A person can seek asylum in the UK if they are fleeing persecution in their own country. To be eligible, this person must be unable to be protected by their own country’s government. They can be fleeing because of environmental factors (such as war or political unrest), or because they are being personally persecuted because of their race, religion, sexuality, or gender. There is no set rule for the reasons a person can claim asylum in the UK.
An asylum claim can be made at any UK port. While a person waits for the results of their claim, they are given temporary accommodation and a small living allowance. You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country. Your application is more likely to be denied if you wait.
Once a person has been granted asylum, they become a refugee – and they are granted full protection by the state.
For a successful claim, you will need to prove that you have a “genuine and well-founded” fear of persecution, based on one or more of the following grounds:
In certain situations, the Government will grant automatic asylum based on your nationality to a certain country. This happens when the area is deemed dangerous for all citizens. Examples of this include Syria and Venezuela. You also need to show that your home country’s Government can’t or won’t protect you.
Your claim might not be considered if you:
Generally, a safe third country is one that:
Everyone has a right to claim asylum, no matter where you have come from or who you are. Once you have made a claim, you will also qualify for accommodation and a small allowance, if you are destitute or without funds. Once you have this, you can use Legal Aid to make your case to the Home Office.
(1) You register your asylum claim at a ‘screening’. This is a meeting with an immigration officer where you tell them about your case. You’ll have your screening at the UK border if you claim asylum as soon as you arrive. You can also be screened once you’re in the UK if you become eligible for asylum.
At your screening you’ll:
You’ll be asked why you want asylum. You can bring written evidence to support your claim if you want, as well as your identification documents.
Once you have made an initial claim at a port, you will be placed in accommodation (if you need it) and granted an allowance of £37.75 per week per single asylum seeker.
(2) After your screening, the Home Office will review your case and decide whether it can be considered in the UK.
You’ll be sent an asylum registration card (ARC) to your UK address, unless you’ve been detained.
If your case can be considered in the UK, it will be given to a caseworker.
If your case cannot be considered in the UK
You may be sent to a safe country that will consider your asylum claim. This might happen if you’ve travelled to the UK through a safe third country or you have a connection with another country that you could claim asylum in.
Generally, a safe country is one that:
The Home Office can decide to send you to a safe country after either your screening or your asylum interview.
If the Home Office cannot place you in another safe country, your case will be considered in the UK and given to a caseworker.
(3) You’ll have an asylum interview with your caseworker. The purpose of the asylum interview is to determine whether your fear is genuine and well-founded. This is also often called the ‘substantive interview’. Use this interview to explain:
You may be asked questions about difficult topics but it’s important that you explain what has happened to you and your family. This interview is a chance for you to make your case to the Home Office. If English is not your first language, and you need a translator present, this will be arranged in time for your interview.
You should ask for your interview to be recorded in the run-up to it. You must do this at least 24 hours before your scheduled interview starts. You can also request a male or female interviewer if you feel more comfortable with one particular gender.
You cannot take anyone to your interview with you apart from your lawyer. However, it is important to note that this service is not covered by Legal Aid. These interviews can last up to a few hours. You are entitled to ask for a break if and when you need it.
You should take the following documents with you (your interview cannot be conducted without them):
(4) Once you have left the interview, you will have five days to send in a statement about the interview and with your closing points on your case. This is a chance to include anything you forgot to say in the interview. You should listen back to your interview when writing this.
Asylum claims can take up to 6 months to process. During this time, you will continue to receive funds and accommodation.
You will usually be asked to attend an interview with the Home Office. During this time, you will likely be asked to attend an interview with the Home Office.
Once you have attended your interview, you will receive a decision letter on your asylum claim in the post. If your claim is accepted, you will automatically be granted leave to remain as a refugee. If it is not, you can choose to appeal your case. You must do so within 30 days.
Dependent children of adult asylum seekers can claim asylum alongside their parent(s). If the child is younger than 12 years old, they won’t need to attend an interview. In this case, the parent can make an application on their behalf, and discuss their cases in their own interview.
