GMIAU featured in the Independent this week, as part of their reporting on the injustices faced by families trying to get appointments at visa centres.
This leaves people who are legally allowed to be here – refugees and others with leave to remain – without documentation to prove it, meaning they can’t access public services.
UK Visa and Citizen Application Services, run by private firm Sopra Steria, started to reopen in June, but with a limited capacity – and prohibitive prices. The Independent reported that the cost for one family, joining their father who is a refugee, would be £770. Families have had to pay the hundreds of pounds for appointments, or travel across the country (in the middle of a pandemic) to access one of a limited number of free appointments.
GMIAU senior solicitor David Pountney described how he has only managed to secure one of the free appointments, despite logging onto the booking website late at night and early in the morning since the centres started to reopen.
While those who can afford it are being forced to pay inflated amounts, most of the people we see can’t afford to pay at all. They are stuck in limbo, and a lack of documentation means that they can’t access public funds and are in danger of becoming destitute.
“Some of them who had no status before are still stuck with no right to access anything. The decision has usually been made and they’re just waiting for the fingerprints to issue the card to prove it. They could’ve had recourse to public funds months ago, and during this time in particular it’s really needed.”
We’re glad of the Independent bringing light to this issue. These are people who the UK has an obligation to support, and they’re being left behind for the sake of profit.