View Hertfordshire SCB Procedures Manual View Hertfordshire SCB Procedures Manual

4.2 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Note: The HSCB has chapters:

Both this chapter and these HSCB Chapters are under review pending new legislation regarding human trafficking in May 2015. The aim then is to have links from this chapter to the HSCB chapter to avoid duplication.

Read in conjunction with Transition to Adulthood (Leaving Care) Finance Policy and Guidance 2016-2017

See Links to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Forms

CS0368 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Protocol Appendix C - Checklists

CS0369 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Protocol Appendix E - Finance Process

CS0343F12 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Age Assessment

Securing British Citizenship for Looked After Children (NRPF Network)


In March 2018, a link to Securing British Citizenship for Looked After Children (NRPF Network) was added (above).

This chapter is currently under review.


  1. Definitions
  2. Policy
  3. Legal Issues and Case Law
  4. Assessment and Support Arrangements
  5. Supporting Asylum Seeking Care Leavers
  6. References and further Guidance

    Appendix A: Glossary of Terms relating to Asylum and Immigration

    Appendix B: National Referral Mechanism

1. Definitions

An unaccompanied asylum seeking child (UASC) is defined by the Home Office as a young person under the age of 18 making an application for asylum in his or her own right and who comes to the UK without a parent or Guardian. This includes trafficked children.

UASC are assessed and, if required, supported within the framework of the Children Act 1989 as Children in Need, and this should be guided by the principle that they are "children first and foremost". However, there are also special circumstances facing these young people, particularly the fact that they are seeking protection under the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, which defines a refugee as follows:

'any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear is unwilling to avail himself to the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his habitual residence, is unable, or owing to such fear unwilling to return to it,'.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) may be amongst the most traumatised and vulnerable children known to the department. Some may have witnessed the death of family members and may be entirely alone. Others may come from countries where the rule of law has broken down and where survival depends on trusting only immediate family. Such experiences mean that they will need time, space and help to begin to rebuild their lives.

Regardless of immigration status, the child or young person's needs should be considered as paramount and an UASC will be entitled to assessment as a child in need of care and protection under the Children Act 1989. If the child or young person is to be 'looked after' they will be provided for under S20 of the Children Act 1989.

Some asylum seeking children may be living under 'private fostering' regulations – be aware of the need to consider whether a Private Fostering assessment should be completed, and the possibility that this may be an exploitative arrangement.

Some unaccompanied minors may have been 'trafficked' into the UK. Teams will need to be aware of some of indicators of trafficking from the earliest stages of assessment throughout their care pathway, in many cases the young person may not know that they have been trafficked, or have been threatened or coerced into silence, and information may not come to light until the young person is safe.

The UK has a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for identifying and recording victims of trafficking and where social workers identify indicators which suggest a child may have bene trafficked, they should consider a NRM referral, to be sent to the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC).

Some unaccompanied minors may not be eligible for claiming asylum in the UK – this will be established at Home Office interview stage.

See Appendix A: Glossary of Terms relating to Asylum and Immigration for an understanding of the common terminology used in relation to UASC.

2. Policy

Section 1 of The Children Act 1989 places a responsibility upon Local Authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people living in their area. Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children are usually of no fixed abode and are referred to the Local Authority situated at their port of entry for assistance.

A major factor for unaccompanied asylum seeking children is that the burden of proof is placed upon the applicant to evidence his or her asylum claim.

When considering duties towards UASC, the Hillingdon Judgement and Local Authority Circular (2003) 13 should be followed. In summary this means:

  • All UASC should, on arrival, be supported under S20 of the Children Act 1989, until an assessment of need has been completed;
  • Based on assessed need, most UASC including 16 and 17 year olds who require accommodation should be provided with S20 support;
  • The majority of UASC will be entitled to leaving care services;
  • S17 can be used to support UASC in exceptional circumstances where an assessment of needs identified that to become looked after would not be in the UASC's best interests - for example if the young person strongly expresses aversion to becoming looked after. The reasons for the decision should be accurately recorded in Children's Services records.

The assessment of need of an unaccompanied asylum seeking child will be conducted under The Children Act 1989 in accordance with the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need guidance.

3. Legal Issues and Case Law

  • Children Acts 1989, 2004 & 2008;
  • Human Rights Act 1998;
  • The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 entitles certain adults who, as children (including unaccompanied children), were looked after, to ongoing support until they are 21, or 24 if in full-time education;
  • Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families DOH 2000;
  • Local Authority Circular (2003) 13 Guidance on Accommodating Children in Need and Their Families responds to the Hillingdon Judgement 2003 regarding Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum;
  • UNHCR Refugee Children: Guidelines of Protection and Care. Geneva, 1994;
  • The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 places a duty on the Home Office to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 2 of the convention protects the right of every person to his/her life, including the right to develop to the fullest, protection from harmful substances, abuse and exploitation and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life;
  • For a child, section 17 of the Children Act 1989 ("CA") imposes a duty to assess and safeguard their welfare which may include the provision of anything necessary to do so, including accommodation, financial support;
    • Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 requires the Children's Service Department to provide accommodation for them as a result of:
      • There being no person who has responsibility for him;
      • His being lost or having been abandoned; or
      • The person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation'.

Young people who may have already turned 18 and received accommodation under section 20 CA for a period of 13 weeks or more (prior to turning 18); will acquire the status of a "former relevant child" pursuant to section 23 CA and be entitled to help with education and training, among other things, up to the age of 25 in some cases.

Immigration Context

S55 Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 came into force in November 2009 and says that:

  • The best interests of a child at every stage should be given primary consideration;
  • An applicant in the UK, assessed to be a child, will benefit from practice of not seeking to remove UASC's before they reach the age of 17 and a half;
  • Children will not be detained under the Secretary of State's immigration powers, save in exceptional circumstances.

R (B) v Merton (2003) 4 All ER 280

This case set out broad guidelines in respect of how the age of an unaccompanied minor who arrives in the UK without documentary evidence to prove their age ought to be determined, if the claimed age of the young person is disputed.

  • When it comes to the assessment of age, a Local Authority's children's services department must conduct its own assessment. It would be unlawful to conclude that a UASC is an adult based on the Home Office assessment;
  • A holistic assessment will need to be undertaken by the Local Authority if the age of the young person is in dispute. The decision cannot be made solely on the basis of appearance, and should take into account other factors such as the young person's history and background, physical appearance, behaviour and demeanour and the credibility of their account;
  • An assessment must take into account the family history and circumstances, ethnic and cultural background, educational history;
  • The young person should be given the opportunity during the assessment to answer any adverse points the decision maker is minded to hold against them in order to rectify any misunderstanding that may have arisen;
  • The decision maker must give reasons for a decision that an applicant claiming to be a child is not a child;
  • Age assessments must be conducted by experienced social workers; and
  • All safeguards to ensure fairness are in place;
  • The courts must not assume that the decision-maker acted unreasonably or unfairly. It is for the claimant to establish this.

NA v Croydon [2009] EWHC 2357 (Admin) – Appropriate Adult

  • Highlighted the need for an appropriate adult to be present during an assessment.

