International Students Needing Asylum In The UK: An Overview
As of July 2022, it is illegal to claim asylum in the UK if you did not enter the country with authorisation. This change was introduced with the Nationality and Borders Act 2022.
As such, if you are in the UK on a valid Student visa, you should still be able to legally claim asylum. You may choose to claim asylum immediately upon arrival in the UK or once you have already started your studies. For example, if you become eligible for refugee status after already commencing with your studies then you may choose to claim asylum at a later date.
Additionally, a number of UK universities offer scholarships which are specifically for asylum seekers and refugees.
- International Students Needing Asylum In The UK: An Overview
- Am I Eligible to Apply For Asylum? Eligibility Criteria
- What is the Application Process for Seeking Asylum?
- Asylum Denied: How To Make an Appeal
- Applying for Asylum as an International Student
- The Rights of International Students Seeking Asylum in the UK
- Can My Family Join Me in the UK?
- Processing Times: How Long Will My Application Take?
- How Much Will My Application Cost?
- Other Ways To Remain In The UK as an International Student If you Cannot Go Back To Your Home Country
- How Our Immigration Solicitors Can Help You
- Frequently Asked Questions
Am I Eligible to Apply For Asylum? Eligibility Criteria
In order to be eligible to apply for asylum in the UK, you must be unable to safely reside in any area of your home country, due to the risk of persecution.
This persecution can be on numerous grounds, including race, religion, nationality, political stance, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
It must also be the case that the authorities in your home country were unable to offer you protection from this persecution.
Additionally, as of July 2022, you must have entered the UK lawfully in order to legally claim asylum in the UK. If you did not do so, your application is very unlikely to be successful.
As of 2023, the UK government is currently trying to enact a policy according to which individuals who enter the UK without authorisation are liable to be sent to Rwanda in order to have their asylum claims processed, although this policy is currently stalled in the UK courts.
Note that there are certain situations in which your application may still not be considered, even if you satisfy the above eligibility criteria. These exceptions are as follows:
- if you have already passed through a country which the UK designates as a safe country when entering the UK. A safe country is categorised by the UK government as a country of which you are not a citizen and which would neither harm you nor send you to a country where you are likely to be harmed
- If you are a citizen of the EU
If you have a credible connection to a safe third country in which you could also claim asylum
What is the Application Process for Seeking Asylum?
The first stage of the asylum application process is registering your case with an immigration officer. You may choose to seek asylum immediately upon arrival in the UK or at a later point, after your arrival.
Once you have registered your claim, you will have an initial ‘screening’. At this asylum screening interview, your name and nationality will be verified and you will be asked about your reasons for claiming asylum.
At your screening, you should try to provide the following documents:
- Other travel documents
- Other ID documents, e.g. birth certificate, marriage certificate, school records
- Any other documents which might help your application
If you are already living in the UK, you will also need to provide proof of your UK address. If you are living in university accommodation, for instance, you could provide either a copy of your tenancy agreement or a bank statement which shows the address of your university housing.
After your screening, your case will be reviewed by the Home Office. You will also receive an asylum registration card (ARC). This card can be used to show your identity and to access health and education services.
You may also be called to a follow – up interview if the Home Office needs further information in order to make a decision on your case. This interview is a chance for you to provide additional information on the persecution you would face if you returned to your home country. If you are called to interview, you will ideally need to send the Home Office your birth certificate, passport, and national ID card (if applicable) before your interview takes place. You should make sure to send the original copies of these documents.
Finally, a decision will be made on your case.
Asylum Denied: How To Make an Appeal
If your asylum application is unsuccessful, you can appeal this decision. If you are appealing from within the UK, you will have 14 days in which to appeal (this goes up to 28 days if you are outside of the UK).
You can register your appeal online using the MyHMCTS service.
Applying for Asylum as an International Student
Whilst the basic asylum application process is the same for international students, in some cases your university may have resources to help you with your asylum application. To discover what particular resources your own university has, you should contact your university’s office for international students.
You will also need to keep your university up to date on any changes to your immigration status. For example, in most cases asylum seekers are charged international fees by universities, but individual universities may have different policies, and they can direct you accordingly. You may also wish to query the decision if your university categorises you as an international student.
Once you have received refugee status, you will be eligible for domestic fees.
The Rights of International Students Seeking Asylum in the UK
Generally speaking, you will be able to continue with your studies whilst waiting for your asylum decision. In some cases, however, a ‘no study’ condition may be attached to your case. If this happens, you should contact the Home Office, as it may have been an error.
