Immigration Corner | What to do when you’re settled in the UK but have no documents
Dear Mr Bassie,
I entered the United Kingdom (UK) prior to 1973 and I do not have any official document that I can use to prove that I am eligible to work and live here. Please advise me if there is anything that I can do to assist me.
Persons who are settled in the United Kingdom but do not have a document to prove it, may be eligible to apply to the ‘Windrush Scheme’.
They may be able to apply for a document to prove they can live and work there if one of the following is true:
• They went to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973;
• Their parents went to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973;
• They went to the UK from any country before December 31, 1988, and are now settled there.
Please note that it is free to apply.
Persons might also be entitled to apply for citizenship for free if they are Commonwealth citizens who settled in the UK before January 1, 1973, or they were children of persons who had settled before that time.
Persons who arrived before 1973 from a Commonwealth country may be able to apply for a document to prove they can live and work in Britain, if both of the following apply:
• They are Commonwealth citizens; and
• They were settled in the UK before January 1, 1973.
However, what persons are entitled to depends on whether they:
• Have been living in the UK continuously;
• Left the UK for more than two years and returned;
• Are outside the UK.
IF PERSONS HAVE BEEN LIVING IN THE UK CONTINUOUSLY
If persons have lived in the UK continuously, or have the right of abode, they can apply for one of the following:
• British citizenship;
• Evidence they have the right of abode;
• A document confirming they have indefinite leave to remain.
Persons should contact the Windrush helpline for assistance with working out if they are eligible, and how to apply.
IF PERSONS LEFT THE UK FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS AND RETURNED
If persons have been away from the UK for more than two years at some point and are now lawfully in the UK, they might be entitled to indefinite leave to remain.
If they already have indefinite leave to remain, they might be able to apply for either:
• A document to prove they have this; or
• British citizenship.
In this instance, persons should also contact the Windrush helpline for assistance with working out if they are eligible, and how to apply.
IF PERSONS ARE OUTSIDE THE UK
If they have left the UK and lost their indefinite leave to remain, they might be entitled to:
• A Returning Resident visa; or
• A 10-year, multiple-entry visa
Persons should contact the Windrush helpline for assistance with working out if they are eligible.
Just for completeness, persons should be aware that if they are eligible under the Windrush Scheme, they might also be able to apply for compensation. The compensation scheme is for losses that happened because those persons could not show that they had a right to live in the UK.
Just for clarity, please note that ‘losses’ can be things such as not being able to work, find a place to live, or get health treatment. They can also include immigration action, like detention or removal from the UK.
I hope this helps.
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, deputy global president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org