Start date

November 2022
End date

October 2024

Coventry City Council Migration team

We are raising awareness of migrants' rights and issues in the community. 

The Migrant Rights in the Community Project aims to protect and promote the rights of migrant families and children and aid them in overcoming various legal barriers by establishing a connection with organisations in Coventry which act as the first point of contact for the migrant families.

This project began in January 2023 in collaboration with Coventry City Council and we are currently raising awareness and providing training for schools and community organisations on key migrant rights issues. This includes raising awareness about citizenship for children and representation at community events and school events, for example. 

We provide a partner support line to help identify where immigration status is impacting people’s ability to access other services and support and we also produce briefings for statutory and community partners on key migrant rights issues, such as providing the right to work.

As well as providing advice to clients and signposting people to the correct advice services, we carry out legal health checks on immigration and social welfare rights to ensure our clients are receiving the support they are entitled to and to determine the root cause of their problems. So far, we have supported over 100 enquiries through this project.

The MRIC project focuses on the following issues: 

  • Awareness raising and training for schools and community organisations on key migrant rights issues.  

  • Awareness raising about citizenship for children and legal rights awareness raising (at community events, school events etc.) and referrals for citizenship advice and representation.  

  • Partner support line to help identify where immigration status is impacting people’s ability to access other services and support –dedicated line for schools and key community organisations meeting migrants. 

  • Production of briefings for statutory and community partners on key migrant rights issues (e.g. proving the right to work and eligibility for benefits, citizenship rights).  

  • Legal health checks (immigration and other social welfare rights) and provision of advice and signposting.  

  • Referrals for specialist legal advice and provision of capacity to deliver specialist legal advice. 

Watch the video to see how the MRIC project helped Sarah and her two young nieces

Sarah's Story

When we met Sarah, she had recently become the primary carer of two British children, her nieces, due to the death of their mother, her sister. She entered the UK several years ago as a visitor but had not made any further applications for permission to stay in the UK when her visit visa had expired. She was unable to work, study, access accommodation or claim public funds in the UK. Sarah had been reliant on the support of her sister and good will of friends for many years.

A legal health check identified the intersecting legal issues that she needed help with. The MRIC caseworker coordinated advice from 4 legal teams at the Law Centre. This multi-team approach involved the Immigration team, the Family team, the Housing team and the Health and Social care team.

The Immigration team submitted a Fee Waiver Request to the Home Office (granted within 3 weeks of submission) and then completed her main family and private life application with a request for access to public funds (not usually granted for this type of leave) due to the exceptional circumstances faced by Sarah. She was granted limited leave to remain in the UK as a parent, meaning that she has the right to reside in the country. However, the accompanying letter stated she was granted leave to remain as a partner and therefore her right to public funds is unclear. We are continuing to challenge this, including through a pre-action letter, as the decision leaves Sarah and her family at risk of destitution. 

The Family team provided advice to Sarah on making application for a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) to become the legal guardian of her nieces as per her sisters' final wishes. This included advice on the process, the evidence that she would need to provide with the application and the outcome if the order is granted. They then completed the form with her.

The Social Care team provided advice on how the SGO process would be undertaken once the application was submitted and the support that the Local Authority should put in place if Special Guardianship is awarded.  ​

The Housing team provided advice on the prospect of the client being able to retain the family’s current tenancy with the children as she now has sole caring responsibility. 

This approach has ensured that the client has been able to better advocate for herself and the children's rights when working with other professionals in her community, such as the social worker undertaking the Special Guardianship Order assessment, the children’s schools and the housing provider. ​