Family Reunions for Refugees July 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding family reunification rules for refugees.

I appreciate that concerns have been raised over the current family reunification criteria and processes for refugees and those with humanitarian protection status in the UK, and I know that a number of organisations have also called for there to be an expansion of the criteria.

It is clear, in my view, that much more is needed to be done to reunite families. I also remain concerned that the Dublin III regulations, which allow for spouses or children under 18 with refugee or humanitarian protection status to be reunited with family members in the UK, are not working on the ground in places such as the Calais 'Jungle' camp, nor are they able to cope with the numbers of claims.

My colleagues in the Shadow Home Office team therefore made a number of attempts to address these issues around family reunification rules during the recent passage of the Government's Immigration Bill through Parliament. Indeed, an amendment was tabled to the Bill which would have required the Government to carry out a wide-ranging review to consider options for extending the criteria for family reunion, as well as the efficacy of the implementation of the Dublin III regulations.

It is extremely disappointing, however, that the Government rejected this proposal and stated in the House of Commons that they do not believe there needs to be a change in the rules on family reunion. The Immigration Bill has completed its passage through Parliament and is now an Act of Parliament, having received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016.

There is an urgency to this situation and I believe that the Government's response to the refugee crisis has been slow, reluctant and limited. It will be important going forward to continue pressing the Government on the UK's response, and I can also assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.