COVID-19 has taken the world by storm, and has now solidified itself as one of the largest global catastrophes to occur in recent history.
For the vast majority of people in the UK, the worries that come with the virus are universal: worrying about the health of family members and themselves, having to self-isolate, avoiding loved ones, being unable to work.
However, for a percentage of the migrant population in the UK there are extra concerns. Many of them will have restrictions on their visas or leave which prohibits them from claiming public funds. The virus makes them extremely vulnerable.
Change of Conditions
The Home Office may have recognised this. They have just updated their policies which will allow migrants to apply to remove the restriction on public funds, should it be needed.
The updated policies provide information for how certain migrants, in certain situations can apply for financial support from the government, provided they can prove they meet the requirements.
Who is eligible?
Applicants must have already been granted leave to remain in the UK based on their family or private life.
You can apply for a change to your conditions if:
- your financial circumstances have changed since being given permission to stay in the UK and you are no longer able to provide food or housing for yourself or your family
- your child is at risk because of your very low income
- you had financial problems when you first applied but you did not provide evidence of this and you now want to provide this evidence
However, it is not quite as simple as this. There are also the following requirements:
Your leave must be granted under either:
- the 10 year partner, parent or private life route, where the applicant claims that refusal of that application for leave to remain would breach their rights (or the rights of other specified persons) under European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life)
- you have leave to remain on the basis of other ECHR right
- you have leave to remain under the 5 year partner/parent route but if your application has been accepted you would be considered to have moved on to the 10 year route to settlement and as such any future applications for leave will be considered under the 10 year route.
Essentially, this option is only open for migrants in the UK under Discretionary Leave (DL).
What about other visa holders?
In what is a seemingly unfair move, especially at this time, all other visa types, including PBS (Points Based System) visas such as Tier 1 and Tier 2, are excluded from this policy.
For these visa categories, which cannot receive benefits usually, they still have no way to temporarily obtain the right to receive benefits by applying to remove the restriction to public funds.
Is this fair?
It does leave us wondering, why cannot the Home Office at least lift these restrictions on other visa holders just while the coronavirus is still having a huge global effect? That way they can have the right to at least apply for support without being massively punished in the future. Then, when everything returns to normal, the old rules can be reinstated.
It appears that the Home Office is still being rather harsh on a large number of migrants during this time.
For those who are eligible, what kind of conditions are needed for qualification?
You will qualify for an amendment to your conditions of leave only if:
- you are destitute
- there are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of your child on account of your very low income
- there are exceptional circumstances in your case relating to your financial circumstances
A person is destitute if:
- they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not their other essential living needs are met)
- they have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet their other essential living needs
You will have to provide evidence
According to our own past experience in processing similar applications, the Home Office usually conducts a rigorous review of the applicant’s income status. In order to ensure the success of the application, the applicant need to make a detailed explanation of each of their relatively large expenses, and provide corresponding evidence.
In order to make the request for an amendment to the conditions of your leave you must:
- complete your application online
- provide your existing Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) where relevant, or passport (including your Leave to Remain vignette where relevant)
- include documentary evidence that you meet the policy on granting recourse to public funds
It is up to you to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the caseworker that you meet the terms of the policy. If insufficient evidence is provided, the conditions of your leave will not normally be changed.
You should provide evidence of your financial circumstances and living arrangements. This should include documents that are applicable to your individual circumstances.
This can include the following (the more you provide, the stronger your case):
- 6 months bank statements for all accounts held by all members of your household, even those belonging to children or ones that are rarely used. These should be fully annotated to explain significant/regular transactions
- recent pay slips accounting for the last 6 months
- breakdown of monthly income and expenditure
- recent tenancy agreement or mortgage statement
- recent utility and other relevant bills
- recent P45 / P60
- letter confirming duration of employment, the hours worked and salary (the person writing should state their position in the company and provide contact details)
- recent letter from Local Authority confirming that support is being provided
- recent letter from registered charity or other organisation providing support
- recent letters from family or friends who are providing support, giving full details regarding the extent of this and how often it is provided
- recent letter confirming that you or your spouse or partner is in receipt of public funds
You will need to explain what your current financial circumstances are, how these may have changed, and how you are currently maintaining yourself.
Help with the online application
The Home Office have provided some extra assistance for people who require some help with the online part of the application.
If you are in the UK, you can get help filling in your online Home Office application if you:
- do not feel confident using a computer or mobile devices
- do not have internet access
This is known as ‘Assisted Digital’ support and can be used for help with any Home Office application.
What type of help you can get?
You can get phone support from an adviser.
‘We Are Digital’ provide the support. You may need to book a phone appointment with them.
We Are Digital
Telephone: 03333 445 675
Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 4pm
Have questions, or need more help? Contact us!
We understand that applications such as this can be stressful, but we are always here to help.
Or, why not download our free app today? You can launch a new enquiry, scan over documents and much more.
If you have an iPhone, follow this link to download.
If you use an Android phone, follow this link to download.
Find the link here if you need some further instructions on how to use our new app!