Needing Asylum as a Tourist in the UK: What Are Your Options?
A UK Tourist visa allows you to travel to the UK for up to 6 months for tourism activities.
If you wish to remain in the UK for longer, you may be able to claim asylum.
Claiming asylum gives those who have been forced to leave their home country due to persecution the right to remain in the United Kingdom. If successful, you will also be granted refugee status, giving you additional benefits such as the ability to apply for a refugee integration loan.
To claim asylum, you must have already travelled to the UK.
If you have travelled to the UK on a Tourist visa and did not leave your own country as a result of discrimination, you are not able to claim asylum in the UK.
However, you may be eligible to remain in the UK through one of the following routes:
- Extend your UK tourist visa for an additional 6 months if you are:
- Currently receiving medical treatment
- An academic who still meets the eligibility criteria
- Retaking the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or undertaking a clinical attachment.
- Apply for another UK visa for:
- Work purposes such as the Health and Care Worker visa or the Skilled Worker visa
- Study purposes such as the Student visa or Short-term Study visa
- Joining a UK-based family through a Family visa
- Apply for family reunification if your eligible UK-based family member has been granted discretionary leave or protection status through:
- Permission to stay as a refugee
- Humanitarian protection
- Needing Asylum as a Tourist in the UK: What Are Your Options?
- Eligibility for Claiming Asylum in the UK on a Tourist Visa
- How to Claim Asylum as Someone on a Tourist Visa in the UK
- What Happens After Asylum is Granted
- What to Do If Asylum is Denied
- How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Eligibility for Claiming Asylum in the UK on a Tourist Visa
You may be eligible to claim asylum on a Tourist visa in the UK if you:
- Are already in the UK
- Left your home country due to persecution and discrimination because of one of the following:
- Your race or nationality
- Your gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation
- Your religion or spiritual beliefs
- Your political opinion or affiliation
- Other social or cultural factors that cause your safety to be threatened in your usual country of residence
- The authorities in your usual country of residence did provide protection and support.
The UK government will consider all your circumstances when making a decision about your application for asylum in the UK.
However, your asylum application may not be approved if:
- You are an EU national or resident.
- You travelled to the UK via a safe third country where:
- You would not be persecuted in
- You would not be deported to another country where you would not be safe.
- You are not a national or resident
Step 1: Register Your Asylum Claim in the UK
There is no official application form to claim asylum in the UK. Instead, you must register your claim with an immigration officer.
Depending on your circumstances, you can do this either at the UK border or when you are already in the UK. However, you should register as soon as you become aware that it would be unsafe for you or your dependents to return to the country where you normally reside. Any delay may increase the chance that your asylum claim is refused.
To register at the UK border, you should tell a Border Force officer that you wish to seek asylum.
Alternatively, to register your asylum claim when you’re already in the UK, you should call the asylum intake unit in Croydon on 0300 123 4193. An immigration official will call you back to discuss your needs and either arrange an appointment for your asylum screening or tell you which registration location to go to.
You should tell the immigration official if you wish to include any dependents, such as your partner or children under 18 years old, that are with you in your application. Please note that, while they will be able to remain in the UK for the same duration as you, they will not be granted refugee status unless they register their own claim for asylum.
Step 2: Asylum Screening
Your meeting with an immigration officer is known as a screening or screening interview. If any of your dependents also wish to seek asylum, they should attend your screening too.
During your initial screening interview, you will be asked questions about you, your dependents and your claim.
You will also be photographed and have your fingerprints taken.
You can request to have an interpreter if needed and ask if a male or female interviewer is available.
You will need to bring any documents you have that support your claim for asylum in the UK to your asylum screening interview. This includes any dependents, such as your partner or children under 18 years old.
Supporting documents you should provide at your screening interview include:
- Your passport or other official travel documents
- Proof of identification such as birth certificates, identity cards, and marriage certificates
- Proof of your UK address
- Where you are the named tenant or homeowner, your documents must include your full name and address, such as a bank statement, tenancy agreement, or household bill.
- Where you are staying with someone else and are not the named tenant or homeowner, you should bring:
- A letter from the named tenant or homeowner, dated within the last 3 months, permitting you to stay in their property.
- Any documents that show the full name and address of the named tenant or homeowner, such as a bank statement, tenancy agreement, or household bill.
You should also bring any medication you or your dependents are currently taking.
The majority of asylum seekers are registered within 4 hours, but it may take longer during busy periods.
Step 3: Wait to See If Your Claim Will Be Considered
Based on the information you have provided during your screening, the UK Home Office will consider your claim for asylum in the UK.
You will be told during your screening about what you are allowed to do and any conditions you must follow until a decision has been made about your claim.
You must update the UK Home Office if your contact details change during this time.
When a decision has been made, you will be notified at the UK address you have provided.
If your claim will be considered:
- You will receive an asylum registration card (ARC) or an appointment explaining what you should do next. Your ARC acts as proof of your claim and allows you to access health and education services.
- You might receive a preliminary interview questionnaire (PIQ) to complete, which you should return to the address stated before the deadline on the letter.
- You will be assigned a caseworker.
If your claim will not be considered, you may be sent to another country where you will be safe, and can claim asylum. If this is not possible, you will remain in the UK, be assigned a caseworker, and your claim will be considered.
