Overview of Asylum
Asylum is a form of international protection granted to people that are unable to live safely in any part of their own country because they fear persecution.
If your asylum claim is successful and you are granted asylum, you will be granted official refugee status and are protected under international laws and conventions. Under refugee status, you will have permission to stay in the UK for a minimum of 5 years.
When applying for asylum in the UK, you will be able to include a partner or children under 18 years old in your application as ‘dependents’.
- Overview of Asylum
- What Are the Eligibility Criteria for Asylum?
- Applying For Asylum Outside The UK: Is It Possible?
- How Can I Claim Asylum in the UK?
- What May Affect My Asylum Claim?
- What Documents Do I Need?
- How Do I Apply for Asylum?
- What Are the Fees and Processing Time for Applying for Asylum?
- What Other Ways Are There if I Cannot Get to the UK to Claim Asylum?
- How Can Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Help?
What Are the Eligibility Criteria for Asylum?
To seek asylum, you must meet the eligibility criteria as an asylum seeker on the basis that you have left your country due to threat of persecution. This persecution must be due to your:
- Political opinion
- Gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other particular social group that puts you at risk in your country
Illegal Migration Bill 2023
There are new rules for asylum seekers in the UK.
In 2023, the Illegal Migration Bill changed the law so that you will not be able to stay in the UK if you arrive illegally. Under this law, any asylum seekers that have arrived illegally will be detained and then removed to their home country or a ‘safe third country’.
A safe third country is a country that you are not a citizen of, would not be harmed in, and would not be sent to another country where you would be harmed.
Please note, if you have been removed from the UK after arriving illegally, you will have no right to re-entry, settlement or citizenship.
Safe and Legal Routes to the UK
If you are an asylum seeker, there are several safe and legal ways you can legally seek asylum in the UK.
You cannot apply for these schemes; instead, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) assesses and selects you based on your needs and vulnerability.
UK Resettlement Scheme
The UK Resettlement Scheme is available to vulnerable refugees from around the world.
UNHCR identifies if you are an asylum seeker with resettlement needs and decides if you have refugee status. They will then refer you to the UK if you meet the criteria for resettlement.
If your application is successful, you only move to the UK once suitable accommodation is in place for you.
If the UNHCR has recognised you as a refugee and you have a close family member in the UK who is happy for you to stay with them, you can seek asylum through the Mandate Scheme. You must be your family member’s:
- Husband or wife
- Parent or grandparent and aged over 65 years old
- Child aged under 18 years old
Your family member must:
- Be settled in the UK
- Have limited leave to remain in the category leading to settlement
The UK Government will only consider other family members, for example, adult siblings, in exceptional circumstances.
Community Sponsorship Scheme
Please note, the Community Sponsorship Scheme is only for refugees resettled in the UK. This scheme allows friends, neighbours, charities and faith groups to support refugees in the UK.
What May Affect My Asylum Claim?
You may not be able to apply for asylum in the UK if you:
- Are from an EU country
- Have travelled to the UK through a safe third country
- Have a connection to a safe third country where you could seek asylum
- Have travelled to the UK illegally
What Documents Do I Need?
For your asylum screening interview, you should bring:
- Your passport and travel documents
- Your identification documents, for example, birth or marriage certificate or identity card
- Documents to prove your UK address if you are already in the UK
- Anything else that you think could help your application
You will need documents for yourself and any dependents as part of your application.
How Do I Apply for Asylum?
When you arrive in the UK, you must tell a Border Force officer that you want to claim asylum. You will have a screening interview with an immigration officer and your application will be registered.
If you are already in the UK and you become eligible for asylum, you must call the Asylum Intake Unit to make an appointment. This also applies if you are already in the UK as an international student.
Please note, your asylum claim must be made as soon as possible, as waiting may reduce your chances of being successful.
If you are an asylum seeker, the UK Government does not charge a fee to claim asylum.
Your application for asylum will be decided as soon as possible but may take longer if your claim is complicated. Your decision may be delayed if your documents need to be verified, you need to have more interviews, or because of your personal circumstances (for example, because you have a criminal conviction or you are being prosecuted).
Typically, it will likely take longer than 6 months to receive a decision.
If any of your immediate family members has been granted asylum in the UK, the UK Government family reunion policy provides a route for families to be reunited.
This applies if you are their partner or child under 18 years old and were part of their family unit before they left their country for protection.
Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme
The UK Government introduced the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme in 2022 to allow 20,000 people seeking asylum from Afghanistan a new life in the UK.
This scheme prioritises you if you have stood up for values such as:
- Women’s rights
- Freedom of speech
- Rule of law (for example, judges, women’s rights activists, academics and journalists)
This scheme also prioritises vulnerable people seeking asylum, including women and girls at risk and members of minority groups at risk.
Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy
The Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy offers relocation to eligible Afghan citizens who worked for or with the UK Government locally in Afghanistan.
Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas)
If you are from Hong Kong and are a British national (overseas) you and your family can apply for a British National (Overseas) visa.
If you’re the child of a British national (overseas) aged over 18 years old and born on or after 1 July 1997, you can apply separately from your parent. Your family members can also apply with you.
Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme
If you are a Ukrainian national, you and your family can apply to come to the UK. You must be either Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who:
- Has permission to live in the UK under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme
- Is applying and qualifies for the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme
You must be outside of the UK and also were living in Ukraine before 1 January 2022 and have an eligible UK-based sponsor. You can also choose the Scottish and Welsh Government as your sponsor.
Other Options to Legally Travel to the UK
If you are unable to reach the UK to claim asylum, there are other legal ways to consider. For example:
- Applying for a visa, such as a work visa, student visa, family reunion visa, investor or entrepreneur visa, or a visit visa
- Finding a sponsor in the UK who is willing to support your application, such as a family member, employer or organisation
Each option has its own application process and you may not be eligible for all of them.
If you are seeking asylum from persecution in your country and would like to explore the options to safely and legally travel to the UK, Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can help.
Seeking asylum can be frightening and the process to apply for asylum can be complicated. We are experienced, sympathetic lawyers with vast expertise in UK and international immigration.
Our immigration solicitors offer a range of services and can give you bespoke, honest advice. 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
We have the tools and knowledge to help you and will be able to assess your personal circumstances to advise the best options for you to seek asylum in the UK. For more information about our services and how we can help you, please contact us today. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online.
Last modified on October 5th, 2023 at 10:38 am
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Being a tourist does not automatically grant you asylum. If you have entered the UK as a tourist, this may complicate and delay your application. If your circumstances change during your stay in the UK and you become eligible for asylum, contact the Asylum Intake Unit as soon as possible.
It is not possible to apply for asylum at a British embassy, as you must be in the UK to claim asylum.
You are responsible for paying for any legal fees when seeking asylum in the UK. However, you may be eligible for legal aid to help with the costs of claiming asylum.
In 2021, over 70% of asylum applications were successful; however, it is essential that applying for asylum is safe and legal and all documentation is supplied to avoid delaying your application.