Half of people applying for permanent residence in the UK for 10 years have problems with eating | Home office

A survey has found that more than half of those trying to secure permanent residence in the UK through the Home Office’s “devastating and punishing” 10-year route are having difficulty securing food and paying their bills.

The 10-year road to permanent settlement in the UK was one of a series of deliberately harsh measures introduced in 2012 by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary as part of a push to curb net migration. Scientists say the full effects of this policy are only now beginning to be felt.

A survey of more than 300 people currently or recently applying for this showed that 62% had difficulty paying for electricity, heating, water and internet costs, and 57% had difficulty buying food, according to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The route is available to people who have a strong connection to the UK, for example, have a British child, but do not earn enough to qualify for faster settlement routes. The cost of settlement has increased dramatically, with charges now exceeding £12,800 for each adult over the ten-year qualifying period.

Most of the estimated 170,000 people who are trying to secure their right to permanent residence in the UK for 10 years are in low-paying jobs, often care workers, cleaners and nursing assistants. The researchers said the program’s design led to “poverty and insecurity for many”.

Applicants must accumulate 10 years of continuous legal residence before they can apply for an indefinite residence permit. The requirement to re-apply for a renewed visa every 30 months makes families feel very insecure, according to IPPR research.

They are subject to the Prohibition on Public Funds provision, which means they usually do not have access to benefits or social housing if needed, or free school meals for their children. Those who cannot afford the fees every 2.5 years may become undocumented and illegal migrants. Delays by the Home Office in the visa renewal process add to the difficulties experienced by those on this route.

Joanna, 44, a secondary school kitchen helper who moved to the UK from Ghana in 2004, said she had paid around £30,000 in Home Office fees over the last decade and still had not secured for herself, her partner and two her children. “The pressure is still rising. Sometimes I went to bed without eating. We have been using food banks for years,” she said. “I kept thinking about how I would be able to afford my next paycheck. My children suffered a lot.”

Lucy Mort, a senior research fellow at IPPR, said the candidates described the decade-long process as “devastating and punishing”. “The need to repeat applications makes this a burdensome policy for the Home Office to implement – ​​when their resources can be better spent elsewhere. It is clear that this policy needs to be reviewed and reformed, not only to improve the lives of people on the way to settlement, but also to ease the workload of the Home Office,” she said.

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Josephine Whitaker-Yilmaz, head of policy at the migrant rights charity Praxis, who co-authored the study, said: “Shorter, faster and cheaper routes to settlement are urgently needed so that people who have been part of our communities for years can to live normally and fully participate in both social and economic life”.

A Home Office spokesman said immigration applications were set at a level that provided the resources needed to operate the UK’s migration and border system, adding: “These rules are designed to ensure financial independence, encourage integration and combat immigration abuse.”

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