Farida’s story: from abuse to citizenship
Farida was initially delighted to join her husband, Ali, in the UK after he finally obtained refugee status. Farida and Ali had only been married for six months when Ali had to flee persecution from government. It had taken over five years for Ali to be recognised as a refugee which then enabled an application for family reunification with Farida. For the first few months, life felt so perfect to Farida. Farida was so happy to be with Ali. But then, Ali started to stay out on an evening. When he came home, Ali would become angry with Farida. This escalated until one night when Ali hit Farida. Initially Ali promised it would not happen again, but it did. After a few incidents, Ali did not even say sorry afterwards. Ali would threaten to get Home Office to deport Farida if she complained. Ali kept control of Farida’s passport and Biometric Residence Permit. Farida became pregnant. Ali’s behaviour got worse. Midwives noticed bruising and contacted the police. Farida disclosed the abuse, and a place of safety was found for her with a domestic abuse refuge.
PLEASE NOTE: Names and various identifying elements have been changed in order to protect the identity of our clients.
The refuge contacted CIAC to resolve Farida’s immigration status. The CIAC advisor explained options to Farida and an application under the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession was made to obtain recourse to public funds for three months. Before this expired, CIAC developed a more complex application for settlement under the domestic violence route. As Ali had accepted a police caution the evidence of abuse was very strong. Just a few months after making the application, Farida received settlement. These two applications were completed by CIAC on a pro bono basis (free).
Farida was overjoyed to know she now had the right to live in the UK with her daughter, Marian, and is no longer dependent on her abusive husband, especially after all his threats to deport her. After a couple of years, Farida contacted CIAC again as she was ready to apply for British Citizenship for both of them. We provided information on the requirements and then completed the application for a very low fee. As Farida relied on benefits, a fee waiver for Marian was submitted. The applications were successful, and Farida is overjoyed. Farida says she is even more happy that, after all the threats to have her deported, it is Ali’s citizenship application that has failed, because of his caution, whilst both Marian and Farida are now British citizens.
Case Study: CIAC - Transforming Lives One Family at a Time
The Community Integration Advocacy Centre (CIAC) plays a crucial role in supporting individuals and families navigating the challenges of resettlement in a new country and settling into the community. This case study highlights the transformative journey of a refugee family that initially sought assistance from CIAC in 2017, upon their arrival in Hull.
Seven years ago, a volunteer at CIAC, encountered a refugee family facing the trials of fleeing persecution, enduring the journey to safety, and grappling with the uncertainties of the Home Office. The family, unable to communicate in English at the time, relied on volunteer interpreters to convey their needs and concerns.
The family was marked by anxiety, trauma, and uncertainty. Our volunteer worked diligently to provide support during this challenging period, addressing immediate concerns related to their refugee status, settlement, and basic integration into the community.
Fast forward seven years, and the same family returned to express their gratitude to the CIAC volunteer. The transformation is remarkable - the husband has established a successful business, and the family is in the process of purchasing their own home – a testament to their resilience and the support provided by CIAC.
Our volunteer learned that the mother of the family, who initially couldn't speak English, has made remarkable progress. Her language skills have developed to an impressive level, and she is pursuing higher education.
Seeing the family's newfound happiness and stability has a profound effect on all of our volunteers. The obvious joy and gratitude from this particular family are a source of fulfilment. This positive outcome serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of CIAC's mission in facilitating community integration and empowerment.
We hope this story will highlight the tangible and lasting impact of CIAC's interventions in the lives of refugees who travel to the UK to build a new life and make a contribution in the local community.
By addressing immediate needs we can support self-sufficiency in the long-term, CIAC not only aids individuals and families in overcoming adversity but also contributes to the overall positive transformation of the communities they serve.
Case Study - Overcoming Challenges:
Assisting an EU National Regain Stability and Legal Rights in the UK
A client of CIAC from the European Union (EU) faced numerous difficulties after an accident left him homeless and without any official documentation in the UK. Through the collaborative efforts of multiple agencies and organisations, the client was able to regain his legal rights, secure settled status, and receive the necessary support to reintegrate into society successfully.
Our client arrived in the UK in 2017 to seek better employment opportunities. For several years, he worked and lived in a shared rented house. However, his life took a drastic turn in 2022 when he experienced a severe accident that resulted in an extended stay in hospital. During this time, he lost his place in the shared rented house, and all his important documents were stolen, leaving him without identification or a place to call home.
Client Referral and Initial Challenges:
When the client found himself in this dire situation, he sought assistance from another agency. Unfortunately, they were unable to offer the necessary support to resolve his complex circumstances. However, recognising the urgency of the situation, the agency referred the client us at Community Integration Advocacy Centre (CIAC), as we are a local organisation known for providing pro bono assistance to vulnerable individuals.
Initial Volunteering Efforts:
Upon receiving the referral, a team of volunteers and a church charity rallied together to help. The first task was to assist him in replacing his national identification documents, as these were imperative for any future legal proceedings. Simultaneously, they discovered that another person had attempted to apply for European Settlement status on his behalf but had failed to submit a valid application.
Engaging with EUSS and Subject Access Request:
It was vital to secure the client's pre-settlement status to ensure his eligibility for important rights such as work, housing, and benefits in the UK. Leveraging our connections and expertise, CIAC's pro bono team liaised with EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) officials to rectify the situation. We provided the required documentation and resolved the application issues, ensuring that his application for pre-settlement status was successful.
Furthermore, realising the importance of documenting the client's work history in the UK, CIAC's pro bono team utilised a Subject Access Request (SAR) to the UK's HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). With the obtained evidence of his work records, the team was equipped to strengthen the client's case for settled status.
Successful Application for Settled Status:
Armed with the client's work records and the revised EUSS application, we submitted an application for settled status on his behalf. After thorough consideration, the UK authorities granted him settled status, thus providing him with the right to work, rent a property, and access Universal Credit. These newfound rights offered a pathway to rebuild his life and escape the cycle of homelessness.
This story exemplifies the collaborative efforts of various agencies and organisations to support a vulnerable EU national in regaining stability and legal rights in the UK. Through the commitment of volunteers, the strategic engagement with EUSS officials, and the diligent pursuit of necessary evidence, the client's application for settled status was successfully approved. This achievement has not only reinstated the client's access to employment, housing, and welfare benefits but has also provided him with the opportunity to reintegrate into society and embark on a path towards a more secure future.
If you or anyone you know can identify with this situation, please CIACAdvice@gmail.com.