“The long waiting before we’re able to feel settled deprives us from living a dignified life, and we always feel on the edge – our lives can shatter into piece if we can’t afford the fees, or make mistakes in the application.”
By the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) Action Group at Praxis
Around 170,000 people in the UK are kept on the punitive, harsh and unjust ‘ten year route’.
This little known policy dictates that people who have established their life in the UK – and whose future is here, just like yours and mine – have to pay over £2,600 every two and a half years for each person in their family.
For a family of four, it’s an extortionate £10,000 that has to be forked out every two and a half years.
If we don’t pay the fee, or if we make a mistake in the complex application required by the Home Office, we lose everything: the right to work, to rent our homes, to have a bank account, and even access free healthcare. Our lives get put on hold.
For too many, it’s just too much to take.
This wicked policy, which mostly affects people of colour, is causing homelessness, poverty, depression, anxiety, fear.
What’s more, the long waiting before we’re able to feel settled deprives us from living a dignified life, and we always feel on the edge – our lives can shatter into piece if we can’t afford the fees, or make mistakes in the application.
And the problems with this policy don’t end with the extortionate amount people have to repeatedly pay to renew our visas, or with the complex application we have to submit every 2.5 years for a decade.
Those forced on the ‘ten year route’ are also prevented from accessing public funds – even if we have children, or are facing crisis.
People are working day and night, trying to save the money we need to renew visas for ourselves and our families.
But if you’re a single parent, even if you’re constantly working and skipping meals, you still might not be able to save even just £100 – let alone the thousands you’d need in Home Office fees alone.
As months go by and the renewal date comes closer, you will start feeling depression, anxiety and blood pressure rising – knowing that if you can’t save you’ll lose your rights.
And it’s not just adults who get affected. Children growing up in families on the ‘ten year route’ bear the brunt of this inhumane policy.
When their parents are pushed into debt and destitution, trying to save for the fees, children can see that they don’t have as much as their friends. They grow up lacking what they need – nutritious food, school uniforms, stimulating activities outside of school.
When their parents are forced to move, in desperate search of a cheaper place to rent, their journey to school gets longer and longer – so many children spend hours on the bus every day just to get to school. They wake up so early that they fall asleep during their classes – how can they be learning and progress with their education like this?
And all because their parents have to save money to pay to a Home Office that doesn’t care about them and about their futures.
Our children grow up knowing that they don’t belong, they feel alone and that they are not part of their own community.
We have experienced all this on our skin: we know the impact it has. But for the past six months, we have investigated this impact of this policy even further, and now we know have clear evidence to show just how it’s affecting of people all over the country.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Processing our visas costs the Home Office £322. Why are we asked to pay so much more? And why do we have to constantly keep on renewing our visas, every 2.5 years – for a total of four times over the course of a decade? It destabilises our lives and it creates a lot of extra work for the Home Office, which is already struggling to deal with the volume of applications it is responsible for.
The Home Office – present and future – can, and should, do the right thing: make routes to settlement in the UK shorter and cheaper.
- This article was written by members of the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) action group at Praxis – a group of migrants fighting for equality, justice and fairness for all.
- You can sign a petition asking the Home Office to create shorter, more affordable routes to settlement.
- You can read the new report from the NRPF action group on the 10 year route to settlement here.
- You can follow Praxis: A Charity for Migrants’ Rights and Refugees on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.