Press Release: High Court to determine whether the government’s hostile environment is again targeting and trapping the wrong people
Press release: High Court to determine whether the government’s hostile environment is again targeting and trapping the wrong people
The High Court has granted RAMFEL permission to bring our judicial review challenging the government’s mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of people with valid immigration status called “3C leave”.
3C leave is automatically granted to people who are applying to renew and extend visas, and ensures that all existing rights, including the right to work, is protected whilst the application is processed. However, the government does not give people on 3C leave proof of their immigration status. As the government now takes at least a year to process even straightforward visa renewals, a result of them re-allocating significant resources towards clearing the asylum backlog, this means people spend this entire period with no proof of their status, rights and entitlements. A court will now finally consider whether the government’s conduct is unlawful.
The government’s hostile environment aims to prevent those who cannot evidence their immigration status from working and accessing basic services, such as opening a bank account. However, as the Windrush scandal showed, those possessing status are frequently targeted too.
For years, our clients on 3C leave have been wrongly suspended from work, seen disability benefits wrongly stopped and seen courses of study wrongly jeopardised. Our 2022 report found that 17% of people on 3C leave suffered serious detriment. Based on available figures, nationwide as many as 40,000 people each year could be facing wrongful suspension from work.
Our report made 4 recommendations to the government, including just simply providing confirmation of a person’s rights and entitlements whilst on 3C leave. The government though has refused to implement even this modest change, and we therefore were left with no option but to commence legal action.
The High Court case will be heard on 19 and 20 March 2024. If the court rules in our favour and finds that the government is failing to protect those on 3C leave, the changes could be seismic, with the government being forced to provide potentially hundreds of thousands of people proper proof of their immigration status, which we hope will drastically decrease the risk of them being trapped by the government’s hostile environment.
RAMFEL’s experts by experience coordinator, Yvonne Atieno, who herself has experienced time on 3C leave:
“Many employers and jobcentre employees do not understand 3C leave and insist on seeing physical visa document. Without physical proof you are left in limbo, basically allowed to stay in the UK but you have no rights.
You start getting anxiety every 2.5 years when your visa renewal is approaching. The uncertainty affects families in more ways than one. Innocent children suffer when there is no lifeline for their parents and families can be forced into destitution as a result.
It would make such a huge difference if after making your visa application you are given some form of documentation explaining and proving your rights while waiting for the government to process your case.”
RAMFEL’s Head of Campaigning, Nick Beales:
“The government assured everyone they had learned from the Windrush scandal, but this case shows that those words were hollow and meaningless. They have learned nothing and are more than happy for history to repeat itself.
The hostile environment sees people on 3C leave suspended from work and denied other basic services on a grand scale. What’s worse, the government knows this and is not only doing nothing to protect these people, but wasting public money defending its conduct in court.
It would be so easy for the government to just provide people on 3C leave proof of their status, but instead they want to ensure all migrants, irrespective of their status, find the UK to be as unwelcoming, hostile and challenging as possible.”
With thanks to our excellent legal team, solicitor Janet Farrell of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, Stephanie Harrison KC of Garden Court Chambers and Shu Shin Luh of Doughty Street Chambers.
For further information, please contact RAMFEL’s Head of Campaigning, Nick Beales, at firstname.lastname@example.org.