Subjectshuman rights and forced migration
asylum and international protection
right to family life
refugee family reunification
Subject Categories::M290 Law by topic not elsewhere classified
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AbstractSeparation from family members during forced displacement and flight can have devastating consequences on the well-being of refugees and their ability to integrate within the new host community. Family reunification – broadly defined as the process by which refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection are able to be reunited with their family members – is of paramount importance in ensuring that the right to family life of refugees is respected. Refugee family reunification also plays a crucial role as an instrument of protection, through which vulnerable family members – most often women and children – who may themselves be in danger due to their association with a refugee can be brought to safety. The right of refugees to family reunification is recognised at the international level, and international bodies underline that States are under a duty to provide accessible and effective family reunification procedures which allow for the swift reunification of refugee families. In the United Kingdom, the legal and policy framework regulating family reunification for refugees and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection has been the subject of extensive debate – and criticism – for some years. Common concerns raised by refugees, refugee support charities and independent observers include the restrictive rules on eligibility, the unnecessarily burdensome nature of the application process, the lack of free qualified legal support and the unpredictability of the decision-making process. This report aims to contribute to this debate by providing a comprehensive assessment of the UK legal framework relating to refugee family reunification and its implementation in practice, including the position in respect of legal aid, and the availability of qualified assistance in making applications for family reunification. The overall purpose of the report is to make recommendations aimed at ensuring that the UK framework is fully compliant with the UK’s international obligations, and to improve the effectiveness and fairness of the UK family reunification system in practice.
CitationBorelli S, Gualco E, Cameron F, Zugno C (2021) 'Refugee family reunification in the UK: challenges and prospects'. Online: University of Bedfordshire/Families Together.
SponsorsProject funded by Families Together Programme / British Red Cross
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