Personal Immigration

The refugee family reunification bill

MPs last week called on the home secretary Sajid Javid to pass the bill for refugee family reunification. The bill, which would relax some of the obstructive rules around family reunification, has been waiting to pass into law for a year.

What does the law say about refugee family reunification at the moment?

Currently, UK immigration rules prevent adult refugees from submitting applications for parents, grandparents, siblings or even their own children over 18 years old from joining them. They are only allowed to put in applications for married or civil partners plus any dependent children under 18 years. Controversially, refugee children living in the UK on their own do not have the right to be reunified with their parents or siblings.

What does the refugee family reunion bill seek to change?

Put simply, the bill aims to widen the definition of a family member. MP Angus Brendan MacNeil’s bill would include parents and adoptive parents, children and siblings who are under 18, or who are under 25 years but were under 18 years when the individual granted asylum left their country of residence.

Who is concerned about the delay?

Campaigners think the government has caused deliberate delay to the passing of a money resolution which is needed if a new bill includes a proposal to spend public funds not previously authorised by Parliament. They say that Brexit should not stand in the way of the bill, which could still be brought in via the government’s post-Brexit immigration bill if necessary.

Concerned MPs are not impressed by the Home Office’s promise to continue ‘discussions’ around the bill. They know that due to parliamentary rules time is running out for the bill to pass into law. Over 70 of them have written to Sajid Javid, urging him to step in and prevent any further delay.

What have the MPs said?

In their letter, the MPs observe that the idea of introducing a refugee family reunification bill received overwhelming cross-party support when it was put to parliament a year ago. They comment that refugees, including lone child refugees, continue to be denied the family support they need when fleeing persecution and conflict. They urge Javid to use his power to stop further delays so that the bill can be properly debated and able to proceed.

Want to know more?

You can find Angus Brendan MacNeil’s proposed refugee family reunification bill here.

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