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Proving your right to live in the UK with the Windrush scheme

This advice applies to Scotland

If the UK has been your home for a long time but you don't have an immigration document to prove it, you could get a document from the Windrush scheme.

You can claim Windrush compensation for problems you had because you didn’t have a document - for example, when you had to show your right to work or claim benefits.

Before you claim compensation, you need an immigration document that proves your right to live in the UK permanently. If you don’t have a document, apply to the Windrush scheme for an immigration document first.

Getting an immigration document from the Windrush scheme

It’s free to apply to the Windrush scheme. If you’re eligible, you’ll get a document that proves your right to live and work in the UK permanently.

You could be eligible if:

  • you or your parents arrived in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973 - check countries in the Commonwealth on GOV.UK 
  • you arrived in the UK from any country before 1989

If you or your parents are Commonwealth citizens who arrived before 1973, you might also be eligible for British citizenship from the Windrush scheme.

If you think you’re eligible for the Windrush scheme, the first thing you should do is contact your nearest Citizens Advice and arrange to speak to an adviser.

They can help you work out if you can apply. 

Some Citizens Advice advisers can give immigration advice, but it depends where you live. If your nearest Citizens Advice can't give immigration advice, they might be able to help you find a local solicitor who can.

You can also check your eligibility and how to apply on GOV.UK.

Claiming Windrush compensation

You could claim compensation if you had problems because you couldn’t prove your right to live in the UK - for example, when you had to show your right to work, rent or claim benefits.

You could also claim compensation if the government decided to take action against you - like deporting you or saying you had to leave the country.

If you don’t have an immigration document that proves your right to live in the UK permanently, apply to the Windrush scheme for a document before you claim compensation.

You can check if you can claim compensation on the GOV.UK website.

Before you see an adviser

Start getting together documents you have that prove how long you’ve been in the UK - for example proof of where you’ve lived, studied and worked. Look for any:

  • current and previous passports
  • letters from the Home Office
  • birth and marriage certificates for you and any children born in the UK
  • school reports and exam certificates
  • bills and letters
  • employment records - for example old payslips or P45 forms

The older the documents, the better. Take these along to your appointment and show them to your adviser - they’ll help you work out what to do next.

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