Photograph by Rick Findler

The phrase 'Hostile Environment' is used a lot. But what does it mean exactly?

In May 2012, the then Home Secretary Theresa May said in a Telegraph interview: "The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration... What we don't want is a situation where people think that they can come here and overstay because they're able to access everything they need."

The 'Hostile Environment' is a set of measures, both administrative and legislative, to make life so miserable for anyone without immigration status, that they will 'self-remove'.


It includes limiting access to employment, housing, healthcare, confiscating a driving licence, freezing bank accounts, restricting rights of appeal against the Home Office's decisions.


At the same time rules are made ever more complex (they have been called Byzantine in the Court of Appeal). And the Home Office has a tendency to appeal decisions then delay the appeal process unnecessarily, and there is even a history of non-compliance with orders of the courts. 


After the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd following the Windrush scandal in April 2018, her successor Home Secretary Sajid Javid attempted to rename the 'Hostile Environment' to the 'Compliant Environment'. However, the same issues have continued to exist, nothing has changed.

A 'friendly' Valentine's Day tweet by the Home Office in 2013

Cruel, paranoid, failing:

inside the Home Office


The long read by Daniel Trilling:


"Something is badly wrong at the heart of one of Britain's most important ministries. How did it become so broken?"


Why is this relevant for EU citizens?

After the Settled Status deadline of 30 June 2021, any EU citizen or their non-EU family member who has not applied for pre-settled or settled status will face the full force of the Hostile Environment. On top of that they will have lost their lawful status in the UK, and can be subject to removal. Brandon Lewis confirmed this in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt in October 2019.

Below, you can find examples of the Hostile Environment in action. 

We would argue these immensely unjust and inhumane laws should be revoked for all - level up citizens' rights instead of creating a race to the bottom for all.


A sample of coverage from recent years - these stories merely scratch the surface 

EUSS: beyond the cliff's edge

One Lithuanian woman in Norfolk who applied on 28 June is still, one month later, waiting on her certificate of application (CoA) to prove she applied in time. In the meantime, she has been told by the recruitment agency she works for not to come to work until she can provide a shareable code to prove her right to work. In the last four weeks she has fallen behind on her rent, is unable to pay her utility bills, and has had to rely on food parcels. She is also struggling to pay for medication she takes for a heart condition. She has lived in the UK for 16 years.

Read the article 17 August 2021

EU citizens: welcome to the hostile environment

Boris Johnson says the law will be lenient. He may genuinely think that, but that is not how laws work—particularly immigration laws. Immigration officials and civil servants working in benefits offices and housing departments can be instructed to “go easy” on people and most, although not all, will follow such guidance. But it is landlords, employers, banks, doctors, hospitals, even schools—although schools are not supposed to—who carry out modern immigration checks.

Read the article 25th June 2021

Hostile UK border regime traumatises visitors from EU

Italian woman visiting family was locked up in detention centre as they waited at the airport., EU citizens arriving in UK being locked up and expelled.

Read the article 14th May 2021

Fewer than one in six ‘hostile environment’ raids led to deportations

"These figures show just how out of control the hostile environment has become. Carers are being arrested in the middle of their shifts, often as they look after elderly and vulnerable people – it is difficult to see who could possibly benefit from that."

Read the article 21st February 2021

Hostile environment 'will cut Covid vaccine uptake among migrants'

The hostile environment for migrants means many people living in the UK with unofficial or uncertain status will be unlikely to take up coronavirus vaccinations, despite a government push for this to happen, charities have warned.

Read the article 8th February 2021

The UK’s hostile environment: Deputising imigration control

Read the report 27th January 2021

‘Some of us are dying’: Windrush victims yet to receive compensation despite Priti Patel’s ‘fast-track’ pledge

Windrush victims are yet to receive compensation despite the Home Office announcing last month that all eligible claimants would be granted a “fast-tracked” payment.

Read the article 3rd January 2021

Women fight to help families torn apart by ‘racist’ deportation policy

Automatic expulsions after prison terms are leaving UK children without fathers, campaigners say.

Read the article 3rd January 2021

Windrush victim refused British citizenship despite wrongful passport confiscation

A former English teacher who was blocked for 25 years from returning to his home in Britain after his passport was wrongly confiscated has been ruled ineligible for British citizenship due to the length of his absence from the UK.

