Since August 2015, all non-EU nationals with a UK visa of more than six months have been issued with a UK biometric residence permit. We have no current estimate of the number of non-EU nationals born outside the UK who have leave to remain in the UK but have not obtained a biometric residence permit.
Constituents of mine from Commonwealth countries who have lived here on paper visas for many decades have now been refused universal credit because they do not have biometric residence permits, which they have never been told they need. This is causing real hardship—not least to those with no papers, with the immigration issues that that brings—and the BRP process is costly and lengthy. What are the Government going to do urgently to address this for those who have contributed so much to our country?
I share the hon. Lady’s view that they have contributed so much to this country. I am today announcing that I am setting up a new taskforce across the Department to ensure a swift response. I am also introducing a waiver for the fees involved and a number of other measures that I hope will go a long way to assisting the Commonwealth citizens who should have their rights confirmed without charge.
The Home Secretary will know there are people who came here 50 years ago who have now lost their jobs, lost their homes and lost their healthcare as a result of Home Office decisions. Now we discover that some of them have been locked up as a result of Home Office decisions and may even have been deported—wrongly—as a result of Home Office decisions. Can she tell us how many of the Windrush generation have wrongly been deported away from their family and friends, and what action is being taken now to urgently bring them back home?
I have agreed, and I have volunteered, to meet this week the high commissioners who would like to meet me, to find out whether there are any such people who have been removed. If they want to bring me situations such as that, I will certainly look at them.
The Home Secretary will be aware that one of her ministerial colleagues will apparently say tonight that some of these people were deported in error, so can she tell the House how many and how she plans to rectify the situation?
As I say, I will find out from the high commissioners whether there have been any situations where such people have been removed. I would respectfully remind the Labour party that the workplace checks were introduced by Labour in 2008. What is happening now is part of the pattern of making sure that people are here legally. I do not want any Commonwealth citizens who are here legally to be impacted in the way they have been. Frankly, some of how they have been treated has been wrong—has been appalling—and I am sorry. That is why I am setting up a new area in my Department to ensure that we have a completely new approach to how their situation is regularised.