A number of UK universities, often known as ‘Sanctuary Universities’, also offer specific scholarships and support for students who are either asylum seekers or refugees. This is in order to support students who may previously have struggled to access higher education due to their immigration status.
Whilst you have asylum seeker status, you will not be able to access UK student finance. However, successful asylum applicants will be able to access it after receiving either refugee status or humanitarian protection.
Can My Family Join Me in the UK?
Your partner and minor children may also be eligible to join you as ‘dependents’. As they will also be required to enter the UK with authorisation in order to legally claim asylum, you should keep in mind that, in order for your partner and child(ren) to be eligible for dependent visas, the following must apply:
- You must be either a government – sponsored student on a course which is longer than 6 months, or a full – time student on a postgraduate course which lasts at least 9 months
- If your postgraduate course starts on 1st January 2024 or after, it must be either a PhD (or equivalent doctorate) or a research – based postgraduate degree
When applying for dependent visas, you will need to provide evidence of the relationship to both your partner and your minor children, for instance a marriage or civil partnership certificate, or a birth certificate, as appropriate. You will also need to prove that your family unit has sufficient funds to support itself whilst in the UK.
If your partner and children are already in the UK with you, you can include them as part of your asylum application. If you are successfully granted refugee status, your partner and children will generally be granted permission to stay in the UK for the same amount of time as you.
Processing Times: How Long Will My Application Take?
As of 2023, there is a significant backlog of asylum cases in the UK. As such, asylum applications are taking longer than usual to process, with some applicants waiting for over a year.
Generally speaking, you should expect to be waiting for at least a number of months for your application to be processed. You can ensure that the process is as quick as possible by presenting as many of the recommended documents as you can and by promptly providing any additional information which is requested.
How Much Will My Application Cost?
You should not be charged in order to claim asylum in the UK. However, you may choose to pay for specialist legal advice in order to aid your application.
Additionally, your university fees may vary, depending on whether or not your particular institution categorises you as an international or a domestic student. In some cases, specific university scholarships may also be available to you.
You may also be eligible for financial assistance, known as ‘asylum support’, or help finding housing.
Other Ways To Remain In The UK as an International Student If you Cannot Go Back To Your Home Country
If you are an international student who cannot return to their home country, there may be other options for you besides claiming asylum.
The UK has nationality – specific routes relating to Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. Contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers today at +441913038965 to learn more about these options.
You may also consider switching to a different visa type. You could apply for a work visa, for instance. However, you will be required to pay any associated application fees. In the case of a Skilled Worker visa, for example, fees range from £719 to £1,500, depending on your particular circumstances.
Now that entering the UK with authorisation is necessary in order to legally claim UK asylum, a number of individuals opt to enter the UK using a Student visa and then claim asylum upon arrival. Alternatively, they may claim asylum at a later date. In either case, the process of claiming asylum in the UK can be long and confusing, especially in light of recent immigration policy changes.
At Newcastle Immigration Lawyers, our experts are able to help you with a wide range of legal services. These include asylum applications and appeals, detained casework, bail (SoS application, tribunal, and renewals), fresh claims, permission to work applications, travel documents, BRP issues (for instance if your permit is stolen, lost, or incorrect), family reunion applications (per applicant), family reunion appeals (incl depts), applications for permission to appeal (FTT and UT), and error of law preparation and hearings.
Contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers today to find out how our legal experts can help you on your own unique immigration journey.
Last modified on October 19th, 2023 at 11:15 am
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In most cases, asylum seekers will pay international fees for university study in the UK, which tend to be significantly higher than domestic fees. However, different universities will have different policies and the UK has a number of ‘sanctuary universities’ which offer scholarships for asylum seekers and refugees, such as Cambridge, Bristol, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.
In the year ending in June 2023, 78,768 asylum applications were submitted in the UK. Of these, 71% of applicants were granted either refugee status, humanitarian protection, or permission to stay in the UK on other grounds.
A recent change in UK immigration policy means that the UK government now only recognises asylum applications as legal if the applicant arrived in the UK with authorisation. If an applicant did not do so, their application is significantly less likely to be successful. In such cases, the asylum applicant may also be moved to a separate safe country in order for their application to be processed. In this respect, applying for asylum in the UK is now more difficult than it used to be.
On the other hand, as of 2021, the number of successful asylum applications is higher than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.