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An estimated 170,000 migrants in the UK on human rights grounds have to wait an extra 5 years for settlement

27 Jul 2021

An estimated 170,000 people are on a 10-year route to settlement in the UK—rather than the usual five—because their right to be in the country is on non-asylum human rights grounds, a new briefing from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford reveals today.  

The briefing –Migrants on Ten Year Routes to Settlement in the UK – shows that the number of people granted status on the basis of family ties or established life in the UK, both of which are protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, has more than doubled since 2017. While most long-term migrants to the UK can apply for settlement after five years, this doubles for many people whose right to be in the UK is dependent on human rights claims. 

People entering ten-year routes to settlement include children brought to the UK who have lived most of their lives here but do not have legal status. They also include partners unable to meet the £18,600 minimum income requirement but who have compelling reasons to remain in the UK, for example because they have children here.  

The 10-year routes to settlement are considerably more expensive than the mainstream, 5-year routes, due to a requirement to make new applications every 2.5 years and pay annual fees. A child required to complete the full course of one of these 10-year routes would face fees of more than £11,000 over the course of the decade, while a parent and child together would pay almost £24,000.  

Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “While few people know much about the 10-year routes to settlement, they are far from being a niche part of the immigration system. Our analysis shows that they have become a large and growing component of the UK immigration system, with roughly 170,000 people holding this status in early 2021.”  

“Ten-year routes give some migrants a legal status they would otherwise lack, including the right to work and access the NHS. But this does not extend to equal treatment with people in the mainstream visa system. The system effectively penalises people here on human rights grounds with higher costs and bureaucracy, and a longer period before they get the security of settlement.”  

The briefing notes some significant data gaps that prevent a proper understanding of 10-year routes and their impacts. For example, the Home Office does not keep statistics on the ages of people granted status on the route, even though key criteria explicitly target children and young people.  


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