Guidance for Commonwealth citizens

1. Legal background

Recent changes to the law mean that if you wish to work, rent property or have access to benefits and services in the UK then you will need documents to demonstrate your right to be in the UK. The government believes this is a proportionate measure to maintain effective immigration control.

Home Office recognises that this is causing problems for some people who lived in the UK for most of their lives. The UK Govt. wants to help you to get the documents to prove your right to live here and ask that you contact the Home Office so we can help you do this.

No one with the right to be here will be required to leave the UK – UK Govt. will find a solution for your particular situation.

2. Check your status to remain in the UK

If you have lived in the UK permanently since before 1973 and have not been away for long periods in the last 30 years, you have the right to be here.

Please get in contact with the Home Office so UK Govt. can help you with your documents and with applying for a permit card which proves your status in the UK.

If you came to the UK during the 1970s but after 1 January 1973 then you are not likely to have an automatic right to be here. However, you may be allowed to stay here permanently.

If you need help with getting hold of documentation that will prove how long you have lived here continuously, or an application to stay here, or if you have general questions about your status, please get in touch with our dedicated unit at the Home Office. This team aims to resolve all cases within 2 weeks of all of the information being pulled together. We are also working with other government departments to help us to build a picture of your life in the UK.

UK Govt. encourage you to come forward as soon as possible so we can begin to assist with your case but there is no deadline for contacting the commonwealth taskforce.

Freephone: 0800 678 1925
Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm
Sunday 10am to 4pm

3. Evidence to support your application to stay in the UK

UK Govt. understand that many people won’t have documents that are over 40 years old. But you should send as much information as possible to Home Office in support of your application. UK Govt. accepts all sorts of documentation to help them build a picture of your life in the UK. Think about letting them know:

  • where you went to school and studied
  • where you’ve worked
  • if you have family here
  • where you’ve lived during your time in the UK

Documents that can help support your application include:

  • exam certificates
  • employment records
  • your National Insurance number
  • birth and marriage certificates
  • bills and letters

4. Home Secretary statement to Parliament (April 2018)

On 23 April 2018 the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, made a statement to Parliament about new measures to establish a permanent and sustainable solution for members of the Windrush generation who have been in the country for decades but found themselves unable to evidence their legal right to remain in the UK.

Amber Rudd 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 UK who need to apply for naturalisation
  • ensure that those who made their lives here but have now retired to their country of origin, are able to come back to the UK – 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 – this will be run by an independent person
  • establish a new customer contact centre, so anyone who is struggling to navigate the many different immigration routes can speak to a person and get appropriate advice
  • ensure that people who arrived after 1973 but before 1988 can also access the dedicated Windrush team so they can access the support and assistance needed to establish their claim to be here legally

5. Compensation scheme

UK Govt. have opened a call for evidence for Commonwealth citizens, including the Windrush generation, who have faced difficulties in establishing their status under the immigration system. This is an opportunity for those affected to tell the Govt. about their experience, which will help them to shape the compensation scheme. It forms part of UK Govt.’s commitment to do right by those who have contributed so much to this country.

The call for evidence will run until 8 June; evidence can be submitted by emailing This will be followed by a full consultation on the detail of the scheme..

Leave a comment