Calais leave: an update

Legal Updates

This blog was originally published on 7 March 2024. It was updated on 28 March 2024 to reflect the change to Calais Leave, from a 10 year route to settlement, to a 5 year route to settlement.

In 2016, when the Calais camp known as the “jungle” was shut down, 549 unaccompanied children were transferred to the UK to be reunited with their families. All of those children claimed asylum on arrival in the UK.

Some of those children did not fulfil the legal requirements to be granted asylum, and so in 2018, the UK Government created another form of immigration status for them called Calais Leave, which is defined in Paragraphs 352I – 352X of Part 11 of the Immigration Rules.

Calais Leave was originally introduced as a 10 year route to settlement. In March 2024, the Home Office reduced this to 5 years. This means that, where people on the Calais Leave route were initially meant to renew their application after 5 years for another 5 years until they could be granted settlement in the UK, they will instead receive settlement earlier after the first 5 years have passed.

What is Calais Leave?

Calais Leave is a specific type of immigration route which was available to individuals who:

  • Had transferred to the UK between 17 October 2016 – 13 July 2017 as part of the Calais camp clearance in order to reunite with family, and
  • Who did not qualify for international protection (such as refugee status or humanitarian protection).

Calais Leave enabled this specific group of unaccompanied children the right to remain in the UK, with:

  • the right to study,
  • the right to work,
  • the right to access public funds and healthcare,
  • the right to apply for settlement (“Indefinite Leave to Remain”) after 10 years.

Calais Leave is a separate form of leave and different to section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 leave, granted under paragraphs 352ZG-352ZS of the Immigration Rules (the ‘Dubs’ amendment). 

Settlement in the UK

At the end of 2023 and beginning of 2024, the time came for most people with Calais Leave to renew their leave, as more than 5 years have passed since it was introduced in 2018. This led to confusion as the Home Office had not published a form or guidance for the renewal process.

People were initially told that their leave would not be automatically renewed, and that they would need to fill out a general immigration form for renewal, and that they could also apply for a fee waiver if they could not afford the application fee.

However, after letters were sent by ILPA and Coram Children’s Legal Centre, in March 2024 the Home Office conceded that Calais Leave should become a 5 year route to settlement. This means that:

  • The Home Secretary has agreed that the Calais leave cohort’s route to settlement will change to a 5-year route instead of the current 10-year route. This means that that those that met the requirements for an extension of Calais Leave at the end of the initial 5-year period will instead be granted settlement.
  • The Home Office will be updating their policy guidance on this point.
  • Grants of settlement for this cohort will be outside the Immigration Rules.
  • The Home Office will be contacting all individuals who have been granted Calais Leave to explain their new path to settlement. They will be enclosing an additional form to complete to deal with suitability requirements.
  • No fee or Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will be payable. Anyone who has an outstanding application for Leave to Remain that has paid the fee or IHS, and is subsequently granted settlement in line with the updated Calais Leave policy, will have their fee and IHS refunded.

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