When a refugee family arrives into the UK, they are given the right to live and work here for 5 years. Once the family members have been in the UK for 4 years and 11 months, they will need to submit an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILtR). The application process is carried out online and must include all family members. The Home Office will not be contacting those affected, so it’s really important that Community Sponsorship Groups inform the family they support of what they will need to do. We are hearing from local authorities who are supporting families making applications that some are very straightforward and others require advice from immigration advisors who require payment.
It’s essential that if immigration advice is required for applications, this is provided by an immigration advisor regulated by the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to Level 2 or 3. You can access a list of immigration advisors here.
Adopting an empowerment approach to ILtR applications
Your responsibility as a Community Sponsor will have ended by the time the family need to make an application for ILtR, although many groups will still be in contact with the family they support in an informal way. Although your formal support won’t be in place, you may wish to have a plan of how to support the family through this process, this could include retaining some of the funding you raised to be available should it be needed when the application is due to be made. If this money is not needed, you could then consider making this funding available to the family for other purposes or you could donate to a similar project (or your next Community Sponsorship application!)
We won’t ignore the fact that this might feel a little odd, you have worked hard to empower families to be independent within the Community Sponsorship period and yet we’re suggesting that you retain funding for them. We are not saying that this is something you must do, but it is something to consider.
Ensuring the family are aware of what they need to do
- During your year of support, you should ensure that you discuss the action that family members will need to take and when. You can direct them to the Home Office guidance on this in English and Arabic.
- When you come to exit planning with the family you support, ensure that you raise this with them too. Make sure you explain what support, if any, the family will be able to get from your Group.
- Link up with your Local Authority or Strategic Migration Partnership to see if they are offering advice or support to resettled families to assist them in ILtR applications
- Access the Q&A from the Home Office on ILtR applications
At the time of writing, no Community Sponsored family has needed to make an ILtR application however, once they do, we will look to share best practice with you.