Hundreds of thousands of children 'may be left without lawful status in the UK'

By agency reporter
August 25, 2019

When the UK’s quarterly immigration and asylum statistics were released on 22 August 2019, the number of European nationals applying for settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme were included for the first time. This included a breakdown by age categories.  

As co-chairs of the Refugee and Migrant Children's Consortium (RMCC), The Children’s Society welcomed the move, as it gives an indication of how many children are applying and what outcomes they are getting. Between 28 August 2018 and 30 June 2019:  

  • 107,110 children under 16 applied to the EU settlement scheme   
  • 92,600 (86 per cent) have had a conclusion to their application:  
  •  59,830 (65 per cent) got Settled Status   
  • 32,580 (35 per cent) got Pre-Settled Status  
  • 180 applications were withdrawn/void or were invalid  
  • 0 were refused  
  • This leaves 14,510 who are presumably waiting for their application to be concluded  

Ilona Pinter, Policy and Research manager at The Children’s Society and co-chair of the Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium, said: “We welcome the age breakdowns, but this is not the whole picture. Legally children are all under 18s, but 16 and 17-year-olds have been subsumed into the adult data.

"Some of the most vulnerable young people - those leaving care or are estranged from their families - often fall in this age bracket. Putting them with the adult population means we have no way of knowing whether these young people have applied for settled status. We want to see ages broken down further to under 18s and 18-25 year olds.   

“Additionally, only 12 per cent of the applications to the EU Settlement Scheme have come from children aged under 16. But analysis from the Migration Observatory suggests that there were 700,000 EU children under 18 in the UK in 2018, meaning hundreds of thousands of children may still need to apply for settled status or secure British citizenship. If they do not, they risk being left without a lawful status in the UK which means being unable to access education, employment, healthcare, housing and other vital services.   

“At a time when there is so much uncertainty for young people, many of whom were born and have grown up in this country, it is vital the government seriously considers implementing a declaratory system to give automatic rights to all European nationals and supports them to secure their British citizenship where possible. This includes vulnerable children and young people so they do not fall into destitution and despair. We also need better data so all children and young people, including those in the state’s care, are able to secure their status or citizenship and continue to live in their homes.”  

* The Refugee and Migrant Children's Consortium http://refugeechildrensconsortium.org.uk/

* The Children's Society https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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