R (FZ) v London Borough of Croydon [2011] EWCA Civ 59

  • Re-emphasised the procedural requirements for conducting assessments. In particular the Court of Appeal confirmed that it should be standard procedure for an applicant to be given a fair and proper opportunity to address adverse points which may weigh against them;
  • This case also highlighted the importance of an appropriate adult being present.
R (AS) v London Borough of Ealing [2012] EWCA 356 (QB)

Lang J in this case took the Croydon decision and the Merton decision and summarised the standards which apply to local authorities when conducting age assessments.(alphabetically ordered for ease of Reference):

  • Appropriate adult – An appropriate adult should accompany the child and be present through the interview;
  • Begin with an explanation of the process – Social Workers should ensure the child has a clear understanding of the purpose of the age assessment, role of the social worker and ensure an interpreter is able to play a role if necessary;
  • Conduct of assessment- The assessment should be structured in a clear way, be fair and a full note should be taken of the questions and answers given;
  • Distress- Social Workers should watch out for signs of tiredness or anxiety on the part of the child and if necessary have short breaks;
  • Experience and Training – Local authorities should ensure that assessors are trained in conducting age assessments and have experience working with young and vulnerable children;
  • Full facts taken – Social Workers should ensure that all the relevant matters from the child's history and present circumstances are noted in order that the Social Workers have a complete and holistic picture of the child;
  • Give the child benefit of the doubt – whilst Social Workers may suspect that a child has be coached into giving particular answers or is answering questions in a way to suit their own purposes. Social Workers should be aware that children will often have to ask the same questions several times and the accuracy of answers may be blurred;
  • Highlight potentially adverse finding to the child - children must be given an opportunity to respond to potentially adverse findings when the conclusions are at a provisional stage and maybe required to explain or justify their previous answers;
  • Identify reasons - Social Workers must give reasons to support their conclusions, and where a child's account is rejected, the reason for the adverse findings must be explained to the child;
  • Justify the rejection of the child's evidence – Assessors should ask the children how old he /she is and why he /she thinks they are their claimed age. The Local Authority must give reasons for not accepting an explanation given by a child or reasons relied on in coming to a conclusion on age.

PM v Hertfordshire County Council (2010) EWHC 2056 (Admin);
R (K) v Birmingham City Council (2011) EWHC 1559 (Admin); and
R (AS) v London Borough of Ealing (2012) EWHA 356 (QB)

  • These cases examined whether local authorities are bound by a decision made by judges;
  • In the First-tier tribunal (FTT) on the age of an individual;
  • The cases concluded overall that Local Authorities are not bound by the decisions of Immigration;
  • Judges and held that a Local Authority;
  • Must exercise its own judgment;
  • Will be entitled to have due regard to the evidence that had been raised in reports;
  • Particularly if the evidence was previously not available to the Local Authority; and
  • A FTT's decision is only binding on parties to its proceedings.

A v London Croydon and Secretary of State for the Home Department; K v Secretary of State for the Home department and Kent County Council (2009) EWHC 939

This case examined the weight that local authorities should give to medical reports when conducting age assessments.

  • It stated that a report from a paediatrician cannot generally attract any greater weight than that of the observations of experienced social workers;
  • Although local authorities cannot completely disregard reports from paediatricians or other experts they should give consideration to any medical report received and reasons recorded for not accepting he medical/expert evidence.

A v Croydon (2008) EWHC 1445

  • This case highlighted the fact that 2 qualified social workers who are specifically trained in age assessments must conduct the procedure.

Joint Protocol

It is inevitable that a LA and the Secretary of State for the Home Department may reach different views as to the age of an applicant. This may be because different evidence has been considered or a different conclusion on the same evidence has been reached.

A Joint working protocol between the IND and ADSS was adopted in November 2005.

IND – Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home

Office (now the UK Visas and Immigration)

ADSS – The Association of Directors of Social Services for

the United Kingdom Local Government and Statutory

Childcare Agencies

The joint protocol provides that:

  • The UK Visas and Immigration should discuss the case with a named contact at the LA;
  • Any evidence which has not been considered by the LA should be highlighted;
  • If both parties still do not agree, a formal reconciliation will be undertaken;
  • Pending the formal reconciliation, the applicant should be supported in accordance with the LA's assessment;
  • If no agreement is reached at the formal reconciliation, the matter should be referred for adjudication to a nominated third party.

Internal Complaints Procedures

  • If an applicant is unhappy about the conduct or procedures undertaken by a LA during the assessment process, they are entitled to make a complaint to the LA via its formal complaints procedure;
  • A LA must be given the opportunity to deal with the complaint before it is escalated, unless the matter requires and warrants the immediate intervention of the courts and to go through an internal complaints procedure would be further detrimental to the welfare of the applicant;
  • A Local Authority's internal complaints procedure should be made available upon request by the applicant or his/her representative;
  • All stages of the complaints procedure must be completed and the young person should be provided with a written reason for the decision, including the opportunity for a re assessment if further evidence is received by the Local Authority.

Local Government Ombudsmen (LGO)

Possible outcomes

There are a number of possible outcomes the Ombudsman might reach:

  • Not investigated;
  • Investigation discontinued;
  • Investigation completed. Where the LGO completes an investigation, it will make one of the following decisions:
    • There was fault by the LA concerned and the Ombudsman makes recommendations about how the LA should put the matter right;
    • There was fault found and the LA had taken action to put the matter right by the time the LGO complete its investigation;
    • There was fault found but this did not cause the applicant significant injustice; or
    • There was no fault found;
    • Written Formal Report;
    • Public decision statement.

Judicial Review

Judicial Review is a 2-staged process: 1) Permission stage and 2) Substantive Hearing.

Grounds of Challenge

In age assessment cases grounds may include:

  • A challenge to the conclusion, on the facts, (namely the age of the applicant);
  • Following the decision of the Supreme Court in R (A) v Croydon, R (M) v Lambeth (2009) 1 WLR 2557; a local authority will commit an error of law if its decision as to age was, on the balance of probabilities, incorrect.

Other conventional judicial review grounds are;

  • A LA does not have the power to make a particular decision, or it has used a power which it does have for an improper purpose;
  • A decision is irrational (/unreasonable);
  • A procedure followed by the LA in the assessment is unfair or biased;
  • A decision taken is in breach of the Human Rights Act;
  • A decision taken is in breach of European Community Law;
  • A LA failed to comply with one of its legal duties, for example, the public sector equality duties.

Permission Stage

The test for permission was considered by the Court of Appeal in R (F) v Lewisham LBC [2010] 1 FLR 1463 and re-visited by the Court of Appeal in R (FZ) v London Borough of Croydon [2011] EWCA Civ 59:

"Whether there is a realistic prospect or arguable case that the court would reach a conclusion that the claimant was of a younger age than that assessed by the local authority"

In deciding whether there is an 'arguable case' or 'realistic prospect', the Court should ask; whether the material before the court raises a factual case, which, when considered could not possibly be successful in a substantive hearing.

If YES, permission should be refused.

If NO, permission should be granted.

What is considered at Permission Stage?

Among other things:

  • The reliability of the LA's assessment;
  • The applicant's factual case;
  • Any issues surrounding the applicant's credibility.

This will determine whether a LA has acted in a way so as to contravene any of the grounds of challenge.

In the Croydon case, two procedural lapses had occurred, (namely a failure to have an appropriate adult present and the failure to give the Applicant an opportunity to address adverse matters.

