Can I Seek Asylum In The UK As an Iranian Refugee?
The UK does not have a specific asylum route for Iranian citizens in particular, like it does for Ukraine, Hong Kong, and Afghanistan.
Of the legal routes to UK asylum which do exist, they do not allow applicants to claim asylum within the UK, but instead rely on refugee status having already been granted.
Under international law, anyone is legally entitled to claim asylum upon reaching the UK.
However, the UK government’s new policy focus on ‘safe and legal’ routes means that anyone entering the UK without authorisation is very unlikely to have their asylum claim accepted.
Alternatively, the Home Office may send asylum seekers elsewhere in order to have their claim processed. Under the government’s Rwanda policy, for example, anyone who enters the UK without authorisation is liable to be sent to Rwanda in order to have their asylum claim processed there.
However, this policy continues to face legal challenges in the UK courts, and is yet to be successfully implemented.
Regarding the ‘safe and legal’ routes themselves, the only options which apply to Iranian citizens are the Refugee Family Reunion process and the Refugee Resettlement schemes.
However, both of these routes require that the applicant has already been granted refugee status.
- Can I Seek Asylum In The UK As an Iranian Refugee?
- What Are The Requirements for Asylum Claims In The UK As an Iranian?
- What Documents Will I Require?
- How To Apply For Asylum in the UK
- How Long Will It Take To Get A Decision?
- How Much Will The Application Cost?
- Asylum Is Denied: What To Do
- How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
As noted above, there is no direct route through which an Iranian citizen can claim asylum in the UK. However, they may still be eligible to legally enter the UK through either Family Reunion or Refugee Resettlement. The requirements of both schemes are outlined below.
In order to be eligible to enter the UK via family reunion, you must have already been granted asylum, have received refugee status, and have immediate family (either your partner or dependent children) in the UK. Other than partner or dependent children, no other family members are eligible under this scheme.
The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 introduced two categories into which people applying through this route are separated:
- Group 1: You will be placed in this category if you travelled directly to the UK from the country which you are fleeing and you are judged to have legitimate grounds for having entered the UK without authorisation
- Group 2: If the above does not apply to you, you will fall into Group 2
If you fall into group 2, your family reunion claim is unlikely to be accepted.
This route is also intended for those who have already been granted refugee status, having claimed asylum in a previous country. It is intended for individuals who, whilst they have already received refugee status, are currently residing in a country which is unable to meet their needs. This could be because of health issues which their country of asylum is unable to manage or because the individual has close family members in another country.
The UK uses three different routes to refugee resettlement: the UK Resettlement Scheme, the Community Sponsorship Scheme, and the Mandate Resettlement Scheme. The details of these are as follows:
- UK Resettlement Scheme. This was introduced in July 2019. When a refugee has been recognised as eligible for resettlement by the UNHRC, the UK government can then choose to accept certain cases based on its own capacities at the time. Individuals may be recognised as eligible for resettlement by the UNHCR on a number of grounds, including being a woman or girl at risk or being a survivor of violence or torture.
- Community Sponsorship Scheme. This scheme is intended for community groups who wish to sponsor a refugee (or refugee family’s) integration into the UK. The community group in question must demonstrate that they have the resources to support the refugee and that they do not pose a risk to their wellbeing or safety.
- Mandate Resettlement Scheme. This is a global scheme which is not specific to the UK. It is another family reunion route. If you have close family members in the UK, you may be eligible for this scheme. Under the Mandate Resettlement Scheme, minor children, spouses, parents, and grandparents all count as close family members. In order to be eligible, you must have one of these family members living in the UK, and they must have either permanent residence or a form of temporary residence which leads to permanent residence.
What Documents Will I Require?
Generally speaking, you will require the following documents when making an asylum claim in the UK:
- Travel documents
- ID documents (this includes identity cards, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and school records)
- Any additional documents in support of your application
In instances where you are not able to provide all of the above, you should bring as many documents to aid your application as possible.
