Procedure of Claiming Asylum in the UK
Who can get a Refugee Status in the UK?
Unless an applicant is stateless, he or she would qualify for refugee status in the UK under the terms of the 1951 Refugee Convention if he or she meets all the following criteria:
- He or she is outside of their country of nationality;
- He or she is unable to return due to fear;
- The fear is well-founded subjectively and objectively (reasonable degree of likelihood);
- He or she fears persecution (e.g. physical or mental violence, a discriminate legal, administrative, police measure, disproportionate or discriminatory prosecution or punishment etc.);
- Agents of persecution are state and non state actors;
- Sufficient protection is not available in their country of origin;
- He or she has been persecuted in the past;
- The persecution he or she has a fear of is for a convention reason (race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion);
- An applicant cannot be expected to live in another part of the country;
- He or she did not pass through a safe third country to get to the UK;
- The account of an applicant is credible;
- He or she is not excluded from protection.
When should you seek asylum in the UK?
Anyone wishing to seek asylum should do so at their earliest opportunity. If an asylum claim is not made at an earliest opportunity, it may damage an applicant’s credibility and also affect their entitlement to welfare benefits under Section 95 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
On the other hand, it is important to mention that paragraph 339MA of the Immigration Rules states that ‘Applications for asylum shall be neither rejected nor excluded from examination on the sole ground that they have not been made as soon as possible’.
How to make an asylum claim in the UK?
An asylum claim must be made in person by an asylum seeker, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
The first step is to make an appointment for screening by phoning the intake unit.
Asylum intake unit appointments line
Telephone: 0300 123 4193
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm
Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
They will call an applicant back and ask some questions about them and their family. An applicant will not be asked to explain reasons for claiming asylum at this stage. The call may take up to 30 minutes.
The Intake unit will also ask if an applicant needs help with housing.
If a person is struggling with English, they can have an interpreter at screening.
What is a Screening Interview?
At this stage an asylum claim is registered. An applicant is briefly interviewed by an immigration officer, fingerprinted and their biometric information collected.
An applicant can bring supporting evidence with them as well as their ID documents (passports, birth certificates etc.).
If an applicant has dependants, they must come with him or her to a Screening Interview.
If an applicant is homeless, he or she does not need to make an appointment for a Screening Interview, they can go in person to the intake unit from 7:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. It is advisable to arrive early.
Where can you apply for asylum?
- At the time of entering the UK at the UK border (e.g. airport, port etc.).
- At Home Office’s Asylum intake unit Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon, CR9 2BY.
- In writing in very exceptional circumstances (e.g. unaccompanied children, prisoners, disabled/ill people who cannot physically attend the intake unit).
What can you expect at a Home Office Screening Interview?
Depending on an applicant’s immigration history, immigration officer may decide to interview him or her under caution if they are suspected of committing an immigration offence.
If an applicant is not completely honest at a screening interview stage, it may have a negative impact on their asylum application and even result in prosecution. They may for example be prosecuted for entering the UK without valid travel documentation or using a deception.
Given individual circumstances an applicant may be detained or be given temporary admission or immigration bail and asked to report at an immigration office regularly as well as live at a particular address.
If not detained, an applicant would be issued with an Application Registration Card (ARC) and this will be their form of identity until the claim is finally determined.
What documents are required to claim asylum?
There may be no documents available for an applicant and they are not mandatory to be able to make an asylum claim. However, if available, it is advisable to provide the following:
- Passport for the main applicant and any dependants;
- Police Registration Certificates for the main applicant and any dependants;
- Other identification documents- ID cards, birth/ marriage certificates etc.
- Four unseparated passport sized photographs of the main applicant and any dependents;
- Evidence of accommodation- e.g. Tenancy Agreement, a letter from a friend accommodating etc.;
- Any other available evidence in support of the basis of the claim.
When will you be invited for a Substantive Asylum Interview?
The applicant would receive a letter from the Home Office with a date and place for his substantive asylum interview.