If permission is refused

The Judge normally decides whether permission should be granted on the papers. However, if permission is refused the applicant can request that the decision is reconsidered at an oral hearing.

If permission is refused again at the oral hearing, the applicant can appeal to the Court of Appeal. However, the permission of the Court of Appeal is required before an appeal can be heard; again this is a two stage process.

Judicial Review

If permission is granted - Substantive Hearing Stage

If permission is granted, the parties then both prepare for a full substantive hearing. The substantive hearing will take place and a judge will consider the issues in detail. The hearing is likely to be transferred to the Upper Tribunal who have expertise in dealing with such hearings.

Evidence at Hearings

Age assessment hearings can be like civil trials and often include live evidence from a number of witnesses, cross examinations, expert witness evidence and evidence given by the applicant themselves as well as documentary evidence.

Possible Outcomes

Where there has been a full contested substantive hearing and the applicant has established that the age assessment is inherently flawed (either procedurally or substantively) the decision may be quashed and no longer relied on by the LA.

A declaration of the applicant's age by the court may be appropriate. This creates a mechanism whereby the young person's age, determined by the court, will be binding on all parties; (the applicant, the local authority and the Home Office).


Legal aid

It may be that UASC affected by a Local Authority's decision are in receipt of means tested benefits such as income support, income based job seekers allowance. If so, and their claim has a reasonable chance of success, they are likely to be eligible for public funding (legal aid). In such circumstances the Legal Aid Agency (formerly the Legal Services Commission) covers the costs of the claimant's solicitors and protects them from any adverse costs risk.

Conversely, in light of the recent changes to Legal Aid, it may become increasingly difficult for UASC's to secure legal funding which may see the rise in more internal complaint for Local Authorities.

LGO or Judicial Review

  • It is not possible to make a complaint to the LGO if Judicial Review Proceedings have been initiated.

4. Assessment and Support Arrangements

Please see also Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Protocol Appendix C Checklists.

When a referral is received, a duty worker will be assigned to assess the young person. It is likely that the following will already have been established, but you should check you have the following basic information:

  • Full name and date of birth of the young person;
  • Country of origin and ethnicity;
  • Languages spoken and whether an interpreter is required;
  • Asylum status (i.e. has the young person made a claim), whether they have or can obtain any ID/travel documents in their possession;
  • Whether or not their age has been disputed by the Home Office;
  • Any concerns that the child/YP may have been trafficked.

Depending on the day and time of the referral, it may be necessary to place the young person in emergency accommodation overnight. Operations Director/Head of Service will make the decision regarding the type of placement that is needed and the appropriate procedures should be followed.

The young person may have undergone considerable discomfort by the time they first come to the attention of Children's Services. They may not have slept, eaten, or even had a drink for some time. They may have been wearing the same clothes for several days and the clothes may be inadequate for them in what may be a very different climate from their originating area. They may not be able to explain these needs because of language and cultural differences and they may be confused and scared to ask for what they need.

The attending Social Worker should smile, make them welcome, introduce themselves and make sure the young person knows they are not the police or immigration.

Attending to their most immediate needs of hydration, nourishment, cleanliness and comfort is as important as fulfilling other legal and procedural requirements. The individual's basic needs have to be met with compassion and care. Offer them a drink and the opportunity to use the toilet.

Communication will be a priority so ask about the young person's first language and make any necessary arrangements for Interpreters.

A child or young person may make an asylum application to:

  • An Immigration Officer at the point of entry;
  • Or, in the case of children already in the UK, at one of the Border and Immigration Screening Units, or a Police Station;
  • If a child is already in the UK and is picked up and detained by the Police, the Officer in Charge can make an application on their behalf and inform the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA);
  • Immigration will inform the local authority within whose jurisdiction the UASC is found;
  • A child/young person may present to Children's Services, but they cannot make an asylum application to Children's Services but may need assistance to approach the Immigration Service or Police to do this.

Age disputes at referral point

The applicant should be treated as an adult if their physical appearance /demeanour very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age. In these cases they should be provided with a letter setting out the reasons for this view.

Where the age of a person is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that they a child, they may be presumed a child in order to receive immediate assistance.

If the young person has provided details of family within the UK and these details are sufficient to complete an assessment, including a risk assessment, arrangements should be made to gain the consent and gather information from those family members to complete police and LA checks and risk assess whether YP may be placed directly with that relative. This does not necessarily remove the Local Authority's responsibility for the young person, nor the need for them to make a timely application to the Home Office. Legal advice should be sought at this point including a referral for the young person to access independent legal advice in order to make any relevant applications to the Home Office.

If there are no suitable family members or no family members at all, the young person will be accommodated, in suitable accommodation for their projected age, until the age assessment is completed. Consideration at this point should be made as to whether foster care or Supported Lodgings (see Placement of Children Looked After in Supported Lodgings Procedure) or Semi-Independent Placement (Placement of Children Looked After and Care Leavers Aged 16 and 17 in Semi-Independent Placement - ‘Other Arrangements’/’Suitable Accommodation' Procedure) will be most appropriate, given their age and experiences to date. This should be discussed with the young person, and recommendations made to brokerage/ Operations Director when requesting accommodation.

Age Assessments should be completed within 5 working days of the young person being accommodated, however due consideration should be taken regarding case law recommendations (need for experienced workers, independent adult and interpreter) which may impact on this.

Age Assessment

If there are significant reason to doubt the young person's age an Age Assessment should be completed. An assessment of age is carried out if:

  • There is no documentation to prove a young person's age;

  • Their physical appearance and demeanour suggests they may be older or younger than they claim to be;

  • If the Home Office has disputed their age. In this case, a IS97M will be issued.

Age Assessments (see Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Age Assessment CS0343F12) should be carried out by two workers one of whom should be social work qualified, trained and experienced. It is important to make the role of Children's Services clear to the young person who is being assessed.

The assessment takes into account the following factors: physical appearance and demeanour, interaction, social history and family composition, developmental considerations, education, independence / self care skills and health. Information from other sources, such as carers / key workers or medical reports also have to be taken into account. A conclusion is formed based on the assessing worker's professional judgement on whether or not the available information casts considerable doubt on the claimed age of the young person.

Age assessments are not an exact science, and young people should therefore be given the benefit of doubt. It is impossible to determine a child or young person's age exactly, the margin of error can be two- five years either way. Bear in mind that:

  • Children can look and act older (because of their experience);
  • Facial hair grows on some boys earlier;
  • Young person may not know their date of birth (birthdays not celebrated, calendars not used). Converting from one calendar to another, mistakes can be made;
  • Young person may have given different ages to different professionals/authorities;
  • Within ethnic and national groups there are wide variations in young people's growth, age of puberty etc;
  • Some children and young people will be traumatised and/or illiterate and this may impact on their ability to communicate and provide information in a coherent manner.

When completing an Age Assessment – ensure the following are taken into account:

  • The young person should be accompanied during the assessment by an appropriate adult;
  • The young person should be informed of the purpose of the assessment and of the consequences of the assessment decision;
  • An assessment cannot be made solely on the basis of appearance and should be holistic;
  • An assessment should take into account relevant factors from the young person's medical, family, social and educational history, including their activities over the past few years;
  • It is advisable to complete a timeline of their life history with the young person;
  • A child-friendly and sensitive approach should be adopted, and the assessor should check that questions have been understood, and breaks offered;
  • The young person should be given an opportunity within the assessment to answer any adverse points the decision maker is minded to hold against them.