Read the article 22 November 2020

Family of NHS consultant stricken by Covid face removal from UK

The family of an NHS consultant who has treated many patients during the coronavirus pandemic, and who is now critically ill with Covid himself, are facing removal from the UK.

Dr Basem Enany, 44, a consultant cardiologist from Egypt, is currently in intensive care on a ventilator at a Yorkshire hospital.

Read the article 16 October 2020

Home Office 'bases immigration policies on anecdotes and prejudice' – MPs

Public accounts committee report accuses department of ignoring evidence and failing to learn from its mistakes

Read the article 18 September 2020

‘He will die out there’: Severely autistic man facing deportation to Jamaica

Mother of Osime Brown says his deportation marks culmination of failings by statutory agencies over the years

Read the article 13 September 2020

NHS worker who has spent 17 years trying to comply with Home Office red tape now faces being kicked out of UK

Farrukh’s immigration history is a complex one, through no fault of his own. The Manchester resident been affected by two Home Office policies that were later found to be unlawful – and has been struggling to release himself from the restrictions they imposed on him ever since.

Read the article 03 September 2020

Windrush: at least five who applied for compensation die before receiving it

Figure revealed by home secretary highlights concerns about slowness of compensation scheme

Read the article 07 July 2020

London-born twins face deportation to different countries

Exclusive: Darrell and Darren Roberts face deportation to countries they have never visited

Read the article 07 July 2020


'I feel targeted': Windrush victim decries compensation delays as racism

Former soldier of 13 years’ service left destitute and humiliated by Home Office policy

Read the article 21 June 2020

Home Office 'has no idea how many people are in the UK illegally'

The National Audit Office said that Home Office officials admit that they have no specific evidence to show the “compliant environment” policy – the successor to the “hostile environment” that led to the Windrush scandal – encourages voluntary departures or fosters compliance with visa and passport conditions.

Read the article 17 June 2020

The Windrush generation deserves justice – not video chats with the home secretary

Anthony Bryan’s ordeal was about to be dramatised in a BBC drama, Sitting in Limbo. Then the phone rang

Read the article 12 June 2020

Woman ordered to leave UK within days or face deportation despite coronavirus pandemic

“I can’t stop crying. It feels like someone is doing their best to make sure I can’t have my life. I’m usually a very calm person, but this has pretty much broken me."

Read the article 15 Apr 2020

‘I have been dehumanised’: the Windrush victim sleeping rough at Heathrow airport

It has been two years since the government apologised for the scandal and promised to rectify the injustices. Yet those affected are still being failed by the Home Office. Two men tell their stories

Read the article 10 Mar 2020

Victims of the Windrush scandal have little time for complaints about bullying at the Home Office

Philip Rutman presided over the hostile environment. Yet he chooses this moment to make a principled stand

Read the article 03 Feb 2020

The Jamaica deportations show what happens when simple humanity is eliminated from decision-making

Campaigners are outraged that this mass exile to the Caribbean has taken place before publication of an official report into the Windrush scandal. 

Read the article 11 Feb 2020

UK proceeds with deportation flight to Jamaica despite backlash

The United Kingdom government has proceeded with a deportation flight to Jamaica with what it calls "foreign national offenders" on board, against the backdrop of a legal battle and strong backlash from civil rights organisations.

Read the article 11 Feb 2020

Another Windrush? EU citizens’ rights after Brexit

The Tory-dominated Commons was overriding all changes to the [Withdrawal Agreement] bill, leaving many EU citizens nervous about their future. They have reason to worry.

Read the article 25 Jan 2020

EU nationals who cannot prove ‘settled status’ being wrongly denied basic rights, report finds

The new report exposes cases where people had been told by employers that they would not go ahead with job offers until their application to the EU settlement scheme is concluded, and examples of people being denied healthcare and prevented from opening bank accounts.

Read the article 20 Jan 2020

Government to defend 'discriminatory' Right to Rent scheme in court

A judge ruled the scheme is "causing landlords to commit race discrimination against those who are perfectly entitled to rent".

Read the article 15 Jan 2020

10 years on, David Cameron’s toxic net migration pledge still haunts the UK

The net migration pledge created policies that have little regard for the damage caused to people’s lives when they fail to fit into the categories set for them.

Read the article 14 Jan 2020

With his majority in place, Johnson chips away at EU citizen's rights

If you haven't applied by then, you get sucked up into the hostile environment. You become an undocumented migrant.

