Case Study: Transforming lives through legal advice – Finding a route to settlement after 25 years in the UK

Written by: Beth Webb-Strong



Through our partnership with St Mungo’s Street Legal project, Seraphus provides vital immigration advice to street homeless individuals. One of our clients, a Jamaican national, arrived in the UK in 1997 on a student visa and extended this visa several times. When the client sought our help, they were street homeless, destitute, and had a precarious immigration status due to a lack of resources and knowledge to apply for the correct visa.

How Seraphus Helped

We determined that the client was eligible to apply for leave to remain based on their private life in the UK, known as a long residence application. This application is available to those who have lived in the UK continuously for 20 years, even without formal immigration status. If successful, it would grant the client 30 months of leave to remain, with the possibility of extending it and eventually applying for indefinite leave to remain, leading to permanent residency after 10 years. For this client however, the application’s success hinged on providing evidence of his 20-year residence in the UK.


The client faced significant hurdles in gathering the evidence needed for this application because they had been homeless for many years. Traditional forms of evidence like tenancy agreements, bank statements, or employment records were unavailable. Complicating matters further, the client had been diagnosed with a medical condition, causing memory issues and symptoms of pre-onset dementia, making it difficult to recall dates and events since their arrival in 1997.

To address these challenges, we supported the client in preparing a detailed witness statement and made Subject Access Requests for their records. We sought additional evidence through statements from the client’s godson, friends, supporting organisations like St Mungo’s, and their church. We prepared strong, persuasive representations to the Home Office to explain our client’s complex vulnerabilities and to account for the gaps in the evidence. It was essential to highlight the specific circumstances in the client’s case, including their close relationship with their godson and the recent estrangement from their son, who they lost contact with due to their homelessness. 


We are delighted to report that the client’s application was successful, and the success of this case illustrates the necessity of comprehensive support for vulnerable clients and exploring all potential sources of evidence when preparing long residence applications. 

As a result of our representations, the client was granted limited leave to remain, allowing them to continue to build their life and relationships in the UK without the constant fear of a precarious immigration status. This outcome has been transformative, providing the client with secure housing and placing them on a pathway to permanent residency.

The circumstances of this client and their case highlights the critical importance of making immigration advice accessible to those facing homelessness and destitution. Without the support from St Mungo’s Street Legal project, our client might have remained homeless or faced deportation, despite their right to stay in the UK where they have deep-rooted connections.

Thanks to this outcome, our client now has the chance to achieve security and stability in the UK, a place they have called home for over 25 years.