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Refugees: Children

Home Office written question – answered on 11th June 2018.

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Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he plans to make an assessment of the potential (a) merits and (b) effect of allowing unaccompanied child refugees to sponsor a close relative to come to the UK.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration

Our family reunion policy allows immediate pre-flight family members of those granted protection here to reunite with them. The Immigration Rules also provide for relatives with protection in the UK to sponsor children in serious and compelling circumstances and there is provision in the policy to grant visas outside the Rules in exceptional circumstances, which caters for family members who otherwise do not qualify under the Rules.

However, there is currently no provision in the Rules for children with refugee status in the UK to sponsor family members to join them. This is a considered policy position to avoid creating additional motives for children to be encouraged, or even forced, to leave their family, and risk dangerous journeys hoping to sponsor relatives later. We believe the best interests of children are reflected in remaining with their families, claiming asylum in the first safe country they reach – that is the fastest route to safety – and relying on resettlement schemes to travel safely.

We are listening carefully to calls to allow extended family members to qualify and are reviewing our approach to family reunion as part of the Government’s wider asylum and resettlement strategy. However, expanding the policy without careful thought could risk more people being put in harms’ way.

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