These young people see themselves in British in all but paperwork, but their further integration is prevented due to a complex and costly immigration system.
There are 332,000 children and young people growing up in the UK with precarious immigration status. We work with 16–25-year-olds who migrated to the UK as children, predominantly from Commonwealth countries and call the UK their home. These young people are completely integrated within British society. However, their further integration is prevented due to a complex and costly immigration system.
Young people normally contact us at the age of 18 when they are about to go to university. This is when they recognise that their immigration status being insecure, they may not be able to access a student loan. Many are charged international fees despite completing all their education in the UK. This is the first stage when young people recognise, they are different and that not having a British passport will affect their opportunities moving forward.
Price for status and legal limbo
If undocumented (without status) these young people have to apply to the Home Office to regularise their status. The current cost is £2,593. This price tag is extortionate and prevents many from accessing their rights to remain in the UK.
If these young people are able to gather the funds and make an application, they will be placed on the ten-year route to settlement.
Amira arrived in the UK with family aged 8, at the age of 18 after many failed attempts, her family raised funds and applied to regularise her status. She was age 19 when she received her leave to remain. She must then renew this status every 30 months over a ten-year period. She will be 29 before she can apply for settlement and 30 years old when she can finally apply for citizenship.
What needs to change:
· Home Office policies need to change to ensure a shorter more affordable route to settlement for young migrants.
· The Hostile Environment needs to end and the narrative around migration needs to change, the social integration of long-term migrants should be celebrated.
· Young people need to be encouraged and empowered to take part in social change and demand a seat at the decision-making table.