Claiming asylum in the UK
It is possible for those facing persecution in their homeland to be granted asylum in the UK. The right to seek asylum is covered by the United Nations Refugees Convention of 1951. The UK, along with 145 other countries, are signatories of this convention.
When a person is seeking asylum from the British government, they are known as asylum seekers. Once a person has claimed asylum status in the United Kingdom, they are given refugee status.
A refugee is allowed to stay in the United Kingdom for five years. Once that time has elapsed, they are then able to apply to remain in the country.
There are eligibility requirements for people seeking asylum, as well as interviews for the Home Office to grant you refugee status.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers provide guidance and support for people seeking asylum. Call 0191 303 8965 to get a specialist asylum lawyer to assist with your application.
Who is eligible to apply for asylum in the UK?
If you have left your country and you are unable to return due to the danger of being persecuted for one of the following reasons, you are eligible to apply for asylum in the United Kingdom:
- Political orientation
- Membership of a social group
How do I claim asylum?
Those looking to apply for asylum should make their claim as soon as they enter the country. Those who delay their asylum claim are far more likely to be rejected.
If you wish to claim asylum in the UK, you should inform a member of the UK Border Force. These are easily identifiable by their uniform. In the event you’re picked up by the UK Border Force as you enter the country, you need to tell them of your wish to seek asylum as soon as possible.
Those who are already in the country and looking to seek asylum should make an appointment with the Screening Unit in Croydon. As stated already, the sooner this is done the better.
The Asylum process in the UK
The process of claiming asylum may differ, depending on your circumstances. Once your claim has been submitted, you’ll then be required to attend a screening interview and you’ll also have a caseworker assigned to you.
The second part of the process is known as the Substantive Interview, and once you have attended this meeting your case will be reviewed and a decision will be made.
It’s not uncommon for asylum applicants to be asked to attend further interviews and provide additional evidence to support their claim.
Details about the screening interview
In most cases, anyone claiming asylum at their chosen entry port will be interviewed by an immigration officer that same day.
Those who choose instead to wait before claiming asylum will usually be interviewed at a screening unit in Croydon, south of London.
During the screening interview, you’ll be asked a series of basic questions about yourself and circumstances, including the following:
- Personal info (name, gender, language, ethnicity etc)
- Whether you feel you are at risk of persecution if you are forced to leave
- The country you fear persecution from
- Details about how you travelled to the country
- Details about any identification you have
- Whether you have a place to stay in the UK
- Whether you have any dependents in the UK
- Whether you’ve applied for asylum here before
- Medical history
- Whether you have a criminal record
- If you have any supporting documentation you would like to submit with your claim for asylum
After you’ve attended your initial screening interview, you’ll be asked to attend a second interview. This is known as the substantive interview. Before the date of the interview, you’ll be sent a letter stating when and where you should attend.
This interview is to go into more detail about why you are seeking asylum in the UK. During the interview, you may be asked some serious, pressing questions, however it’s important you try to be as detailed as possible in your answers as the more information you provide, the better your chances of success.
During the interview, you should explain why you feel persecuted in your home country, and why you are afraid to return.
During the substantive interview, you will be interviewed alone and all the information you provide is confidential. A translator will be provided if you require one.
In some circumstances, asylum seekers could be detained during their claim for asylum. If you aren’t detained, you will be free until any claim or appeal is rejected. There are a number of reasons you may be detained while your claim for asylum is processed. These include the following:
- During your screening interview, your claim is found to be “clearly unfounded”
- If you have been in the UK for a significant amount of time and do not have the correct immigration papers
- If you passed through another European country, you may be detained according to the Dublin regulations
The amount of time you can be detained when claiming asylum is indefinite (unless you are pregnant, in which case it’s 72 hours). However, most people are released before their appeal is heard.
What documents do asylum seekers need to provide?
When seeking asylum, beware that there are stages in the process. Asylum seekers looking to claim UK asylum are to provide some documents at each stage of the asylum application.
At the screening interview stage, an asylum seeker should provide:
- Travel documents or a passport
- Proof of identity such as birth certificates, identity cards, and marriage certificates)
- Police registration certificate
- Any other document that may help the asylum application
When making their asylum claim, asylum seekers who are already in the UK are to provide proof of address. If you are living alone, the documents should show your full name and address. Accepted documents include a:
- Bank statement
- Lease or tenancy agreement
- Utility bill
- Housing benefit book
An asylum seeker that lives with a dependent or someone else is to provide any of the above documents showing the name of the person they live with and a letter from the person showing they provided the asylum seeker with full permission to stay. The letter should not be more than 3 months old.
Persecution evidence for asylum claim
Your asylum claim may be stronger if you come with evidence to prove you face persecution in your home country at your substantial interview. Such evidence may be:
- Newspaper or online news article with details on your persecution
- Membership card of a political party (if your situation relates to this)
- Arrest warrant
While evidence of the above nature may be difficult to obtain when claiming asylum, if you can, do so to ensure you provide as much evidence as possible to show you are a true asylum seeker.
We can help you with your asylum application process and in gathering documents and evidence for your case. Our asylum solicitors will ensure all information is relevant and accurate to strengthen your asylum claim. Please get in touch by calling 0191 303 8965.
The decision on your asylum claim
Although the time it takes to reach a decision can differ from case to case, the asylum process in the UK is usually a lengthy one.
Although the government says you can expect a decision within six months, in reality, it’s often much longer and the COVID-19 pandemic has only slowed things down further. The majority of decisions took longer than six months pre-COVID, so expect them to take even longer now.
Once you receive a decision regarding your asylum claim, if successful you’ll be allowed to stay in the UK for a specified period of time, or if your asylum claim was rejected then you’ll have to leave the country.
You will receive notice of whether your claim has been successful in writing.
Your claim for asylum will usually only be accepted for one of three reasons. Depending on the reason, this will dictate how long you are allowed to stay in the country for.
- Permission to stay as a refugee – if you have claimed asylum, you’ll be given leave to remain, meaning you and your dependents can stay in the country for up to five years. After that five years has elapsed, you can then apply to settle permanently in the UK.
- Permission to stay for humanitarian reasons – In some instances, you might be able to stay in the UK on humanitarian reasons even if you’re not granted asylum. This is when it’s decided you still need to stay in the country for your protection. This also allows you to stay in the UK, after which you can apply to settle.
- Permission to stay for other reasons – If you don’t qualify for asylum or humanitarian reasons, you might still be able to stay for other reasons. The length of time you can remain in the UK will depend on your situation.
If your claim for asylum is rejected, you will be asked to leave the UK. You can either do this on your own accord, or the Home Office may detain you and force you to leave. This could negatively impact any future immigration of asylum applications you make.
After the decision
If your claim for asylum is granted, then you will then be free to live, work and study in the UK. You’ll also have access to public funds.
Once granted asylum, you’ll be given a Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) which contains your details, photograph and fingerprints. This will act a s proof you are permitted to live and work in the UK.
If you wish to travel, you should apply for travel documents rather than using your national passport.
In the event your claim for asylum is rejected, you’ll receive a letter explaining why the decision was made, along with details on how you can appeal the decision.
Usually, you can appeal the decision to the First-Tier Tribunal. This appeal must be lodged within 14 days of receiving your decision.
If your first appeal is rejected, there are three more stages of appeal you can pursue. These are the following:
- Upper Tribunal
- Court of Appeal
- Supreme Court
You can only lodge an appeal with either of these stages once an appeal for the previous stage has been rejected.
If you reach the Supreme Court stage and your claim for asylum is still rejected, unfortunately there are no more stages of appeal left and you will be required to leave the country.
If you’re an asylum seeker in the UK, you may be entitled to a range of support. These include the following:
- Housing – If you don’t have a place to stay while you’re in the UK then accommodation will be provided. You will not be able the choose the location of this accommodation
- Cash support – You will receive £37.75 a week for each person in your household. This money will be loaded onto a debit card which can then be used to draw money out from an ATM
- Education – If you have children between the ages of 5-17 then it’s a legal requirement for them to go to school. State schools are free and you may also be entitled to free school meals.
- Extra cash – If you’re pregnant or have a child under the age of three years old then you could receive between £3-5 extra per week
- Maternity payment – Those who have a baby under six weeks old or who are about to give birth in eight weeks or less may be entitled to a one-off payment of £300
- Healthcare – You may be entitled to free healthcare on the NHS, including prescriptions, dental care and eyesight tests.
- Legal Aid – As an asylum seeker, you may qualify for Legal Aid if you don’t have a substantial income or have any cash savings.
Applying for children
If you are accompanied by a child when you claim asylum, they will need to apply as part of your application. If the child is coming to the country unaccompanied, they will require an immigration solicitor to rise their case to the Home Office.
To claim asylum, a child can apply in the same way as an adult by notifying a member of the Border Force. Likewise, if they are already in the UK, they can contact the screening Unit in Croydon.
The process of making a claim for asylum varies slightly for a child. After the initial screening interview, the application process will proceed in the following stages:
- The child will attend a welfare interview
- The child will need to complete a statement of evidence form with their solicitor
- They will then have their substantive interview
- The Home Office will make a decision on the claim
Any interviews with children will be carried out by specially trained staff.
Like adults, children have the right to appeal if their claim for asylum is rejected.
Applying as a family
When claiming asylum in the UK, you can do so either individually or as a family. It’s possible to add married or civil partners – as well as dependent children – onto your claim. Grandparents, siblings and children over the age of 18 would need to make their own separate claim.
If you have a partner or a child under the age of 18 who is currently outside the UK, they are able to apply to join you in the country once your claim for asylum has been granted. To do this, they must apply for what’s known as a family reunion using the online form on the government’s website.
Our immigration lawyers help refugees and asylum-seeking persons and families to liaise with the Home Office and claim asylum. Contact us today for assistance with your asylum claim and resettlement in Britain and other parts of the United Kingdom. Call 0191 303 8965 to get started.
How can our Newcastle immigration lawyers help?
At Newcastle immigration lawyers, our highly-trained team can offer fast, reliable, and helpful advice with all your asylum-related issues. Our team is available to meet in person, speak over the phone, or video call via Skype to offer asylum help wherever you’re located.
The asylum system is complex and can be confusing, but our team of specialist lawyers is here to help you every step of the way. Our range of packages includes high-quality translation services and thorough document checks.
You’ll be assigned a designated caseworker, who’ll work with you to complete your application to the highest standard possible, ensuring all the correct documentation is supplied and that the application is completed correctly and free from any errors. We will also liaise with the Home Office throughout the process.
We understand the urgent nature of asylum applications, so we will always endeavour to work quickly and efficiently to ensure your claim has the best chances of success.
For more information or to find out how we can help with your asylum claim, call us today on 0191 303 8965
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According to the Refugee Convention, you can claim asylum in any country; it doesn’t have to be the first safe country the asylum seeker gets to. However, there’ a caveat for European countries.
According to an EU law – the Dublin Regulation – an asylum seeker can only do so in the first safe EU country they arrive in. This is to ensure that only one asylum application is made in a country that upholds the Dublin Regulation.
When you apply to claim asylum in the United Kingdom, the Dublin Regulation doesn’t apply to you. The UK, as of January 1st 2021, is no longer bound to this law. As such, the Home Office will make the choice on your claim and humanitarian protection.
Nevertheless, Britain is a signatory to the Refugee Convention of 1951, so it must protect refugeses.
You cannot apply to claim asylum at a British embassy. People seeking asylum must do so when they arrive in the country, at the border or through an application made from within the United Kingdom.