Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration calls for an improvement of the Home Office’s family reunion applications handling

  • The Home Office is too ready to reject family reunion applications when applicants fail to provide sufficient evidence of their eligibility
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  • Withdrawal of Home Office commissioned and funded DNA tests identified as a major reason for first time application refusals
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  • The ICIBI report invites the Home Office to recognise the impact of avoidable delays on applicants

David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), calls on the Home Office to better manage family reunion applications and show more understanding of the circumstances and difficulties faced by applicants coming from areas of conflict.

Under existing rules family members of individuals who have been granted asylum in the UK, or five years’ humanitarian protection, can apply to be reunited with their family.

The ICIBI inspection found that since the Home Office stopped commissioning and funding DNA tests to establish family relationships the number of family reunion applications rejected for failure to produce sufficient evidence has doubled for certain nationalities.

Inspectors also found that family reunion applications are often refused rather than being deferred to allow applicants to produce the missing evidence. This means that individuals who are eligible for family reunion are delayed in receiving entry clearance. While it accurately reflects the rules, Home Office guidance to applicants should be more helpful in identifying the evidence they are likely to need to provide in order for their applications to succeed.

Mr Bolt asks decision makers to consider all available evidence when processing family reunion applications and, in line with Home Office rules, to take exceptional circumstances and compassionate factors into account when making their decision.

David Bolt said:

“The family reunion report identifies a number of areas where the Home Office needs to improve.  Applicants, stakeholders and others need to be reassured that the Home Office recognises the particular challenges facing many family reunion applicants, and that it manages applications not just efficiently and effectively, but thoughtfully and with compassion”.

Notes to editors

  1. The family reunions report looks at the clarity of the Home Office guidance, the quality and timeliness of decision making and the handling of appeals and re-applications.
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  2. The Home Office has published its response to the 10 recommendations made by the family reunion report.
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  3. The majority of family reunion applications are from Somali, Eritrean and Sudanese nationals and the inspection specifically examines these cases and experiences.
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  4. The inspection also looked at the handling of Kuwaiti Bidoon applications, following concerns expressed by stakeholders.
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  5. The report was submitted to the Home Secretary on the 18 July 2016.

Further information

For further press information, please contact Claudia Cimino at 020 3513 0448

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