Children | Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

A key area of work for WMSMP is supporting regional working in relation to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC). WMSMP has a UASC Policy Officer whose core responsibility is to coordinate transfers of children into the region through the National Transfer Scheme (NTS). Children can be transferred from local authorities elsewhere in the UK, from Europe under section 67 Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment) and from the Middle East and North Africa under the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS). WMSMP also supports local authorities in dealing with spontaneous arrivals of UASC in their areas and requests for children in Europe to be reunited with family in the West Midlands under the Dublin III Regulation. To find out more about our work with UASC please see the boxes below . If you require further information, please see the links to further resources on this page.

Definition of UASC
  • An unaccompanied asylum seeking child (UASC) is a person who:
  • a) is under 18 years of age when the asylum application is submitted.
  • b) is applying for asylum in their own right; and
  • c) is separated from both parents and is not being cared for by an adult who in law or by custom has responsibility to do so.
  • (para. 352ZD Immigration Rules)
National Transfer Scheme

The core responsibility of WMSMP’s UASC Policy Officer is to co-ordinate the National Transfer Scheme (NTS).

The NTS is a voluntary arrangement, launched on 1 July 2016 in an attempt to relieve pressure on local authorities where high numbers of UASC were arriving.

It should operate in accordance with the National Transfer Scheme Protocol for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (updated 24 October 2018). The Protocol can be accessed in our Guidance box below along with other useful resources.

The NTS has 3 main strands:

  • ‘Regular’ NTS
  • Section 67 Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment)
  • Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS)
'Regular' NTS
  • The ‘regular’ NTS provides for local authorities that are looking after more UASC than 0.07% of their total child population to transfer UASC to other LAs which are below the 0.07% threshold.
  • Under the NTS, they can transfer children within their region or, if the region as a whole is over the 0.07% threshold, outside the region.
  • Initially, the local authorities that were transferring to other regions were Kent County Council and the London Borough of Hillingdon. Subsequently, Kent stopped and more London boroughs started transferring to other regions.
  • The number and destinations of ‘regular’ NTS transfers are published as part of the Asylum Transparency Data and feature in WMSMP’s quarterly Migration Statistics Briefing Paper. According to this data, by the end of December 2018, 809 ‘regular’ NTS transfers had occurred. 60 were into West Midlands local authorities of which one was an in-region transfer.
  • The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration commented on the NTS in An inspection of how the Home Office considers the ‘best interests’ of unaccompanied asylum seeking children: August- December 2017 (March 2018) accessible here along with the Home Office response here.
Section 67 Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment)
  • In 2016, the government accepted an amendment to the Immigration Bill tabled by Lord Alf Dubs (a former child refugee from the Kindertransport) which passed into legislation as section 67 Immigration Act 2016 (in force 31 May 2016).
  • The ‘Dubs Amendment’ provides for the relocation of unaccompanied children from Europe (France, Greece and Italy).
  • Dubs children are placed with local authorities via the NTS.
  • The government has committed to relocating 480 Dubs children.
  • Under the Dubs scheme, France/Greece/Italy refer children to the UK government having determined that it would be in the child’s best interests to come to the UK.
  • France, Greece and Italy are asked to prioritise children who are likely to be granted refugee status in the UK and/or the most vulnerable.

For further details, see Policy Statement: Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (updated December 2018) and Detailed Process: Transfer of minors to the UK from France under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (1 February 2018) both accessible here.