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children can claim asylum in the same way as adults – at a UK port. In most cases, there are volunteers and members of the local authority to help young children request their claim. Unaccompanied children will most often be taken to the national intake unit in Croydon for their application to be processed.
Children under the age of 12 will most likely not need to attend an interview. Children over the age of 12 must be accompanied by their solicitor and their interviewer must be specifically trained in working with and interviewing children.
The process for unaccompanied children claiming asylum is as follows:
You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country. Your application is more likely to be denied if you wait.
You must tell a Border Force officer that you want to claim asylum.
Your application will be registered and you’ll be screened – ask for an interpreter if you need one.
You must call the asylum intake unit if you’re already in the UK.
They’ll call you back and ask simple questions about you and your family. You will not be asked why you’re claiming asylum during this telephone call.
You’ll be asked if you need help with housing. The call may take up to 30 minutes.
Asylum intake unit appointments line
Telephone: 0300 123 4193
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm
Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
You can include your partner and your children under 18 as ‘dependants’ in your application if they’re with you in the UK.
Your children under 18 and your partner can also make their own applications at the same time, but they will not be treated as your dependants.
The ARC shows you’ve applied for asylum. You can use it to:
You must take your ARC with you when you go to your reporting meetings.
You may be detained at an immigration removal centre while you wait for a decision on your application.
You’ll either be:
You can also be detained and removed if it’s decided that another country is responsible for offering you asylum.
You may be able to appeal against the decision.
When you will not be detained
You will not usually be detained if:
You’ll be given or refused permission to stay in one of the following ways.
You and your dependants may be given permission to stay in the UK for 5 years if you qualify for asylum. This is known as ‘leave to remain’.
After 5 years, you can apply to settle in the UK.
You may get permission to stay for humanitarian reasons if you do not qualify for asylum. This means you need to stay in the UK for your protection.
You and your dependants may be given permission to stay in the UK for 5 years. This is known as ‘leave to enter’ or ‘leave to remain’.
After 5 years, you can apply to settle in the UK.
You may get permission to stay for other reasons if you do not qualify for permission to stay as a refugee or for humanitarian reasons.
How long you can stay will depend on your situation.
You may be able to apply to extend your stay or settle in the UK towards the end of your stay.
You’ll be asked to leave the UK if you do not qualify for asylum and your caseworker decides there’s no other reason for you to stay.
You may be able to appeal against the decision.
You’ll have to leave if you do not appeal in the time allowed, or if your appeal is unsuccessful. You can:
Your claim for asylum may be refused if the Home Office determine that you are not genuine, or that your fear of persecution is not real or is unfounded. You may also be refused because of insufficient evidence – for example if you cannot provide a solid witness testimony/other form of evidence to prove your case is legitimate.
Asylum seekers have the right to appeal. This means that, if you receive a refusal letter on your initial claim, you can challenge this. You must lodge your appeal within 30 calendars of receiving your letter. You should note that these 30 days begin from the date on the letter itself, not on the day you receive/open it.
You can only make a fresh application claim in the UK once your appeal rights have been exhausted. This means you would have to lodge an appeal on your first claim’s refusal before making any fresh claim.
It is also essential that you include new evidence for any fresh asylum application, and that your fresh claim is based on a new situation. For example, if you have returned to your home country and there are further complications which would mean you need to claim asylum on new grounds.
Once your appeal rights are exhausted, you will be required to return to your home country.
Asylum seekers can live in the accommodation provided and spend their allowance on food and any other essentials.
Currently, they do not have a right to work and they cannot claim public funds, other than that which they are provided with.
An asylum seeker is a person who has made an initial claim for refuge and is awaiting the results of this.
A refugee is a person who has been granted asylum. As a UK refugee a person can work, study, start a business and access public funds. This is an indefinite status, offering complete protection of that person under human rights laws.