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Unaccompanied asylum seeking children

If you are under the age of 18 and have come to the UK without your parents or anyone to look after you, you will be supported by your local council. You will be put in touch with the council as soon as you make your claim for asylum.

Will I be allowed to stay in the UK?

If you are under 18, the government will allow you to stay in the UK until it is safe for you to travel home. This means that even if you are not given leave to remain permanently in the UK, the government will let you stay in the country either for three years or until you turn 18. During this time you will be supported by your local council.

Does the council have to support me?

The council has a duty to give you advice, support and somewhere to live. Before it will offer you these things it will make sure of the following:

  • that you are under 18
  • that you are applying for asylum
  • that there is no adult relative guardian to support you in the UK.

You might be asked a lot of questions about your situation, why you have come to the UK and where the rest of your family are. Try not to worry and answer the questions as fully and honestly as you can. The council is just trying to find out the best way to help you. If you want extra help or support then you can contact the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC). It will be able to offer you advice and information about your rights.

What will the council provide?

The way the council supports you will usually depend on things like your age, your circumstances and the facts of your case. If you are 16 or 17, the council might find you a home that you can live in independently while still offering you support and guidance. If you are younger you might be offered foster care. This means that you will be introduced to a family that will look after you and let you live in their home. There is also a chance that you will stay in a house with other children your age and be looked after by specially trained council staff.

The council will answer any questions you have about where you will be living and what day-to-day life might be like. It can be pretty frightening being alone in a new country so don't be afraid to let people know if you want help or just need someone to talk to.

When you apply for asylum, the Scottish Refugee Council will be given all your details so you should contact then if you are unhappy or if you think you are not being treated in the right way. Both the council and the Scottish Refugee Council should make a translator available to you whenever you need one.

How can I contact my real family?

The government has to try and find your family for you. It doesn't always have to keep looking until it finds them but it does have to make all reasonable attempts. The government has to try and look for your family even if you think that they are still in your home country.

If you don't think the government is making an effort to find your relatives then you should get in touch with the Scottish Refugee Council and explain your situation. They will help you find out exactly what the government has done and whether it should do more.

When carrying out its search, the government must be careful not to do anything that could put you in danger. However, you should talk to the Scottish Refugee Council if you're worried about what will happen if the government find your family.

What happens when I turn 18?

When you turn 18 you will legally become an adult. This means that it will be the UK Border Agency rather than the council that has a legal duty to provide you with housing and support. In some cases this could mean that you will have to move or 'be dispersed' to another part of the country, where the UK Border Agency has accommodation available.

Do I have to move when I'm 18?

When you turn 18, you will not automatically be moved to UK Border Agency accommodation. Your case will be considered individually and if there is a good reason for you to remain where you are then you won't be forced to move. This means that if you have a younger brother or sister in the area or you are sitting important exams the council might continue to provide you with accommodation and support.

The council also has a duty to assess your needs when you turn 18 and if it thinks you will need further help that UK Border Agency can't provide then it may have to keep supporting you - possibly until you are 22.

If you don't feel ready to live completely independently or you think that there is a good reason for you to remain where you are then you should talk to the council straight away. The Scottish Refugee Council will also explain to you exactly what your rights are and how to go about getting what you want.

Does the UK Border Agency have to support me?

If you turn 18 and there is no reason for the council to continue supporting you then you should make an application for UK Border Agency support. In most cases the UK Border Agency will have to provide you with support and accommodation - unless you have another source of income or somewhere else to live. You will not automatically be eligible for UK Border Agency support though and you should see the pages on eligibility for UKBA support to find out whether your application is likely to be successful. Again, the SRC will be able to help you with your application and advise you of your options.

What happens if my asylum claim is successful?

In this case, the council should continue to look after you (for example, in a foster home) until you are ready to leave care. The page on care leavers has information on the council's duty to help and support you once you have left care.

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