and did not issue documents to confirm this right. In addition, documents confirming the arrival dates of ‘Windrush’ migrants had been destroyed by the Home Office which would have confirmed the right to remain in the UK of these individuals. In light of this, evidencing legal status in the UK has been impossible for some individuals.

Windrush migrants are now able to apply for a No Time Limit permit to evidence their right to remain in the UK. This permit has no charge. Decisions have been confirmed to be made based on all the circumstances of the case and on the balance of probabilities. The Home Office will actively help with finding the necessary evidence in Government records and individuals will not be detained or removed whilst their situation is being assessed.

Certain Windrush migrants will be able to claim financial compensation for loss and or damaged suffered as a result of their inability to evidence or confirm their legal status in the UK. Similarly, those migrants that have retired to their country of origin will be able to obtain documents from their High Commissions/Embassies to return back to the UK should they wish to.

Finally, Windrush migrants are entitled to apply to naturalise in the UK without their being an application charge or English language requirement i.e. not having to have undertaken and pass the Life in the UK test.

There is a phone and email helpline available for individuals of the Windrush generation requiring assistance in documenting their right to remain the UK as follows:

Freephone: 0800 678 1925 (Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm)

Email: commonwealthtaskforce@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

For more information about this please contact Dionne Russell on 02477 710235 or email dionne.russell@alsterskelley.com

 


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