Albanian Asylum Seekers in the UK
The number of Albanian nationals claiming asylum in the UK increased in 2022 unusually compared to past years. Around 16,000 Albanian citizens claimed asylum in the UK in 2022, which is more than three times the 2021 estimate. This number is significantly high compared to most EU countries as well, who received fewer than 20 asylum seekers from Albania in both 2021 and 2022.
Given that Albania is not currently at war, and is considered to be a ‘safe’ country by the UK government, the Home Affairs Committee has stated that there is “little evidence that its citizens should need to seek political asylum in the UK or elsewhere as a result of the actions of its Government.”
In 2022, the UK government announced plans to ‘fast-track’ the removal of Albanian asylum seekers arriving in the UK without any immigration authorisation, working together with the Albanian government.
Since the signing of the UK-Albania Joint Communique on 13 December 2022, the Home Office has returned over 1,000 Albanian illegal immigrants from the UK till April 2023, including voluntary returns, failed asylum seekers, and foreign national offenders.
- Albanian Asylum Seekers in the UK
- Seeking Asylum in the UK as an Albanian: Is It Possible?
- Eligibility Requirements for Seeking Asylum in the UK
- Required Documents for an Asylum Application
- Registering Your Asylum Claim
- What Happens After the Registration of Your Asylum Claim?
- UK Asylum Application Processing Time
- How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
It is possible for Albanian nationals to successfully claim asylum in the UK, if they can prove the genuineness of their asylum claim. During 2021-2022, almost half of UK initial decisions on Albanian asylum applications were positive.
A Home Affairs Committee report published in June 2023 states that there are, ‘unquestionably’, cases of Albanian nationals being trafficked to the UK. The UK has an obligation to support trafficking victims, and ensure their safety and security in Albania before they are repatriated.
Apart from human trafficking, Albania also has other significant and long-standing issues such as corruption, discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ+ community, stigma and discrimination against the ethnic Roma and Egyptian communities, gang-related violence, and sexual and domestic violence prevalent in the country. Victims often have no other options left in their home country to protect their life and livelihood, and seek safety and security abroad.
It must be noted that the UK’s asylum grant rate for Albanian nationals is driven by women, since they are considered to be at a higher risk in the hands of human traffickers compared to men. Of all the positive decisions in 2022 on asylum applications from adult Albanian nationals in the UK, 88% were for women.
Similarly, children, young adults, LGBTQ+ people, torture survivors and victims of modern slavery are also likely to get precedence over other asylum applicants in the UK.
The UK also accepts that Albanian nationals often migrate to the UK for economic reasons. In search of a better life and job prospect, Albanian nationals fall victim to the hands of human traffickers who, in turn, abuse their poverty to feed the modern slavery network.
Increasing awareness of work visa programmes available in the UK may help Albanian nationals lawfully immigrate to the country instead, thus freeing them from the clutches of human traffickers. On the other hand, this may also help with worker shortages in the UK economy, including short-term or seasonal work in sectors like construction or agriculture.
Eligibility Requirements for Seeking Asylum in the UK
Foreign nationals are eligible to seek asylum in the UK if they can prove that they fear persecution in their home country because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, sexual preference, or any other issue that puts them at risk because of the social, cultural, religious or political circumstances there.
Foreign nationals may also seek asylum in the UK in case their country is at war, or undergoing internal armed conflict, and they cannot get protection from the authorities in their home country in such a scenario.
Although Albania is currently not at war nor facing any internal armed conflict, Albanian nationals may still be eligible for asylum in the UK if they can prove that they fear for their safety and security in Albania, face persecution in Albania because of any of the aforementioned reasons, or they have fallen victims in the hands of human traffickers or modern slavery system.
Foreign nationals from an EU country or who travelled to the UK through a ‘safe third country’ will not be eligible for asylum in the country.
Required Documents for an Asylum Application
Supporting documents for your asylum claim include:
- Your passport and/or any other travel documents
- Your identification documents, e.g. identity cards, birth certificate, marriage certificates, school records etc.
