What Is an Asylum Seeker?
An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country of residence and entered another through forced displacement. The fleeing of their home country may be down to war or persecution facing them or their immediate family.
In the UK, individuals are eligible to claim asylum if they’re unable to return to their home country as a result of persecution forming a protected characteristic. This may be due to race, religion, nationality, political views, disability, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Asylum solicitors are legal representatives who specialise in asylum claims and hold a firm understanding of relevant immigration laws.
Where an individual is eligible to claim asylum, they should do so as soon as possible upon arrival into the UK.
An Overview Of The Asylum Claim Process
Asylum seekers must first register their intention to file a claim at a screening meeting with a British immigration officer. This will usually take place at the UK border upon arrival.
At this initial meeting, the individual will explain the basis for their claim and have a photo and fingerprints taken. Ideally, supporting documentation and evidence will be supplied at this point but in some cases it may be provided later. Interpreters are available as required.
If the asylum seeker is already in the UK, they must contact the asylum intake unit. A call will be arranged to discuss the reason for the claim and to advise on housing support if required. A screening appointment at a local office will be arranged and at this appointment the applicant will be expected to supply all relevant supporting documents.
Once a screening has taken place, asylum seekers will be sent an ARC (Asylum Registration Card) along with a questionnaire. The questionnaire should be returned as quickly as possible, but if the individual is unable to complete it they should seek legal advice.
The Home Office will make contact with the applicant to advise on the claim for asylum and where it can be processed. If the case can be considered in the UK, a Home Office caseworker will be assigned to the claim. If it cannot, the asylum seeker may not be able to stay in the UK and will instead be moved to a ‘safe country’.
This is defined as a state where they can be temporarily granted sanctuary but not their home country: somewhere the applicant is not a citizen of, they would not be harmed in and would not remove them to another country where they may be subject to harm.
The applicant must attend regular meetings with their Home Office caseworker, known as ‘reporting events’. The ARC must be presented at each of these meetings.
During the period in which the claim for asylum is being processed, the applicant may be detained in a specialist facility. This detainment will end when either the asylum claim is granted and leave to remain is granted, or they’re removed from the UK if the claim is declined.
Applicants are usually not detained when they’re a child, are elderly, are a family with children, are pregnant or are a victim of trafficking. Furthermore, if the applicant has a mental or physical condition that wouldn’t be adequately managed in a detainment facility, they will not be detained as this wouldn’t be considered safe.
A mandatory asylum interview will take place. If the applicant does not attend, the application will usually be automatically refused. Interviews are normally carried out individually without family members and during this session, the asylum seeker will explain and provide evidence on their persecution and what would be likely to happen if they returned to their home state. The caseworker will take an interview record and a copy will be supplied. Post-pandemic, most asylum interviews take place via video call.
The Evidence Asylum Applicants Must Present
The UK asylum system requires evidence of the individual’s identity and their persecution in order to process a successful claim. Applicants must present an original birth certificate, passport or national ID card (no copies will be accepted) along with evidence detailing why they are unable to return to their home state.
Proof of identity must be provided for every individual on the application, including children and infants.
Why Hire an Asylum Lawyer To Help Your Case
Due to the complexity of asylum law and the devastating consequences that a failed claim can result in, it is always recommended that claimants have an asylum solicitor present to guide them through the application process and interview.
Legal representatives may be present at the asylum interview but it will take place even if they’re not there. There is no protocol for interview postponement in the event of expert asylum solicitors being unavailable.
During the processing period of the claim for asylum, an asylum solicitor will be able to provide updates on the claim’s progress.
Permission to stay under refugee status or humanitarian protection
If the individual qualifies for either of these two statuses, they will be granted permission to stay in the UK for a minimum of 5 years, after which time an application to settle can be made.
Permission to stay for other reasons
If the applicant does not qualify for refugee status or meet the criteria for humanitarian settlement, permission may be granted under other reasoning. The duration of permission to stay in the UK will vary on a case-by-case basis.
No reason to stay
If the Home Office caseworker team cannot find a valid reason for the asylum seeker to stay in the UK, they will be asked to leave the country. There are various routes for appeal.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers offer guidance and support to those seeking asylum and in need of an asylum lawyer in the UK – both when employed privately and funded through legal aid.
The team are contactable by phone on 0191 303 8965 for a free, no-obligation chat. The nature of asylum legislation is that it’s extremely complex and with so much at stake, only the most expert of advice should be sought.
Our specialist team offer support on an asylum claim through the whole process, from start to finish. Communicating in plain English for ease of understanding (or through an interpreter where required), we help navigate the qualifications for refugee status and humanitarian protection, the asylum application process, the inclusion of family members and any appeals required to grant the application leave to remain in the UK. We hold a deep understanding of the security risks of those filing an immigration application and will offer legal representation alongside moral support as best we can.
Last modified on October 18th, 2023 at 10:16 am
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Asylum solicitors may be paid for privately by those claiming asylum or through publicly available legal aid funding. The qualification for the latter is judged on a case-by-case basis.
Specialist asylum solicitors can help guide applicants through the asylum process – in the compilation of relevant documents, in-person interview guidance and the gathering of appropriate evidence.
There are various routes for appeal where an individual has been refused asylum in the UK, including the fresh claim process where new evidential information has come to light. It is always recommended that asylum cases subject to refusal and then appeal are managed by immigration lawyers to best navigate UK immigration law, human rights laws and receive adequate asylum support.