To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) allowing child refugees to sponsor their close family and (b) changing the definition of family to include young people over the age of 18 and elderly people over the age of 65 so that families can be reunited in the UK.
The Government provides safe and legal routes to bring families together through its family reunion policy. This allows a partner and children under 18 of those granted protection in the UK to join them here, if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country.
There is currently no provision in the Immigration Rules for children with refugee status in the UK to sponsor family members to join them. Allowing children to sponsor parents would create further incentives for more children to be encouraged, or even forced, to leave their family and risk hazardous journeys to the UK to sponsor relatives. This plays into the hands of criminal gangs who exploit vulnerable people and goes against our safeguarding responsibilities.
Our policy makes clear that there is discretion to grant visas outside the Immigration Rules, which caters for extended family members in exceptional circumstances – including young adult sons or daughters who are dependent on family here and living in dangerous situations.
Refugees can also sponsor adult dependent relatives living overseas to join them where, due to age, illness or disability, that person requires long-term personal care that can only be provided by relatives in the UK.
The Government is listening carefully to calls extend refugee family reunion policy and we will continue our productive discussions with stakeholders on this complex and sensitive issue. However, any changes must support the principle that those who need protection claim in the first safe country they reach – and use safe and legal routes to come here.