UK Immigration Issues extends to Kenya, Cyprus and Canada

A spokesperson at the Canadian high commission said: “To the best of our knowledge, the High Commission of Canada has not been contacted by any Canadians seeking assistance in matters related to Windrush.”

ImmigrationA growing number of cases of Home Office mistreatment of non-Caribbean Commonwealth-born citizens are emerging, indicating that the problem is likely to spread beyond the Windrush group. Immigration charities and MPs reported that numerous new cases had been reported this week of individuals from countries including Kenya, Cyprus and Canada.

A spokesperson at the Canadian high commission said: “To the best of our knowledge, the High Commission of Canada has not been contacted by any Canadians seeking assistance in matters related to Windrush.”

But Margaret O’Brien, 69, who moved to the UK from Canada in 1971, described battling over two years to persuade the Home Office to believe that she was here legitimately. She was threatened with removal to Canada, where she has no surviving relatives; her disability benefits were suspended, leaving her impoverished.

Another Canadian, Mary-Ann Astbury, who has lived in the UK for 47 years, has received an apology from the Home Office after she was told she could not renew her passport. Astbury told the BBC that she had moved from Canada with her adoptive parents in 1971. Home Office staff said they had been in contact with her to discuss her options for applying to naturalise as a British citizen.

Experts at the Oxford-based immigration centre, the Migration Observatory, which calculated that up to 57,000 Commonwealth-born, long-term UK residents had never formalised their status in the UK, said the problems extended “well beyond” the narrow group of Windrush nations. The body estimates that there are around 15,000 Jamaicans and 13,000 Indians in this situation.a

Robert McNeil, deputy director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The issue of citizenship and residence rights for Commonwealth migrants in the UK who arrived before and during the early 1970s does not just affect those from the Caribbean. Tens of thousands of people from other Commonwealth countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas and elsewhere may also be in the same boat – even though they didn’t arrive on the Windrush.”

Guy Hewitt, the Barbados diplomat who has been instrumental in bringing the problems of the Windrush generation to political attention, said he did not believe that there would be many, if any, cases of people from India or Pakistan caught up by this issue. Neither was a British colony during the relevant period, meaning that immigrants from the two countries went through a more rigorous immigration process at the time.

One immigration caseworker described how he and colleagues had spent three years trying to help a 58-year-old Kenyan-born woman of Indian origin, whose parents brought her to the UK when she was seven in 1967. Her former partner had thrown away all her documents, so she had nothing with which to prove her right to be in the UK. She spent three years sleeping on friends’ sofas and in homelessness hostels.

“For three years she was destitute and reliant on friends for support,” said the caseworker. Although they were able to gather over 20 years of national insurance contributions, this was not enough for the Home Office because she had no identity documents and could not prove when she arrived in the UK.

“We were recently successful and she was issued with a biometric card as evidence of her right to be in the UK. But she is a very vulnerable person and it has taken a severe toll on her mental wellbeing. When we gave her the documents, she broke down; she was just crying and crying,” the caseworker said.

The home secretary’s announcement on Monday was titled “Windrush Migrants” and she paid repeated, effusive respects to that specific group, lamenting the “hardship they had endured” as a result of her department’s policies. “It is only right that the significant contribution the Windrush generation have made to the UK is recognised,” Amber Rudd said. There was little focus on non-Caribbean nations.

However, Home Office staff said they would benefit from the same assistance package announced by Rudd to the Windrush people on Monday. “The offer will be available to people from all Commonwealth countries, not just Caribbean nationals.”

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