Last night everyone at London based OTS Solicitors were glued to their screens to watch the second in a series of three BBC2 programmes with the intriguing title “Who should get to stay in the UK?”.
The programme title may make you think that you are tuning into watch some bizarre reality TV show where contestants no longer compete for prizes but for a Home Office visa and the right to remain in the UK. However, the show gives a hard-hitting look at the normally hidden work of Immigration
solicitors and the work they do.
Last night’s TV show was special to all at OTS Solicitors because it featured Stephen Slater, in-house advocate at OTS Solicitors and his client, Nancy and her two daughters. If you missed the programme, it is well worth watching it on BBC i-player as all of us at OTS Solicitors think Nancy’s story would move most people and help them understand the full impact of Windrush
Although we have all read about Windrush
it is not until you hear how Windrush
has affected people like Nancy and her daughters that you realise just how people’s lives have been blighted and understand why people fear that the EU Settlement Scheme will create a new “Windrush
How can OTS Solicitors help?
OTS Solicitors are specialist in Immigration
law matters and the firm is recommended for Immigration
law in the Legal 500 publication of leading UK lawyers. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration
At OTS Solicitors, we have to admit that when our Immigration
solicitors and caseworkers meet someone like Nancy it is hard not to be moved by their story. As Stephen Slater said on the programme, Nancy faced a David and Goliath battle against the Home Office to prove that she had the right to stay in the UK. We all rooted for Nancy because if her Immigration
status were not sorted it would affect the lives of her daughters. To use Stephen Slater’s words “cascading down the generations”.
For Stephen Slater, there have been many “Nancy’s”, victims of circumstances outside their control and needing the help of top London immigration solicitors
to protect them and their family.
The Nancy in the BBC2 programme “Who should get to stay in the UK?” came to the UK from Gambia at age of six. Her mother, a commonwealth citizen, was invited to the UK where she spent her life working as a nurse. Nancy became a makeup artist and envisaged travelling the world as her career took off.
problems, and the effective stop to her career ambitions, stemmed from the theft of her passport in 2007. To most of us losing our passport is a hassle. However, to Nancy, the loss of that one document blighted her family’s happiness for a decade. The passport contained a vital stamp saying that she was entitled to be in the UK. For Nancy, the request for a replacement passport and stamp brought her to the attention of Home Office officials who said that as she had no paperwork to prove that she had a right to be living and working in the UK she must be an “illegal”.
Most of us would panic if we found ourselves in Nancy’s position. Stephen Slater and the Immigration
team at OTS Solicitors never fail to be impressed by the quiet dignity and stoicism that some of the Windrush
victims, like Nancy, display.
If you have not read up about Windrush
you will be forgiven for thinking that maybe Nancy’s problems stemmed from her parent’s not completing the Immigration
paperwork correctly on behalf of their six year old daughter. However, all the best London immigration solicitors
will tell you that Nancy, and many others like her, are the victims of incompetent bureaucracy. When assessing whether Nancy should be able to stay in the UK Home Office caseworkers applied current Immigration
Rules to Nancy’s circumstances and assumed the same Immigration
regulations had been in force when Nancy had arrived in the UK, age six.
Stephen Slater was able to uncover a catalogue of errors including:
• The Home Office destroying historical paperwork that would have proved that Nancy had the right to live and work in the UK;
• The Home Office assuming that Nancy did not have the right to remain in the UK based on current Immigration
Rules, without researching the relevant regulations years earlier. Those rules were not easy to find as they are not on-line, the Home Office does not keep copies and nor does parliament.
Thankfully, the detective traits in Stephen Slater led him to find the historical paperwork about Nancy’s mother and the 1988 Immigration
Rules. Page 13 of a very dry and dusty tome said that a child should get leave to remain
in the UK for the same length of time as their parents. In Nancy’s case that meant she had indefinite leave to remain
Sadly, Nancy and other Windrush
victims have been treated as “guilty” until proved otherwise. That meant, under the hostile environment policy, Nancy lost her council accommodation, with devastating consequences for her children’s health and education because they were placed into temporary London council accommodation and denied the opportunity to attend to university because as their mother could not prove she had permission to be in the UK, nor could they .
For Stephen Slater and the individual immigration team at OTS Solicitors the search for the answer to Nancy’s legal nightmare involved painstaking research and the location of an obscure bit of legislation at a legal library. For Stephen Slater that was the eureka moment that benefitted not only Nancy but also the estimated 50,000 Windrush
victims and their children.
Nancy and her children’s story does not end with confirmation that she and her family should get to stay in the UK. Her daughter said she and her mother had not “won” anything; they just had what was theirs in the first place but had been taken away from them by the Home Office.
The next battle for Nancy, and her advocate Stephen Slater, is to ensure that Nancy and her children receive some recompense for their “Windrush
years”. Nancy would say that nothing would compensate her and her family for the lost years of quality family time and the educational opportunities missed by her daughters.
For Stephen Slater, the campaign is not over. First the fight for proper civil compensation (under the government scheme the maximum compensation is only £10,000) and then the battle to ensure that victims of Windrush
, like Nancy, are not forgotten. In Stephen Slater’s view, an Immigration
solicitor should never give up as it only by ensuring that individuals like Nancy have the legal advice they need that they can assert their individual entitlements and, in turn, throw a light on systematic Home Office failures. By remembering those mistakes and failures and through programmes like “Who should get to stay in the UK?” the best London immigration solicitors
may help to prevent another lost “Windrush
Stephen Slater hopes the fears about Brexit
and the EU Settlement Scheme are misplaced. However, if the top London immigration solicitors
’ fears are justified, then at least the BBC2 series “Who should get to stay in the UK?” proves that there are tenacious Immigration
solicitors ready to challenge the Home Office to protect people like Nancy and her family. After all, people like Nancy are the backbone of the twenty first century UK and a real example of who should get to stay in the UK.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
Central London OTS Solicitors help individuals and businesses with all aspects of Immigration law.
Our specialist individual immigration team can help you with Windrush queries and compensation claims, all types of visa applications, EU Settlement Scheme settled status applications, asylum seeker and human rights claims, and challenging Home Office decisions.
For advice about how OTS Solicitors can help you please call us on 0203 959 9123.