Read the article 9 Jan 2020

Three generations of Windrush family struggling to prove they are British

Courtney Lawrence and two-year old son face homelessness in fight over documentation

Read the article 18 Dec 2019

Department of Education criticised for secretly sharing children's data

Information commissioner acts after complaint that data is used for immigration enforcement

Read the article 12 Nov 2019

Windrush victim dies without compensation or apology

Hubert Howard has died three weeks after being granted British citizenship, 59 years after arriving in UK

Read the article 12 Nov 2019

Opinion: The only way around the Home Office’s cruelty is to get your story in the news

It’s appalling that immigration appeals now depend so heavily on getting the media to notice your case: no publicity, no justice

Read the article 10 Nov 2019

'A dizzying maze': how the UK immigration system is geared to reject

Navigating the roadblocks into Britain gets ever more difficult and expensive, as government hostility leaks into every transaction.

Read the (very long but essential) article 1 Nov 2019

NHS doctor banned from coming back to UK over visa mix-up

Specialist stranded abroad after Home Office decision, amid chronic shortage of doctors

Read the article 16 Oct 2019

Home Office 'infiltrating' safe havens to deport rough sleepers

The Home Office is using information gathered in “immigration surgeries” at charities and places of worship to deport vulnerable homeless people who are told that attending will help them get financial support. Attendees at ‘immigration surgeries’ at churches and centres told it won’t involve enforcement

Read the article 15 Oct 2019

UK to deport academic to Democratic Republic of Congo – which she has never visited

Researcher being sent to country notorious for sexual violence, and second Oxford academic refused visa for young son

Read the article 15 Oct 2019

Home Office 'doomed to repeat the mistakes of Windrush'

A report finds that the government must urgently hit the reset button to ensure the Windrush generation mistakes are not repeated, and the new home secretary, Priti Patel, must end the toxic narratives around immigration..

Read the article 18 Sep 2019

Chased into 'self-deportation': the most disturbing Windrush case so far

As Amelia Gentleman reflects on reporting one of the UK’s worst immigration scandals, she reveals a new and tragic case

Read the article 14 Sep 2019 

Home Office blocks baby adopted by UK resident from entering country

A baby whose legal guardian is a UK resident has been blocked from entering the country, leaving her and her soon-to-be adoptive mother “stranded" in Pakistan.

Read the article 17 Jun 2019

David Cameron: The prime mover behind Britain’s hostile environment, who escaped the blame

While Theresa May is seen as the sole architect behind the ‘dehumanising’ policy, ex-ministers detail how the coalition prime minister was its driving force

Read the article 8 Jun 2019

The Home Office Kept Telling This Grandmother Who's Lived In Britain Since She Was 2 To Prove She Was British

In the latest Home Office U-turn on an embarrassing immigration decision, Davinder Singh just won her citizenship battle, but only after the department was told BuzzFeed News was planning a story.

Read the article 1 May 2019

Home Office chaos and incompetence lead to unlawful detentions, claim whistleblowers

Handling of UK asylum cases compromised by poorly trained and overworked staff 

Read the article 28 Apr 2019

Tory minister says EU citizens fleeing domestic abuse should go home

UK IMMIGRATION Minister Caroline Nokes has said that vulnerable EU migrant women living in Scotland and fleeing domestic abuse should just return to their own countries, it has emerged.

Read the article 21 Apr 2019

Migrants wrongly told to pay for NHS care upfront, minister admits

Hospitals have wrongly told some migrants needing urgent care to pay for it in advance even though they qualified for free treatment on the NHS, the government has admitted for the first time. 

Read the article 17 Feb 2019

Revealed: how Home Office hires out staff to hunt migrants

Department criticised for ‘escalating hostile environment’ by selling officials’ services to firms

Read the article 16 Feb 2019

View from Westminster: Don't allow EU citizens to be treated like the Windrush Generation

Harriet Harman MP writes: "It should not be the case that you have fewer protections as an immigrant than you would if you had actually committed a crime. For any individual traumatised by indefinite detention, that’s reason to change the policy. But it is now happening on such a scale that it is really important to deal with it."

