Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill [HL]: Briefing for Lords Stages

This House of Lords Library briefing provides information on the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill [HL] 2017–19, a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat), ahead of its second reading in the House of Lords on 15 December 2017.

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The Bill would “make provision for leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom to be granted to the family members of refugees and to refugees who are family members of British citizens”. The Bill would also reinstate the provision of legal aid for refugee family reunion cases.  

Baroness Hamwee has described the Bill’s context and intentions as follows: 

Mass movement of refugees often leads to the separation of family members. There has recently been increasing awareness of this, and in particular the dangers to unaccompanied children whose lives and wellbeing are at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers; many have been orphaned but have close relatives in the UK who can care for them. Refugees can currently only sponsor spouses/partners and children under 18 to join them (a 19 year-old daughter could be left in a dangerous situation, for instance), and child asylum seekers who reach the UK are not permitted to sponsor a parent or carer to come here. My Bill will allow refugees in the UK to be joined by members of their wider, but still close, family, and enable British citizens to sponsor family members who are refugees elsewhere. It will provide for legal aid in relation to these applications. 

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