- Any other document that you believe will substantiate the genuineness of your claim for asylum
If you are already in the UK at the time of your application, you will need to submit your UK proof of address. Depending on your living situation, you will need to submit any of the following documents:
- If you have your own accommodation in the country, please provide UK documents with your full name and residential address, such as:
- Bank statement
- Housing benefit book
- Council tax notice
- Tenancy agreement
- Utility bills
- If you are staying in the UK with someone else, please provide:
- A letter from the person you’re staying with to confirm you have their permission to stay, dated within the last three months
- Documents mentioning the full name and address of the person you’re staying with, e.g. a council tax notice, tenancy agreement or utility bills
Registering Your Asylum Claim
Foreign nationals seeking to claim asylum in the UK are required to discuss their circumstances with a UK immigration officer first. This meeting is known as a ‘screening’, during which the asylum seekers must register their claim.
The screening may take place at your port of entry, if you claim asylum as soon as you arrive in the UK. Alternatively, you may also be screened after arriving in the UK if you become eligible for asylum.
During a screening, an asylum seeker will:
- Have their photo and fingerprints taken
- Attend an interview to discuss who they are and where they are from
- Be asked why they want asylum in the UK
You may bring any documentary evidence to support your claim and other required documents to the screening. You will also have to declare any medical condition you or your dependent family members may have.
If you want to claim asylum in the UK while entering the country, you must inform a UK Border Force officer that you would like to do so. Interpreters are available during a screening in case the asylum seeker is not an English speaker.
Alternatively, if you are already in the UK when you want to claim asylum, please get in touch with the asylum intake unit in the country, to make an appointment. In case you have nowhere to live in the UK, you can just call the asylum intake unit to enquire about where you should go for registering your asylum claim and at what time.
On the date of your appointment, please bring your documentary evidence with you. You may ask for an interpreter to be present during your appointment, but you cannot claim any financial help for travelling to or from the asylum intake unit.
What Happens After the Registration of Your Asylum Claim?
Following the screening process, the Home Office reviews your case and decides whether it can be considered in the UK.
You will receive an asylum registration card (ARC) in your UK address. The Home Office may also send you an asylum questionnaire to further understand your case.
If the Home Office decides that your case can be considered in the UK, a caseworker will be assigned to you. They will interview you, and will make a decision about your asylum application. You may have legal representation during your interview if you so wish.
You may be detained at an immigration removal centre while awaiting a decision on your asylum application. In case your application is successful and you get permission to stay in the UK, you will be released from the centre.
Alternatively, if the Home Office decides that your case cannot be considered in the UK, they may send you to a safe country that will consider your asylum claim. You may be able to appeal against the decision.
UK Asylum Application Processing Time
The UK has accumulated a huge backlog of asylum applications in the past few years. While an asylum claim used to take on an average six months in 2020, the waiting period increased to an average of 20 months in 2021.
Please also note that the processing of you asylum application may take longer if:
- Your supporting documents need verification
- You are required to attend multiple rounds of interviews
- Your personal circumstances are complicated, e.g. you have a criminal conviction
If your application is successful, you might be granted refugee status in the UK. If you do not qualify for refugee status but cannot return to your own country for valid reasons, you may get humanitarian protection. In either scenario, the Home Office will give you permission to stay in the UK for a minimum of five years.
After five years, you can apply to settle in the UK, subject to other relevant terms and conditions.
The Home Office will ask you to leave the country if you do not qualify for refugee status, and your caseworker decides that you do not have any valid reason to stay in the UK. If you do not leave voluntarily, you will be detained and removed from the country.
Albanian nationals may find it difficult to claim asylum in the UK, given that the UK government does not find any valid reason to routinely accept asylum seekers from Albania – a country which is not at war and considered by the UK government to be a ‘safe’ country otherwise.
However, certain groups of people, specifically women and children, may get a favourable treatment given they are the most vulnerable persons as far as human trafficking is concerned. Victims of modern slavery will also get precedence, although proving that you are a victim of modern slavery is relatively difficult.
It is, therefore, advisable that you speak with an immigration lawyer as soon as you decide to claim asylum in the UK.
At Newcastle Immigration Lawyers, we have a team of expert immigration advisers who can offer emergency support if you are an asylum seeker or you have been detained. We can provide a same-day advice session if you have an immigration emergency .
Last modified on October 13th, 2023 at 12:06 pm
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Yes. As an asylum seeker in the UK, you can also claim asylum for your spouse/civil partner and minor children as your dependents. However, your family will not get refugee status in the UK unless they make their own claim for asylum.
You may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) if you have refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave in the UK.
ILR is a settlement route to the UK. It provides you with the right to live, work and study in the country for an indefinite period. You can use it to apply for British citizenship.