Families Together Coalition Responds to the Nationality and Borders Bill

July 8, 2021

On the 6th of July 2021, the Home Office published the Nationality and Borders Bill, outlining proposed changes to the UK’s immigration and asylum systems.

We are deeply concerned that the Bill seeks to cement many of the harmful proposals outlined in the New Plan for Immigration into UK law. The proposed legislation outlined in the bill effectively creates a discriminatory two-tier asylum system, undermining how the UK fulfils its international obligations to those seeking asylum. The Bill will criminalise and punish refugees, depending on how they arrived in the UK, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of women, men and children who are able to access family reunion, one of the few existing safe and regular routes into the UK.

Clause 10 of the bill proposes to categorise refugees into two distinct groups, with different rights depending on how they have arrived in the UK.

Group 1 refugees are those who arrive in the UK directly from a country or territory where their life or freedom was threatened and have presented themselves to the authorities without delay. In addition, where a refugee who meets these criteria has entered or is present in the United Kingdom unlawfully, they must show good cause for their unlawful entry or presence. There is no further detail provided on what a ‘good cause’ would be.

Group two refugees are those who don’t fit into the above category. This includes those arriving via irregular routes such as by lorry or by boat or those arriving after travelling through what the Government considers to be “safe” third countries.”.

The bill states that refugees can be treated differently depending on which group they are in. The Bill specifically mentions one of the ways those in Group 2 may be treated differently is to limit their access to family reunion rights. This includes whether leave to remain or enter is granted to their family members, the length of leave to remain or enter granted, the requirements needed in order to meet the conditions for leave and whether they will have a no recourse to public funds condition attached. Any restriction on family reunion rights will result in family members being left with the heartbreaking choice to either stay permanently apart, or risk their lives on treacherous journeys in order to reunite.

All refugees should have full and equal access to family reunion rights, regardless of how they enter the UK.