Overview of Claiming Asylum in the UK
For many people worldwide, their home country is not a safe place for them to live. The Universal Declaration of Rights is an international law that says everyone has the right to seek asylum free from persecution.
An asylum seeker is a person who has fled their own country and is seeking safety in another. The UK government accepts asylum seekers; however, the asylum process is multifaceted and you need to meet several legal requirements to have a successful asylum claim.
Successful asylum applicants receive refugee status and international protection and are usually allowed to stay in the UK for 5 years, at which point they will have to apply to stay longer.
Am I Eligible to Claim Asylum?
To apply for asylum in the UK, you must fulfil the eligibility criteria required by the UK Home Office.
Firstly, to be eligible you must not be able to live in your country safely because of the threat of persecution due to:
- Political opinion
- Any other social characteristics or a membership of particular social group that put you at risk; for example, gender or sexual orientation
Secondly, you must also:
- Not generally be from an EU country
- Not have travelled through a ‘safe third country’
- Not have a connection to a safe third country where you could claim asylum
Finally, you must have arrived in the UK legally under the new Illegal Migration Bill 2023.
Illegal Migration Bill 2023
The UK government introduced a bill in 2023 to discourage illegal migration. This law says that any asylum seekers who arrive illegally in the UK will be detained and then removed to their home country or a safe third country.
Once these people seeking asylum are removed, they will not be allowed to re-enter or re-apply to claim asylum in the UK
The asylum application process consists of a number of interviews where you will provide your personal details, biometrics, and evidence of persecution and speak to an immigration officer about your case.
It isn’t possible to claim asylum from outside the UK, so you will have to speak to a Border Force officer as soon as you arrive in the UK to tell them you want to claim asylum. You will either have your first interview, the screening interview, immediately at the airport or up to a year later.
If you are already legally in the UK, you will have to call the Asylum Intake Unit as soon as you become eligible to claim asylum and they will arrange a screening interview for you.
At your initial screening interview, you will need to provide the following documents for you and any dependents included in your application:
- Your passport and travel documents
- Your identification documents, such as birth or marriage certificates or identification card
- Documents that show your UK address if you are already in the country
- Anything else that may support your application
You will be given an application registration card (ARC) afterwards.
After the screening interview, you will be invited to a longer asylum substantive interview to discuss your situation in greater detail and provide any evidence to support your claim.
Before this interview, the Home Office asks for you to post the original copies of your birth certificate, passport or national ID card for you and any dependents.
For the interview, you will need to take your ARC card, passport or travel document, birth certificate, and evidence of where you are living. If you have your own accommodation, this could be a utility bill, council tax notice or tenancy agreement with your name on it.
If you are staying with someone else, you will need a letter that is less than 3 months old from this person confirming you have permission to stay with them, and a document with their name and address on it.
This is also when you will need to provide any evidence that may support your claim. Some examples of evidence may be:
- Political party membership card
- An arrest warrant
- News articles about you or persecution of people like you
- Information from reliable sources about the situation in your country
It is extremely important that any evidence you provide is genuine, from a trustworthy or reputable source, and you can show how you got access to the evidence. Any evidence not in English must be translated and signed by a certified translator.
What if I Am Missing a Document?
Unfortunately, you can only apply for asylum if you have entered the UK legally and a passport is required for travel to the UK. Therefore, if you do not have a passport, you will not be able to apply for asylum.
It is illegal to use a fake passport or someone else’s passport to enter the UK; however, for some people, it is not possible to use their own passport.
The Refugee Convention says that asylum seekers shouldn’t be punished for using a different passport if they have a good reason not to, for example, if using their own passport to leave their country was dangerous or if it was not safe for them to apply for one.
The UK government requests these documents “if you have them”, so if you are missing your documents it is still important to apply for asylum as soon as possible. You must be honest with the Home Office about the reasons why you do not have your documents as any inconsistencies later in the process could negatively impact your case.
Many people who have fled or been displaced from their home countries don’t have access to all the documents requested for asylum.
If you are afraid that you don’t have the right documents, have had to use a fake passport, or are in trouble for using someone else’s passport to enter the country, instructing an expert in immigration law can support your asylum case.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers will be able to advise you on any stage of your asylum claim, including what evidence will support your case and what to do if you don’t have the correct identification documents or certificates.
Our services include:
- Asylum Application
- Asylum Appeal
- Detained Casework
- Bail (SoS application)
- Bail (Tribunal)
- Bail Renewal
- Fresh Claims
- Permission to Work Application
- Travel Document
- BRP Issues (lost/stolen/error)
- Family Reunion Application (per applicant)
- Family Reunion Appeal (including dependents)
- Application for Permission to Appeal (FTT & UT)
- Error of Law Preparation and Hearing
Last modified on October 24th, 2023 at 7:30 am
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The Home Office interviewers will ask you about your identity, family, background, health, the route you travelled to arrive in the UK, and why you fear persecution in your own country.
Despite the UK laws to deter illegal entry, around 75% of asylum seekers are granted asylum and given refugee status or other protection.
If you receive a rejection letter from the Home Office, you can escalate the case to the First Tier Tribunal for them to reconsider your evidence.
Unless you have been given special permission from the UK government, you will not be allowed to work.
If you are already in the UK with a student visa, you can apply for asylum as soon as you become eligible. Some people enter the UK on a student visa and apply for asylum when they arrive.
It is important that you are not dishonest when applying for a visa otherwise the UK government could see this as ‘deception when applying for a visa’ and it may impact your asylum claim.