Read the article 7 Feb 2019

Dozens of Caribbean nationals to be deported on first charter flight to Jamaica since Windrush scandal

Exclusive: Around 50 people set to be deported on charter plane – many in UK since they were children – in what campaigners describe as ‘slap in the face’ for Britain's Caribbean community

Read the article 2 Feb 2019


British man and family made homeless after Home Office policy blocks them from renting property

‘I am an Englishman, I served for nine years in the army, I have worked since I was 16 years old and it breaks my heart that my own government seems quite content to make a British citizen, his two British daughters and lawfully resident wife, homeless’

Read the article 30 Jan 2019

Read an explanatory Twitter thread

Dying man given bill for tens of thousands of pounds for NHS treatment

Doctors say making migrant patients pay for NHS palliative care contravenes the Hippocratic oath

Read the article 22 Jan 2019

Grandparents face deportation after 40 years

The Iranian-born grandparents of a Scottish rugby player are being threatened with deportation.

Mozaffar Saberi, 83, and his wife Rezvan Habibimarand, 73, moved to Edinburgh 40 years ago. They brought up their four children there and now have 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. 

Read the article 21 Jan 2019

Two trains, three trams, 5,000 steps: How a mother and baby have to travel five hours to sign on with the Home Office

Read the article 20 Jan 2019

‘I wish the Home Office could be made aware’:

The Home Office is trying to force two British-born children with lifelong and complex physical and mental disabilities out of Britain in a move which experts say breaches UK and UN law. “I wish the Home Office could be made aware of the torment and sufferings an applicant goes through as a result of an unlawful and unreasonable decision and its devastating impact especially on his or her children”.

Read the article 12 Dec 2018

‘They've robbed me of my life’:

Jamaican woman who has lived in UK since she was a child facing deportation after losing court battle. Shankea Stewart, whose grandfather was a member of the Windrush generation, said she felt her life had been “robbed”. A judge ruled that she should go back to Jamaica despite the fact her sick father and most other family members live in Britain.

Read the article 20 Nov 2018

Revealed: sick, tortured immigrants locked up for months in Britain

Investigation suggests hundreds of vulnerable people are detained indefinitely. An unprecedented snapshot of migrants held in British detention centres found more than half of the sample were either suicidal, seriously ill or victims of torture.

Read the article 10 Oct 2018


Man deemed security threat over tax error faces homelessness

The family of an engineer who trained Ministry of Defence engineers is being made homeless because the Home Office has still not completed a review of a controversial immigration policy it promised to report on by July.

Read the article 27 Sep 2018

'I was treated like an animal': A father arrested and pinned to the ground naked by immigration officers acting on a false tip-off

The DVLA had incorrectly briefed Immigration Enforcement that he was in the UK illegally. Tapiwa’s case reveals the human cost of the information sharing created by the “hostile environment” policy. 

Read the article 20 Sep 2018

'My life is in ruins': wrongly deported Windrush people facing fresh indignity

Those who were sent to Jamaica after committing criminal offences are a low priority for UK government

Read the article 10 Sep 2018

British boy, 6, who has lived in country since birth refused entry to UK on return from holiday

Mohamed Bangoura, born in Leeds in 2012, blocked from reuniting with his mother in Britain after Home Office revoked his passport

Read the article 4 Sep 2018

Windrush scandal: boxer trapped in Jamaica for 13 years allowed back to UK

Vernon Vanriel came to the UK in 1962. This week he learned he could return but, ill and destitute, wonders how he will afford the fare

Read the article 28 Aug 2018

Hostile environment: anatomy of a policy disaster

Senior figures who worked within and alongside Home Office – including former immigration enforcement chiefs – explain what went so terribly wrong

Read the article 27 Aug 2018

Child passport renewal error hits hundreds

More than 1,000 children born in the UK to parents from eight EU countries have been refused British passport renewals because of a Home Office error.

Read the article 22 Aug 2018

Families torn apart as visa misery hits foreign spouses

‘Hostile environment’ has left couples with one non-EU partner facing discrimination, delays and huge bills

Read the article 18 Aug 2018

What happens if you mistakenly apply for British citizenship instead of indefinite leave to remain?

What happens when an American graduate, about to become eligible for indefinite leave to remain having lived lawfully in the UK for almost a decade, incorrectly thinks that he is eligible to apply for British citizenship and applies for that instead?

