The accompanied child
Any child who, in any residence procedure, is accompanied by (a) parent(s) or legal guardian, is considered an accompanied child. European children accompanied by (a) parent(s) are also called accompanied children..
The accompanied child:
- i• is under 18 years old;
- stays in Belgium with his parent(s) or legal guardian;
- his parent(s) or he himself have filed an application for international protection.
The accompanied child follows the procedure of his parent(s) or legal guardian
Children who arrive with their parent(s)/legal guardian on the territory, are registered on the annex of their parent(s)/legal guardian and follow the procedure of their parent(s)/legal guardian without being interviewed separately.
These children do have the right to ask to be interviewed if they want to. The child can ask to be interviewed within five days before the personal interview of the parent(s)/legal guardian. This is a right, not a duty. Indeed, the parent(s)/legal guardian can be expected to explain the problems of the children they accompany, during their personal interview at the CGRS. These children can only ask for an interview at the CGRS if they want this themselves. If they rather do not do this, this does not have any consequences for the decision of the parent(s)/legal guardian.
The CGRS will only accept this request to be interviewed if the child has sufficient power of discernment. The interview is conducted between the protection officer and the child, without the parent(s)/legal guardian being present. The child is assisted by a lawyer and, if desired, by a trusted person. This trusted person cannot be a family member. It has to be a person who because of his profession is specialized in assisting persons or in alien’s’ law. The CGRS can invite the child to a second interview, if the facts mentioned by the child appear to be particularly serious. In that case, the child will also be heard by a specialized protection officer.
Besides, the CGRS also has the possibility to invite the child to an interview, even if the child has not specifically asked for this. This can for example be the case if the parent(s)/legal guardian mentions specific facts on account of the child. The child is not obliged to accept this invitation. If the child rather does not do this, this does not have any consequences for the decision that is taken on account of the family.
The CGRS takes one decision that is valid for both the parent(s)/legal guardian and the child. Exceptionally, a separate decision will nevertheless be taken on account of the child if specific elements necessitating such a decision are established.
The accompanied child files an individual application for international protection
The child can also choose to file an individual application for international protection. The child can do so through his parent(s)/legal guardian.
If no definitive decision has been taken regarding the application of the parent(s)/legal guardian, the child’s application will be processed together with that of his parent(s).
If a definitive decision has already been taken regarding the application of the parent(s)/legal guardian, the child’s application will be considered as a “subsequent” application with a specific filter: the child has to mention personal facts that justify a separate application. If a separate application is not justified, the CGRS will take a decision of inadmissibility on behalf of the child. If the child does mention personal facts that justify a separate application, the CGRS will decide that the application is admissible, after which the application will be judged on its substance.
The personal interview
The child who files an application for international protection in his own name, is invited to a personal interview, provided that the child has enough power of discernment.
The invitation to the personal interview is sent to the parent’s/legal guardian’s place of residence (with a copy to the child’s place of residence), unless the child explicitly asks to send the invitation to the place of residence chosen by him.
The personal interview takes place between the specialized protection officer and the child, without the parent(s)/legal guardian being present. The child is assisted by a lawyer and, if desired, by a trusted person. This trusted person cannot be family. It has to be a person who, because of his profession, is specialized in assisting people or in aliens’ law.
Adapted assessment of the application for international protection
The application for international protection is assessed in the same way as for the unaccompanied child (see above).
In its decision, the CGRS uses a language that is adapted to the child’s age and profile. The child’s declarations will not be used against the parent(s)/legal guardian in a decision. The child can ask that the decision is sent to his chosen place of residence. If the chosen place of residence is not with the lawyer, the lawyer will receive a copy of the decision.
You can find more information about the procedure for international protection for accompanied children in the following brochures: