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Windrush Scheme

Who can apply?

A person who has been living in the UK for a long time could have the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain, but may be unable to prove their entitlement to work, claim benefits or access other services if they do not have a document to confirm this. The Home Office introduced the Windrush Scheme to enable people who are in this position to be issued with a document to confirm their immigration status. Some people may be able to make a free application for British citizenship through the Scheme. 

A person can make an application to the Windrush Scheme if they are:

  • A Commonwealth citizen who settled in the UK before 1 January 1973 or had the right of abode
  • The child of a Commonwealth citizen who settled in the UK before 1 January 1973 or had the right of abode, providing the child was born in the UK or arrived in the UK before they turned 18
  • A person of any nationality who settled in the UK before 31 December 1988 

The application is free of charge and the Home Office has set up a dedicated helpline to provide advice and assistance to applicants. A person may also wish to get legal advice from an immigration adviser, particularly if they are not sure what their status should be or if they may have difficulties proving their residence in the UK. 

A Commonwealth citizen may be able to make a free application for British citizenship through the Windrush Scheme. 

See the Home Office information about the Windrush Scheme eligibility criteria and how to apply

Find an immigration adviser

Who can claim compensation?

A person who is eligible for the Windrush Scheme may also be able to apply to the Government for financial compensation if they experienced losses due to being unable to demonstrate their right to live in the UK. For example, a person may qualify for compensation if they were unable to work, get benefits, housing or NHS treatment, or were subject to detention or other immigration enforcement action. 

See the Home Office information about the Windrush Compensation Scheme

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is offering free legal advice and support for people who may be able to apply for compensation