Even if the Home Office is treating the person as an adult and they have stated they are a child, they have the right to approach Children's Services who must make their own assessment as to age. Children's Services MAY override an age decision made by immigration officers.

The young person must be informed at completion of the Age Assessment whether or not their age is accepted or disputed. They must be provided with a copy of the assessment, shared with the support of an interpreter. The young person must be given the chance to respond to the reasons for disputing their age claim, and this must be recorded.

In cases where the Home Office has disputed the person's age, they will need to be advised on the outcome of the assessment, so they can amend their records if necessary. Contact should be made with the applicants Case Owner located at the Home Office.

If a young person is assessed to be over 18, they may be entitled to support from the Home Office. However, under section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, if the Home Office is not satisfied that the young person has made their claim as soon as reasonably practical or that they are destitute, they may not be granted support. Young people whose age has been disputed should therefore be referred to the Refugee Council for further advice.

The ADCS Asylum Task Force has worked with the Home Office to provide a set of jointly agreed “good practice documents”. These documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to local authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on local authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.

Child in Need Assessment

See also Child and Family Assessments Procedure.

If a young person is presumed a minor, make it a priority to get the child to an appropriate and comfortable location (this should be away from a police station) where you can talk to them and start your assessment. Many trafficked children go missing from care, often within 48 hours, so the location of their whereabouts must not be divulged to any enquirers

The following should be assessed:

  • How they are feeling, do they need to see a doctor or dentist? Are they hungry? Tired? Scared? Make sure that any urgent needs are met;
  • Ask if there is anyone the young person needs to phone to let them know they have arrived safely. Make sure they know that making a call will not put their asylum claim in jeopardy. Let them know that they can make a call when you have finished your discussion;
  • The circumstances under which the young person has left their country of origin and come to the UK. Ask about their journey (this will help you to assist in their applications/appeals). Find out about any links to family and friends in the UK and if there are any links to other Local Authorities;
  • The immigration / asylum status of the young person and whether they have accessed legal advice. If they have not yet made a claim for asylum, they will need to present to an asylum screening unit as soon as possible. The Children's Panel at the Refugee Council can provide assistance with the asylum process and help young people to access appropriate legal representation. It is important that young people have competent legal representation, as the solicitors will be responsible for preparing the young person's Statement of Evidence (SEF), forming the basis of their claim for asylum. The child will need a clear explanation of the roles of all those individuals and agencies and the separation between police, immigration and the Local Authority's care responsibilities;
  • Where appropriate, the details / circumstances of the young person's local connection to Hertfordshire should be established;
  • Complete a Child and Family Assessment of their needs. This should include full name, date of birth, country of origin, diet, allergies, religious and cultural needs, background details and reasons for fleeing. The assessment should ascertain any particular psychological or emotional impact of their experiences, and consider the need for mental health services. The risk of them going missing from care should be evaluated and recorded on the child's case summary;
  • Ask the young person what they want in terms of outcomes. Do not make any assumptions as they may wish to return home. The assessment should establish that the child understand their situation, how they will be supported, and the risks they may face from traffickers. Unaccompanied children should be informed that they will not be removed from the UK before their 18th birthday, and they should be asked what would help them to feel safe;
  • The child's extended network in the UK should be explored fully as there may be options for placement with family members which would better meet the child's cultural and emotional needs. If a viable placement is adopted, legal advice should be sought regarding the Local Authority's continued responsibility to the child once placed. Consider the implications of related guidance such as Private Fostering Arrangements. See Private Fostering Procedure.

It is important to bear in mind that some young people may have encountered traumatic experiences, that they may find it difficult to talk about family members or that they may be suspicious towards Children's Services staff.

Where there are concerns that a young person may have been trafficked to the UK, the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB) as well as the Police and Immigration Services should be informed, and consideration made to complete an assessment under S47 Children Act 1989.

If you are in contact with interviewing Immigration Officers, ensure you have recorded their name and contact details.


Most young people do not have any form of identification, apart from documents issued by the Home Office. These documents are proof of their immigration status. Documents that may be available include:

  • Immigration Papers – (IS96 if applying at the Port of Entry) IS96 is a paper giving right of entry to the UK;
  • 'One Stop Notice' and Statement of additional ground (extra information on reasons why asylum is applied for);
  • Asylum Screening Unit (ASU) documentation - If a young person has been accepted as an unaccompanied minor, they should have been issued with a special screening letter from the ASU. This screening letter should contain the date when they need to return to the Home Office (usually within 2-4 weeks). The young person will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult, such as a legal representative, Social Worker, keyworker or Refugee Council panel advisor. If the young person's age has been disputed, a different screening letter stating this will have been issued to them. Either Screening letter, or the first page of the Statement of Evidence (SEF) Form, should contain the Home Office Reference number (usually starting with a capital letter followed by several digits). This number is important for any enquiries to the Home Office;
  • Asylum Registration Card (ARC) - UASC are usually issued with the ARC photo card either on the day of their asylum claim or at their second screening appointment. This is usually their only identification with a photograph. The ARC card states the full name, Date of Birth, Nationality and languages spoken by the young person;
  • Letter from a legal representative - If the young person has a solicitor, they should issue them with a letter on headed paper confirming the fact that they will be acting on their behalf in immigration matters and stating the young person's current asylum status.

A copy of all the above should be taken and placed on the young person's file.

Legal Support

From 1st April 2013 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LAPSO) brought significant cuts to legal aid for immigration cases.

Hertfordshire will support young people to access appropriate legal representation in order to appeal an immigration claim refusal if it is an assessed need; legal aid does not cover the costs; the legal representative for the Young Person advises there is more than a 50% chance of success; and the young person cannot fund this appeal themselves.

Although there is no explicit provision stating that Local Authorities are required to underwrite the cost of a child/care leaver's legal fees if they cannot access mainstream legal aid, we have to consider whether to do so will be the best way to meet the child/ care leaver's identified needs and whether by not doing so would breach the legal obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to treat the child's best interests as a primary consideration in all actions. Where regularising a child/ care leaver's immigration status will have a significant impact on their present and future wellbeing, stability and prospects, Hertfordshire will take active steps to support them in resolving their immigration case. This may include supporting the child/ care leaver to access appropriate independent legal assistance and underwriting the cost. See Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Protocol Appendix E Finance Process CS0369.

Following the Age Assessment and assessment of need

The Social worker should discuss the outcome of the assessment with their Practice Manager. If the young person has been assessed as under 18, the Authority will remain responsible for their care pending any further assessments or until a decision is reached on the young person's application from the Home Office. The young person will usually be accommodated under Section 20, unless there are specific reasons that warrant an alternative response. This could be because the young person has access to suitable alternative accommodation in the meantime. This decision will be made by Operations Director/Head of Service. Ensure that they have sufficient information to make a decision regarding accommodation. If a placement is required contact Brokerage Service at the earliest stage to enable a placement search. If a placement is arranged, or if the young person is returning to a placement set up by Children Services Out of Hours Service make sure that the carers understand how to use Language Line, have any relevant information from the assessment and know of reporting issues and the importance of young people carrying identification.

