Tue | Jun 18, 2019

Immigration Corner | Right-to-work checks on undocumented Commonwealth citizens

Published:Tuesday | May 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM
John Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie:

In one of your previous columns, you wrote about the Windrush cases. How will the British Home Office assist those persons when they now apply for jobs over there?

- G.S.

Dear G.S.:

The British Home Office has stated that it will assist employers wishing to offer a job to Commonwealth citizens known as 'Windrush' cases and who have the legal right to live in the United Kingdom but do not have the documentation to prove it.

If a job applicant has lived in the United Kingdom permanently prior to 1973 and has not been abroad for long periods in the last 30 years, that person has the legal right to live and work there.

If a job applicant went to the United Kingdom after January 1, 1973, but before 1988, then he/she might not have an automatic right to be there but might be allowed to stay there permanently and have the right to work.

There are two ways that the Home Office can assist in these cases. First, prospective employers can get in touch with the Home Office Employer Enquiry Helpline if they are concerned about either a job applicant's ability to provide and/or evidence their right to work or the checks they are required to undertake. The Home Office will review individual cases and advise and/or give the confidence to employ someone who has the legal right to be there but does not have the documentation to prove it.

The following are the details to contact the Employer Enquiry Helpline:

Telephone: 0300 123 5434

Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Friday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Secondly, prospective employees who cannot evidence their right to work should get in contact with the Commonwealth task force in the Home Office to assist them to obtain the necessary documents to prove their status in the United Kingdom. The contact details are as follows:

Free phone: 0800 678 1925

Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Email: commonwealthtaskforce@home


It is worth noting that on April 23, 2018 the former Home Secretary, Amber Rudd made a statement to Parliament concerning new measures to establish a permanent and sustainable solution for members of the Windrush generation who have been in the United Kingdom for decades but found themselves unable to evidence their legal right to remain in there.

It was announced that the Home Office will:

- Waive the citizenship fee for anyone in the Windrush generation who wishes to apply for citizenship. This applies to those who have no current documentation and also to those who have it;

- Waive the requirement to carry out a Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK test;

- Waive the fee for the children of the Windrush generation who are in the United Kingdom who need to apply for naturalisation;

- Ensure that those who made their lives there but have now retired to their country of origin are able to go back to the United Kingdom, and the cost of any fees associated with this process will be waived;

- Be setting up a new scheme to compensate people who have suffered loss and this will be run by an independent person;

- Establish a new customer contact centre so that anyone who is struggling to navigate the many different immigration routes can speak to a person directly and get appropriate advice;

- Ensure that people who arrived after 1973 but before 1988 can also contact the dedicated Windrush team so that they can access the support and assistance needed to establish their claim to be in the United Kingdom legally.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com