UK apologises over Windrush residents

Agencies
AAP

British Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised to 12 Caribbean countries for any anxiety caused to the so-called "Windrush generation" caught up in a tightening of the UK immigration system.

The so-called "Windrush generation," whose parents were invited to Britain to plug labour shortfalls after World War II, have been caught up in a tightening of immigration rules overseen by May in 2012 when she was interior minister.

"I want to apologise to you today because we are genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused," May told leaders and diplomats from the Caribbean countries, who were in London for a summit of Commonwealth heads of government.

"Those who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973 and lived here permanently without significant periods of time away in the last 30 years have the right to remain in the UK.

"As do the vast majority of long-term residents who arrived later, and I don't want anybody to be in any doubt about their right to remain here in the United Kingdom."

The government apologised after it emerged that some people who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago as children were now being incorrectly identified as illegal immigrants.

In a letter to the leaders of 12 Commonwealth nations, the government promised that no one would be left out of pocket by demands for documentation to prove their right to remain in the UK.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Monday that a new unit would be set up to help people establish their right to remain in Britain and that if anyone needs to apply for new documents, the fees will be waived.

"Frankly, some of the way they have been treated has been wrong, has been appalling, and I am sorry," she told parliament.