Explain to the young person what will happen next and make sure they know about the Refugee Council.

Decision on Services offered

When a young person is accepted as a Child in Need for whom Hertfordshire has responsibility, a decision will be made on whether they should be accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 or supported under Section 17 CA 1989.

Where a newly arrived young person has no parents or suitable carers in the UK, the presumption is that he or she "would fall within the scope of section 20 CA 1989 and become looked after, unless the needs assessment reveals particular factors which would suggest that an alternative response would be more appropriate".

However, wishes and feelings of the young person, who may not want to become looked after, need to be taken into account. In some cases young people may wish to live with friends or relatives. The Local Authority should assess whether the young person has any other needs apart from accommodation. If the needs assessment concludes that accommodation under section 20 is not a suitable course of action, young people will be supported under section 17 CA 1989. It is important to explain the implications of different services to young people as part of the assessment and decision-making process.

Young people who, when presenting to Children's Services, are aged over 17 years and 9 months, will be supported under section 17 CA 1989 only, because they would not in any case satisfy the criteria to receive Leaving Care services. With these young people there will be a particular need to establish which services they may be entitled to when turning 18.

Asylum Status

The Home office policy is not to seek to remove an unaccompanied minor from the UK unless it is possible to put in place acceptable reception and care arrangements in his/her country of origin and that it is safe to do so.

Newly arrived unaccompanied minors will usually be asked to return to the Home Office within 2-4 weeks. For this appointment, they should be accompanied by a responsible adult, i.e. a legal representative, Refugee Council Panel Advisor, social worker or key worker or a family /friend. It is important to establish who will accompany the young person. A letter from Children's Services needs to be provided to the Home Office to state that the unaccompanied minor is receiving support.

In the first 4 weeks, young people will also need to see their solicitor to receive legal advice on their asylum claim and complete their Statement of Evidence (SEF) Form. In some cases, young people may need to be accompanied to some of these meetings by any of the responsible adults listed above.

There are a variety different possible outcomes arising from an asylum claim. The legal team will be aware of the most up to date legislation and can advise the young person and social worker of these.

Support under section 17 Children Act 1989

The service under section 17 CA 1989 may include accommodation (in exceptional cases), financial assistance and social work support relevant to the developmental needs of the young person. This involves regular meetings with the young person (home visits, office appointments).

The support under section 17 CA 1989 usually continues until they reach the age of 18, or until they no longer require support as children in need through other circumstances.

As a result of the Hillingdon Judgement, young people who were formerly supported by Hertfordshire under section 17 CA 1989 could be entitled to services as a Relevant or Former Relevant child. In these cases an initial assessment of their current circumstances should be carried out, including issues around health, education, housing, income, social integration and community support and current immigration status.

Issues around accommodation and support after their 18th birthday, such as application for relevant housing schemes, Housing Benefit, or, depending on their status, Home Office support, have to be addressed through a Pathway Plan. Support under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

Young people who are deemed in need of accommodation and support under section 20 CA 1989, will be offered a Looked After service. The allocated social worker is responsible for carrying out statutory visits (see Statutory Visits to Children Looked After Procedure) and for completing further CLA paperwork. The child's social worker or carer should accompany them to all meetings with legal or immigration professionals.

If there is a reason to believe the child is a victim of Trafficking this must be recorded on their Care Plan The Plan should include a description of how the child's needs in relation to being unaccompanied or trafficked will be met. The plan should record what access to specialised legal advice and support in relation to immigration and asylum applications, decisions, and court proceedings will be provided. A photograph of the child should be kept on file for use if the child goes missing. See Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board, Children Who May Have Been Trafficked.

Steps to keep trafficked children safe could include the following:

  • Activating a National Referral Mechanism (NRM);
  • Referral to Police;
  • Temporarily removing their mobile phone to prevent traffickers getting in touch; ensuring other methods of keeping in touch with family and friends are put in place if required;
  • Encouraging children to memorise a phone number so that if they find themselves at risk they can contact their carer/social worker;
  • Allowing access to the internet in group settings only;
  • Providing 24 hour supervision for the first few months of care;
  • Ensuring the child's room is not easily accessible or provides and easy exit.

In line with statutory requirements, CLA reviews will be held at regular intervals, during which decisions will be made on whether the young person should remain accommodated or become a relevant child.

It may be appropriate after a period of 3-6 months to review the young person's Age Assessment There may be additional information via health and education available at this time which may make such as assessment more accurate, and the young person may benefit from a review to ensure they are receiving services commensurate with their developmental needs.

A Pathway Plan should be started no later than 3 months after the young person's 16th birthday. The Plan is subject to regular review, and follows existing procedures for children leaving care but should take particular account of the status and specific needs of unaccompanied children.


Young people supported under Section 20 CA 1989 may be placed in foster / residential care if this appears the best option due to their development and vulnerability. For many young people aged 16-17, a S 20 placement in Semi-Independent Placements (see Placement of Children Looked After and Care Leavers Aged 16 and 17 in Semi-Independent Placement - ‘Other Arrangements’/’Suitable Accommodation’ Procedure) or Supported Lodgings (see Placement of Children Looked After in Supported Lodgings Procedure) may be more appropriate, where they receive support from key workers. For children who may have been trafficked, an out of area placement may be appropriate to put distance between the child and where the traffickers expect them to be.

Foster carers may need support in understanding the particular needs of UASC in relation to cultural differences, education, language differences, religious differences and the effects of trauma. The Fostering Service provides a support group for foster carers caring for UASC, offer specific training if required and ensure each child and placement has a personalised plan to meet identified need (which needs to be discussed at the placement planning meeting).

The Brokerage Service will be a key partner during all stages of a UASC placement. Follow the checklist to ensure Brokerage Support are informed of all key appointments and changes in the child's immigration status. A HARP referral should be made within 5 days of the placement or within 5 days of the Age Assessment if one will be required.

Health Support for UASC

Young people should be helped to access relevant primary health care services (GP, dentist, and optician) as soon as possible after their arrival including a CLA health assessment. See Health Care Assessments, Health Checks and Health Care Plans Procedure. This task is usually undertaken by carers or supported housing key workers, and needs to be addressed in Care Plans. Health information may inform a young person's age assessment, however dental or medical procedures including X-rays should not be undertaken for the sole purpose of informing a young person's age. The Health plan should also consider the child's emotional and psychological needs which may have arisen from their experiences in their country of origin, their journey to the UK, or at the hands of traffickers and how these will be addressed. They may need access to specialist mental health services and treatment, and the plan will need to set out the objectives, actions, timescales and responsibilities of which agency providing the assessment and support.

Education Support for UASC

Young people will need particular support in accessing appropriate education and unaccompanied minors, as looked after children they are entitled to priority admission into school. See Education of Children Looked After Procedure. The Education plan should include the pathway for securing high quality provision in school or other settings, and support if they have a special educational need. This will include access to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes which are held at local colleges or community learning centres. Carers may also support language acquisition through supporting young people with EAL homework and strategies –early links between the carers and education support should be set up soon after placement.

The Virtual School will be a key link to ensuring the child's education needs are met and reviewed regularly.

