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What next for evacuated Sudanese nationals?


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Following the outbreak of the conflict in Sudan earlier this year the UK government evacuated thousands of people. This included a number of Sudanese nationals, some of whom were single parents accompanying their British children. What their current entitlements and next steps are is unclear.  

There is no published information on the numbers of Sudanese evacuated, but we know of counties including Oxfordshire and West Midlands where families have been placed. Several organisations have stepped in with support including Central England Law Centre, West Midlands Immigration Network, Asylum Welcome and Refugee Action.

Those evacuated were granted six months leave to enter on entry to the UK, via passport stamps only. This group were not issued with grant letters explaining the basis on which leave was granted, or the conditions attached to it. The lack of clarity around the grant of leave and associated entitlements has caused more than a small headache for families.  

It appears that this may be the same as done with Afghan evacuees who were granted six months’ leave outside the rules, but the position is unclear, and there is no proposal for indefinite leave to remain to be granted for the Sudanese cohort.

What are people entitled to with this grant of leave?

People in this situation do not have confirmation that their leave comes with recourse to public funds or permission to work. That has meant these families with young British children have been at risk of destitution, the parent being unable to access public benefits nor work to gain an income. As such, local authorities have had to step in to provide temporary and emergency housing and subsistence payments to these families. Many of my clients have faced short term stays in unsuitable hotel accommodation.

A small glimmer of hope was provided when the Department for Work and Pensions announced in May 2023 that those evacuated from Sudan with a valid UK immigration status would be exempt from residency tests to ensure they can access benefits, social housing and homelessness assistance.

However, a closer reading of the announcement states that this applies to “UK nationals, Irish nationals and those with Home Office leave which provides recourse to public funds”. This did not appear to encompass those with the six-month grant of leave.

Despite no provision being made for those individuals, some have successfully made applications for Universal Credit, despite being unable to fulfill all the criteria of the application. This appears to create a risk of a termination of payments and/or a demand for repayment if it is later determined that they should not have been granted these benefits. A further barrier to receiving payments has come in the form of people being unable to open a bank account given the lack of clarity around the permissions associated with this grant of leave.

In some cases, where access to public funds has been in issue, I have supported people with applications to the Home Office for a change of conditions. As of writing these applications remain undecided and I suspect that may be to do with the type of leave causing confusion at the Home Office.

What options do people have in the long term?

Whilst all of this has been going on, a longer-term question has arisen, what will happen at the end of the six-month grant of leave given that Sudan remains dangerous. It has been extremely difficult to get any clarity on this from the Home Office. It had been optimistically hoped that the Home Office would grant indefinite leave to remain as was done with evacuated Afghans.

A partial answer was finally provided by the Immigration Minister after a written question from Zarah Sultana MP. He stated that where someone was unable to return home they should apply for further permission to stay outside of the rules, extending their stay using form FLR(HRO).  

Arguably, this might not be the best option for providing longer term stability. One suggestion would be to apply for asylum – if granted, five years leave to remain would be given on a quicker route to settlement. It is however well known that there are huge delays in asylum processing times at the moment, so cases will not be resolved quickly.

Where an asylum claim is registered prior to the expiry of temporary leave then section 3C leave will apply, meaning the conditions of the original leave will continue until the application is finally decided. However, as set out above, the conditions attached to this grant of leave do not appear to be very helpful to people.

A further option is that those with British children can also apply as a parent – this is likely to be a longer and/or more expensive route to settlement. Ultimately the route chosen will depend on the wishes of the individual in question.


Despite the UK government’s welcome decision to evacuate individuals from Sudan due to the danger they faced if they were to remain, it seems that very little thought has been given to the practicalities needed for those individuals to re-start their lives here. One way to ease the confusion and difficulties for these individuals would be to provide a clear and faster route to settlement.

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Katherine Soroya

Katherine Soroya

Katherine Soroya is a Senior Immigration Caseworker at Turpin & Miller, an Oxford-based specialist immigration firm. Katherine undertakes a wide range of Legal Aid immigration work and has a particular interest in complex trafficking matters.