20 Jun 2023
Today is exactly a year since the Immigration Rules were changed to give young migrants like us a shorter path to permanent status in the UK.
To mark this milestone, We Belong is launching its 'Out of the Loop' video which features four young people - Dishita, Daniel, Sherif, and Adeola - describing how indefinite leave has transformed their lives.
(see participants' bios below).
Dishita, 24, a consultant to tech start-ups, says:
'When I found out that I could get my indefinite leave five years earlier, I actually cried, because it meant I could get on with my life. It was a really life-changing moment. It meant that I could get properly started with both my career and personal goals, such as travel.'
Daniel, 26, a student who is about to start a training contract with a leading global law firm, says:
'Part of my training contract in year two is to be seconded abroad for six months, which I wouldn't have been able to do before I had indefinite leave. My career prospects are not limited now. And the fact I'll be eligible to apply for citizenship soon as well is massively freeing'
We Belong's circa two-minute film concludes with the four participants calling on the Home Office to allow all young migrants who are eligible for indefinite leave to benefit from the rule change by waiving the £2,400+ fees for those with limited means.
See film here:
Dishita, Daniel, Sherif and Adeola's experiences are echoed by other young migrants who have also secured permanent status under the new rules. Many of them told We Belong it had been 'life-changing'; others described a great weight having been lifted and of improvements in their mental health. Another common theme was relief at now having an immigration status that matches their deep sense of belonging in the UK.
Ahmed, 24, who came to the UK age 9, told us:
'Receiving indefinite leave after such a long wait was a life-changing moment for me and has finally made me truly feel a sense of belonging to this society. Now I'm no longer subject to immigration control, I feel much healthier mentally after a great burden has been lifted off my shoulders.'
Beth, who has lived in the UK for 20 years, says:
'I can now pursue my goals and dreams without the fear of my immigration status being a hindrance. I've found a new sense of freedom. Finally, my immigration status reflects the roots I have in Britain.'
Hassan, 24, who arrived in the UK age 8, says:
'Even though I am fully integrated with my life in the UK, I felt I could not call this country home until I was classed as settled here. I felt so much pressure in my daily life because of this. [Since getting indefinite leave] I can now continue with my life like an ordinary citizen and focus on my university and future, like buying my own house, and starting an exciting new chapter of my life. '
Yasmin, 25, has secured a PhD scholarship which would have otherwise been closed to her:
'Despite my high academic achievements, a suitable research proposal, a university offer, and successfully passing the interview, I would not have been able to secure the scholarship without indefinite leave. It has allowed me to pursue my educational goals and fulfil my potential.'
The Home Office changed the Immigration Rules in June 2022, following a concerted campaign by We Belong. As a result of the change, young people who have grown up in the UK can now apply for indefinite leave to remain (also called settlement) after spending five years on limited leave to remain, rather than 10 years as it was previously.
We Belong CEO Chrisann Jarrett says:
'Campaigning is not easy. Success is never certain and when it comes, it is always hard won. That is why we wanted to take a moment to mark the first anniversary of the 2022 change to the Immigration Rules that we all fought so hard to achieve. It is heartening to hear from young migrants who no longer feel held back or weighed down by their immigration status and can now get on with their lives and pursue their ambitions. Yes, there is still more to be done, and we won't stop until all of those who are eligible for permanent status are able to secure it, but we want to recognise the impact the change has already had, and to thank everyone who has helped get us this far.'
For further information, contact Fiona Bawdon, We Belong comms consultant: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the film
Dishita, 24, arrived in the UK age 5; works as a consultant (ops and project management) for tech start-ups; ambition to launch her own start-up: 'Before I had permanent status, it affected everything from university to job offers. I've even been let go from jobs for not having a British passport.'
Daniel, 26, arrived in the UK age 10; grew up in Swansea before studying law at Birmingham University; currently taking his legal practice course in preparation for starting a solicitor's training contract with a major international law firm: 'I can now look to the future with great optimism, which is something I didn't have before.'
Sherif, 22, arrived in the UK age 5; studying banking and finance at university, and working part-time; ambition to become a football agent, which combines his love of sport with his interest in business. Having indefinite leave means he can now put his drive and passion into pursuing his career ambitions: 'It gives you that stability. Now, like everyone else you can live a normal life.'
Adeola, 27, came to the UK age 7; investment analyst; ambition to qualify as a Fellow with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and 'to ensure I look forward to going into work everyday'. Recently married her fiancé and plans to start saving for a mortgage: 'I feel I can now really start my life and my future is all set.'
'Out of the Loop' was made for We Belong by Bounce Video. bouncevideo.co.uk
Thanks to our four participants for giving up their time to support other young migrants. We would also like to thank: Grace Gibbons (Bounce); Mariam Bafo (We Belong's policy and public affairs officer); Stella Patsikas (We Belong co-producer and acting comms officer); and Fiona Bawdon (We Belong comms consultant) for making this film possible.
Details of We Belong's Out of the Loop campaign here: