A 2021 Supreme Court decision has led to the Home Office changing their procedure for dealing with asylum claims involving accompanied children (children in the UK with a parent or guardian).
The case was called G v G and the important point of the case was that a child who is named as a dependant on an asylum claim can and should usually be deemed to have made a claim for asylum in their own right.
This has meant that the Home Office have slightly changed how they will deal with asylum cases involving an accompanied child, and the asylum process for those cases has a few new elements.
What is a family asylum claim?
If a family including children claim asylum, the Home Office will ask certain questions to determine if the child has any protection needs and if so, if they are the same as the main adult claimant in the family.
They will use the information given in response to these questions to decide which of three categories the child/children fall under:
- If it seems the child/children do have protection needs, but these protection needs are the same as the main adult claimant, the claim will be treated as a “Family Asylum Claim”. In Family Asylum Claims, the main claimant and child/children will each be a claimant in their own right, but “the claim will be dealt with in a single consideration”.
- If it seems the child/children have protection needs and these are considered to be on a separate basis (different from the adult claimant) for protection, their claim will be considered separately as an “accompanied child”.
- If the child/children are not considered to have any protection needs they will be treated as a dependent of the main adult claimant.
How will this be determined?
This new system has only be in place since the beginning of August 2021.
If you claim asylum after 2 August 2021
For people who claim asylum after 2 August 2021, the Home Office will ask questions in the asylum screening interview and in the Preliminary Information Questionnaire, which is usually issued after the screening interview and before the substantive (big) interview.
The Home Office operational note (which will be followed by fuller guidance at some point) suggests the questions will be something like:
In respect of each of your children who are dependent on your claim:
Does the child face a risk on return to their country of origin?
If yes, do you believe the risk to be same risk that you face, or are there additional or different risks?
If you have already claimed asylum
If you have claimed asylum, have had your screening interview and have already submitted your Preliminary Information Questionnaire (or were not asked to submit one), but have not yet had your asylum substantive (big) interview, the Home Office will ask you questions about your child/children’s protection needs in the substantive interview. If you identify that there are separate protection needs, these will be explored in the interview.
If you have claimed asylum and have already had your asylum substantive interview, the Home Office will send out a “dependent child letter” to you to get the information instead. You will have 20 working days to respond to the letter, which asks you to identify any separate risk your child/children would face (see the questions above). We know that some people have already received these letters.
It’s very important that you seek legal advice about responding to the letters because any information submitted to the Home Office can be used in making a decision about your asylum claim. It can be a problem if any of the information you give contradicts or is different to other things you have said or written.
If you have already had your substantive interview, the Home Office should not make a decision on your asylum claim until a dependent child letter has been sent out and you have been given 20 working days to respond.
Other stages of the process
If the child/children in your asylum claim are considered to be “accompanied children” with separate claims to you (situation 2 described above), it’s possible the Home Office may wish to carry out substantive asylum interviews for your child/children in addition to your interview. The procedure is too new to now if the Home Office will do this very often.
If the Home Office have decided that your claim is a Family Asylum Claim (see situation 1 above), each claimant will get an individual decision letter when the Home Office make a decision on your asylum claim. Refugee status will be granted to claimants identified as having protection needs. “Leave in line” (for the same period of time as the main adult applicant) will be granted to dependent family members without protection needs. Although the operational note doesn’t spell this out, presumably children who are identified as having potentially separate protection needs to the main adult applicant but are then determined to not have a need of protection will receive leave in line with the main adult (as a dependent on their claim).
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