Step 4: Attend Reporting Events
When you have been assigned a caseworker, you may be asked to attend an interview with them where you can discuss your claim and they can explain the next steps in seeking asylum.
They will also arrange regular meetings, known as reporting events. You should bring your ARC to these meetings.
It is important that you attend your reporting events with your caseworker. Failure to attend may result in your claim being withdrawn and you being detained at an immigration removal centre.
You may also be detained until you receive your application decision.
Step 5: Send Your Documents and Evidence to the Home Office
Before your interview, you will be asked to provide various documents to the Home Office.
You will be asked to send any original identity documents you have to the Home Office for you and, if relevant, your dependents. This includes your passport, birth certificate, and any official ID cards issued by your country of residence or where you are a national.
You should send these documents by post to:
UK Visas and Immigration
PO Box 7782
In addition, you should send any documents supporting your claim, including evidence of your persecution, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may be asked to send further evidence after your asylum interview.
Step 6: Attend Your Asylum Interview
An asylum substantive interview may be arranged soon after your screening to allow you to explain your case for asylum in more detail. This may take place over a video call.
If you have included dependents in your application, they may also be required to attend an interview.
If you have provided enough evidence during your asylum screening and questionnaire, an interview may not be needed.
You will be interviewed alone, although you will be allowed an interpreter and legal representative. However, it is your responsibility to find legal representation, and your interview will not be delayed if they are not available.
Where an interview is required, you may be asked questions that you find difficult or upsetting. You will be asked to explain what has caused you to seek asylum, how you were persecuted in your usual country of residence and why you would be unsafe if you returned. You should tell the interviewer everything you wish to be considered in your claim. This information will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone in your usual country of residence.
The interviewer will write all of the information you provide in an interview record. You will receive a copy of this when the interview has finished.
Where the interview has taken place over a video call, you will receive a copy of the audio recording.
It is important that you attend your asylum interview. Failure to attend may result in your application being withdrawn, and you will have to reapply if you wish to remain in the UK.
Step 7: Wait for a Claim Decision
You will be notified as soon as a decision has been made about your claim for asylum in the UK. This may take more than 6 months during busy periods.
Your decision letter will explain the next steps you should take and any conditions you must follow.
What Happens After Asylum is Granted
If you are granted asylum, you will be told you have permission to stay for one of the following reasons:
- Refugee status where you have been recognised as a refugee and are protected by the Refugee Convention.
- Humanitarian protection where you did not qualify for refugee status but it is still recognised that you are unable to return to your usual country of residence.
- Other reasons
For applications where refugee status or humanitarian protection has been granted, you will be granted permission to remain in the UK for at least 5 years. If you included dependents as part of your application, they will usually be given permission to remain for 5 years.
Successful asylum applicants are issued a biometric residence permit, which acts as proof of your residence status.
If you and your dependents wish to remain in the UK after this time, you can apply to settle in the UK permanently.
Both you and your dependents will also be able to apply for a refugee integration loan after you receive your decision.
Where your application for asylum was granted for other reasons, how long you will have permission to stay in the UK depends on your circumstances. This will be explained to you in your decision letter.
What to Do If Asylum is Denied
If your claim for asylum in the UK is denied, you will be asked to leave the United Kingdom.
Your decision letter will explain the next steps you can take, including whether you can appeal the decision.
You will be allowed to remain in the UK while you appeal the decision. However, if you do not appeal your decision before the deadline, you will be asked to leave. The deadline for this is 14 days from the date your application decision was sent.
If you choose to leave the UK by yourself, known as a voluntary return, you may be eligible for financial support.
If you do not leave by yourself, you will be forced to leave and may be detained at an immigration removal centre before being deported from the UK.
Claiming asylum in the UK can be an overwhelming experience. The rules and conditions you must follow can be confusing and complex.
If you’re currently in the UK on a tourist visa and want to seek asylum, Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can help.
We’re the UK’s leading immigration specialists and have years of experience helping people successfully claim asylum.
Whether you would like guidance about your initial asylum application or help with an asylum appeal, our understanding and friendly team of solicitors and legal advisors is waiting to guide you through the asylum process.
For advice and support with your application, call Newcastle Immigration Lawyers on (+44) 0191 303 8965, contact us online, or visit one of our offices in the UK.
Last modified on October 16th, 2023 at 1:00 pm
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For most asylum seekers, you will not be able to work while waiting for a decision to be made about your asylum application.
You may be able to undertake voluntary work with a registered charity or organisation, but should discuss your situation with your caseworker beforehand.
If you haven’t received a decision after 1 year since registering your claim, and this delay is not your fault, you can request permission to work. If your asylum application is later denied, this right will end.
If you already have permission to work in the UK and wish to claim asylum, you should contact your caseworker to discuss your rights and the conditions you must follow while waiting for a decision to be made about your status.
Depending on your situation, income, and assets, you may be entitled to claim for support until a decision on your asylum claim is made or while waiting for an appeal.
This includes accommodation, financial support, free health care, and access to education for dependent children.
In addition, you may be eligible for short-term support if your application for asylum is denied.
It is your responsibility to give accurate and correct information about you, your dependents, and your circumstances.
If you are found to have deliberately provided false or misleading information when claiming asylum, you could receive a fine, get up to 2 years in prison, and be deported.
Any applications you make in the future may also be affected.