On 8 July 2022, the second reading of the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill [HL] is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords.

The Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill is a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Ludford (Liberal Democrat).

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 of people granted humanitarian protection; and to provide for legal aid to be made available in such cases.

Under current immigration rules, an individual can apply for indefinite leave to remain to settle in the UK if they have a residence card as either a refugee or person with humanitarian protection. As part of the application process, an individual may be able to include family members on the settlement application if those dependents are already in the UK.

If the individual’s partner or child are not already in the UK, they may apply for them to join them under the family reunion rules. This is dependent on:

  • whether the family was formed before the individual was forced to leave their country
  • if the individual applying has refugee status, five years’ humanitarian protection or settlement on protection grounds, but does not yet have British citizenship.

However, an application cannot be made for a partner or child to join an individual in the UK if the person has not received a decision on their asylum claim or they are under 18 years old.

Similar bills on refugee family reunion rules were introduced in the 2017–19 and 2019–21 parliamentary sessions by Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat) and in the 2021–22 session by Baroness Ludford. The latter bill, which had minor differences compared to the current version but was alike in substance, completed its House of Lords stages in March 2022. The bill passed third reading in the House of Lords without division. However, the government stated that it did not support the bill’s provisions. In contrast, Labour members had supported the bill. The bill fell in the House of Commons after first reading due to prorogation.

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