Nowhere to turn: How immigration rules are preventing people from getting support during the coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has had an especially severe effect on migrants in the UK. Tens of thousands of migrants - as well as their British family members - face destitution, difficult choices about returning to work, huge future costs relating to their immigration status, and the prospect of loved ones being forced to leave the UK.
Benefits restrictions and minimum income requirements have forced many migrants - and their family members - to continue working when it has been unsafe for them to do so. As lockdown restrictions ease, many more will face the same dilemma.
Our data on immigration and benefits mirrors national data demonstrating the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on people of colour. In the 12 months to 1 May 2020, 82% of Citizens Advice clients who came to us for advice about NRPF and non-EU migrants’ access to benefits - where we have seen a 110% rise in enquiries - were people of colour.
Four changes the government can rapidly make would help:
The No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) restriction for those subject to immigration control should be temporarily suspended.
The Habitual Residence Test (HRT) should be temporarily suspended from the application process for benefits.
The minimum income requirement (of at least £18,600 per year) and the maintenance and accommodation requirements should be temporarily suspended for all those renewing family visas.
All those on a 5-year route to settlement whose income has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic should not be moved onto a 10-year route because they cannot show minimum income.