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Windrush Compensation Scheme

Commonwealth citizens were affected by the government’s ‘Hostile Environment’ legislation - a policy announced in 2012 which tasked the NHS, landlords, banks, employers and many others with enforcing immigration controls. It aimed to make the UK unlivable for undocumented migrants and ultimately push them to leave.

Because many of the Windrush generation arrived as children on their parents’ passports, and the Home Office destroyed thousands of landing cards and other records, many lacked the documentation to prove their right to remain in the UK. The Home Office also placed the burden of proof on individuals to prove their residency predated 1973. The Home Office demanded at least one official document from every year they had lived here. Attempting to find documents from decades ago created a huge, and in many cases, impossible burden on people who had done nothing wrong.

Falsely deemed as ‘illegal immigrants’ / ‘undocumented migrants’ they began to lose their access to housing, healthcare, bank accounts and driving licenses. Many were placed in immigration detention, prevented from travelling abroad and threatened with forcible removal, while others were deported to countries they hadn’t seen since they were children.

Their harmful and unjust treatment provoked widespread condemnation of government’s failings on the matter, with calls being made for radical reform of the Home Office and the UK’s immigration policy. In response to these demands, then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid announced in May 2018 that the Home Office would commission a ‘Windrush Lessons Learned Review’.

Support for Windrush Compensation Funds

You may be able to claim compensation if you suffered losses because you could not show that you had a right to live in the UK.

‘Losses’ can be things like not being able to work, find a place to live or get health treatment. They can also include immigration action, like detention or removal from the UK.

Who can apply

You can apply if:

  • you came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973

  • your parents or grandparents came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973

  • you came to the UK from any country before 31 December 1988 and are now settled here

You can also apply if you are:

  • the close family member of someone eligible to claim and you have had significant losses yourself

  • representing the estate of someone who would have been eligible

We can help

Contact us for help

Additional Advice...

Citizens Advice advisers

You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice and arrange to speak to an adviser for free who can help you work out if you can apply to the scheme. Find your nearest Citizens Advice using the directory on their website.

Solicitors and immigration advisers

However, some Citizens Advice advisers can’t give immigration advice. If your nearest Citizens Advice can’t, they should be able to help you find a local solicitor who can. You could also find a regulated immigration adviser using the directory on GOV.UK. If you do arrange an appointment with a solicitor or immigration adviser, you’ll have to pay them for their time and advice.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)

You can call the JCWI helpline on 020 7553 7470 to make an enquiry or set up an appointment to see one of their lawyers. While the helpline is confidential and you won’t be charged for any advice you receive over the phone, the call itself costs up to 13p per minute from landlines and between 3p and 55p from mobiles. If you do then have an appointment with a JCWI lawyer, you’ll be charged for their time and advice.

Windrush Legal Initiative

The Windrush Legal Initiative works to support those affected apply for the Windrush compensation scheme, providing free advice and assistance to guide them through the application process. To access the support, get in touch with Nicola Burgess at


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