Tens of thousands of migrants are being wrongly subjected to the hostile environment because the Home Office refuses to give people proof of their right to be in the UK. They are suspended from work, have benefits taken away, or denied housing, with families driven to poverty, hunger and spiralling debt. Our clients CA and Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL) are taking the government to court in a test case challenging the lawfulness of the system.
When people apply to renew their visa in time, they automatically obtain leave under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 while they wait for their decision – with the right to live and work in the UK as before. However, the Home Office issues no document as proof of this right. This can create huge problems when the person must interact with the ‘hostile environment’, introduced in 2012, which excludes people from working, renting, driving, accessing healthcare, claiming benefits, or opening a bank account if they cannot prove they have leave to remain. The parallels with the Windrush scandal are striking, with people being subjected to extreme hardship as they have no ‘documents’, even though they have complied with immigration law.
Janet Farrell and Erica San act for CA, who was twice suspended from work for this reason and RAMFEL, a charity that assists many clients with experience of these problems. Please donate to RAMFEL’s crowdjustice campaign if you can.