“Not having my status limits my joy, my happiness, nothing makes me excited. People take advantage.
I cannot even work. The pain is terrible. Terrible. People cry at night. There are suicides.
In limbo, I cannot do anything I want to do, and I don’t know what is going to happen to me.
Locked down all the time, not just now. Let us have a chance.”
(Voices of people without status)
Who we are: The Status Now Network is a unique coalition of almost 130 organisations and community action groups, alongside individuals, who are campaigning for Status Now 4 All. Our member organisations are listed on our website: https://statusnow4all.org.
What we do: Most StatusNow4All members have worked for years ‘in the frontline’ supporting migrants living with chronic insecurity. Increasingly, we are working together. Through the Covid lockdowns, SN4A members are, and have supported, migrants with Covid or at grave risk of catching Covid – from which some have died without access to medical care. SN4A members are, and support, migrants who do not have secure employment, secure housing, access to medical care, protection from exploitation and secure immigration status. We have provided basic food, advice, friendship, help with access to services, and help in dealing with the Home Office and its sub-contractors.
Our members have a huge amount of ‘front-line’ experience about the situation of migrants with something less than indefinite leave to remain. Amongst these people anxiety and fear are ever-present. We are, and are in close touch with, migrants who have time-limited work and study visas (some of which have run out); time-limited visas which do not give the right to work; permission to stay for a limited period but with ‘no recourse to public funds’; asylum seekers waiting for a first decision; asylum seekers waiting for an appeal or with a fresh claim; refused asylum seekers; undocumented migrants.
What we are seeing and hearing:
There is a widespread distrust of any government claim that there is a firewall between health and migration data. People will risk becoming infected with Covid rather than come forward for a vaccine for as long as anything less than Indefinite Leave to Remain is a status that carries the risk of detention and removal from the UK. In public health terms, no one is safe until everyone is safe. There are many frontline undocumented workers in the health and social care fields who have already died without contact with any part of the healthcare system. Others continue to work and are constantly at risk.
Some people who are undocumented do not apply for Leave because this means risking their application being rejected at some point over the coming ten years, and at the same time disclosing their contact details to the Home Office which opens them up to possible indefinite detention and/or removal from UK.
Those of us who are undocumented are very vulnerable to being physically and emotionally abused, in a work situation, or in relationships where we are subjected to domestic abuse and fear coming forward. We are often at that stage not on any statutory records, and can easily be ‘disappeared’ together with any children we may have.
Others here on spousal or other short-term visas are threatened with being reported to the Home Office
with a request that they be removed from the UK if they report domestic or other abuse. Whilst there is legislation in place to enable those surviving trafficking or domestic abuse to remain in UK, the standard of proof demanded by the Home Office is high and many will not come forward for fear of being disbelieved/rejected and then removed.
Currently, applications for temporary Leave to Remain need to be made every 2.5 years until a ten-year period has passed and an application can be made for Indefinite Leave to Remain. On each occasion, the applicant pays a high fee and they must always bear the anxiety that the application may be refused. People are expected to raise the money to pay this fee somehow, while the money paid, in excess of the cost to administer the application, is used to finance other aspects of the Department. How can this be morally right?
The Government and the Home Office acknowledge that the system is broken and they speak of building a better and more compassionate system. Many people are undocumented due to the hostile environment that has been created. To give people Indefinite Leave to Remain now would enable a fresh start to be made, both for them and for the Government/Home Office.
The legacy scheme that was set up to manage the backlog of cases at the beginning of 2007 demonstrates that the Government can do as it sees appropriate. The Government can grant Indefinite Leave to Remain as per. the StatusNow4All campaign, now, if it so chooses to manage the current situation.
What we are calling upon our society, as a whole, to enable and secure:
Equity of access to healthcare, housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else through equity of status: Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The Forthcoming ‘Sovereign Borders’ Bill
This Bill is expected within the next few months and we anticipate that it will focus primarily on the asylum system and those who lack status. SN4A is preparing to study the Bill closely from the point of view of those who lack status. What would its impact be on us? Will we be more – or less – secure? We look forward to working together with all faith groups and other community organisations on a well-informed response.
Further information and Contact details
You will find further information on our website: https://statusnow4all.org. You can also find Status Now 4 All on social media @StatusNow4All – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube. We look forward to fostering a positive relationship and working with you. Please contact us through our email: email@example.com.
Rogelio Braga, Faith Ngcobo and Shaista Raja, for Status Now 4 All
The Rt Revd Dr John Perumbalath, Bishop of Bradwell, Chair of Churches Refugee Network for Britain and Ireland; Imam Ajmal Masroor, Executive Director of Abdullah Quilliam Mosque in Liverpool; Rev Canon Salvador Telen, IFI Filipino Chaplaincy; Michele Benn, Lay Leader of Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation; Christina Mottram, Hospital Chaplain and Member of the Catholic Unity
Please download the letter here and take it to your Faith community. You can sign the document by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org