Specific issues affecting UASC in relation to accessing education includes gaps in formal education; types of previous education (some children may only have had religious education); cultural confusion; community isolation; language difficulties; racist abuse; impact of trauma.

Carers may access EAL homework to support the acquisition of English and provide strategies to use at home.

Referral to the Refugee Council Children's Panel

The Refugee Council Children's Panel can provide advice and support for UASC, particularly in the following areas: accessing appropriate and competent legal immigration advice, contact to refugee community organisations, advocacy or contact to family tracing services.

If a young person is considered to be particularly vulnerable and in need of additional support, the Refugee Council may allocate a Panel Advisor who will have regular contact, usually during the initial period after a young person has arrived in the UK. The Refugee Council can also assist with voluntary return if the young person has exhausted all appeal rights.

Case Transfer

The Assessment Team will transfer to the Children Looked After Service at initial CLA Review. The Assessment team should alert CLA Service Manager of the date of the Review as soon as this is generated, as an early alert. The Case Summary on LCS

should be updated at that point to record key information about the child's situation and key dates for appointments with Refugee Council; Home Office; Health Assessments etc.

The CLA Team will transfer to Targeted Youth Service (TYS) when the child/YP is 17 ½ and the Pathway Plan has been completed. A full transfer summary should be sent to the TYS manager before the final CLA review to allow attendance by the TYS manager/identified worker at that review.

Missing UASC

UASC are vulnerable to 'people traffickers'. They are often targeted, recruited or coerced into the sex industry or the 'slave trade' (indentured service). Children who have been trafficked may be reluctant to disclose the circumstances of their exploitation or arrival into the UK through fear of reprisals, coaching/grooming or out of misplaced loyalty.

When any UASC goes missing, or does not go where they are expected to go, the Police must be contacted and all available information given that may lead to the child or young person being recovered. The young person may need to be discussed at SEARCH panel.

The UK Visas and Immigration must be informed as they hold a current photograph and finger print record. Details of the missing UASC will be posted on the UASC index. This will ultimately be part of the national Child index for England and Wales.

When a missing UASC is located, it may appear that the young person is willingly involved in the sex industry or as an indentured worker, but this must be carefully explored as the UASC may be paying back a debt of honour, and it may put them or their family of origin at risk if they do not continue to co-operate. They should be viewed as at risk, and continuing efforts should be made to protect them and their family of origin. This requires a strategy meeting with the Police and agreement about how to proceed, including consideration of the need for a S47 investigation /Care Proceedings under The Children Act 1989. National Referral Mechanism should also be considered under these circumstances.

5. Supporting Asylum Seeking Care Leavers

The care leaver service for unaccompanied asylum seekers post 18 years of age is provided within Services for Young People. This service is responsible for planning continuing support with care leavers until they reach the age of 21 or up to 24 years for young people where they have refugee status and are in education or training.

The majority of former Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children aged 18+ will have been supported under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and will therefore be 'Former Relevant Children'.

Each young person will have a Personal Adviser, who will provide support and be responsible for keeping in touch and the co-ordination and delivery of the young person's Pathway Plan.

When the young person reaches 17 ½ years, the Children Looked After team will provide the 18+ service with an early alert form. This will include a summary of the young person, their current asylum status and details of the last CLA review meeting. A representative from the UAS 18+ service will attend the last CLA review to support introductions with the young person and to promote a smooth transition across the services. Once the young person reaches 18 years of age, the UAS 18+ service will assume case responsibility.

When a case is transferred it is important to know the immigration status of the young person. This will centre on their Asylum application and appeal. Former looked-after children whose asylum cases are still pending will remain eligible for UK Visas and Immigration grant funding and those with Discretionary Leave to Remain will be eligible for public funds. Those with Refugee Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain can apply to remain in a foster placement under the Staying Put Policy (see Staying Put Policy). Where an Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers immigration status is yet to be determined, private rented accommodation will be explored.

The care leaver service will support the young person in seeking to make contact with relatives from whom they have become estranged, usually in their country of origin. This would be done by linking the young person into established organisations tracing facilities. It is important to note that any outcomes from this search are confidential to the young person and they are therefore not obliged to share the information with the Local Authority. It is important to stress this to young people when 'signposting' them to this service. Workers should encourage all former UASC to attempt to make contact with their families.

The possibility of return to their country of origin should be discussed as part of the young person's Pathway Plan. This should begin whilst they are Children Looked After. Workers must ensure that care leavers are aware of the Assisted Voluntary Returns Scheme which assists repatriation home. Workers should link the young person into organisations that can support them through this process. Workers need to provide sufficient information and support to enable a young person to make an informed choice regarding this option. It is also important that these discussions are reflected in the young persons Pathway Plan and reviewed where circumstances might change.

The Asylum Seekers (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2005 provide that the UK Visas and Immigration has a duty to provide support to asylum seekers under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 if the UK Visas and Immigration considers that the individual is destitute. However, current case law is very clear that that if a former relevant child has a welfare need, Local Authorities can only rely on Section 95 or Section 4 support if they have evidence that the offer of accommodation from the UK Visas and Immigration will meet the needs of the young person. This point has not been tested in Court. If in this position, please seek specialist legal advice.

Should the young person be under twenty-one years of age and in receipt of UK Visas and Immigration accommodation and subsistence, HCC will continue its obligations to the young person as Former Relevant care leaver by providing them with a Personal Adviser and having their Pathway Plan reviewed a minimum of every six months and ensure reasonable contact.

Appeal Rights Exhausted

The financial cost of providing accommodation and subsistence for former relevant children is usually provided through mainstream benefits, if the young person has leave to remain in the UK, although the cost of these and other services may need to be supplemented by Local Authority expenditure and grant funding from UK Visas and Immigration)

Access to Benefits ceases once a young person no longer has leave to remain in the UK. In practice, this is likely to only happen in cases where the young person has been refused asylum and the period of limited 'Discretionary Leave to Remain' that was awarded to them before they turned 18 expires. The young person then becomes Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARX). In addition to the young person losing access to benefits HCC will only be able to access UK Visas and Immigration) funding for a period of 3 months after the ARE date.

HCC currently continues to support young people who become ARX until they become twenty-one years old. This support involves financial support through basic subsistence payments and accommodation, providing this is all inclusive and deemed by Brokerage to be at a reasonable rate. Young people who are ARX also continue to be allocated a Personal Adviser until the age of 21 and have regular Pathway Plan reviews.

The decision of the Court of Appeal in R (O) v. LB Barking & Dagenham (2010) found that a Local Authority does have a general duty to provide a former relevant child with accommodation under section 23C(4)(c) of the Children Act 1989 'to the extent that his or her welfare requires it'. The second point of this ruling was that a Local Authority is not entitled, when considering whether the young person should be provided with accommodation, to take account of the possibility of their receiving support under Section 4. A Local Authority cannot therefore look to the Home Office to provide for the accommodation or support needs of a former UASC who is ARX.

At twenty-one, depending on their circumstances, HCC will no longer financially support a young person who is ARX and they will no longer be assigned a Personal Assistant nor have a continuing Pathway Plan. However, prior to their case being closed at twenty-one their Personal Adviser will support them by trying to link into community support services where deemed appropriate.

