UK: Local Authorities Who Have Children Of EU Nationals In Care Must Seek Sound Legal Advice To Assist In Regularising Their Status.

Local authorities that have within their care children born in the UK to EU national parents must take steps to ensure that they do not create another scandal such as seen with the Caribbean "Windrush" generation, who through no fault of their own, despite decades of living and working in the UK, found themselves without status and facing a hostile Home Office in their older years as it was discovered that they were apparently undocumented.

Many people believe that citizenship is automatically bestowed by the country in which you are born, but this is not necessarily the case. Many EU citizens may not be aware of the process and do not apply, furthermore they do not realise that children need to apply, or mistakenly believe that their UK-born children are automatically UK citizens. Of the 900,00 children of EU nationals living in the UK, and estimated 285,000 were born in Britain. The Guardian has reported the Coram Children's Legal Centre, a charity dedicated to supporting children founded over 275 years ago, that there are approximately 5,000 children of EU nationals in local authority care. The charity is urging local authorities to act now to protect the status of the children in foster care, care homes and those who remain in vulnerable families who could "slip through the net of the new Home Office registration scheme for EU nationals after Brexit". The cut off point for gaining settled status is 2020, possibly extended to 2021, which does not leave a great deal of time for local authorities to track down and identify the children of EU nationals within their care, establish the existing status of the children, access the required documentation and regularise their position. Without having documented status these children could find themselves in the position of losing the opportunity to access higher education or medical care, open a bank account, obtain a driving licence or be able to work.

Kamena Dorling, of Coran, has produced a report highlighting the problems encounted by children of EU nationals when attempting to gain the right to remain. She pointed out the fact that one in five of the children assisted by Coran during the Home Office trial of the settled status system did not have the required documentation nor any realistic way of obtaining it on their own.

The children that are currently in the care of their local authorities due to domestic violence or other disruptive family issues are particularly at risk as their parents frequently are unable or unwilling to provide the evidence needed. Local authorities will require cross-border legal advice to be able to assist such children to remain in the UK or be returned to responsible family members in the country in which their parents originally came from.

Centre of Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) is a research centre with the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford estimates that there are 120,000 children living in the UK with status or documentation. If the situation regarding the children of the EU nationals is not handled very carefully if just 15 per cent of these children fail to be regularised the figure could rise to 220,000 practically overnight. Without sound legal advice the situation for some of the children could become extremely challenging. Not to mention the cost in keeping the children and the potential for falling into a life of crime when young teenagers reach an age when they are fully aware of their diminished circumstances the temptation to go down the route of law-breaking to improve their lives may be hard to resist.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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