Windrush Generation - What next?

The media storm that resulted after the discovery of thousands of people who arrived in the UK from the Commonwealth as children during 1970’s were now under threat or, in some cases, in the process of deportation due to lack of legal documentation, has caused furor, embarrassment and a ministerial resignation. But as the media spotlight fades, what is next for the Windrush generation? Employment specialist, Wayne Cartlidge, explains.

Despite living in the UK for many years, working hard, bringing up families and building new and prosperous communities, many Commonwealth nationals referred to as the ‘Windrush Generation’ received news that they were in the UK illegally.

Despite drastic changes brought about by the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK, (an estimated 500,000 people according to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University,) were granted leave to remain, but it has now been revealed the Home Office did not keep records or issue any paperwork, so individuals have been unable to prove their right to reside in the UK.

The Government released a statement confirming all applications to stay in the UK, from affected Commonwealth nationals would be handled in a sensitive manner and advised those affected to “take legal advice and submit the appropriate application with correct evidence so we can progress the case”. 

Now, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has reported similar cases involving citizens of Australian, Canadian, South African, Indian and Pakistani origin.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals from the Windrush Generation, and their descendants, are without any evidence or legal documentation to prove their right to remain in the UK, despite spending the vast majority, if not all of their lives here.  

While the scandal made headlines around the world, insult was added to injury with the revelation that government immigration rules are now so strict in their regulation of employment and housing, that individuals who cannot prove their legal status were finding it hard to retain work or even find a place to live.

The Home Office is currently advising Commonwealth nationals to seek legal advice from firms who can assist with immigration based applications, supporting documents and permit cards which will prove their status.

The immigration team at Eric Robinson Solicitors has extensive experience in making applications for resident status in the UK. We can establish the duration of valid permit cards, explain the process for further applications for British citizenship, and advise on best practices to obtain and submit correct documentation.

Despite apologies and conciliatory soundbites, there still appears to be no quick fix for those who have been impacted by the Windrush scandal and applications dealing with these issues will continue to be difficult, so it is vital to get legal support.