Unaccompanied asylum seekers approaching 18 and awaiting decisions
on their claims will face a section 55 interview like their adult
counterparts, it emerged last week.
They will be denied help from the National Asylum Support Service
under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 if they are
not seen to have made their claims “as soon as reasonably
The policy was outlined in a Home Office letter to refugee and
asylum seeker organisations.
Unaccompanied children denied Nass help would still be eligible for
support from their local council in line with the Hillingdon
judgement. This brought the group under the same legislation as
children leaving care, ruling that they should continue to receive
support up to age 21, or 24 in certain circumstances.
A Home Office spokesperson said that, although in theory it would
be possible for an unaccompanied asylum seeker to have a section 55
interview many months after they had made their claim for asylum,
this was unlikely to happen as most claims were dealt with in a
short period. She said no more than 10 cases covered by the new
arrangement had arisen since January 2003, when section 55 was
The Refugee Council said it was unfair to make unaccompanied asylum
seeker children have retrospective interviews and that they should
not be made to go through adult procedures under section 55.
Chief executive Maeve Sherlock said: “Children arriving alone
seeking asylum need to be treated as children and, as they become
adults, they deserve the same treatment British children receive
leaving care. The courts have recognised this and the Home Office
should do the same.”