A report published by a campaign group is calling for cuts in application fees for limited leave to remain (LLR) and other reforms for young migrants.
Let us Learn
is a campaigning off-shoot of the charity Just for Kids Law
. Its report, ‘Normality is a luxury’
, was published last month. The report is based on 14 interviews with young migrants who have grown up in the UK and been granted LLR by the Home Office. All were aged between 19 and 24 and had been in the UK at least half their lives.
In a press release, Chrisann Jarrett, the young migrant who founded the Let us Learn campaign, said that many of her contemporaries face the ‘gross injustice’ of increasing fees to secure their immigration status, lengthy delays and uncertainty in applying for British citizenship. Jarrett said that this is ‘blighting our lives and having a devastating effect on young people’s wellbeing and ambitions’ (‘Lawful young migrants tell new immigration minister: “Home Office is blighting our lives”
’, Just for Kids Law press release, 31 July 2019).
Young migrants granted LLR face a wait of at least 11 years before they can be granted British citizenship. LLR currently has to be renewed every 30 months and the Home Office has hiked the fees for applications from £601 per person in 2014 to £2,033 from January this year (a 238 per cent increase; see page 13).
According to Agnes, one of the young people featured in the report: ‘The cost of limited leave to remain is such a big thing. If that was less of a barrier, it would eradicate a lot of other difficulties’ (page 24). She is now 20 and has been in the UK since she was four. She has to save for the Home Office fees, as well as paying her own way through university as she is not entitled to a student loan. Agnes has ambitions to become a space scientist, but said she worries ‘daily about paying off my debts’ and believes her grades have suffered as a consequence (page 21).
A key aim of the report is to persuade the new immigration minister to reform the current system (the report was finalised before Seema Kennedy was appointed immigration minister by the new prime minister, Boris Johnson). The report’s recommendations (pages 26–27) include:
•the current system to be replaced with a ‘five-year path’ to acquire permanent status;
•increases in the fees for LLR to be capped at the level of inflation and reduced for under-25s;
•dropping ‘Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK' tests as these are ‘inappropriate and unnecessary for those who have grown up in the UK’ (page 27); and
•an exemption from the health charge for migrants who have lived in the UK for more than half their lives.
The report was written by the journalist and researcher, Fiona Bawdon, based on interviews that were conducted by Dami Makinde and Zeno Akaka, who work for the campaign. Bawdon was the author of the report Chasing status: if not British, then what am I?
for LAG in 2014, which featured cases of UK residents who were caught up in what eventually became known as the Windrush scandal. According to the Normality is a luxury
report, Windrush made the ‘interviewees fearful about whether having LLR really meant they were safe from being targeted by the Home Office’ (page 15).