Read the article 17 Aug 2018

‘I left my daughter at nursery. I didn’t see her for a month’: how UK splits migrant families

The Home Office uses similar tactics to those of the Trump administration – with devastating effects for parents and children

Read the article 5 Aug 2018


Revealed: depth of Home Office failures on Windrush

Government received repeated warnings over several years but failed to take action

Read the article 18 Jul 2018

Widowed father ordered to leave UK against advice of Home Office's own lawyers

Andrew Farotade refused leave to remain under rules intended to tackle terrorism

Read the article 16 Jul 2018

Footage emerges of 'distressing' home visit by immigration officers

Footage has emerged of a dawn immigration enforcement operation by six officers, showing a “distressing” and “intimidating” sequence of events.

The visit to the home of a woman who was in the process of regularising her visa status has raised fresh questions about the fairness and efficiency of Home Office policy.

Read the article 16 May 2018

‘Hostile Environment’ immigration policy sees abused women without support and deported

The ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy is being used by abusive men to threaten and control women, and the Government’s focus on immigration enforcement over support is trapping too many women in violent situations – say women’s groups who launch a new briefing and press MPs on the matter at an event in Parliament today (2 May).

Read the article 2 May 2018


British man who has never even been abroad threatened with deportation to Uganda

Kyle Herbert, from Shrewsbury, was astonished to receive the letter which ordered him to leave the country or risk a £5,000 fine, imprisonment and removal by force

Read the article 2 May 2018


St Athan dad's bid to prove British citizenship for first holiday

John Ingram, 39, was born in Germany while his parents were serving in the RAF.

The father of two, living in St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, said his birth certificate was rejected when he tried to get a passport for a trip to Spain.

Read the article 25 Apr 2018

We’re grateful for your Windrush work – but the fight for justice goes on

Immigration solicitor Sheona York says it was clear from 2013 that people in the UK lawfully would be affected, and Diane Astin says the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (Laspo) has much to answer for

Read the letters 23 Apr 2018

Government knew for years that Windrush generation hurt by 'hostile environment'

Home Office letter dated May 2016 shows ministers knew of immigration policy’s impacts

Read the article 23 Apr 2018

Pressure grows on May and Rudd over Windrush scandal

Sayeeda Warsi says fault with ‘hostile environment’ lies with policy itself not implementation

Read the article 22 Apr 2018

DWP sent Windrush pensioner £33,000 bill for disability benefits

Valerie Baker was ordered to return ‘overpayments’ for past claims and threatened with deportation

Read the article 20 Apr 2018

'I thought I would die': Windrush man left homeless after brain surgery

Winston Jones, 62, was evicted while having surgery and denied a hostel place because he had no proof of UK arrival at 16

Read the article 20 Apr 2018

Windrush generation tell of holidays that led to exile and heartbreak

One man was stranded abroad for 21 months, while another missed his mother’s funeral

Read the article 19 Apr 2018

Former Middlesex fast bowler in immigration limbo for seven years

Richard Stewart came to the UK in 1955 and paid taxes for five decades but is having problems getting a British passport

Read the article 16 Apr 2018

Amber Rudd admits she doesn't know if long term UK residents were wrongly deported in Windrush cases

Labour MP David Lammy blames policies introduced by Theresa May, telling the Commons: 'This is a day of national shame'

Read the article and watch the video 16 Apr 2018

The children of Windrush: 'I’m here legally, but they’re asking me to prove I’m British'

Eight people tell of the harrowing experience of having to prove their status despite having been in the UK legally for half a century

Read the article 15 Apr 2018

Government 'failing to act on serious concerns about NHS data sharing' raised by doctors

MPs accuse government of ‘wholly unsatisfactory’ response after it refuses to act on warnings that immigrants are ‘too frightened’ to access healthcare because of data-sharing policy

Read the article 15 Apr 2018

'I couldn't hold my newborn son': the families split by visa laws

You meet a foreign partner and dream of a life together. But unless you have enough money, UK visa rules make it almost impossible

Read the article 14 Apr 2018

I've been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

Dr Luke Ong was five months away from becoming a GP when he made a simple error with his application to remain in the UK

Read the article 13 Apr 2018


Vulnerable EU citizens risk failing to secure right to remain in UK

Academics warn that people may not be aware they need to apply for ‘settled status’ after Brexit

Read the article 12 Apr 2018

Read the originating report


Man living in UK for 56 years loses job over immigration papers. 

Michael Braithwaite, a special needs assistant, was told he could not be employed at school as he did not have biometric card.

