Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Phone call from a migrant domestic worker (contd)

One complication is that we cannot give her proper advice without knowing her immigration status. If she is on a regular domestic worker visa she will be able to leave her employer without breaching the immigration rules and find another job as a domestic worker in the UK. This should allow her to renew her visa. However if the employer has let her visa expire  she is undocumented and in the UK in breach of the immigration rules. If her employer is a diplomat and she is in the UK on a diplomatic domestic worker visa she is not allowed to change employers outside of her employers mission. We have had to advise her that if she is scared and is not being paid, of course she should leave. However there is a risk that she may have immigration problems upon doing so.
The other issue is that we have no accommodation at Kalayaan and as migrant domestic workers have ‘no recourse to public funds’ she cannot access any government housing. If she is formally identified as trafficked she may be able to access safe housing if there are spaces but this is likely to be outside of London and away from support. We will of course try to house her (usually with another domestic worker , which of course has issues of its own) but cannot make any guarantees. Virtually all shelters get their funding through housing benefit claims so unfortunately if you cannot access it you cannot access the shelters.
We spent some time trying combinations of the number she has left but cannot get through. We will just have to hope that she calls back. 

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