Hostile Environment for Migrants


The Home Office has attracted much criticism recently after the Windrush scandal publicised their hostile environment policy which is a set of measures designed to make life arduous for individuals living in the UK who had no leave to remain in the UK.

The hostile environment policy was introduced under Theresa May’s tenure as the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Theresa May has gone on to become the current serving Prime Minister of the UK.

Many law-abiding migrants are becoming victims of the Home Office’s hostile environment policy.

In one such instance a client had leave to remain in the UK until 30 September 2018. He had applied without legal representation on 13 July 2018 for further leave to remain in the UK as a spouse of a person present and settled in the UK. Unfortunately, his application was refused on 7 September 2018 for the sole reason of not providing a correct English language certificate.

The client wished to obtain the correct English language certificate and wanted to submit a further application for leave to remain in the UK at a further substantial cost to him. He was legally allowed to do so as he had lawful leave in the UK.

He was required to provide a valid passport so he could sit the exam to obtain the correct English language certificate. Despite having lawful leave in the UK until 30 September 2018 the Home Office retained his passport to facilitate his removal. Thus, he was prevented from taking the exam for the English language certificate. Instead of the Home Office encouraging the client to take steps to resolve any issues he was stopped by the Home Office from addressing the only reason why his previous application was refused.

Despite the client requesting the return of his passport and providing reasons why he required the passport, the Home Office were not willing to return the passport. The Home Office eventually returned the client’s passport once his story was reported in several national newspapers and after the client’s local MP and I had written to them.

Bearing in mind the client’s application was refused on 7 September 2018 and he received his passport on 25 September 2018 and given the significant delay in returning his passport it jeopardised our client undertaking the exam for the English language certificate and more importantly it could have resulted in him overstaying his leave in the UK.

Despite the difficulties encountered the client was able to sit and pass the exam. Also, within the short period of time available I was also able to submit a detailed and thorough application for leave to remain in the UK on behalf of my client. Were it not for intervention against the over-aggressive approach of the Home Office the client’s further leave to remain in the UK to which he was entitled could have been jeopardised.

This is a perfect example how lawful migrants are becoming victims of the hostile environment policy pursued by the Home Office. It should not be the case that the Home Office act in an incorrect and improper manner to cause distress and anxiety to law abiding individuals.

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