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6.5 Guidance on Procedures for Age Assessment of Unaccompanied Children Seeking Asylum


  1. Introduction
  2. When does UK Visas and Immigration dispute age?
  3. Procedure for Age Assessment Disputes
  4. Requests for Age Assessments

1. Introduction

Age assessments of unaccompanied children/young people seeking asylum where their age is disputed have the following implications:

  • UK Visas and Immigration questions the age given by unaccompanied children seeking asylum;
  • UK Visas and Immigration treats an 'age disputed' person as an adult unless a subsequent Children Social Care assessment finds the person to be under 18yrs of age;
  • UK Visas and Immigration will accept the assessment given by Children Social Care.

If the person is considered to be over 18 by UK Visas and Immigration and Children Social Care does not carry out an assessment, the implications for the young person are that: i) their support will come from UK Visas and Immigration and not from Children's Social Care; ii) the young person will be treated as an adult in the asylum process.

2. When does the UK Visas and Immigration dispute age?

Age is normally disputed at first contact with an immigration officer. This will be:

  • At the police station, if an immigration officer is present;
  • At a screening interview held at North Shields or Leeds Immigration Office;
  • 'Age dispute' should be written on the Asylum Registration Card (ARC) given to the young person at the end of the screening interview.

Children's Social Care should inform Team Manager/Senior Social Work Practitioner as soon as possible when age is disputed.

Photocopy all ARC cards and relevant documentation provided by the young person. Ascertain whether the young person has legal representation (immigration solicitor).

3. Procedure for Age Assessment Disputes

  • Carry out an age assessment within 5 working days of the age being disputed;
  • Two workers from the appropriate Team (IRS under 16, 16+Team16 years and above) to carry out the assessment of age;
  • Record the assessment on the ICS Carefirst template;
  • Carry out assessment at appropriate office with an interpreter;
  • Book interpreter via Newcastle Interpreting Service or NERS;
  • Allocated social worker to write up assessment;
  • Team Manager/Senior Social Work Practitioner to make final decision;
  • Communicate the final decision to the young person in their first and preferred language with a copy of the assessment in English attached;
  • Allocated worker sends copy of the age assessment to UK Visas and Immigration solicitor. This is crucial for Home Office funding purposes and contact details should be provided;
  • Keep a copy of assessment on service user's file;
  • Record decision on ICS CareFirst.

Care of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Child Victims of Modern Slavery: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities, November 2017 provides that where the age of a person is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that they are a child, they are presumed to be a child in order to receive immediate access to assistance, support and protection in accordance with Modern Slavery Act 2015. Age assessments should only be carried out where there is significant reason to doubt that the claimant is a child. Age assessments should not be a routine part of a local authority’s assessment of unaccompanied or trafficked children. Where age assessments are conducted, they must be Merton Compliant.

The ADCS Asylum Task Force has worked with the Home Office to provide a set of jointly agreed “good practice documents”. These documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to local authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on local authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.

4. Requests for Age Assessments

Where another agency or a young person requests an age assessment, find out if the young person is already known to another local authority

  • If yes, then refer back to that local authority for assessment of age and need;
  • If no, carry out an age assessment. In light of new information or evidence local authority to carry out age assessment and obtain copy of previous age assessment undertaken;
  • If the age assessment concludes that the young person is a minor, consider the young person as a new referral.