Read the article 9 Apr 2018

Londoner denied NHS cancer care: 'It's like I'm being left to die'

When Albert Thompson went for his first radiotherapy session for prostate cancer in November he says he was surprised to be taken aside by a hospital administrator and told that unless he could produce a British passport he would be charged £54,000 for the treatment.

Thompson has lived in London for 44 years, having arrived from Jamaica as a teenager, and although he has worked as a mechanic and paid taxes for more than three decades, the Home Office is disputing his eligibility to remain.

Read the article 10 Mar 2018

‘I felt a nausea of fury’ – how I faced the cruelty of Britain's immigration system

When Nesrine Malik was finally granted British citizenship her relief was dulled by exhaustion after years of struggle against a Home Office bent on reducing immigration to the illusory ‘tens of thousands’

Read the article 5 Mar 2018


'I miss her so much': NHS doctor separated from daughter

An Egyptian doctor recruited by the NHS in 2016 has had an application for her three-year-old daughter to come to the UK rejected.

Watch the video 7 Feb 2018

Home Office faces legal challenges over 'right to rent' migrant policy

Two separate legal challenges have been launched against the government's 'right to rent' policy, which critics claim forces landlords to act as border guards. Home Office rules in force since February 2016 demand that landlords check if a potential tenant has the right to live in the UK before letting a property to them.

Now, in the latest of a series of legal challenges against the government's 'hostile environment' for undocumented migrants, two cases are being taken to court which could end up reversing the policy.

Read the article 1 Feb 2018


Number of EU nationals being detained at immigration removal centres increases fivefold since Conservatives came into power

Almost 1,300 EU nationals were detained in the third quarter of last year, compared with 242 when the coalition came into power in 2010, according to Home Office figures.

Read the article 27 Jan 2018

Home Office gets banks to check immigration status of account holders

Millions of current accounts to be scrutinised in hunt for migrants liable for deportation or who have absconded from detention.

Read the article 12 Jan 2018

Press (contd)

Home Office policy of deporting homeless EU citizens is illegal, High Court rules

Mrs Justice Lang said measures introduced last year were discriminatory and violated European law, following a challenge by two Polish men and a Latvian.

The three men were all facing removal because they were found by police and immigration officers sleeping rough.

Mrs Justice Lang said homelessness alone did not meet the legal requirements for deportation, even if accompanied by offences including begging, drinking and nuisance.

“There has been a significant increase in rough sleepers of all nationalities,” she said. “The policy discriminated unlawfully against EEA [European Economic Area] nationals and rough sleepers.”

Read the article 14 Dec 2017


Home Office threatens to deport Polish man seeking help after attack

A Polish national and his wife said they went to the police after their landlord walked into the flat they were renting with two other men, all wearing balaclavas, and forced the couple out after threatening them with a kitchen knife and a baseball bat.

​The wife was injured in the attack and needed hospital treatment, she said. However, when the couple reported the attack to the police, they questioned the couple about their immigration status and handed the husband over to immigration officials, who detained him in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow where he remains.

Read the article 6 Dec 2017

The death of a Pole was one of three suicides in detention centres in a month, and relatives claim the Home Office is covering up cell deaths

Britain remains the only country in Europe with no time limit on immigration detention. With detainees’ lives in limbo, psychologists agree that the system affects mental health. Two years ago MPs joined campaigners in urging a 28-day limit on immigration detention, and only then as an “absolute last resort”.

Read the article 3 Dec 2017


Botanics chief 'flabbergasted' over Brexit uncertainty facing French wife

She said was refused the card on the grounds of self-sufficiency and although she did “a bit of upholstery”, she relied on her husband.

Read the article 3 Dec 2017

Academics engaged in overseas research must frequently travel abroad to work. The Home Office, however, uses the time spent out of the country by foreign academics while they are working to deny their applications for settlement visas

​“The threat hanging over me of being thrown out of the country at any point has been massively destabilising and damaging both in terms of my career and my personal life. We feel completely let down by this country. The Home Office have had my passport for over a year and I have no idea when I will get it back. I have not seen my elderly parents in over a year and a half now. Why would the Home Office want to get rid of two highly skilled, UK-trained heritage professionals providing valuable contributions to the British Museum and a major UK higher education institution? Most countries want to retain highly trained experts, not push them out.”

Read the article 3 Dec 2017

A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care

​The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May's 'hostile environment' towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police.

