Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 07 May 2020)
No recourse to public funds
Migrants whose visa stipulates that they can have “no recourse to public funds” are in a difficult position. Without access to benefits to make up for loss of work, many face destitution.
Government guidance issued on 23 April says that there is some support available to migrants with no recourse to public funds, including:
- Coronavirus testing and treatment
- Deliveries of food and medicine if “shielding” as a particularly vulnerable person
- Statutory sick pay
- Contributory Employment and Support Allowance
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme
A High Court hearing on the continued legality of the no resource to public funds condition took place on 6 and 7 May. The solicitors acting in the case say that the Home Office has:
issued revised guidance to staff instructing them to ‘provide sympathetic and expeditious decision making’ during the pandemic when dealing with applicants seeking to have their NRPF condition lifted.
The Unity Project, which supports migrants affected by the no recourse condition and is involved with the case, comments:
We have had assurances from the Home Office before that they will deal with applications to lift the “no recourse to public funds” condition quickly and compassionately, but that has never been our experience. Quite the opposite. We have no reason to expect this time will be different. However, we urge anyone in this situation to apply for a change of conditions as soon as possible, and let us know how they get on. We will be amassing evidence to show the court that the whole scheme is inhumane and needs to be dismantled.
Separately, solicitors have secured a promise from the Department for Education to extend free school meals to families with no recourse to public funds.
Posted on May 06, 2020.