In the early hours of 14 June 2017 fire struck Grenfell Tower in West London. The Grenfell Tower immigration cases (guidance on handling cases involving survivors and other individuals directly affected by the fire) guidance was published on 5 July 2017. This is a short term policy implemented to deal with the “national tragedy”.
The guidance gives directions to caseworkers on how they should “consider the immigration status of those directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire who need to regularise their immigration status in the UK or obtain a change in the conditions of their existing leave, or whose existing leave to remain is due to expire within 12 months of the publication of this policy”.
The policy covers leave to remain outside of the rules for those directly affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower and makes clear that “The Home Office will not use this as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those receiving support or providing vital information to identify victims or otherwise assist the authorities investigating the fire”. The aim is that those affected should still be able to access vital services. The policy states that leave granted will be “temporary (for 12 months) and granted on an exceptional basis”.
“The policy allows those who have been directly affected by the fire to be granted a temporary period of lawful residence in the UK, or if they have valid leave, to have the no recourse to public funds condition lifted where the leave is currently subject to this, or if their existing leave to remain is due to expire within 12 months of the publication of this policy with no opportunity to extend that leave to switch to 12 months’ leave under this exceptional policy”.
The policy will remain in place until 31 August 2017.
The following individuals can ask to be considered under the policy:
- “individuals in the UK with no immigration status (including illegal entrants and overstayers); EEA nationals in the UK not exercising treaty rights;
- individuals in the UK with limited leave to remain that is due to expire within 12 months of the date of the announcement of this policy;
- failed asylum seekers who do not have outstanding further submissions; and individuals with a current immigration status which is subject to a condition of ‘no recourse to public funds”.
The policy applies to those resident at Grenfell tower, whether or not they were present or illegally subletting and those “living close to Grenfell Tower and have been significantly affected by the fire”.
Dependants can also apply under the policy, if they were “ordinarily residing with the qualifying individual on the date of the fire”.
Unsurprisingly, some categories of individuals are excluded from the policy, if for example, they are subject to a deportation or they are a person for whom there are concerns on the basis of their criminality, character or associations.
In a statement to Parliament on 5 July 2017, The Minister of State for Immigration, Brandon Lewis said: “This period of leave will provide survivors with the time to deal with the extremely difficult circumstances in which they find themselves and start to rebuild their lives whilst considering their future options, as well as to assist the police and other authorities with their enquiries about the fire. No fees will be charged by the Home Office in respect of cases granted leave under the policy”.
Following the announcement and publication there are calls for a wider and full amnesty for those affected, whether the policy will be widened remains to be seen.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For advice and assistance in relation to making an application under the Grenfell Tower policy, contact our Immigration Barristers on 0203 617 9173 or via our contact form.