Read the article 28 Nov 2017

'Hostile environment': the hardline Home Office policy tearing families apart

This Australian NHS critical care nurse with 3 British children, the youngest of which needs constant care, was refused an extension to her spouse visa. She told some mothers at the school gate about her plight, and they organised a campaign, persuading at least 50 people to email their local MP – who happens to be health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Hunt rang the family and promised to personally take up their battle. Two weeks later her visa was in her hand.​

“I’m still deeply shocked by the experience,” she says. “The Home Office rang and apologised to us, but didn’t explain what had gone wrong. The thing is, it’s turned out fine for us, but what about people who don’t have any friends, or an engaged, influential MP? Or, frankly, who aren’t middle class and vocal? It’s a terrible system. It’s really unfair”

Read the article 28 Nov 2017


A woman who had been in Britain for 50 years received a letter informing her that she was an illegal immigrant and was going to be removed and sent back to Jamaica, the country she left when she was 10 and has never visited since

Last month, she spent a week at Yarl’s Wood detention centre before being sent to the immigration removal centre at Heathrow, where detainees are taken just before they are flown out of the country. It was only a last-minute intervention from her MP and a local charity that prevented a forced removal. 

Read the article 28 Nov 2017


Vulnerable women ‘still locked up in Yarl's Wood immigration centre’​

Vivian (not her real name), from West Africa, was held in Yarl’s Wood despite disclosing in her asylum interview with the Home Office that she had been forced into prostitution by her husband. The Home Office accepted she was a survivor of gender-based violence, yet Vivian was still detained for six months.

Read the article 1 Nov 2017

More articles on Yarl's Wood here (28 Jul 2017) and here (10 Sep 2016) and here (13 Mar 2016).

The cost of Access to Justice as a Constitutional Issue

The issue of access to justice, and specifically the cost of litigation as a bar to accessing justice, is rightly becoming a major constitutional issue in the UK.

“It is all very well for us to sing the praises of our legal systems, to congratulate ourselves on the high quality of our judges and lawyers, and to take pride in the popularity of the common law in international business. But we have a serious problem with access to justice for ordinary citizens and small and medium sized businesses.”

Read the article 26 Oct 2017

Theresa May has been asked to intervene in the extraordinary case of an American couple who’ve lived in Inverness for years, and face being deported because of a “retrospective” change to immigration laws

​SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked the Prime Minister to meet with him to discuss the case of Russell and Ellen Felber, who have spent more than £400,000 buying and refurbishing a guest house in the Highland capital.

Read the article 25 Oct 2017

A family with three young British children is set to be torn apart by immigration rules after the dad lost his job in Dubai and his wife was denied a visa to the UK

The family say the Home Office doesn't think the children's lives would be disrupted if the mother doesn't live with them.

Read the article 18 Oct 2017

A British stroke victim who uses a wheelchair, requires 24-hour supervision to keep him alive and cannot speak, write or reliably understand what is said to him, has been told by the Home Office that he must become the sole carer for his two young British children while his wife travels to the Philippines to apply for a visa to care for the family

​The Home Office said there were no 'exceptional circumstances' allowing her to apply for a visa from within the UK.

Read the article 17 Oct 2017

British-American family split across Atlantic after Home Office error

The Home Office is urgently reviewing the case of a British-American family hit by costs of £45,000 and split between different sides of the Atlantic after it refused to reverse a visa decision based on a misinterpretation of its own rules.

Read the article 13 Oct 2017


A British man has been told his Ecuadorian wife cannot settle in the UK despite the couple having three young children, including a baby who is still breastfeeding.

The Home Office letter states: "The right to family life is qualified and balanced against the need to maintain an effective immigration and border control.”​

Read the article 9 Oct 2017

A distressed husband has hit out at the Home Office spouse visa system after his Thai wife of eight years was denied residence in the UK, due to insufficient funds in his bank account

The couple have two children, both British citizens, and the refusal means that he has not seen his wife or daughter, almost three, for more than a year.

