Residency for Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Residency for Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery legal representation, Axis Solicitors.

Residency for Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Securing Your Rights in the UK as a Victim

In early 2023, the United Kingdom introduced revised regulations enabling recognised victims of trafficking or modern slavery to apply for residency under specific conditions. These changes offer a lifeline to victims, granting them a chance to remain in the country if they meet certain criteria.

Identifying Victims

To qualify for residency under the new guidelines, one must first be officially acknowledged as a victim of trafficking or modern slavery by UK authorities.

This acknowledgement comes through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the UK’s framework for identifying victims of trafficking. Referrals to the NRM can only be made by designated organisations, including select government bodies, local councils, and police departments.

The NRM evaluates cases in two phases:

The initial phase assesses whether there is a reasonable basis to believe the individual may be a victim, resulting in a ‘reasonable grounds’ decision.

Following a ‘reasonable grounds’ decision, a more in-depth investigation is conducted to determine if there are conclusive grounds to recognise the individual as a victim of trafficking, known as the ‘conclusive grounds’ decision.

Only after receiving a positive ‘conclusive grounds’ decision does one become officially recognised as a victim by UK authorities and eligible for consideration under the residency rules.

Challenging Negative Decisions

Individuals who receive a negative decision at either the ‘reasonable grounds’ or ‘conclusive grounds’ stage have the option to contest the decision through judicial review.

These updated rules represent a significant step towards supporting victims of trafficking and modern slavery, offering them a pathway to rebuild their lives in the UK.

Leave to Remain in the UK for Victims of Trafficking or Modern Slavery

Obtaining permission to stay in the UK as a victim of trafficking or modern slavery goes beyond just receiving a positive conclusive grounds decision. Under the updated regulations, individuals must demonstrate that their request for leave to remain is vital for specified reasons related to their exploitation and recovery.

Key Reasons for Granting Leave to Remain:

Recovery Support: The individual requires permission to stay to aid in their recovery from any physical or psychological damage caused by their exploitation.
Compensation Claims: The leave is necessary to enable the victim to pursue compensation for the exploitation they suffered.
Legal Cooperation: The individual’s stay is crucial for their involvement with public authorities in investigations or legal proceedings related to their exploitation.
Detailed Criteria and Additional Requirements: The regulations provide detailed definitions of these grounds, emphasising the importance of demonstrating the necessity of leave for one of the specified purposes.

Furthermore, victims must satisfy other criteria set by the rules, including submitting a valid application and proving they are of suitable character.

This stringent set of requirements underscores the UK’s commitment to supporting victims of trafficking and modern slavery, ensuring they receive the necessary protection and assistance to move forward with their lives.

Application Process for Victims

Victims of trafficking or modern slavery who have been officially recognised with a positive conclusive grounds decision are seamlessly considered for permission to remain in the UK under the updated regulations. This integrated approach means there is no requirement for these individuals to submit a separate application for permission to stay.

For those seeking to extend their current permission to stay in the UK as recognised victims of trafficking or modern slavery, an application is necessary. The guidelines for submitting this extension request are clearly detailed within the regulations, providing a structured pathway for individuals to follow.

Duration and Benefits of Granted Permission to Stay

Upon approval, the duration of the permission to stay for victims of trafficking or modern slavery in the UK is determined based on the purpose of their stay:

For Recovery and Legal Cooperation: Permission can be granted for up to 30 months (approximately 2.5 years) for individuals staying to support their recovery from exploitation or to cooperate with investigations or criminal proceedings.
For Seeking Compensation: Individuals seeking to stay for the purpose of pursuing compensation can be granted permission for up to 12 months.

Recipients of permission to stay under these circumstances will gain the right to employment and access to public funds, including social welfare benefits, further enhancing their ability to rebuild their lives in the UK.

Path to Settlement

It is important to note that while permission to stay offers significant support, it does not directly lead to settlement (permanent residence) in the UK for the victims of trafficking or modern slavery. Instead, individuals looking to obtain permanent residence must navigate other immigration rules and pathways available for achieving this status.

Appealing a Refusal

For individuals denied permission to remain in the UK as victims of trafficking or modern slavery, the current regulations do not provide a straightforward appeals process.

Applicants facing refusal have the option to request a ‘reconsideration’ of their case. The specific details of this process remain vague, with guidelines indicating that individuals will be informed about the procedure following their request.

The clarity on how to challenge a decision, either initially or after a reconsideration, is presently lacking. Typically, claims involving human rights concerns offer a right to appeal, suggesting that including human rights arguments in a trafficking claim could open the door to an appeals process. In instances where human rights grounds are not cited or no appeal right is explicitly granted, pursuing a judicial review might be the necessary course of action to contest a refusal.

The strategy for appealing a refusal depends heavily on the specific details of each case. It is expected that the procedure for challenging decisions will become more defined as more cases are processed under the new system, providing clearer guidance for victims of trafficking and modern slavery.

How Axis Solicitors Can Assist

Navigating the UK’s legal landscape as a victim of trafficking or modern slavery presents a challenging journey, fraught with legal complexities and nuanced factual considerations. The effectiveness of a claim for residency hinges on the unique details of each case, encompassing the strength of the evidence presented and the legal arguments deployed. With the absence of a defined appeal process for refusals within the new regulations, the path forward for victims seeking justice remains uncertain.

Our dedicated team of legal professionals is adept at navigating the intricate aspects of trafficking claims, including challenging decisions that fail to recognise an individual as a victim or potential victim of trafficking, addressing support-related issues for victims, and providing expert advice on obtaining residency rights in the UK, even in cases where asylum is also sought.

Let Axis Solicitors be your advocate in this critical time. We will ensure your rights are protected and your voice is heard as we strive for the recognition you deserve.

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