Sheona York, a specialist in immigration and asylum cases at the Kent Law Clinic, comments on how little attention is being paid to how the energy bill crisis will affect family migrants:
‘No politicians – nor any mainstream media – are considering the plight facing family migrants on long ‘routes to settlement’, who, besides having to save around £1000 per applicant per year to renew their visas, have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). In other words, they have no access whatsoever to safety-net payments. Most of the cost-of-living support schemes listed on the government website exclude those who have no recourse to public funds – and even British citizen children of such migrants may not even receive child benefit.
‘As we saw from the Covid-19 pandemic, many ‘essential workers’ in food processing, transport, health and social care are migrants on time-limited visas (work, family or long-resident ‘private life’ visas) with NRPF, who found that Covid-19 support measures often did not assist.
‘The Home Office will say, as they did then, that individuals and families subject to NRPF who cannot cope may apply to ‘vary their conditions’ to gain access to benefits. Yet, these applications are complicated and may affect people’s future rights to remain. And the Home Office, mired in delays of months for every single type of application, is simply not capable of responding in time. Better, more efficient, and more humane, to abolish the NRPF condition, at least for those on ‘routes to settlement’ – these are people who expect to live in Britain for the rest of their lives. This would be targeted support – no-one can claim more than their financial entitlement.’
Sheona York is a specialist in immigration and asylum cases at the Kent Law Clinic. Sheona focuses her research on issues arising from recent and current UK immigration policies such as the aim to reduce net migration, to discourage unlawful migrants through the ‘hostile environment’ and to deport foreign criminals.
Sheona’s latest book ‘The impact of UK immigration law – declining standards of public administration, legal probity and democratic accountability’ is published by Palgrave Macmillan: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-98721-3