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Speaking for Ourselves

Coronavirus, NRPF & visa fees

Coronavirus, NRPF & visa fees

Althia Barnett

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Coronavirus, NRPF & visa fees

With the outbreak of coronavirus, the undocumented migrant community is susceptible to go through all kinds of struggles and exploitations. Some don’t speak English and are afraid to ask for help because of fear for themselves and their families. They become anxious, hungry and homeless, or are fearful of being deported.

Many want to regularise their stay, but the fee for 2.5 years Limited Leave to Remain (plus NHS fee) is astronomical for someone who is not supposed to work. Home Office fees go up most years and the goal posts keep shifting. Renewing an application has increased by 238% in the last six years - from £601 per person in 2014 to £2,033 now (including NHS fee).

Undocumented migrants with a family of more than two children find it very hard to maintain themselves with no work. They also have to pay rent and utility bills and send their children to school. The only way out of this situation is to pay the extortionate Home Office fees, and this prospect puts a strain on these people’s mental and physical health.

Some migrants risk their lives to leave their country for different reasons. Some move for better lives, some for political reasons, some flee wars and genocide, while others might be fleeing persecution for their beliefs, personal identity or sexual orientation.

Sometimes they end up in a worse situation than what they were in before because of Home Office restrictions and waiting times, and the need to save up for their applications. They are left with little money to purchase supplies such as food, clothes, shoes and a warm place to stay in winter.

Some may have to live in cramped bedsits or overcrowded houses rented to them by unscrupulous landlords who also charge them extortionate rates in horrible, under-maintained properties.

For those with Limited Leave to Remain, it takes 11 years to become eligible to apply for British citizenship – and their leave has to be renewed every 2.5 years, with the same costs each time.

One recent report by the Pew Research Center said there could be up to 1.2 million undocumented migrants in the UK. If the government should tap into this area, they would find doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers and a wealth of other trades that could be a great asset to society.

I think the Government should allow undocumented migrants to work and pay taxes – they would then be better able to maintain themselves and their families. Migrants are ambitious people who want to work hard and contribute to society – it makes sense to allow all migrant, including those currently undocumented, to do that. 

This article was written by Althia Barnett, who is training as a citizen journalist with Migrant Voice and MiFriendly Cities’ ‘Media Lab’ initiative. The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.

 

TOP IMAGE: Trapped, Tomasz Baranowski, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)