What has been announced?

On 16 March 2023 the Home Office published new guidance to its staff on a streamlined asylum process for children. It sets out the Home Office’s next efforts to clear the backlog of asylum claims from children who claimed before the 28 June 2022 – often referred to as children’s legacy cases – through a pilot to decide whether children could be granted asylum without a substantive interview. The context for this guidance on children’s claims is the Prime Minister’s announcement on 13 December 2022 that the asylum legacy backlog would be cleared by the end of 2023, and this children’s guidance sits alongside the adult streamlining policy announced on 23 February 2023. The guidance is also a Home Office response to the legal aid crisis that means that significant numbers of children claiming asylum are unable to access a legal representative and complete a statement of evidence form.

Who does it affect?

The guidance says that children with claims who are from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria and Vietnam will be eligible to have their claims decided in a streamlined process. These nationalities are the top five grant nationalities for children and all have grant rates of over 95%.

It’s important to note that:

  • these nationalities are different than those in the adult streamlining process
  • streamlining only applies to initial asylum claims
  • streamlining applies to children who have already submitted a statement of evidence (SEF) form and those who have not
  • streamlining applies to both unaccompanied and accompanied children
  • children who have turned 18 while waiting for an asylum decision are part of the children’s streamlining process and should not be sent an adult streamlining questionnaire even though they are now over 18

What is a preliminary information meeting (PIM)?

To download a copy of the PIM template which will be used by the interviewer, please click here.

Children will be invited to a preliminary information meeting or PIM. Their responsible adult (for unaccompanied children, most likely their social worker) will be informed about this and GMIAU has been told that where a legal representative is on record with the Home Office, they should also be told.

Children can be called for a PIM after their welfare interview and without a SEF having been submitted but only after they have been in local authority care for two weeks (or for accompanied children two weeks after their asylum claim was registered).

GMIAU has been told that where a child has already submitted a SEF, and if it contains the required information, the Home Office will try and make a decision on the papers. If the Home Office says the SEF does not contain enough information, it will decide if a PIM or an interview is needed.

PIMs cannot take place without a responsible adult. The Home Office should provide an interpreter where one is needed. Legal representatives are able to attend a PIM but are not required to attend before the PIM goes ahead.  GMIAU has been informed by the Legal Aid Agency that

PIMs will be covered by current provisions and legal aid funding will be available for caseworkers to attend these meetings with their clients. Whilst we still do not consider that a PIM is an interview, we […] are of the view that a PIM would be in scope of legal aid. This is on the basis that because it is not an interview, it is not caught by the interview exception within paragraph 30(3) of LASPO Schedule 1, Part 1.

The purpose of the PIM is for the decision maker to decide whether they have enough information to grant asylum without further interview. Based on GMIAU’s experience so far, the meeting is likely to cover

  • information about the child’s identity and nationality
  • brief questions about the basis of the child’s asylum claim
  • the child’s family background (to establish any need for family tracing, which will be conducted by a separate team (not the decision maker))
  • any evidence submitted as part of the child’s asylum clam
  • issues around welfare and safeguarding
  • the child’s journey to the UK
  • any national security concerns

The guidance states that a PIM should not cover any issues about the child’s credibility.

If the decision maker thinks further information is required, if they are minded to grant humanitarian protection or to refuse the asylum claim, then they may ask for a SEF and may arrange a substantive interview which could be shorter or more targeted than usual. However, if this is not needed (as is hoped to be the case for most children given they are from nationalities with 95% grant rates) the child should be granted asylum.

PIMs can take place in person or remotely. They will not be recorded. There will be a written record of the PIM made by the Home Office decision maker that will be shared with the child, their responsible adult and (GMIAU has been told) their legal representative where one is on record.

The Home Office guidance makes clear that the Home Office is not treating the PIM as an interview but also says that information obtained at the PIM may be tested at longer substantive interviews. This will become particularly important for those children who are not granted asylum following the PIM.

What happens to children who are not in the streamlining pilot?

GMIAU has been told that children outside the pilot will continue to have their asylum claims decided in the usual way and that they will still be triaged for decisions without a substantive interview (without a PIM).

What should you do if you are supporting a child who is invited for a preliminary information meeting?

Where a child has a legal representative:

Please be aware that legal representatives may not be notified of a PIM by the Home Office. You should make contact with the child’s legal representative as a matter of urgency letting them know about any contact from the Home Office regarding a PIM.

Where the child does not have a legal representative:

Where the PIM goes ahead without a legal representative then the responsible adult should take their own notes of the PIM and any issues encountered with the interviewer, the interpreter, impact on the child, as well as the questions and answers themselves. This will be important if the child is not granted asylum after the PIM.  

Advice for responsible adults

Ensure the young person knows that you are there to support them and have no involvement in the decision making process. Your role is to make sure the young person is happy to go ahead with the interview and that they are well supported during the process.

If the young person has any additional needs, disabilities or mental health issues, make sure the interviewer is aware of these and any adaptations that might be needed (in advance of the interview).

In certain situations the responsible adult may have to intervene. For example if it seems that the child and interpreter are having difficulties understanding each other, or the child is getting distressed then this needs to be raised with the interviewing officer.

If the responsible adult thinks the interview needs to be stopped either temporarily for a short break, or to be rearranged eg. because the child is unable to continue or there are communication difficulties with the interpreter then they should not be afraid to interrupt and say so. They are there to support the child’s welfare.

The responsible adult should take notes on the following as a record of the PIM:

  • Record of questions and answers given. The more detail the better, as this can assist if there are any disputes / appeals.
  • Notes on the tone, behaviour, and demeanour of the interviewing officer. Was it child centred and the child put at ease? Was the interview rushed or at the child’s pace? Was the purpose of the PIM explained? Were there opportunities for the child to repeat themselves, make clarifications or ask questions? Were they offered breaks?
  • Notes on the interpreter – did they directly interpret or seem to have conversations with the child? Did they seem to add anything to what was said? Did they add their own judgements or personal opinions (and were they asked to do this)? Did the child understand the interpreter?


Any referral for children in the North West made to GMIAU should explicitly state if the Home Office has arranged a PIM. Due to capacity we cannot promise that we will be able to take on any individual case. However we will try to take on cases where children have a PIM as this is likely to increase capacity in the system overall. Referrals can be made through our website.