Those former UASC who are not former relevant children will not be entitled to support from HCC but will be entitled to support from UK Visas and Immigration if they have an outstanding asylum claim.

Section 54, Schedule 3

Section 54, Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 restricts Local Authorities from providing assistance to four categories of persons from certain social services provisions unless the withdrawal of services will result in a breach of the individual's human rights.

The four categories of ineligible groups are:

  1. A person granted refugee status by another state;
  2. An European Economic Area (EEA) national and any dependants;
  3. A failed asylum seeker who has failed to comply with removal directions;
  4. A person unlawfully present in the UK, which includes failed asylum seekers who applied for asylum in-country.

The Leaving Care Provisions of the Children Act 1989 is one of the provisions of support that is excluded under Section 54, Schedule 3 of the NIAA 2002.

Asylum seeking care leavers who become ARE are likely to fall within the fourth category. Any young person who lodged their application in-country rather than at the port of entry will be deemed unlawfully in the UK if their asylum claim is refused and any appeals finally rejected. In the case of those initially granted a period of Discretionary Leave to Remain once any application and appeal is finally dismissed, the same applies.

Those young people who claimed asylum at the port of entry will also fall into the "unlawfully present in the UK" category after they turn 18 if their asylum claim fails and any applications for further DL have been rejected and their appeals finally dismissed.

Those young people who were not granted Discretionary Leave to Remain and applied for asylum at port of entry can be classified as "lawfully present" and not caught by Schedule 3 when they become ARX. However, these young people will fall into category 3 above if their asylum claim is rejected and they fail to comply with removal directions i.e. they have been given a time and a means to leave the UK and have failed to take this up.

The general position is that young persons who fall into categories 3 or 4 above will be excluded from support under the leaving care provisions. However, HCC has a duty to provide support if the withdrawal of support will result in a breach of the young person's human rights.

Human Rights Assessments

A Human Rights Assessment should be completed to establish whether there is an obligation to support young persons who are ARX under the Leaving Care Provisions in order to prevent a breach of their human rights.

The relevant articles of the European Convention on Human Rights are:

Article 3 – prohibition on torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

Article 8 – respect for private and family life

Article 6 – right to a fair and public hearing (in cases where the person is involved in court proceedings in the UK)

A Human Rights Assessment should include:

  • The support history of the young person in the UK;
  • Family, friends and other ties the young person has in the UK and in the country of origin;
  • Whether the young person will be homeless, be able to work, access services in the country of origin;
  • Whether there are any health needs that need to be considered;
  • Case law and legislation that requires consideration;
  • Whether there are any legal or practical barriers to the young person returning to their county of origin;
  • Whether there would be any Article 3, 8 or 6 HRA breaches if the young person were to return to their country of origin;
  • What support will be offered to the young person by the Local Authority in order to avoid breach of their human rights.

A legal barrier is when a young person has made a fresh application for asylum or fresh representations to the UK Visas and Immigration based on human rights. Practical barriers to return to the country of origin can include factors such as lack of travel documents or being temporarily unable to travel due to a medical condition. It may be appropriate at this stage for the Local Authority to conduct a Human Rights Assessment to ascertain whether support is necessary to avoid a breach of the young person's human rights. The NRPF Network in Islington has developed a template for Human Rights Assessments which the HCC can use when assessing young people.

Case law provides that if there are no legal or practical barriers to the young person returning to their country of origin, the denial of support does not constitute a breach of the individual's human rights and the Local Authority can assist the young person with travel arrangements to facilitate his/her return to their country of origin.

6. References and further Guidance

HSCB Chapters

Appendix A: Glossary of Terms relating to Asylum and Immigration

Age-disputed child

An age-disputed child is an asylum applicant whose claimed date of birth is not accepted by the Home Office and/or by the local authority who have been approached to provide support. This term is usually used to refer to people who claim to be children, but who are treated as adults by the Home Office and/or the local authority.

Article 3 of EHCR

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) states that 'No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'. A person can make a claim for protection based directly on Article 3 of ECHR as states are prohibited from returning a person to a country where she/he may suffer a violation of his/her rights under Article 3.

Article 8 (of ECHR)

Article 8 of the ECHR states that "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence". Article 8 issues may be raised as part of an asylum application, or in the context of an appeal against deportation or removal. Article 8 is a qualified rather than an absolute right and the second part of it sets out circumstances where authorities may interfere with the right. The Immigration Rules were amended in 2012 to reflect the qualified nature of Article 8.

Article 31

Article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention prohibits states from penalising a refugee for illegal entry when the purpose of their entry is to claim asylum.

Accession countries

The 10 accession countries which joined the European Union (EU) on the 1st May 2004. These are: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

Asylum Seeker

A person who has applied to the government of a country other than their own for protection or refuge ('asylum') because they are unable or unwilling to seek the protection of their own government.

A family which has been accepted as asylum seekers is entitled to support from UK Visas and Immigration) and may not be supported financially by the local authority.

Asylum appellant

A person whose application for asylum has been turned down but who has an appeal pending against the decision to refuse. Family is supported by UK Visas and Immigration may not be supported by the local authority.

Asylum interview

An asylum interview is a substantive interview about a person's reasons for claiming asylum in the UK.


ASYS is the Home Office asylum seekers support system database, which contains details of asylum seekers applying for and receiving support.

'As soon as reasonably practicable'

Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 gives the Home Secretary power to deny support to asylum seekers who have not applied for asylum 'as soon as reasonably practicable'. In December 2003, the Home Secretary provided further clarification by announcing that asylum seekers would be considered to have made their claim 'as soon as reasonably practicable' if they could give 'credible explanation' of how they arrived in the UK within three days of applying for asylum. However, support and accommodation must be provided if the applicant would have to live in inhuman or degrading circumstances otherwise.

Certificate of identity

Certificate of Identity, also known as the 'Home Office travel document' can be issued to people who have humanitarian protection or discretionary leave. The Certificate of Identity is not valid to travel to the country of origin.

Certified "clearly unfounded"

Certification under s94 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 prevents an asylum seeker whose claim is so certified from appealing against the refusal of asylum on either Refugee Convention or human rights grounds from within the UK. There is a presumption that certification will be issued to citizens of Republic of Albania; Bulgaria; Serbia & Montenegro (including Kosovo); Jamaica; Macedonia; Moldova; Romania; Bangladesh; Bolivia; Brazil; Ecuador; Sri Lanka; South Africa; and Ukraine. This list changes with time. Local authority may offer temporary support pending removal only.

Convention Travel Document (CDT)

A Convention Travel Document, also known as 'blue document' is given to people with refugee status to use as a valid travel document in place of passport to travel overseas. This document is valid for all countries except the one from which the person sought asylum.

Destitution assessment

An assessment of whether a family has any means of support, and of whether the withdrawal of financial support would lead to genuine destitution.

Discretionary leave (DL or DLR)

Time limited permission to stay, granted where the Home Office does not accept that either refugee status or humanitarian protection is appropriate. Entitled to assistance from public funds.

Dublin II Regulation

Dublin II Regulation provides all EU member states with a mechanism for allocating responsibility to a single member state for processing an asylum claim. A number of principles apply, such as family unity The state where the person first entered the EU is responsible for dealing with an asylum claim.

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The ECHR is an international legal instrument adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Its provisions are enforceable in UK law courts.

Exceptional leave (ELR)

Permission given to remain by the Home Office 'outside of the Immigration Rules', that is, for a reason not covered by the Immigration Rules. Asylum seekers who did not meet all the Refugee Convention criteria but whom the Home Office recognized could still not be returned used to be given ELR. Abolished on 1 April 2003: replaced by DL or humanitarian protection. Was commonly given to unaccompanied asylum seekers from conflict areas.

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The ECHR is an international legal instrument adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Its provisions are enforceable in UK law courts.

European Economic Area

Countries that are members of the European Union together with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Failed asylum seeker

Someone who has applied for asylum, been refused and has no appeal pending. Local authority may only assist for 14 days following refusal to cooperate with travel or removal arrangements.

Fresh Claim

When an asylum seeker has had their claim rejected, but then new evidence becomes available which was not considered in their initial claim, they may submit the new evidence to the Home Office as a fresh claim for asylum.

Humanitarian protection

Leave to remain granted to asylum seekers who do not meet all the criteria to enable them to receive refugee status but whom the Home Office cannot return because there is a serious risk that their rights under Article 3 ECHR would be breached, they would be unlawfully killed or they would face the death penalty. Entitled to assistance from public funds.

HC1 form

Application form for help with medical costs.

HC2 certificate

Certificate which allows someone to claim free prescriptions and some dental and optical services.

Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into the UK law.

Human rights assessment

An assessment of whether a person or family's human rights would be breached by withdrawal of support and/or return to their country of origin.

Illegal immigrant

A person who has entered the UK unlawfully. Local authority may offer temporary support pending removal only.

Indefinite leave

This is leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom without time restrictions. A person with indefinite leave can be said to be settled in the United Kingdom. Entitled to assistance from public funds.

Judicial review

In the context of asylum claims, judicial review enables the applicant to challenge a decision on the basis that the original decision was based on the incorrect application of law. Judicial reviews cannot be used to challenge the asylum decision itself, this is the role of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal

Limited leave

This is leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a specified period of time. Conditions may be attached. Examples of such conditions are: restrictions on employment, requirement that persons maintain themselves without recourse to public funds or a requirement to register with the police. Support varies dependent on conditions attached.


A NASS 35 is a document which states that the holder is no longer entitled to asylum support as they have received a positive decision on their asylum application. It is used to demonstrate that they are eligible for welfare benefits and have the right to work.

National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate protection and support.


The process whereby adults who are not British may apply for British citizenship.

Non-compliance refusal

A non-compliance refusal is a refusal of an asylum claim on the grounds that the applicant has not complied with a direction given by the Home Office. These can include failure to provide appropriate documentation or failure to attend a Home Office interview.

Non-suspensive appeals (NSA)

When a claim for asylum falls under the non-suspensive appeals process it means that the applicant only has the right to appeal against a negative Home Office decision once outside of the UK.

Ordinary residence

The country in which a person is normally living for the time being. If a person is not legally in a country that period does not count as ordinary residence.


Someone who remains in the United Kingdom beyond the period of the leave they have been granted. Local authority may offer temporary support pending removal only.

Political asylum

The status granted to people in the United Kingdom who are recognised as refugees. Entitled to assistance from public funds.

Right of abode

Right to enter the United Kingdom freely and without being subject to immigration control. Entitled to assistance from public funds.


A person who is unwilling or unable to return to the country of their nationality or former habitual residence because of a well founded fear of persecution on Convention grounds. Entitled to assistance from public funds if their claim for asylum is accepted.

Refugee status

Refugee status is awarded to someone the Home Office recognises as a refugee as described in the Refugee Convention. A person given refugee status is normally granted leave to remain in the UK for 5 years, and at the end of that period can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.


A further process for obtaining British citizenship, used for example by children, as well as persons who hold other kinds of British nationality (such as British Overseas citizens).


A person is settled in the United Kingdom if they are ordinarily resident here without any restriction on the period for which they may remain. Entitled to assistance from public funds.

Schengen group

All European Union countries except the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark. It is a group which established common immigration policy and common border controls, with no internal border checks. A Schengen visa entitles a person to travel to any of those countries.

Screening interview

Screening interviews are meetings between asylum seekers and immigration officers to establish: identity, route to the UK, liability to return to a third country, eligibility for support, liability to prosecution, liability to detention and suitability for being dealt with under the fast track procedure. During the interview asylum seekers have their photo and fingerprints taken and are issued with an asylum registration card.

Section 4 support

Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 gives the Home Office power to grant support to some destitute asylum seekers whose asylum application and appeals have been rejected. Support granted under Section 4 is also known as 'hard case' support.

Section 9

Section 9 of the Asylum & Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004 gives the Home Office power to withdraw support from families with children under 18 whose asylum application and appeals have been rejected and who are thought not to be co-operating with efforts to remove them. It also prevents local authorities from providing such support for the whole family although they may have the power to provide support to the child.

Section 55 (Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002)

Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 gives the Home Office power to deny support to asylum seekers deemed not to have applied for asylum 'as soon as reasonably practicable'. See 'As soon as reasonably practicable'.

Section 55 (Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009)

Section 55 of the Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 requires the Home Office to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in discharging its immigration and nationality functions.

Section 57

Section 57 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 states that Home Office support can be withheld if the asylum seeker fails to provide complete or accurate information to the authorities or fails to co-operate with further enquiries.

Separated children

Separated children are children under 18 years of age who are outside their country of origin and separated from both parents, or previous/legal customary care giver. Separated children are typically asylum seekers, but not in every case.

Temporary admission

Method of admission given as an alternative to detention while the Immigration Officers are considering whether to allow someone in at a port of entry, or after refusal of entry and before removal, or when a person is treated as an illegal entrant, he or she may either be detained or released on temporary admission. UK Visas and Immigration support: may not be assisted by the local authority.

Temporary protection

A particular status that has been granted when large numbers of asylum seekers arrive from a particular region or country. Determination of refugee status is temporarily suspended. UK Visas and Immigration support: may not be assisted by the local authority.

Unaccompanied children seeking asylum

Unaccompanied children seeking asylum are children who have applied for asylum in their own right, who are outside their country of origin and separated from both parents, or previous/legal customary primary care giver.

UK Border Agency (UKBA)

UKBA was an agency of the Home Office with responsibility for immigration control in the UK. In March 2013, it was announced that UKBA was being abolished and its functions taken back into the Home Office. It is now called UK Visas and Immigration.

UK Border Force

The UK Border Force is responsible for border control operations at ports. It used to be part of the UK Border Agency but was separated from UKBA in March 2012.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refuges (UNHCR)

The UNHCR is the UN agency with a mandate to protect refugees worldwide.

Work permit

A work permit is issued to an employer by the Department for Education and Employment, Overseas Labour Service. The work permit enables an employer to employ a named worker in a specific job. There are several categories of work permit. Some may lead to indefinite leave, others do not (e.g. key worker permits). In some cases (TWES permits) an applicant undertakes to leave the United Kingdom at the end of the period granted, and may not normally return on a work permit for 2 years. Not usually entitled to assistance from public funds.

Appendix B: National Referral Mechanism

Human trafficking victims: referral and assessment forms for child victims and potential adult victims.