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UK Immigration Support Scheme is Open to US Citizens
Long term US Citizens in the UK could be eligible for immigration support from the Windrush Scheme

Published on February 5, 2019

Discussions in the House of Commons today have offered some sense of hope for US Citzens who settled in the UK before December 31, 1988, but are currently worried for their immigration status.

A number of cases have emerged in recent years of US citizens, even those who have long term ties to the UK, struggling with issues relating to their residency status. Today, the BBC reported on a case which has been raised in the British Parliament by Labour MP Ellie Reeves, whose constituent, US Passport holder Willow Sims, had been facing deportation despite having resided in the UK for over 35 years.

As per the BBC's report, Ms Sims "moved to the UK from the US with her mother ... She was put in foster care as a teenager after her mother died, and it was around this time that much of her documentation was lost - including family photos and her original passport declaring she has indefinite leave to remain." A routine background check by her employers in 2018 led to the current scenario, which saw Ms Sims lose "her right to work, access to healthcare and benefits. She is now thousands of pounds in debt and relying on food banks, despite 20 years' experience in social care and as a primary school teaching assistant."

The BBC article goes on to explain that Ms Sims contacted the Home Office directly regarding her case without response. She then contacted the Windrush Scheme - the taskforce which was "set up last April to help thousands of people who were wrongly targeted by the Home Office's "hostile environment" strategy for illegal immigration." Ms Sims was initially advised that, as a US Citizen, she was not eligible for support, but in today's developments, it has been reiterated that anyone in the UK who has been settled here since before December 31, 1988 is eligible for support via the Windrush Scheme.

Speaking in Parliament during questions to the Home Secretary, Ellie Reeves MP explained: "My constituent Willow Sims came to the UK in the early 1980s and spent part of her childhood in the UK care system ... In October, Willow came to see me. She had failed some immigration checks at work, so she lost her job and her recourse to public funds. My constituent is fully entitled to assistance under the Windrush taskforce scheme, yet due to mistakes at every level of government, and despite numerous representations to the Home Office by Willow, her solicitors and me, going as far back as October, her status has wrongly been brought into question. She now risks eviction from her home. Will the Home Secretary urgently rectify that chaos, apologise to Willow and meet me to discuss her case and what has gone so badly wrong?"

In response, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said "I thank the hon. Lady for raising the case, not just today but in October. Had she not done so, Miss Willow Sims might not be getting the support she now gets. I am happy to apologise to Miss Sims for the Home Office’s mistakes in not recognising the importance of her case from the first moment she contacted the Home Office. I would be very happy to meet the hon. Lady to discuss it further."

As such, if you are a US Citizen who is has been settled in the UK since before December 31, 1988, if you are facing any concerns about your immigration status in the UK, you ought to be eligible for support through the Windrush Scheme. Further details on the scheme can be found via the Government website, at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/undocumented-commonwealth-citizens-resident-in-the-uk.


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