The Home Office has just updated their policy on public funds. The amended policy will allow migrants who face imminent destitution, not only those who are already destitute, to apply for public funds, which is clearly another positive step forward.
Online applications for access to public funds have already been available to certain migrants who are finding themselves with nowhere to live and no means of supporting themselves or their families, as the Home Office attempts to react to the massive impact COVID-19 has had on many people’s livelihoods.
You are able to apply if:
- You have leave to remain under 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 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 can also be eligible to apply if you have leave to remain under the 5 year partner/parent route. If you are accepted they 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 does change in conditions mean?
The Home Office will only accept your application if you can provide evidence that your financial conditions and place of residence has changed significantly in a negative way since you made your initial applications, or if you had failed to provide evidence of your actual situation then, and wish to do so now.
You will need to prove that:
- 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
- you are at risk of becoming destitute.
Someone is destitute when:
- 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
- they are at risk of destitution if either or both of the above are imminent.
How can the change of conditions be proved?
It is up to the applicant to provide adequate evidence of their changed situation, and if they are unable to do so to the Home Office’s standards the application will be terminated.
Here are some examples of the types of thing the Home Office will be looking for in terms of evidence:
- 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
Alongside this evidence you will need to:
- 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.
As far as we can tell from the Home Office guidance on this topic, there is no standard timeframe on which these applications will be processed and the applicant can start receiving funds. However, it does say that Home Office caseworkers will make reasonable efforts to decide such requests promptly, especially those involving a child or an applicant who is street homeless, disabled or otherwise in vulnerable circumstances.
So, we would hope that applicants will not have to wait too long before receiving some form of communication back from the Home Office.
What do we think of this?
It is good to see the government is reaching out again to people who find themselves in difficult circumstances, and we hope that applicants who really need access to public funds are able to get them without waiting too long.
However, we must ask one question: what about people on other types of visas that find themselves at risk of becoming destitute, like Tier 1, Tier 2 visas? Should they not have, at least, the chance to apply for public funds, even for temporary period without affecting their immigration status.
The current pandemic is beyond any individual’s control. Migrants are more vulnerable in some sense. Should the time arrive calling for more assistance from the government to these people, more flexible and reasonable approach should be taken. It seems very unfair to allow certain people to try and prove their situation but completely ignore those on alternate types of visas.
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