VCRS
  • The VCRS applies to both unaccompanied children and children in families. Unaccompanied children who are part of the VCRS may be placed with local authorities via the NTS. A different system of regional allocation applies to children in families. Most VCRS children are in families.
The Dublin III Regulation
  • The starting point is that a person’s asylum application should be determined in the first EU Member State where they make it (Art. 7).
  • However, for unaccompanied children, Art. 8(1) states that the Member State responsible is that where a family member or a sibling of the child is legally present, provided that it is in the child’s best interests. ‘Family member’ includes parent/person responsible by law /custom for the child.
  • Art. 8(2) states that the Member State responsible is that where a relative of the child is legally present, where it is established that the relative can take care of the child, provided that it is in the child’s best interests. ‘Relative’ means adult aunt, uncle or grandparent.
  • The Home Office investigates whether a family member/sibling/relative is related to the child and whether they are legally present in the UK. If the Home Office establishes the family link, they will ask the local authority where the family member/sibling/relative is living to assess them.
Forms of immigration status/leave to remain for UASC
  • Like other asylum seekers, a child will be on immigration bail while their asylum claim is determined and they may be granted refugee status or humanitarian protection (HP).
  • Unlike other asylum seekers, if they are refused refugee status/HP, they may receive UASC leave if there are no adequate reception arrangements in the country to which they would be returned if leave to remain was not granted (para. 352ZC Immigration Rules). This lasts for 30 months or until the child is 17 ½ whichever is shorter (para. 352ZE Immigration Rules).
  • A Dubs child/young person will be granted section 67 leave if they are not granted refugee status/humanitarian protection, subject to certain conditions e.g. no reasonable grounds for regarding them as a danger to the security of the UK. S 67/Dubs leave is for five years, at the end of which an application can be made for indefinite leave to remain without paying a fee. (Paras 352ZH-352ZS Immigration Rules).
  • A child/young person will be granted Calais leave if they were transferred to the UK between October 2016 and July 2017 in connection with the Calais camp clearance, for the purpose of being reunited with family in the UK, and have not been granted refugee status/humanitarian protection. Calais leave is for five years and can be renewed for a further five years at the end of which an application can be made for indefinite leave to remain without paying a fee. (Paras 352I-352X Immigration Rules)
Funding for Local Authorities
  • On 8 May 2019, the government announced that, as from 1 April 2019, the Home Office funding to local authorities for all UASC will be £114 per night. This rate previously only applied to UASC aged under 16 who arrived in the UK from 1 July 2016. It is an increase from £91 for UASC aged 16/17 who arrived in the UK from 1 July 2016. It is also an increase from £95  for under 16 year old UASC who arrived in the UK on/before 30 June 2016 (so-called ‘legacy’ cases), and from £71 for 16/17 year old ‘legacy’ cases. The government has incorporated these changes into updated UASC Funding Instructions 2019/20 (01 April 2019), found here.
  • The funding for former UASC care leavers remains under review. The current rates are set out in the Leaving Care funding instructions 2019/20 (01 April 2019) found here. It totals £200 per week.
Support for UASC and former UASC care leavers
  • UASC are entitled to support from a local authority in the same way that any other child in need would be.
  • Most UASC will be children ‘looked after’ by a local authority because they will be accommodated by the local authority under section 20 Children Act 1989. Local authorities have a number of statutory responsibilities towards looked after children.
  • For specific guidance on local authorities’ responsibilities towards UASC, see here.
  • If a UASC was a LAC for over 13 weeks prior to their 18th birthday, they will be eligible for leaving care support from the local authority. However, if they are refused (further) leave to remain and exhaust all their rights of appeal (becoming ‘appeal rights exhausted’ or ‘ARE’), the local authority may refuse them leaving care support, subject to a Human Rights Assessment (Schedule 3, Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002). If the local authority concludes from its Human Rights Assessment that it should continue providing support to an ARE young person, the Home Office will only provide them with leaving care funding for up to three months.
  • Further restrictions on leaving care support for former UASC were contained in the Immigration Act 2016 but they have not yet been brought into force.
Controlling Migration Fund

The West Midlands has been successful in receiving a £1.9m grant fund from the Government’s Controlling Migration Fund (CMF) in order to ensure that all 14 West Midlands upper-tier local authorities are able to contribute to the NTS and have confidence that staff are able to respond to legislative and statutory requirements for unaccompanied children. The grant is intended to develop expertise, raise quality and promote best practice across all services and communities supporting unaccompanied children, covering their education, health, social care, employment, and housing.

The grant has been divided between local authorities, voluntary sector organisations, and the development of a regional training package. For further information on the grant as a whole, please contact Hugh Disley on hugh.disley@wmchildrensservices.org.uk. For information specifically on the funds available to voluntary sector organisations, please contact David Gibson on 07737 115493 or davidgibson@pcnregeneration.co.uk