Read the article 21 Sep 2017

A devastated St Albans dad-to-be has said his new family will be torn apart when his wife is deported to China

​Their first application for a spousal visa was refused because of an income miscommunication, which he says is now resolved.​

His wife is now pregnant and they have received a refusal to the second application, seven months later - during which time she has had no access to NHS treatment.​

The decision notice letter said "There is no reason why you could not relocate to China and enjoy your family life there."​

Read the article 24 Aug 2017

The two adopted children of an American NHS specialist and his British wife have been granted visas, but only after a newspaper highlighted their plight

​The family had repeatedly failed to persuade the Home Office to give their two adopted sons, Benjamin and Edward, aged 10 and 12, permission to live in the UK. They were stopped at Heathrow in March 2016 and the two boys refused entry, although the couple’s third biological child was allowed into the country, leaving the family stranded on opposite sides of the Atlantic.  

Read the article 17 Aug 2017


A husband and wife of 15 years face a nail-biting wait for officials to decide if they will be reunited after months apart

Having lived in Asia and the Middle East – most recently in Qatar – they moved to the home of his widowed mother 18 months ago.

​“In all of the places we’ve lived, when we provided documents to show we were a family, the process of getting a visa was pretty straightforward,” said the 56-year-old, originally from Tilbury.

​“The only place we’ve faced problems is here in the UK, where I came to be closer to my mother and send the boys to a local school. In accordance with the rules, my wife left when required.”

Read the article 14 Aug 2017

'When someone is sleeping rough they need help – not deportation'

Permission was granted to seek a judicial review of the Home Office policy of deporting rough sleepers. The treatment shows a complete lack of empathy, and a rigidity that refuses to consider the complexities of human life. 

Read the article 7 Jul 2017

A Fijian father-of-two who has settled in Wales after serving in the British Army for 12 years claims he’s been told he can no longer legally work while his application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK is considered by the Home Office

He claims the application for British Citizenship was unsuccessful because he had three points on his driving licence, so he reapplied in September 2016, and claims he was then advised to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK instead, which he then did in February this year.

Read the article 24 Jun 2017

A Canadian biodiversity lecturer at the University of Glasgow living in Bearsden, has been told he must leave his wife and two children after the Home Office refused to renew his visa

His wife qualifies for British citizenship and is applying and his youngest daughter was born in the UK.​

Read the article 19 May 2017

A Yorkshire family are being ripped apart after a three year battle with the Home Office to remain in the UK.

Faced with staying here alone, the Leeds born war veteran - who served in two Gulf wars, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and did three tours of Bosnia - will have to leave his job, pals and elderly and ill parents to keep his family together. 

The couple got married in 2006 and have three teenage children.

Read the article 6 Apr 2017

A British former soldier is being forced to live apart from his wife and three young children after the Home Office refused to grant her a visa 

His children are allowed into the UK, but his wife is not - and he claims he has not been told why.

He launched a visa appeal, which takes 18 months to come through the courts. He cannot afford legal representation and is not entitled to legal aid.​

Read the article 6 Nov 2016

An Australian family win fight against deportation from Scotland

​Gregg and Kathryn Brain and their seven-year-old son, Lachlan, became ensnared in a tortuous battle with immigration bureaucracy after the post-study work visa scheme that initially attracted them to Scotland was retrospectively cancelled by the UK government.

​Read the article 20 Sep 2016

American mother who has been told she must leave her British husband and daughter in the UK, with the family apart for up to a year because of the government’s minimum income rules

​In the initial letter refusing a spousal visa, the Home Office said it had no concerns that their two-year-old daughter's welfare would be disadvantaged if she was separated from her mother.

Read the article 12 Apr 2016

A FAMILY of five who returned to Scotland almost two years ago after the British father’s elderly parents’ health started to fail faces being split up after the Home Office refused his Australian wife permission to stay here.

The couple have been married for 19 years and have three children, the eldest born in Scotland, the younger two born in Australia but holding dual UK-Australian citizenship.

​Their MP said "It’s mad, crass and insensitive and is tearing apart the very families the Government claims to support. There’s no compassion or common decency in the immigration policies of the UK Government. What I’ve detected from many of the messages I’ve had and you’ve had is that people are furious about this and rightly so.”

Read the article 4 Apr 2016

Suspected terrorists can only be held for 14 days without charge, yet asylum-seekers and migrants can be held indefinitely

​Detention has been described as the “black hole at the heart of British justice”. Thousands of people, most of whom have been convicted of no crime, detained for as long as government officials wish.

​Britain is the only country in Europe to allow the indefinite detention of migrants – leaving them in a legal limbo condemned as “barbaric” and abhorrent” by critics.

Read the article 6 Jan 2015