Hundreds of Indians with uncertain residency status granted UK citizenship under 'Windrush scheme'

UK citizenship
UK citizenship (Representational picture) Reuters

After a massive immigration scandal that made headlines in 2018, the United Kingdom has now granted citizenship to over 450 Indians under the government's "Windrush scheme." Home Secretary Sajid Javid said at least 455 Indians had confirmed their nationality as British.

Discussing the issue at the British parliament on Thursday, February 7, Javid explained that those who requested for a confirmation on their residency status were issued a document to confirm the same. Of the 455, about 367 had entered the UK before 1973, and the others are known to have arrived in the later years or were family members of those who previously moved to the UK.

In the year 1973, Britain had changed its immigration laws and many who arrived before — specially around 1948 — are known as the Windrush Generation.

On May 24, 2018, I issued a Written Ministerial Statement to the House setting out the 'Windrush Scheme', which ensures that members of this generation, their children born in the UK and those who arrived in the UK as minors will be able to apply for citizenship, or various other immigration products, free of charge," the Press Trust of India quoted Javid as saying.

"These are the individuals who approached the Taskforce to request confirmation of their status and were issued with a document to confirm the British nationality they already possessed."

What is the Windrush Scandal?

The Windrush scandal is a British political scandal, which involved the immigration status of the members of the Windrush generation. The generation comprises British African Caribbean people, Indians and several other Asians who were mainly brought to the UK on a ship – HMT Empire Windrush – in 1948 as Britain faced an acute labor shortage.

The scandal blew up when the home office, November 2017 onwards, is said to have threatened the children of Commonwealth immigrants who arrived in the UK before 1973 with deportation if they could not provide valid immigration documents as proof.

While Prime Minister Theresa May had to apologize to the Caribbean nations for the reported deportation threat, even offering a compensation to those affected, then home secretary Amber Rudd had denied that the department has issued any such threat. However, she turned in her resignation after several news outlets published documents hinting that Rudd knew of it throughout.

The UK home office then set up a "Windrush Taskforce" to help sort thousands of such cases and as of December 2018, over 3,000 people have reportedly been granted a UK citizenship. In addition, the home office also explained that it had tried to sort the issue with the 83 individuals who were wrongly deported from the UK. However, it was found that 10 of them had died and 21 couldn't be contacted. It was able to get in touch with the 52 others.

Javid has now said that the home office will work towards bringing justice to the people who were wronged. "I can reassure members that my department remains entirely focused on righting the wrongs experienced by the 'Windrush Generation,'" he said.