Language may prove a barrier to many eligible for government’s amnesty plan

The government’s plan to grant indefinite leave to remain to up to
15,000 families of asylum seekers could be fraught with
difficulties, delegates were warned.

The Home Office announced in October that up to 15,000 families who
sought asylum in the UK more than three years ago would be
considered for permission to live and work in the UK in a one-off
asylum amnesty.

But Dorcas Falode, a solicitor with Tower Hamlets Law Centre, said
many eligible asylum seekers would miss out because they could not
read or write English.

Mike Canham, a consultant working for the Home Office on the
project, confirmed that the questionnaires being sent out to
families who could be considered for the scheme were written in
English and the helpline was staffed by English speakers.

Falode raised further concerns that the questionnaires were sent
directly to asylum seekers, rather than their legal

Although an asylum seeker would recognise a letter from the Home
Office or their legal adviser by the logo, they might not recognise
documents from the National Asylum Support Service and realise the
importance of the document, she said.

Canham confirmed it was the “wish and expectation” of Home Office
minister Beverley Hughes that the project would be completed by

But Tauhid Pasha, legal, policy and information director at the
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, warned that there was
still a “backlog” of cases from an amnesty in 1998.

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