When it involves a child (18 years old and under), Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, which gives the Home Office a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare children when making decisions which impact on them.
Every child matters: statutory guidance is explicit that each member of UKVI staff (formerly UKBA) shares that responsibility. Even when travelling with family, detailed questions can be asked, particularly when accommodation will be is a private, non-commercial residence, someone's home. Applicants may have include the host's identifying details, evidence of whether they own or lease, have sufficient/appropriate space, are permitted to have visitors etc.
Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 came into force on 2 November 2009. It requires the UK Visas and Immigration to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in discharging its immigration, nationality and general customs functions.
All applicants who are under the age of 18 must show that:
- they have adequate travel, reception and care arrangements for their stay in the UK;
- they have a parent or guardian in their home country or country of habitual residence who is responsible for their care; and
- their parent / guardian agrees to them travelling.
What are suitable travel, reception and care arrangements
This will vary from application to application and depends on whether the child is accompanied or unaccompanied. In all cases a clear record of who is responsible for the child’s welfare in their home country and whilst in the UK is imperative.
For host families the ECO needs to establish the identity and address of the hosts and must ensure that the care arrangements are satisfactory. In routine cases this could mean seeing a letter from the host family.
Proviso details must be updated to show that satisfactory care arrangements are met and to include the name, address and telephone number of the intended family / carer, as well as the parents’ contact details. Failure to ensure this information is readily available may result in a lengthy delay for the child at the port of arrival.
Child protection and duty of care is very much in the fore-front of Immigration Officers’ minds and where a child does not present any kind of paperwork concerning the care arrangements, officers will pursue enquiries as they see fit to satisfy themselves that the children are not at risk.
Note: "Proviso" refers to its internal system.