If an asylum seeker fails to attend a Substantive Interview, no further action would be taken on his case and his asylum application would be treated as withdrawn.
At this interview the applicant will be asked to explain reasons for seeking asylum in the UK.
Home Office will provide an interpreter if required.
Substantive Interview can last one to six hours, sometimes longer. There would be breaks scheduled or an applicant can ask for a break during the interview.
The Interview record will be handwritten or typed and a copy of it would be provided to the applicant after the interview. Most of the interviews are also tape recorded.
It is important to mention, that the Home Office may decide to omit the need to interview an asylum seeker in certain circumstances.
The applicant and his legal representatives will have 5 working days after the Substantive Interview to make any comments on the interview record and to submit further evidence to the Home Office. The documents must be translated into English.
The Home Office normally refuses an asylum claim using inconsistencies in the applicant’s account, so if these inconsistencies have arisen during the substantive interview and can be ‘corrected’ by submitting further evidence, that should be encouraged. It may greatly assist the applicant at the appeal stage.
A decision on asylum claims should normally be reached within six months of the claim raised, but in practice some applicants wait longer.
Home Office decision on asylum claim
- If an asylum claim is accepted:
- An asylum seeker would generally be granted 5 years refugee status.
- He or she would be allowed to live, work and study in the UK, also have access to public funds.
- Refugees may apply for family reunion for the qualifying family members to join them in the UK.
- Refugees would be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) confirming their refugee status and right to work.
- Refugees cannot use their national passports to travel and cannot return to their countries of origin, otherwise would lose the refugee status. They should apply for a Home Office travel document to be able to travel outside of the UK.
- After 5 years the Home Office will conduct an active review and if the applicant’s circumstances have not changed and he or she is still in need of international protection, they can be granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK.
- After 12 months of receiving ILR, an applicant may want to apply to naturalise as a British citizen provided they meet all the requirements of British Nationality Act 1981.
- If an asylum claim is refused by the Home Office:
- If an asylum claim is refused and certified as clearly unfounded, the applicant would not have an in country right to appeal against the refusal decision. The only remedy available in country in such case would be making a judicial review application.
- If an asylum claim is refused and not certified, the applicant would have right to appeal against the Home Office’s refusal decision to the First- Tier Tribunal.
- The deadline to lodge an appeal is 14 days from the date of the refusal decision.
When can you be granted Humanitarian Protection?
Humanitarian protection might be granted instead of a refugee status when an applicant does not qualify for protection under the Refugee Convention because they would not be persecuted for the Convention reason (race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, political opinion), but they are still in need of international protection because they may be at risk of serious harm if they are returned to their country of origin.
Can you appeal against the refusal of the asylum application?
Despite the fact that there have been major changes to the immigration and asylum appeals regime recently, most asylum seekers still have right to appeal against the refusal decision made by the Home Office refusing their protection claim. However, the Home Office has power to certify so called ‘clearly unfounded’ claims in which case they do not give right to appeal. The only way to challenge such refusal would be a judicial review application.
If there is an in country right of appeal attached to an asylum application refusal, it needs to be exercised within 14 days of the date of the refusal by submitting notice of asylum appeal to the First- Tier Tribunal.
When can you make a Fresh Claim?
An applicant can make a fresh claim for asylum if his or her asylum claim is certified as clearly unfounded or has been refused and all appeal rights were exhausted.
The new submissions will amount to a fresh claim if they are significantly different from the material that has previously been considered.
The submissions will only be significantly different if the content of them:
- had not already been considered; and
- taken together with the previously considered material, created a realistic prospect of success, notwithstanding its rejection.
What happens when you make a Fresh Claim?
There are three possible outcomes for an applicant who made a fresh claim:
- The Home Office may decide that the new evidence provided by the applicant amounts to a fresh claim and grant refugee status, humanitarian protection or leave to remain under other Immigration Rules provisions.
- The decision maker may also decide that the new evidence is a fresh claim, but the applicant does not require protection. In this scenario, an applicant’s claim would be refused, but he or she would be given right of appeal.
