Approaches to Unaccompanied Minors Following Status Determination in the EU and Norway (EMN Inform)

This Inform summarises the main results of the EMN study on “Approaches to Unaccompanied Minors Following Status Determination in the EU plus Norway”.

Background information

Between 2014 and 2017, some 219,575 minors came to the EU plus Norway unaccompanied, i.e. without a parent or another adult responsible for them, to seek international protection. At the same time, at least another 48,591 minors came unaccompanied for other reasons, though the number of those outside the international protection system remains largely unknown.

The EMN study “Approaches to Unaccompanied Minors following status determination” aims to explore the situation of unaccompanied minors who, following status determination, are entitled to a residence permit or issued a return decision, and the approaches put in place by the EU Member States plus Norway to ensure their integration or (voluntary) return.

This EMN Inform summarizes the main findings of the study.

Inform: some findings

  • The countries with the highest numbers of minors applying for asylum in the EU were Germany (71,675), Sweden (45,065), Italy (22,540) Austria (15,500) and Hungary (10,860). The majority of unaccompanied minors were boys (89%).
  • The top five countries of origin were Afghanistan (82,625), Syria (34,205), Eritrea (15,970), Iraq (10,975) and Somalia (10,385).
  • The majority of unaccompanied minors arriving in Member States are granted refugee status or subsidiary protection, and Member States provide (temporary) residence permits once a positive decision on the application has been taken.
  • Many Member States further grant national alternative or temporary statuses to unaccompanied minors, which are specific to each Member State.
  • In general, a variety of institutions, i.e. ministries, asylum agencies and local authorities, are responsible for unaccompanied minors at (Member) State level. Local authorities in particular play a primary role in the care and integration of unaccompanied minors.
  • Member States generally give priority to the care of unaccompanied minors, which commences immediately, i.e. prior to status determination.
  • Unaccompanied minors who are refugees benefit from more favourable family reunification conditions, with almost all (Member) States recognising the right of these minors to act as sponsors for family reunification with their parents.
  • The specific situation of an (unaccompanied) minor turning 18 years old, meaning that the safeguards for children no longer apply, is not covered under international, nor EU law. Nevertheless, about a third of (Member) States prepare an independence plan to support the unaccompanied minor in becoming autonomous, or accommodate the minors in special facilities which encourage their independence prior to the transition to adulthood.
  • Except in two cases, most (Member) States foresee by law the possibility to issue a decision on the return of an unaccompanied minor. The return process for unaccompanied minors is based on the assessment of the best interests of the child.
  • The option of forcibly returning unaccompanied minors is largely permitted across (Member) States, though in practice nearly half of them do not carry out forced returns, unless in exceptional cases.


    Publication Date:
    Thu 09 Aug 2018
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