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1 in 10 children in care has an unresolved immigration or nationality issue

On Friday 18 February 2022 Coram Children's Legal Centre and the South London Refugee Association published new research indicating that in England, at least 1 in 10 children in care has an unresolved immigration or nationality issue.

The joint report, 'Taking Care: How local authorities can best address immigration issues of children in care' detailed how despite children growing up in the care system having legal rights to immigration status or citizenship, without the necessary paperwork to prove these rights their opportunities in later life can be curtailed. Steps such as setting up a bank account, applying to university, obtaining a driving licence, voting or applying for jobs are complicated by unresolved immigration issues.

Dr Carol Homden CBE, chief executive of Coram, said: "Children who are taken into care in England need their corporate parents to look out for them in every way, including sorting out their immigration status, citizenship and passport. In immigration and nationality law as with so many other areas, early intervention and a proactive approach can change the course of children's lives, providing permanence and the chance to thrive."

The report also argues that resolving these immigration issues early for children in care is not only best for the child, but more cost effective for the local authority. Whilst a citizenship application for a child costs £1,012, waiting until after the young person leaves care can cost as much as £130,000 in Home Office fees and support with living.

Coram Children's Legal Centre is working with local authorities to address this issue, asking them to sign a pledge to:

• identify all looked-after children and care leavers with immigration and nationality issues;

• connect looked-after children and care leavers with good quality legal support as soon as possible;

• take a proactive and informed role in supporting looked after children and care leavers through any immigration applications and appeals;

• enable those who are eligible to apply for permanent status and British citizenship.

For the report, click here.

Julia Queen, Barrister, Coram Chambers