The EMN inform “transition of unaccompanied minors to adulthood” explores the challenges and legal systems faced by unaccompanied minors when they reach adulthood and grow out of care systems designed to protect children and adolescents, in EU Member States and Norway.
Unaccompanied minors face not only the transition from childhood to adulthood, but potentially a change in status that can affect their right to stay and the extent to which they can access education, housing, work, services, and support. The number of unaccompanied minors who submitted asylum applications for the first time in EU member states and Norway rose sharply to 23,420 in 2021, from around 14,000 in both 2019 and 2020. The number of unaccompanied minors who do not claim asylum is unknown across the EU.
The EU has been actively working for decades to protect the rights of unaccompanied minors, and those applying for asylum in the EU benefit from a number of rights and guarantees throughout the asylum procedure. The EU acquis does not provide any guarantees or rights to support their transition to adulthood. Thus, the rights and conditions associated with the transition of unaccompanied minors to adulthood vary considerably between the EU Member States and Norway.
The age limit for services and support for unaccompanied minors who have reached the age of majority is 19 to 30 and those with a residence permit can continue to receive support and services until then, including access to independent housing and education or financial assistance. Some EU Member States and Norway reported a general lack of political attention and financial resources, including a lack of specialized forms of assistance and services for unaccompanied minors.
Overall, EU Member States and Norway have faced similar difficulties in supporting the transition of unaccompanied minors to adulthood, in identifying the need to improve accommodation for those under 18 and the need to improve the level of services and support available to those under 18.