Sophia arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 2002 and has lived here ever since. She came to join her husband who had legal status here. Her three children arrived in 2005, aged 10, 7 and 4. After the breakdown of her marriage, Sophia and her children lost their immigration status, while her ex-husband went on to become a British citizen.

As a single parent to three children, Sophia repeatedly tried to regularise their immigration status. The Tribunal subsequently found that it was unreasonable to expect the children to relocate to Jamaica, and the family were granted leave to remain. By this point, the children had spent more of their lives in the United Kingdom than they had in their own country. They had lost all ties to Jamaica, and had made a life for themselves here.

  • Applicants who get status on this basis are usually given leave to remain for 2.5 years, without access to benefits
  • They must keep on applying to extend their leave every 2.5 years. In order to do this, they have to make a paid application to the Home Office, the fees for which rise every year above the rate of inflation.
  • The current cost for this family to make one application would be £6132.
  • The Home Office can take 12 months on average to make a decision on extension applications - whilst waiting it can be difficult to maintain employment, as the Home Office holds all relevant papers. 
  • Only when a person has held limited leave to remain for 10 years can they apply to settle in the United Kingdom.
  • After holding settled status for one year, they can then apply to naturalise as a British Citizen.

By the time their appeals were allowed, Sophia and her children had already lived in the United Kingdom for 12 and 9 years respectively. This means that under the 10-year route, by the time they are eligible to apply for settled status, they will have been here for 22 and 19 years.

JCWI asked the Home Office to grant them settled status. The Home Office have refused on four occasions. The family faces an ongoing struggle to stay in the place they call home. Only once they obtain settled status do they have the right to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely, free from the threat of being removed to Jamaica, a country none have set foot in for years.

Sophia explains the anguish her family suffers every day: “You can’t look towards your future, because you don’t know if you do have a future”.

Nicola Burgess, Legal Director at JCWI, has acted for this family for the last 4 years. “This family are the most hard-working, intelligent and articulate people you could hope to meet. Geraldene and Tissanne have bright futures, but as they were born in a different country they have thus far been denied the opportunity to fulfil their potential. This is a direct result of the hostile environment, which wrongly targets those who can add value to our society in an attempt to drive down net migration and meet arbitrary targets."