London, February 8
More than 450 Indians have confirmed their British citizenship under the government's 'Windrush Scheme', set up in the wake of an immigration scandal last year.
The 'Windrush Generation' refers to citizens of former British colonies who arrived in the UK before 1973, when the rights of such Commonwealth citizens to live and work in Britain were substantially curtailed.
While a large proportion of them were of Jamaican/Caribbean descent, they also included Indians and other South Asians, said Rob McNeil, Deputy Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.
Indians emerged as one of the largest groups affected—after Caribbean nationals—in the scandal involving Commonwealth nationals wrongly denied their citizenship rights in Britain.
In an update to Parliament Thursday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said at least 455 Indians were able to confirm their nationality as British under the scheme.
A majority of them (367) arrived in the UK before 1973, when the immigration rules changed, while others either arrived later or were a family member of the so-called 'Windrush Generation'.
"On May 24, 2018, I issued a Written Ministerial Statement to the House setting out the 'Windrush Scheme', which ensures that members of this generation, their children born in the UK and those who arrived in the UK as minors will be able to apply for citizenship, or various other immigration products, free of charge," Javid, the UK's senior-most Pakistani-origin minister, said in a letter addressed to the Chair of the Commons' Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC).
"These are the individuals who approached the Taskforce to request confirmation of their status and were issued with a document to confirm the British nationality they already possessed," he said.
The immigrants referred to under the bracket of 'Windrush Generation' relates to a ship named 'Windrush', which brought Jamaican workers to the UK shores in 1948.
The scandal emerged last year as many, including Indians, who arrived as children around that period were struggling to access state services or even threatened with deportation because they did not possess any documents to prove they arrived in Britain before 1973.
The UK Home Office set up a 'Windrush Taskforce' in April last year to deal with a backlog of thousands of such cases, with the home secretary providing regular updates to HASC Chair Yvette Cooper on the progress of the scheme. In the latest update, the minister confirmed that as of the end of December 2018, a total of 3,406 people have been granted citizenship under the scheme.
The UK government has already made a formal apology amid uproar over the scandal last year, with a compensation scheme planned for those affected by a failure to have their citizenship rights recognised.
"I can reassure members that my department remains entirely focused on righting the wrongs experienced by the 'Windrush Generation'," Javid said in his latest update.
It also emerged that of the 83 individuals found to have been wrongly removed from the UK, 10 have since died. The UK Home Office has made contact with 52 but have been unable to contact a further 21. PTI
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