An investigation into UK Visas and Immigration’s handling of Windrush man’s status


  1. We have considered evidence provided by Mr V’s legal representative, Ms V, UKVI and Immigration Enforcement. This includes records, letters, emails and the comments provided to us by all parties. 

  1. We use related or relevant law, policy, guidance and standards to inform our thinking. This allows us to consider what should have happened. In this case we have referred to the following standards: 
    - No time limit (NTL) applications
    UKVI and Immigration Enforcement complaint management guidance.

No time limit applications 

  1. NTL is an administrative process by which a person with indefinite leave can apply for confirmation of this status on a Biometric residence permit (BRP). In order to qualify for a NTL BRP applicants must:

    - have indefinite leave in the UK
    - have not lost their indefinite leave, for example by being absent from the UK for a continuous period of two years or more since it was granted
    - continue to be entitled to indefinite leave (it has not been revoked) 
    - apply from within the UK with the correct application form and fee. 

    It is not necessary for a person to apply for an NTL BRP but there are benefits of doing so. These include enhanced security, evidence of the right to stay permanently in the UK and making travel easier. 

  2. The guidance for caseworkers processing NTL applications says they must check the applicant has been granted indefinite leave. It says evidence of this can include:

    - an indefinite leave endorsement
    - open date stamps after indefinite leave has been granted
    - records on databases or in paper files showing indefinite leave has been granted
    - photographic documentary evidence from the applicant confirming their identity, such as a passport
    - evidence the applicant has not lost their indefinite leave due to absences from the UK.

UKVI and Immigration Enforcement complaint management guidance

  1. The complaint management guidance from the relevant time says immigration and border directorates should respond to all complaints within 20 working days. If a complaint is not going to be answered in 20 days the complainant should be informed before the 20 day target is reached and continue to receive appropriate updates until the case is closed. 

  1. The guidance says immigration and border directorates should endeavour to investigate fully and respond to all the issues raised in a complaint. 

Our principles 

  1. The Ombudsman’s Principles of Good Administration say that to ‘get it right’ in their decision making, public bodies should have regard to the relevant legislation. Decision making should take account of all relevant considerations, ignore irrelevant ones and balance the evidence appropriately.  

  1. Our principles say public bodies must comply with the law and have regard for the rights of those concerned. They should act according to their statutory powers and duties and any other rules governing the service they provide. They should follow their own policy and procedural guidance, whether published or internal. 

  1. Our principles say to put things right when mistakes happen, public bodies should acknowledge the mistakes, apologise, explain what went wrong and put things right quickly and effectively. 

  1. Our principles say that to be open and accountable public bodies should create and maintain reliable and usable records as evidence of their activities. They should manage records in line with recognised standards to ensure they can be retrieved and they are kept for as long as there is a statutory duty or business need. 

  1. Our Principles of Good Complaint Handling say public bodies should ensure that all feedback and lessons learnt from complaints contribute to service improvement. Learning from complaints is a powerful way of helping to improve public service, enhancing the reputation of a public body and increasing trust among the people who use its service.