08 Mar Despite admitting failures Home Office refuse Windrush citizenship application
Our client, Trevor Donald, is a Windrush migrant who arrived in the UK lawfully in 1967 and lived in the UK continuously from his arrival until 2010. On 1 January 1973, the Immigration Act 1971 came into force. The effect of the Act was that Trevor was deemed to have indefinite leave to remain (settled status); however, he did not receive a document to confirm this, nor was he required to apply for one. As a result of multiple failures by the Home Office, to later confirm and protect his legal status, Trevor ended up stranded in Jamaica for 9 years. The then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid apologised to him in August 2018, recognising that he had arrived in the UK before 1973 and had every right to be here. The Home Office paid for him to return in May 2019. He has now been refused British citizenship because he cannot prove that he was in the UK on the date 5 years prior to the date of his application, despite an acknowledgement from the Home Secretary that the government was to blame for this. He has been invited to apply again in May 2024.
In 2009 Trevor applied for confirmation of his status so that he could visit his mother, who was unwell. He applied for confirmation of his status as he feared he may not be allowed back into the UK without this. His first application was refused, and he was asked to provide evidence of his continuous residence in the UK since 1967, a period of 43 years. He applied again and provided P45s and P60s going back many years, but the Home Office considered this was insufficient. His mother died before a decision was made on the application. This symbolises what has repeatedly been found to be a culture of disbelief and raising of too high an evidential standard of proof. Then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, later admitted in a letter to Trevor in August 2018 that the Department should have demonstrated “more flexibility, common sense and empathy”.
In 2010, Trevor travelled to Jamaica to attend his mother’s funeral. Prior to travelling he had been advised by a Home Office official that he could apply for a visa to return to the UK. This was incorrect advice as he was entitled to return to the UK. When he applied for a visa to return a few months later, this was refused. This is despite the Entry Clearance Officer noting that the evidence he supplied suggested he had resided in the UK since the 1960s. As a result of this second failure by the Home Office, Trevor was not able to return to the UK – his home of 43 years – until 2019. In that time he was unable to work, had no money, and lived in an abandoned house, which had no electricity, water, no glass in the windows and no doors in the doorways. He was separated from his friends and his six children in the UK, and he lost the council flat that he had lived in for 9 years.
It is the case that without exposure of the Windrush scandal, and the failings of the Home Office, that Trevor would have remained stranded in those conditions in Jamaica. And yet, the Home Office perpetuates the injustice to Trevor by asking him to fulfil requirements for British citizenship that they know he is unable to fulfil because he was wrongly prevented from returning.
In a letter sent to Trevor by Home Secretary, Priti Patel she apologised for the fact there was no legal “exception for members of the Windrush generation who are unable to qualify for citizenship through no fault of their own”. She said that she has instructed officials to “urgently consider the scope for changing the law”. One must ask how the Home Secretary did not foresee this being an issue that required redress as part of the Windrush Scheme; and how it can be in spirit of the Scheme to respond to cases that now come before her, to say there is no other option but to simply wait a few more years for justice to be done.