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Answers to Lord Roberts' Written Questions (21-26 March)


In addition to oral questions, MPs and Peers can ask government ministers written questions. These receive a written response which is then published online at theyworkforyou.com. Below are all the asylum-related written questions asked by Lord Roberts that were answered by the government from 21-26 March.



Question – 21 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government how many additional staff they estimate the Home Office will need to tackle immigration claims after any withdrawal from the EU.


Government Response


The Home Office plans to deploy resource of approximately 4,250 headcount to support the work to Exit the EU. A proportion of this resource will work on immigration claims.



Question – 21 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government how much it costs for an asylum seeker to apply for British citizenship; whether they make a profit on such fees; if so, why; and what any such profit is used for.


Government Response


A person who has successfully obtained indefinite leave to remain as a refugee, may, if they desire, naturalise as a British citizen.


The cost for any adult to apply to naturalise as a British citizen is £1,330, which includes the required ceremony fee. The cost for a child to register as a British Citizen is £1,012. However, if a minor turns 18 during the application process, an additional £80 will be required to cover the ceremony fee.


No profit is made on fees that are set above the estimated cost of processing. All funds are utilised to run the Border Immigration and Citizenship system.



Question – 21 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all asylum seeking children have access to legal aid and advice.


Government Response


Unaccompanied asylum seeking children in the UK are placed into the care of local authorities and are provided with specialised legal advice and support throughout this period.


The Home Office works closely with the Legal Aid Agency, which administers the legal aid provision, to ensure that there is sufficient legal assistance coverage throughout the UK. In addition, assistance in accessing legal advice is available from the child’s social worker, the Refugee Council Children’s Advice Project for children in England and the Scottish Guardianship Service for children in Scotland.



Question – 21 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government whether minors will have to pay fees to achieve UK citizenship after any UK withdrawal from the EU; and if so, what those fees will be.


Government Response


All minors pay a fee for UK citizenship, which currently stands at £1,012, however, if a minor turns 18 during the application process, an additional £80 will be required to cover the ceremony fee. There are no proposed changes to citizenship fees following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.


The Home Office keeps fees under regular review, with the aim of ensuring that those who use and benefit directly from the system make an appropriate contribution towards meeting the costs.



Question – 21 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to secure the status of children who are citizens of other EU member states but who live in the UK with particular regard to ensuring access to (1) social security, (2) study, and (3) work if the UK withdraws from the EU.


Government Response


We have introduced the EU Settlement Scheme to enable all qualifying EU citizens, and their family members, to obtain an immigration status in the UK.


This status will protect, and enable them to demonstrate, their rights to work, education, healthcare, and other benefits and services in the UK after it has left the EU. The scheme will open in full on 30 March 2019.


The Government has been clear that the scheme, and the protections that it brings, will be available in both a ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenario, ensuring that the rights of EU citizens, including children, are protected in every outcome.



Question – 21 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that refugee children will not lose rights derived from EU law if the UK withdraws from the EU.


Government Response


The rights of children granted refugee status in the UK are unchanged when we leave the EU. The UK will continue to be bound by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights and will continue to provide protection to all those who need it, including children, in accordance with our international obligations.


In respect of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking children, Section 17 of the Withdrawal Act requires the Government to seek a reciprocal agreement with the EU to establish a mechanism to transfer children to the UK to reunite with family members.


If Parliament accepts the Withdrawal Agreement, the existing provisions in respect of the Common European Asylum System will continue to apply in the transition period. In the event of a no deal, the Government has introduced a ‘No Deal’ Statutory Instrument – The Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.



Question – 25 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to reintroduce legal aid for refugee family reunion; and if not, why not.


Government Response


We have committed to introduce legislation to bring non-asylum immigration matters into the scope of legal aid for separated migrant children.


Legal aid for family reunion may be available under the Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) scheme, where there is a breach or risk of breach of ECHR rights, and subject to means and merits tests. We recently committed to work with legal practitioners to review and simplify the ECF application forms and guidance and ensure that funding is provided in as timely a manner as possible.



Question – 26 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their projected forecast for the number of (1) refugees, and (2) asylum seekers they expect to accept in each of the next five years; and whether they expect those projected figures to change if the UK (a) does, and (b) does not, leave the EU.


Government Response


The Home Office does not publish the projections indicated. As indicated in the report for the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), Evaluation of existing migration forecasting methods and models, there are many social, economic and political drivers which can impact migration flows, making forecasting migration an extremely difficult task. Migration is susceptible to shock events which are, by their very nature, hard to predict, such as economic cycles, military conflict and policy changes. Therefore, the probability of a single forecast being correct is low.


Notwithstanding this, we remain on track to deliver our commitment of resettling up to 23,000 vulnerable refugees under our resettlement schemes by 2020 and are confident that the outcome of EU Exit will not impact our ability to achieve this.



Question(s) – 26 March


To ask Her Majesty's Government whether refugees will be afforded the same rights as now if the UK withdraws from the EU.


To ask Her Majesty's Government what contingency plans are in place for refugees in anticipation of the UK withdrawing from the EU without a deal.


To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have acted upon advice from humanitarian organisations regarding the protection of refugees and asylum seekers after the UK has withdrawn from the EU.


Government Response


The rights of people granted refugee status in the UK are unchanged when we leave the EU. The UK will continue to be bound by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights and will continue to provide protection to all those who need it in accordance with our international obligations.


Regardless of how the UK exits the EU, the rights and status of those who have been granted refugee status in the UK will remain unchanged, as the 1951 UN Refugee Convention is not contingent on EU membership.


The Government continues to work closely with relevant partners such as the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to ensure the UK continues to meet our international obligations, and to facilitate the safe transfer of children under family reunification.

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Established to help asylum seekers and refugees, we operate within the UK Parliament. Our previous activities have included organising seminars, film screenings and meetings, as well as assisting with asylum cases, collaborating with organisations and publishing informative booklets. Our greatest achievements include founding the highly-successful Citizens of the World Choir and organising Parliament's World Refugee Day in 2017 & 2018.