The number of unaccompanied minors entering into or being discovered within the UK is growing every year. Many become subject to immigration control. At some stage as a family practitioner, you may find one becomes your client. Dealing with the UK Border Agency (the UKBA) has never been straightforward even for immigration practitioners. The task can appear daunting to family lawyers; yet some knowledge of immigration issues and practice may prove vital as timely immigration advice is not always readily available. Unaccompanied minors do not benefit from having a guardian allocated to them in immigration proceedings. Historically their welfare has not been of paramount consideration in immigration matters. 'Foreign Lands' is a series of articles to assist family lawyers in dealing with unaccompanied minors as clients. The first article, 'Hello UK' provides an overview of the main problems for unaccompanied minors when faced with the bureaucracy of the UKBA, outlining the differences in cultural attitude between the familiar Children Act world and the more alien world of immigration control. Subsequent articles will consider basic communications with the UKBA, age assessments, trafficking issues, and how to navigate your way round the asylum and immigration processes and procedures that could apply to your client.
The full version of this article appears in the February 2013 issue of Family Law.