In 2022, UK Home Office marked 10 years of the oppressive implementation of the authoritarian hostile environment policy. Amidst this period, the Windrush scandal occurred in which British nationals were deprived of their healthcare, housing, and employment rights regardless of their immigration status. They were considered undocumented migrants and subjected to discriminatory treatment stemming from the draconian policy. Worryingly, individuals on 3C leave are suffering from similar victimization due to their pending UK visa renewal process.
Through this elaborative blog, we intend to enlighten you about the arbitrary UK immigration policy and its effect on the unfamiliar concept of 3C leave.
Anti-Migrant UK Environment policy
With the enforcement of the UK government’s brutal Nationality and Borders Act, 2022, a hostile environment revolving around immigration law steadily became more despotic and dismissive.
The hostile environment paints a grim picture of life for undocumented migrants as it deters them out of fear of deportation and detainment. There are many reasons that result in loss of immigration status in the UK and substantial hardship, including ever-rocketing fees required to renew a UK visa, change in relationships, and challenges to faulty findings of the home office.
Migrants applying for or renewing UK visas must suffice two significant elements and they are as follows:
- They face internal immigration controls from both the private & public sectors in addition to the onus to establish their right to reside at any place that lies with them.
- The burden of proof concerning violation of immigration regulations is on foreign national passport holders, who are classified as guilty unless proven otherwise.
What is 3C Leave?
Section 3C is incorporated under UK Immigration Act, of 1971 to prevent the illegal overstaying of migrants in the UK. 3C is an essential provision as it provides a protective shield to the migrant workers while their timely further leave to remain (FLR) application to extend immigration status is pending in the Home Office.
It also covers under its ambit the time when determination of outstanding appeals or administrative reviews is sought. The scope of the 3C leave is wide and it can be continued until an appeal is abandoned or decided.
When 3C leave is activated, a migrant’s existing legal residence is prolonged and the associated rights related to medical care, work, bank accounts, housing, and driving licences are legally allowed for protective access.
RAMFEL report: UK’s immigration policy impact on 3C leave
As per a study undertaken by the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL), migrants on 3C status have been harassed, wrongfully stripped of rights, and denied access to healthcare, public funds, employment, etc.
The 10-year route for obtaining British citizenship is the root cause of insurmountable difficulties faced by people on 3C leave as it requires four applications for 30 months of periods of leave to settle in the UK. During the qualifying period, people lack formal documentary evidence due to which they face discrimination and challenges from employers and property owners.
Foreign employees on 3C leave are considered undocumented immigrants by potential property owners and employers. Owing to insufficient knowledge of underlying laws and procedures regarding 3C, they risk being sanctioned and penalised and therefore choose to evict or suspend the lawful migrants. The excessive penalties associated with irregular immigration status for property owners and employers are $30,000 and $20,000 with a criminal conviction, respectively.
RAMFEL states, at the present home office, it takes at least 11 months the processing FLR applications and this longer decision-making period is problematic for UK migrants. Another issue is, verification checks with regards to Employer Checking Service act as a safeguard for prospective employers but, the increase in delay and the unawareness of the rules surrounding it makes it ineffective.
The report concludes that in 2 years (2020-2022), in total 109 clients out of 329 lawfully resident migrants supported by RAMFEL with 3C leave encountered issues related to employment, access to entitled benefits, and certain basic services. After the estimation from the available government figures, it is inferred that over 40,000 people on 3C leave sustained severe detriment every year due to hostile immigration policy, the report notes.
It was further found that as compared to 2021, RAMFEL noted increasing instances of severe detriment in the early months until August 2022.
Provided below are four recommendations for the implementation of the Government to ensure the fair treatment of foreign national employees on 3C leave-
- To decrease the number of migrants on 3C leave, either the 10-year route to the settlement must be changed to a 5-year or visa lengths must be expanded from 30 to 60 months.
- The Home Office must immediately update the person’s right to work and immigration status on 3C leave to lessen the responsibility of employers.
- Elimination of the entire apparatus concerning the hostile environment policy so that lawful migrants do not suffer harassment at the hands of the state.
- The staff members of the Department of Work and Pensions should be provided extensive training on how to obtain benefits on the provisional status of 3C leave.
The ramifications faced by the skilled workers due to the racial discrimination emanating from UK’s hostile immigration landscape need myriad protective safeguards. One of the significant measures, the government can adopt is restoring the status of undocumented migrants by designing accessible and affordable routes. If you require support in casework related to the validity of section 3C leave, ECS, or the extension of FLR, please contact Global Law for the professional immigration law-oriented service.
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