The Home Office issued a new guidance in the beginning of the month, introducing a policy of reviewing refugee statuses after five years. If the official reviews find that the refugee’s home country is safe enough for the person to return, their refugee status is lifted.

The new Home Office guidance states: “All those who apply for settlement protection after completing the appropriate probationary period of limited leave will be subject to a safe return review with reference to the country situation at the date the application is considered.” If the review finds that people can safely return to their home country, they will become an overstayer without permission to work and access to mainstream benefits. In case the review finds that people cannot be safely returned, they can apply for settlement protection.”

The British Refugee Council has warned that this change will increase the anxiety of refugees’ and negatively impacts their integration chances into British society, as it creates a barrier to employment and education. Wafa Shaheen, Head of Integration at Scottish Refugee Council comments: “It will be particularly difficult for families and parents doing their best to raise their children here despite deep insecurity about their futures. How do you plan for your child’s future or support them through their education when the Home Office threatens to remove you from the country after five years?”

The Home Office move, is considered a follow up on Theresa May’s speech at the 2015 Conservative party conference, where she stated: ““We’ll introduce strengthened ‘safe return reviews’ – so when a refugee’s temporary stay of protection in the UK comes to an end, or if there is a clear improvement in the conditions of their own country, we will review their need for protection. If their reason for asylum no longer stands and it is now safe for them to return, we will seek to return them to their home country rather than offer settlement here in Britain.”

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Photo: Refugee Council