Obtaining Refugee Status in the UK: An Overview
In the UK, if an asylum claim is successful, a person will be granted protection under the Refugee Convention and are typically given 5 years to remain as a refugee. After this time, they will have to apply to stay longer.
Being granted refugee status in the UK can be a long and multifaceted process. From the moment you apply for asylum, you will have ongoing communications and interviews with the UK Home Office until you receive a decision on your refugee status.
With a growing number of people displaced due to global conflicts, the number of UK asylum claims increased from around 30,000 in 2020 to nearly 75,000 in 2022. This has led to a larger backlog of asylum cases and, therefore, a longer delay in receiving an initial decision.
Aside from an increase in applications, there has also been a decrease in the number of decisions made by the Home Office each year, which is further contributing to the UK’s asylum backlog. This backlog has grown from around 27,000 applications in 2018 to 132,000 in 2022 and now only 10% of asylum seekers receive a decision within 6 months.
After having fled conflict in their home country, these long waits have an enormous impact on the mental health of an already persecuted group of people. On top of the stress and anxiety caused by waiting, the UK government usually doesn’t allow asylum seekers to work, preventing them from earning money to support themselves.
Excluding them from many normal activities that an income allows blocks social integration of refugees into the UK.
But how long could you be waiting for your decision?
If you are claiming asylum when you arrive in the UK, you may have your screening interview immediately upon arrival.
However, sometimes after claiming asylum, you may have to wait a few months to receive a letter from the Home Office and upwards of a year before having your screening interview.
After this initial interview, you will be invited for a substantive interview; some people seeking asylum are waiting up to two years for their asylum substantive interview.
Following your screening interview, you will present all the evidence supporting your asylum claim to the Home Office in a longer substantive interview. This interview and evidence is what will be used to decide if you will be granted refugee status.
After that you may have to wait several months to receive your initial decision, sometimes more than a year. In 2021, people were waiting an average of 20.1 months for their initial decision in the UK.
Is There a Way to Speed Up My Asylum Claim?
It may not be possible to speed up the decision on your claim and the UK government no longer accepts fast-track asylum claims. Although, there are things you can do that will help the Home Office when making a decision.
Preparing for your screening interview and substantive interview carefully will help your immigration officer put together your case. This could include making sure you have all the correct documents required for your interviews, and that any evidence is clearly presented and correctly translated if necessary.
Each letter you receive from the Home Office will have a deadline; responding to their requests within the time limit will also support your case.
It can also sometimes be useful to contact your local Member of Parliament (MP). They may be able to contact the Home Office and ask them to speed up their decisions on your claim; however, considering the number of claims, this may not be possible.
Instructing an immigration lawyer to represent you will not speed up how long it takes the Home Office to make a decision, but they will help you avoid delays in the process.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are immigration experts that can help you gather evidence that will be most beneficial for your claim, make sure your application is filled out correctly, and maintain contact with the Home Office to prevent delays. Call us on +441913038965, or contact us online today.
My Asylum Claim Has Been Rejected: What Are My Options?
At the end of March 2023, the UK government refused one third of cases. When you receive a negative decision, depending on the Home Office’s reason, you may be able to appeal and ask for a different decision.
When you receive your decision letter, if you are able to appeal, you will have 14 days for the First Tier Tribunal to receive your appeal. It may take up to a year for you to have your appeal hearing after completing your appeal application form.
After 3 to 4 weeks you will receive a letter with the judge’s decision.
If your asylum claim is still rejected, you can escalate the decision to judicial review, where they will consider whether there has been a legal error in the decision-making process.
Making an asylum appeal is an extremely time sensitive process and it is especially important you meet all the deadlines to support your case. Any misunderstanding or delay in response can impact your appeals case.
Being displaced from your own country and seeking asylum elsewhere can be a very unsettled and traumatic time in your life, and waiting long times on your appeals decision can have further impacts on your mental and physical health and how quickly you can get back into your routine.
Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are compassionate and understanding lawyers who specialise in helping people like you navigate a foreign immigration legal process and claim asylum.
From the moment you claim asylum, we can support you in each stage of the process, provide legal advice personal to your circumstances, and work with you to get you back on your feet.
We offer a range of immigration services and have extensive expertise in asylum and refugee law in the UK. Our services also 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 6:55 am
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The UK asylum system is heavily controlled and it can be difficult to gather the required supporting documents for your claim. However, most asylum claims are successful and in 2022, 75% of initial decisions were granted asylum and granted international protection.
To be eligible to claim asylum in the UK, you must have left your country due to threat of persecution because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or any other particular social group that puts you at risk.
At the end of 2022, nearly 161,000 asylum seekers (including dependents) were waiting for their initial decision and another 4,000 were waiting for further review from the First Tier Tribunal.
In 2023, the UK government changed the law and introduced the Illegal Migration Bill 2023. This law said that any asylum seekers arriving to the UK illegally will be removed from the UK and not allowed to return or claim asylum. It is very important you arrive by safe and legal routes to avoid having your asylum application rejected.
You will usually not be able to work while you seek asylum. Some people are given special permission to work.