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Early settlement concession for young people living half their lives in the UK
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Some young people born or brought up in the UK without immigration status can now apply for settlement after five years rather than ten. The change in policy comes in a new and very welcome Home Office concession, published yesterday. What follows is a short summary; for more detail, see this note (pdf) from Islington Law Centre.
Paragraph 276ADE(1)(v) of the Immigration Rules allows people aged 18-24 inclusive, who have spent half of their life living continuously in the UK, to apply for permission to stay. The catch is that they remain on the immigration system treadmill for a long time.
While most migrants can settle in the UK after five years, young people with permission under this “half of life” rule have been on a ten-year route to settlement. The emotional and financial impact of this decade-long wait for permanent status was recently explored in a BBC Panorama documentary.
The Home Office says that the ten-year wait “serves as an incentive to encourage compliance”. But it now accepts that children brought to the UK by their parents, or even born here without immigration status, are not in a position to respond to such incentives. Often they “cannot be considered responsible for any previous noncompliance with immigration laws and are fully integrated into society in the UK”.
Hence the new concession. It allows those with permission under the half of life rule, and who were born in the UK or entered as a child, to apply for indefinite leave to remain after five years rather than ten. The full eligibility requirements are that the applicant:
- Be aged 18 years or above and under 25 years of age and has spent least half of his/her life living continuously in the UK (discounting any period of imprisonment)
- Have either been born in or entered the UK as a child;
- Have held five years limited leave; and
- Be eligible for further leave to remain under paragraph 276ADE(1) of the Immigration Rules and have made an application under those rules.
That is just the first hurdle, though. Caseworkers must then decide whether or not to grant “early” indefinite leave to remain:
where an applicant meets the above criteria and requests an early grant of ILR the following factors should be considered:
These include (but are not limited to) the following:
- the person’s age when they arrived in the UK
- the length of their residence in the UK (including unlawful residence)
- the strength of their connections and integration to the UK
- whether unlawful residence in the past was the result of non compliance on the part of the applicant or their parent/guardian whilst the applicant was under the age of 18
- efforts made to engage with the Home Office and regularise status
- any leave currently held and length of continuous lawful leave
- any period of any continuous leave held in the past
- whether (and the extent to which) limited leave to remain will have a detrimental impact on the person’s health or welfare
These must be weighed against public interest factors: “the need for 10-year route applicants to serve a longer probationary period before qualifying for settlement, and the principle of lawful compliance”. An example of when the balance may tilt in favour of granting early settlement is where
previous non-compliance with immigration requirements was not of their own choice or responsibility, because their overstaying was as a child or young adult under the age of 25.
This is an important change in policy with the potential to transform the lives of young people brought up as British but denied settlement and citizenship as punishment for choices that were not their own.