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Things are looking up for undocumented migrant children


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In the States, they’re known as “Dreamers”. Children and young people who grow up perfectly integrated, only to find out that — through no fault of their own — they’re actually unauthorised migrants. Here in the UK, children who are British in every sense but legal can at least regularise on the basis of long residence: seven years for under-18s, or half their life for those aged 18-24 inclusive.

Securing immigration status under these “private life” rules is only the beginning: they still have to serve a probationary period of ten years before being able to apply for indefinite leave to remain and come out of the immigration system altogether. All this can profoundly affect identity and mental health: Anna Shekan and Roopa Tanna, my guests on the podcast this month, refer to a process of “de-integration”, as kids effectively become immigrants for the first time.

But things are improving for these British Dreamers. A concession announced last October allowed some 18-24s to apply for settlement on the half of life route after five years rather than ten. That was followed by new Immigration Rules on faster settlement for both under-18s and 18-24s, which come into force next month.

Combined with yesterday’s announcement on free British citizenship for poor children, all this adds up to — whisper it softly — a substantial liberalisation of the rules for undocumented kids. In this episode, Anna and Roopa explain how the changes came about and how many children and young people are likely to benefit. Listen in your browser by pressing play above, or find Free Movement on the usual podcast platforms.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.