The Windrush scandal essentially concerns the immigration status of members of the “Windrush generation”. The British Nationality Act 1948 gave citizenship of the UK and Colonies to call people living in the UK and its Colonies, and the right of entry and settlement in the UK.
The ship HMT Empire Windrush was a troop ship docking in Kingston, Jamaica in order to pick up servicemen who were on leave. However, the Windrush generation is not just limited to people from the Caribbean and also affects other Commonwealth migrants from Jamaica, India, Kenya, South Africa and Pakistan. At the time of arrival, between 1948 and 1971, many entered under a rule allowing freedom of movement within the Commonwealth. Many arrived as young children, travelling on their parents’ passports. Later, some of these never registered for their own passports and requiring documents to prove your immigration status was probably not an issue at the time.
However, the current immigration system, and the requirement of immigration documents proving a right to live, work, rent and access healthcare means that a document confirming your immigration status is vital. However, when the Windrush generation arrived in the UK the Home Office did not automatically issue any documentation. Many of the individuals already in the UK, gained indefinite leave to remain to Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK due to the fact that freedom of movement was ending. Due to the lack of Home Office records it has been hard for individuals who didn’t get documents at the time, to now prove that they are living in the UK legally. This has ultimately resulted in the event that adults who have lived in the UK for several decades now facing the threat of deportation.
Recent cases highlighted by the media have brought this issue to the attention of the general public and the response has been overwhelmingly in support of individuals affected by the Windrush scandal. The scandal also brought about attention to the issue of the Government’s “hostile environment” for migrants and exposed the targets for migrant removal. Sajid Javid, the now Home Secretary, has promised legislation to ensure the rights of those affected by the Windrush scandal and has said that the “Government would do right by the Windrush generation”.
The Government are currently looking at a “Windrush Scheme” which will ensure that members of this generation, the children born in the UK and those who arrived in the UK as minors will be able to apply for citizenship, or various other immigration products, free of charge. This is a clear indication of the Government trying to rectify the situation as current immigration fees for applications made to remain in the UK are steep. Immigration fees to remain in the UK, or naturalise as a British citizen, are steep. The Government are also looking at a compensation scheme but details are yet to follow.
How can we help?
If you have been affected by the Windrush scandal, at Clifford Johnston we have many years of experience of assisting individuals with a wide variety of immigration matters. Our team of experts is always happy to talk you through your situation. For a confidential discussion, please contact Naila Kosar or Sumita Gupta.