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University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory publishes briefing on the children of migrants in the UK


6% of children in UK under age 18 were born abroad and 8% are non-UK/non-Irish citizens

Date of Publication:
21 August 2020

University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory publishes briefing on the children of migrants in the UK

21 August 2020

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford last week published a new briefing on children living in the UK with at least one parent who was born abroad.

CoverYou can read it online here.

It provides information on the number of foreign-born and non-UK citizen children, their immigration statuses, pathways to citizenship, economic circumstances and academic performance.

Dr Mariña Fernández-Reino, Senior Researcher at the Migration Observatory and author of the briefing, said: "More than a quarter of children under age 18 living in the UK have at least one parent who was born abroad, so this group is important both for current migration debates and for the future of the UK as a whole."

The key points from the briefing are as follows:

  • In 2019, 6% (896,000) of children under age 18 were born abroad, and 8% (1,082,000) were non-UK/non-Irish citizens.
  • EU citizen children and adults are less likely to apply for UK citizenship than residents with a non-EU nationality.
  • More than a quarter (3,839,000) of children under age 18 living in the UK have at least one parent who is born abroad.
  • At the end of 2019, at least 175,643 non-EEA citizens under age 18 lived in families who have no recourse to public funds.
  • An estimated 43% of children under age 16 in non-EU born households experience some degree of deprivation, while this share is 29% among households where all their members are UK born.
  • The share of children under age 16 with at least one key-worker parent is 45% among those with UK-born parents, while this share is 38% for children whose parents are non-UK born.
  • Foreign-born children and children of foreign-born parents perform in school, at age 15, at a lower level than students with both UK-born parents, but the gap is smaller in the UK than in most EU-14 countries.

According to Migration Observatory, analysis shows that children of non-EU parents face increased levels of deprivation compared to children in UK-born households.

Dr Fernández-Reino said: "We estimate that 175,000 children in the UK live in families whose immigration conditions mean that they are likely to have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Having NFPF could increase the financial hardship of children in families whose adult members had lost their jobs or had large income losses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis."

Meanwhile, the organisation We Belong, which represents young migrants in the UK, wrote to the Prime Minister this week urging him to consider an exemption from the planned increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for young migrants who have lived in the UK for most of their lives.

In their letter to Boris Johnson, We Belong said:

"Many of us are on a 10-year path to be recognised as British citizens. The young people on this route will become British citizens, but every hurdle is being put in on our way. Our leave to remain has to be renewed every 30 months, which entails paying both the IHS and Home Office fees. If the Government goes ahead with the planned increase to the IHS to £624, as of October 2020, each application will cost us £2,593. This is an increase of 338% since 2014. In total, the IHS contributes a minute quantity (0.18%) to the overall NHS budget of £127.01bn, yet this is having such a profound impact on the families who have to pay this fee despite the fact that we already contribute to the NHS through our taxes. These fees are spiralling to increasingly unaffordable levels and risk driving young, talented people into poverty or even losing their legal status. If we are unable to keep up with payments, the Home Office restarts the decade-long clock and our path to citizenship starts again."

We Belong added that exempting young people on the ten-year route to settlement from the IHS would help to ease the financial burden and allow them to fulfil their potential and contribute to the country they call home.