Kids in Need of Defense UK’s hub at MiCLU (Migrant & Refugee Children’s Legal Unit, based at Islington Law Centre) is pleased to report that the number of people regularised via our programme has now exceeded 50! This important milestone has been achieved through the hard work and commitment of lawyers in our wonderful pro bono teams at the following firms:
- Arnold & Porter
- Covington & Burling
- Kirkland & Ellis
- Reed Smith
- Ropes & Gray
- Shearman & Sterling
Who does the MiCLU hub of Kids in Need of Defense UK assist?
MiCLU’s hub provides legal advice and representation to undocumented children who have lived in the UK for 7 years or more to apply to regularise their stay in the UK. Where it is in the best interests of the child to do so, their family members (parents and siblings) are included in their application and are also given permission to remain in the UK.
Where a child in the family has an entitlement to register as a British citizen our pro bono teams will also assist with an application for registration for that child, although we do not accept referrals for standalone registration applications. That service is available via the Kids in Need of Defense UK hubs at Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s Children’s Pro bono Legal Service and Central England Law Centre.
Why is this necessary?
Many of the children we represent have been born in the UK and have never lived anywhere else. Frequently the children we have represented have faced significant difficulties in their lives, as a result of learning difficulties or disability or illness themselves or within their families. The majority are living below the poverty line. They have not been involved in decisions relating to their immigration status, and their voices have not been heard. Despite this, we meet children who make a great contribution to their communities, are excelling at school, at sports and in the arts, and who dream of bright futures. Their lives in the UK are rich and fulfilling. They cannot imagine leaving their home.
Some of the children we meet have an entitlement to register as British, but are unable to realise that entitlement because they cannot afford to pay the large fee for citizenship applications. Our service allows children and their families to obtain permission to remain, as fee waivers are available for such applications, and our services assist families to apply for fee waivers in addition to their leave to remain applications.
How do we do this?
Our supervising solicitors use their skills and experience to
- Triage referrals from frontline community organisations
- Assess referrals, their urgency and suitability for the project
- Design and provide training to lawyers employed by our pro bono partners
- Create resources and template documents for use by pro bono lawyers on the cases referred to them
- Provide close supervision and mentorship throughout the lifetime of a case
We ensure that applications are centred on the rights of the child, that their life in the UK is evidenced and explained, and that their voices are heard throughout the application process. Our pro bono teams work hard to establish a rapport with their clients, making parents feel welcome in their offices, and ensuring that the applications they make on behalf of families are well evidenced and convincingly argued. Feedback from pro bono teams tells us that these cases are some of the most rewarding work that lawyers have worked on.
We know that there are other undocumented children (and their families!) who would benefit from our service so that they can remain lawfully in their home country. We look forward to working with all our partners to reach the milestone of 100 individuals obtaining regularised status!