Unaccompanied Refugee Children
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor LinkedinDanielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
Under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 the Secretary of State must, as soon as possible, make arrangements to relocate to the UK and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe. In 2016 the UK transferred over 900 unaccompanied asylum seeking children to the UK from Europe. This included over 200 children pursuant to section 67 of the Immigration Act. The Government announced that the actual number would be 480. This is exclusive of the children transferred under the Family Reunion criteria of the Dublin Regulations.
The Government will invite referrals of eligible children from France, Greece and Italy. In order to be eligible for transfer to the UK under section 67, the unaccompanied child must have been present in Europe before 20th March 2016 and it must be determined that it will be in the child’s best interests to come to the UK rather than remain in their host state or to be transferred to another European state or to be reunited with the family outside of Europe. In deciding which children to refer France, Greece and Italy the states will be asked to prioritise unaccompanied children who are likely to be granted refugee status in the UK, and or are most vulnerable due to factors which could include but not limited to the UN High Commission for refugees children at “risk and individual risk factors”.
Before a child can be transferred to the UK they must have an individual “best interests” determination. Once it has been determined that it is in the child’s best interests to come to the UK, relevant security checks will be conducted by the Home Office and once the child passes these checks, a referral will be made. The child will be matched in the UK with an appropriate placement in local authorities, according to their needs and circumstances as far as possible.