https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/04/12/factsheet-on-the-rights-of-commonwealth-citizens/

Factsheet on the rights of Commonwealth citizens

We value the contribution made by former-Commonwealth citizens who have made a life in the UK. We are aware that concerns have been raised by some individuals who have resided in the UK for an extended period but feel they may not have the correct documentation confirming their status.

We want to assure those people that existing solutions are available and we have no intention of making  people leave who have the right to remain here.

The following Q&A gives more information on the rights of people from Commonwealth countries who have been here for an extended period of time.

Do former Commonwealth citizens have settled status in the UK if they have lived here for decades?

People who entered the United Kingdom before 1 January 1973 will most likely have settled status here. Settled status is only broken following a long period outside of the UK (2 years). People with settled status can apply for  a “no-time limit” biometric residence permit (BRP) which proves you have settled status here. People able to establish their settled status may also be eligible to apply for British Citizenship.

Information about a no time limit BRP is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-to-transfer-indefinite-leave-to-remain-in-uk-form-ntl

Information about British Citizenship is available here: https://www.gov.uk/becoming-a-british-citizen

People who entered the United Kingdom after 1 January 1973 do not have automatic settled status but may have made a previous successful application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. In this case they should also apply for a “no-time limit” biometric residence permit (BRP) to demonstrate they have settled status here. People who are able to establish their settled status may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship.

People who entered the United Kingdom after 1 January 1973 and have been here for a number of years but are concerned that they have never applied to the Home Office or no-one has ever applied on their behalf for formal leave to remain in the UK may need to make an application for leave to remain on the basis of long residence and life here. Information about this can be found here (FLR FP).

Why has this become an issue now? Has Government policy changed?

Government policy around the rights of Commonwealth citizens in the UK has not changed. However, recent changes to the law mean that if migrants wish to work, rent property or have access to benefits and services in the UK then they will need documents to demonstrate their right to be in the UK and entitlement to these services.

Why have these requirements been introduced?

The new measures have been brought in to maintain effective immigration control and prevent those with no entitlement to public services and benefits from accessing them.

What about people who don’t have the documents to prove their right to reside here?

A number of cases have been brought to our attention of people who say they have lost - or do not have - the necessary documentation to prove their right to be in the UK, causing them to be affected by these new measures. We want to help people in this situation to obtain new documents and ask anyone concerned about this to help us do this by coming forward and speaking to the Home Office.

What evidence do people need to provide to ensure that they have the right status?

We understand that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old but we would be grateful if the individual affected could send as much information as possible in support of their application.

This could include information about where they went to school; where they studied;  evidence of where they have worked; information about family living here or previous addresses they have lived at in the UK. The answers to those questions and documents around them such as exam certificates, employment records, national insurance number, birth and marriage certificates, bills and letters will help build a picture of life in the UK.

We will work with any individual who is uncertain and with our partners across government to resolve a situation, but we do need anyone affected to contact us first.

But what if people don’t have the right evidence?

We will work with any individual who is uncertain and with our partners across government to resolve a situation, but we do need anyone affected to contact us first.

Is this all part of the Government’s drive to crack down on illegal immigration?

We want to make sure that the compliant environment measures do not have an impact on anyone with a legal right to be in the UK. We want to assure individuals who have resided in the UK for an extended period but feel they may not have the correct documentation confirming their status that there are existing solutions available. We have no intention of making  people leave who have the right to remain here.

However, we make no apologies for our commitment to build an immigration system which works in the best interests of the country and prevents vulnerable people from finding themselves at risk of exploitation.  Those living and working in the UK illegally can drive down the wages of lawful workers, allow rogue employers to undercut legitimate businesses and put pressure on taxpayer-funded public services and therefore we must be firm with those who break the rules as illegal immigration impacts the whole of society.