- The Home Office may make a decision that the new evidence does not amount to a fresh claim and refuse the application without a right of appeal.
If you were granted a refugee status, can you apply for family reunion for your family members to join you in the UK?
Refugees are entitled to have members of their family to join them in the UK. This is limited to so called pre-flight family members, i.e. those who formed part of his or her family unit before he or she moved to the UK.
Your qualifying family member would need to make an immigration application which would need to be approved by the Home Office before your family can join you.
What are the requirements for your partner to join you under the family reunion provisions?
A spouse or partner of a refugee needs to satisfy the following requirements to be able to be granted family reunion:
- An applicant has to be married or be unmarried partner of a person granted refugee status in the UK.
- The marriage must not have taken place after the refugee left his or her country of origin or former habitual residence in order to seek asylum. If it is an unmarried partner that is applying, they must satisfy the decision maker that they have lived together with the refugee for at least two years prior to the refugee leaving the country in order to seek asylum.
- The spouse or unmarried partner must not be excluded from protection under the Refugee Convention if were to seek asylum in their own right.
- The spouse and the refugee must intend to reside together permanently and their marriage must be genuine and subsisting.
- The spouse or unmarried partner must apply for entry clearance visa and be granted before they seek to enter the UK in this capacity.
Can you bring your child to join you in the UK if you were granted a refugee status?
A child of a refugee must satisfy the requirements below to be able to come to the UK on a family reunion visa:
- An applicant has to satisfy the decision maker that he or she is a child of a person granted refugee status in the UK.
- A child must be under 18 years old.
- A child must not be leading independent life, must not be married or in a civil partnership and must not have formed an independent family unit.
- They must satisfy the decision maker that they were part of the family unit at the time that the person granted refugee status left his or her country of origin or former habitual residence to seek asylum in the UK.
- A child must not be excluded from protection under the Refugee Convention if were to seek asylum in his or her own right.
- If a child is seeing leave to enter the UK, they must hold a valid entry clearance visa to be admitted to the UK.
What welfare benefits are asylum seekers entitled to?
An asylum seeker must stay in contact with the Home Office and report as requested in order to be able to continue receiving support. If he or she fails to do so, he or she may be detained and asylum support may be discontinued.
Cash support standard rate at the moment is £37.75 per week per person. There is an additional support for children and pregnant women.
NASS support starts on a day an asylum claim is recorded and continues for up to 21 days after the case is finally determined if the case is refused and 28 days if the case is accepted and refugee status is granted.
Can you still receive asylum support if your claim is refused?
If an asylum claim is refused, it is vital to make an in time appeal to the FTT for the NASS support to continue.
If an applicant’s asylum claim was refused and he or she has exhausted their appeal rights, they must make arrangements to return to their country of origin as soon as possible. They may be able to receive a short term support while they are making preparations to return to their country.
An applicant has to meet the following requirements to be able to qualify for such support:
- They must be taking reasonable steps to leave the UK.
- They cannot leave to UK because of a physical impediment to travel or any other medical condition.
- They are unable to leave the UK because in the Home Office’s opinion, there is no viable route of return for them.
- They have made a judicial review application and have been granted permission by the Tribunal to proceed with it.
- The accommodation is necessary for them to prevent breach of their rights as defined in the Human Rights Act 1998.
No cash is provided in this case, an applicant would get suitable accommodation and Azure payment card to use to buy food and essential toiletries to a certain value per person per week.
We have experience from years dealing with refugees from all over the world. We appreciate that all asylum seekers are vulnerable and we therefore give additional care to these applicants ensuring strict confidentiality.
Anglia Immigration Law provides a wide range of services tailored to refugees needs. We provide assistance through the whole process of an asylum claim starting with a screening interview followed by a substantive interview, submission of the evidence and representations to the Home Office, follow up with the Home Office until the decision is made.
For more information please contact us on 01603 927676 to speak directly to an asylum law specialist.