The Government has published new guidance for undocumented Commonwealth citizens, Amber Rudd has resigned and Sajid Javid has been appointed the new Home Secretary, but will these policy changes and grand gestures actually help Windrush children?
More unrealistic promises
A brief examination of the guidance shows that in part it is a helpful document. It promises a dedicated task force to deal with Windrush enquiries swiftly. But a closer look shows that in many ways it is another Home Office immigration policy rushed through to appease public opinion without setting out clear, concise guidelines to help those affected.
2-week task force
We’ve been told that the Windrush cases will be decided within 2 weeks. In our last post we commented on how we thought this was unrealistic. The 2 weeks deadline in which we are told cases will be decided , is within ‘of all the information being pulled together’. The same document acknowledges ‘we understand many people won’t have documents that are 40 years old’ and various documents will be accepted. However, common sense tells us that if a document is unavailable it can’t be produced. If a document can’t be produced then ‘all the information’ won’t be available to ‘pull’ together.
No mention has been made about whether the Government will trawl through the 1,500 boxes containing files of passenger lists of when Windrush families first came to the UK, currently held at the National Archives. In addition MPs have voted yesterday against an opposition motion calling on the Government to disclose papers on Windrush migrants.
Waiving of citizenship fees
Many of the Windrush families were already British citizens or had Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement) when they were invited decades ago by the Government to come to the UK. So waiving a fee for something they already have is far from generous. In addition citizenship fees range from £372 to £1,330 and we haven’t been told which citizenship fees will be waived.
We’ve been told that there will be a compensation scheme. It will be run by an independent person and will be for people who have faced official challenges due to their immigration status. We haven’t been told what situations the scheme will actually cover, such as the loss of a job, being detained, or refusal to re-enter the UK – are these considered to be ‘official challenges’; who will be the ‘independent person’ and what qualifies them for this very important role; or the amount of compensation that is likely.
Still, a compensation scheme is a welcome move for many Windrush children.
Dedicated customer contact centre
We are promised a new customer contact centre to answer any enquiries. It’s not clear when this will be set up. We have concerns about the lack of training that personnel will be provided with at such short notice. Given that we’ve have different responses depending on who and when we have spoken to Home Office staff at their existing call centres, we can’t say we’re convinced that the new contact centre, seemingly set up as a knee jerk reaction to a public outcry will be able to provide consistent, useful answers that people affected by Windrush are entitled to.
Before her resignation Amber Rudd stated that those affected by Windrush do not need to hire an immigration lawyer. This is true, however with so much ambiguity around this issue JCWI has claimed that many people have instructed immigration lawyers before availing themselves to the Home Office. If you have been affected by this issue and would like to have a chat with one of our Immigration Specialists please contact us. We’ll be happy to provide legal advice and information to help you resolve your situation. You can call us on 020 3818 5433 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org