It has become increasingly hard to live or work in the UK without being able to prove your nationality or immigration status.
You are strongly advised to obtain specialist legal advice before you make an application to the Home Office to change or confirm your status.
For people on low incomes, and subject to capacity, the Islington Law Centre can provide expert advice for any type of immigration matter. Their details and other sources of help are set out below.
‘Windrush scheme’ for Commonwealth Citizens who have lived in the UK for many years but cannot prove their status
The Home Office has introduced an application process – called the ‘Windrush Scheme’ - to ensure that people who are settled in the UK can have their status confirmed as quickly as possible. The scheme affects Commonwealth citizens who arrived in the UK before 1 January 1973 and their children who arrived after that date and were under 18 years of age at the time of their arrival.
If you want to apply, you are advised to seek independent legal advice before contacting the Home Office. There is no application fee to pay when applying under the Windrush Scheme.
For more information about the Windrush Scheme you can contact Islington Law Centre who may be able to help:
020 7288 7630 (10am - 4pm)
38 Devonia Road, London, N1 8JH (Monday – Friday, 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm)
You can either call, email or come in person to enquire about making an appointment. If the Law Centre is able to help you, they will tell you what documents you will need to bring with you.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigration (JCWI) can offer free advice on whether you qualify for the Windrush Scheme:
020 7533 7470 (10am – 1pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday)
The Home Office provides information on the Windrush scheme and you can download an application form from its website. You can also find out more by calling the Home Office, although you may want to seek independent advice before doing so.
Windrush Taskforce helpline: 0800 678 1925 (Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm, Sunday 10am to 4pm)
Getting help with financial problems caused by issues with your status
Queries over your status may mean you could be unable to work, claim benefits, access council housing, free hospital treatment and some other NHS care, rent from a private landlord, open a bank account or get a driving licence.
If you currently claim benefits
It could be much harder to continue to claim benefits once Universal Credit is introduced because queries over your status mean you may not be able to prove your entitlement.
If your benefits have stopped and you think you qualify under the ‘Windrush Scheme’ as somebody who is lawfully in the UK, please consider:
- contacting your housing office if you are an Islington council tenant. We can help you to avoid falling into rent arrears.
- contacting the Housing Aid Team as soon as possible if you are worried about becoming homeless
- checking our advice services page to find out where you can get help with benefits, money, housing and legal advice.
If you experience problems with getting benefits and housing
You can check www.housing-rights.info for advice on housing rights and options in relation to immigration status.
If you have no access to any support because of your immigration status and you have children under 18; or a medical condition, disability or mental health problem which means you need help with day to day tasks, then you may qualify for help with housing and financial support from social services and our No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) team.
If you need to claim emergency help or compensation from the Home Office
The government updated its compensation scheme for people affected by Windrush in December 2020. Details have been published on GOV.UK
If you have suffered financial loss, have had problems accessing services, or finding housing or employment, you may qualify for an early payment of a minimum of £10,000 compensation through the Home Office Impact on Life category. You will need to show that there has been an impact on your life, or on the life of those you are applying for. If you receive a payment, then this may be taken into account if you later apply for compensation. More information is available on gov.uk, and to apply you should contact the Windrush Taskforce directly.
Windrush Community Fund
A £500,000 Windrush Community Fund is open for bids through the Home Office. Community and grassroot organisations can bid for up to £25,000, in two separate phases, to make sure all people affected by Windrush are aware of the support available through the Windrush Compensation Scheme and Windrush Scheme.
The council’s response to the Government’s Windrush consultations
The council has responded to two Government consultations on Windrush. The first relates to the Government’s proposed scheme to compensate members of the Windrush generation affected by difficulties in demonstrating their lawful status and the second relates to the lessons learned review and is a joint response with the Local Government Association (LGA).
Information for people with other immigration issues
Advice for people who are in the UK with an expired visa / with no visa who may have a right to remain based on their family life or length of residence
There are many different types of immigration applications and the rules that people have to meet are very complicated. You may also need to meet certain administrative requirements, such as paying an application fee, although in some cases you may be able to apply for a fee waiver. You should seek legal advice to find out what your options are.
See the Home Office website for more information about different types of applications and how to make these.
The NRPF Network provides some information about making an immigration application and whether you may be able to get legal aid for help with your case. It also provides information to help finding a legal adviser local to you.
If you want to register your child as a British citizen
If a child is born in the UK they will not automatically be British unless you or your partner is a British citizen or have settled status, for example indefinite leave to remain or a European permanent right of residence.
If this does not apply to your child, there are options for registering them with the Home Office as a British citizen, some of which will require you to pay a fee.
For more information see: Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens
If you are an EU citizen needing advice
EU citizens and their family members should refer to our citizenship pages.
If you want help to return to your country of origin
The Home Office helps people who want to return to their country of origin by arranging travel. You may also qualify for financial to help you find accommodation or set-up a business on your return. You should always seek independent legal advice about your options in the first instance.