It now seems prophetic that the HMT Empire Windrush, the ship best known for bringing the first large group of post-war immigrants from the Caribbean to London, sank and lies forgotten at the bottom of the sea. For that is how many of the so-called Windrush generation must have felt when they were denied basic services to which they rightly believed they were entitled. Forgotten.
It turns out that the Home Office destroyed the landing cards in 2010 for those post-war migrants and with them valuable information to prove who had arrived in the UK. In many cases, children had arrived travelling on the passports of their parents. They had never formally applied to be naturalised as British citizens. The effects of the decision to destroy such valuable information have been devastating for some families. These decisions have ranged from the denial of NHS treatment to, in some cases, removal.
This whole sorry affair highlights, among other things, the importance for individuals to keep their own records and retain documents. Reliance cannot be placed on the Home Office. Increasingly, the Home Office asks for details of all journeys outside the UK since the last application for a visa. This can be a painstaking exercise so a good habit to get into is to record absences from the UK as you go.
The outgoing Home Secretary, Amber Rudd had created a new taskforce to deal with those affected and who now experience difficulties with their immigration status. There will, inevitably, be a knock on effect for others seeking to enter or remain in the UK as resources are diverted from an already stretched UKVI* staff. Increased processing times can mean that applicants are without their passports and unable to travel for weeks, sometimes months. Our immigration team can advise on the benefits of premium and super premium processing to ensure that applications are dealt with as a priority by the Home Office.
*UK Visas and Immigration
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