For the last year, we have supported Lewis, who’s visa expired simply because he could not afford to renew it. A father, trying to look after his child, did not know he was entitled to support, which led to him becoming homeless and destitute.
Lewis, a 41-year-old Jamaican national, has been living in the UK since 2009. He arrived to join his Wife and they had a child together in 2012. After a divorce from his wife in 2015, he was granted status to stay in the country based on his relationship with his son and continued to work and support his child.
In May 2019, Lewis needed to renew his visa. With the cost of this being over £2,500, Lewis simply could not afford to apply and his visa expired. This had a huge impact on his life, leading to him losing his home and job very quickly as he no longer had the right to work.
By the time Lewis found out about RMC in September 2019, he was sofa surfing with friends and struggling with his mental health. His caseworker at RMC told him he was eligible for a fee waiver, meaning he could apply for his visa without paying the fees. Due to the complex immigration system, Lewis had been entitled to this all along, but had no idea, which had led to him losing his status.
He was supported to apply for a fee waiver, which was initially rejected as he could not prove his housing costs. He later applied again for a fee waiver and after many email exchanges with the Home office, asking for further evidence, the fee waiver was accepted and his caseworker could submit his application just before lockdown in the UK began.
Examples of some home office fees
plus the health surcharge costs….
When Covid-19 hit the UK, Lewis was still homeless and awaiting a decision on his case. Although the council had provided temporary accommodation to ensure his safety during lockdown, he began struggling even more with his mental health and reached out to RMC over the phone as he was ready to give up. His caseworker recalls the conversation where “he wanted to jump off a bridge as he did not see a way out of his situation. He wanted to support his son, but just could not see how this would be possible”.
Following this, a weekly call was put in place to provide extra support and help him through lockdown. Once the RMC offices reopened, Lewis came in and asked to withdraw his application. He simply did not want to fight anymore.
Thankfully, the RMC team were able to calm him down and explain that his case was still pending and they were hopeful he would be granted. They had been working alongside local organisations to get extra statements as evidence he had been supporting his son regularly. This proved key to his Home office case, as on the 11th September, he was granted a new visa to stay in the country.
Lewis is already working towards getting back into employment, and is being supported by RMC into more stable housing and to access Universal credit while he is waiting for a new job.
“Lewis is a prime example of the dangers of the immigration system. If he had known what he was entitled to, he would have avoided this whole situation and would still be working. It can be so hard to evidence your links with your family and this really made his case difficult too. Many people face the same issues every day and we are delighted Lewis has been granted. He cares so much about his family!”Danai – RMC Caseworker
Some personal details changed for anonymity.