The 10-year route to settling permanently in the UK was one of a series of deliberately tough measures introduced in 2012 as part of a drive to cut net migration. The route is available to people who have strong ties to the UK, such as those having a British child, but who do not earn enough to qualify for faster settlement routes. The cost of settlement has risen dramatically, and fees now exceed £12,800 for each adult, over the course of the decade-long qualification period. Most of the estimated 170,000 people who are seeking to secure the right to remain permanently in the UK through the 10-year route are in low paid occupations, often care workers, cleaners and nursing assistants.
Applicants must accrue 10 years of continuous lawful residence before they can apply for indefinite leave to remain. The requirement to reapply for renewed visas every 30 months leaves families feeling very insecure. They are subject to the “no recourse to public funds” provision, meaning they cannot usually access benefits or social housing if they need to, or free school meals for their children. Those who find themselves unable to afford the fees every 2.5 years can become undocumented, and become illegal migrants. Home Office delays in the visa renewal process add to the difficulties experienced by people on this route.
Researchers say the full effects of the policy are only now starting to be felt.
More than half the people trying to secure permanent residency in the UK through the Home Office’s “devastating and punishing” 10-year route struggle to afford food and pay bills, a survey has indicated. Researchers said the design of the scheme led to “poverty and insecurity for many”.
A survey of more than 300 people currently or recently making this application process found that 62% struggled to meet the cost of electricity, heating, water and internet, and 57% struggled to buy food, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research study.