Most of us want to share our lives with our loved ones, be good friends and neighbours and part of welcoming communities. But our politicians have designed immigration rules which put this simple dream out of reach for many.

Adam, 38, has worked here as a carer for nearly 12 years but has been documented for less than five. After saving to pay skyrocketing Home Office fees, Adam’s application to renew his visa was rejected on a technicality. He couldn’t afford to apply again or to pay a lawyer to challenge the decision. With no family left in his country of birth, and a baby on the way here in the UK, he became an overstayer.

There are estimated to be between 400,000 and a million people living in the UK who do not have the right paperwork. And the majority of those without the right papers, like Adam, probably had them at some point, but fell out of status over time.

It takes hard work to build a home, learn the language and make friends in a new country. But instead of encouraging people to remain documented and making this process efficient and accessible, our politicians have built an immigration system that often makes it impossible for people to build and maintain a life and it frequently punishes them for even trying.

The pathway back to regular status is long and expensive. If you are undocumented or an overstayer, you need to wait 20 years before you’re eligible to start regularising your status, a process that will take you at least another decade. Applications have to be made every two and a half years, with eye-watering fees each time. If you cannot keep up with the payments, the Home Office restarts the decade-long clock and you begin again.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We need new routes to secure status that enable people to get on with their lives, and to be recognised as equal members of British society. 

A new deal on migration means

  • Introducing affordable, accessible routes to secure status, designed to encourage and enable people to stay regularised.