The Home Office has made public its internal guidance for officials on the process and criteria for admitting children to the UK who were living in the Calais camp. The obligation to admit the children comes from section 67 of the recently passed Immigration Act 2016, a section otherwise known as the “Dubs amendment” after Lord Alf Dubs, who proposed it.
The basic criteria are:
To be eligible a child must meet one of the following criteria:
- they are aged 12 or under
- they are referred directly by the French authorities, or by an organisation working on behalf of the French authorities, to the Home Office as being at high risk of sexual exploitation
- they are aged 15 or under and are of Sudanese or Syrian nationality (these nationalities have a first instance asylum grant rate in the UK of 75% or higher, based on the asylum statistics for the period from July 2015 to June 2016)
- they are aged under 18 and are the accompanying sibling of a child meeting one of the three criteria outlined above
And they must meet all of the following criteria:
- transfer to the UK must be determined to be in the best interests of the child
- the child must have been present in the Calais camp on or before 24 October 2016
- the child must have arrived in Europe before 20 March 2016
The criteria hardly look “soft touch” and are directed principally at younger children.
There is a whole section on age assessment, which has to be conducted where there is no documentary evidence to support the child’s age and age is doubted. A claimed child should only be treated as an adult if properly assessed as such by two social workers or if their “physical appearance and demeanour very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age”.