If you are already residing in the UK and have your own accommodation, you will also need to provide proof of address. Common examples of acceptable proof include:
- Bank statement
- Tenancy agreement
- Household bill
- Council tax notice
- Housing benefit book
If you are already in the UK but live with someone else, rather than having your own address, you will need to provide the following:
- A letter (from within the last 3 months) written by the person you’re staying with and which confirms that you have their permission to reside with them
- Evidence of that person’s name and address, using one of the documents listed above (bank statement, tenancy agreement, etc.)
How To Apply For Asylum in the UK
When applying for asylum in the UK, you will first need to register your case with an immigration officer. This meeting is called a ‘screening’. Here, you will give the immigration officer the details of your case.
At this screening, you can expect the following:
- To have your photo taken
- To have your fingerprints taken
- To have an interview with an immigration officer in which your identity and nationality are verified
You will need to bring all of the required documents with you to your screening. Any dependents who are also claiming asylum (i.e. your partner or children) must also attend the meeting with you.
Once you have attended your screening, your case will be reviewed by the UK Home Office. You will be sent an asylum registration card (ARC) or an appointment letter which explains your next steps. Additionally, you may also be sent a questionnaire, in which case you must fill it in and return it by the stated deadline. You can contact the Home Office asylum team if you experience difficulties filling it in.
You may also be given a UK caseworker.
Whilst waiting for your asylum decision, you may be detained at an immigration removal centre. If your application is successful, you will then be released. If your application is not successful, you will be held at the removal centre until your eventual deportation.
However, you are unlikely to be detained at an immigration removal centre if you fall into one of the following categories:
- Minor child
- A family with children
- A verified victim of trafficking
- Successfully provide evidence that you have experienced torture
- Have a mental or physical condition which cannot be managed by the removal centre, or which would pose a risk to other residents of the centre
After your screening, you may also be called to attend an asylum interview. Most asylum interviews are requested because not enough evidence was provided at your initial screening for your claim to be accepted. Interpreters are available, if required.
At the interview, you should expect to discuss the nature of the persecution which you faced in the country you fled and why you are afraid to return there. An ‘interview record’ will be made, and you will receive a copy at the end of the interview.
The interview itself is likely to take place over video call.
Finally, a decision will be made on your case. You will either be refused permission to stay, granted permission to stay with either refugee status or humanitarian protection, or granted permission to stay for reasons which do not fall under either refugee status or humanitarian protection.
How Long Will It Take To Get A Decision?
As of 2023, there is currently a large asylum backlog being processed in the UK, with many outstanding claims. As such, it can take many months to receive a decision, with some applicants waiting for over a year.
In order to avoid delays, you should make sure to bring all required documents to your initial screening and to provide any further information which is requested as soon as possible.
How Much Will The Application Cost?
You should not be charged for claiming asylum in the UK. However, you may choose to pay for legal advice in order to aid your application.
You may also be eligible for financial assistance from the UK government, known as ‘asylum support’. Payments will start once you have registered your asylum claim.
Asylum Is Denied: What To Do
If your application is denied, you will be expected to leave the UK. You can do so either voluntarily or by force, through deportation.
However, you may also be able to appeal against the Home Office’s decision. You will generally do so online, using the MyHMCTS service. You will need to do so within 14 days of the decision if you are appealing from within the UK and within 28 days if you are appealing from outside of the UK. If you are late in submitting the appeal, there is no guarantee that it will be processed.
For Iranian nationals fleeing Iran, the UK is often seen as a safe country in which to seek asylum. However, recent changes to UK immigration policy have significantly limited the routes to applying for asylum within the UK.
At Newcastle Immigration Lawyers, we can help you with a range of services relating to your own asylum journey, including: asylum application, asylum appeal, detained casework, bail (SoS application and tribunal), bail renewal, fresh claims, permission to work applications, travel documents, biometric residence permits (including if your permit is lost, stolen, or contain errors), 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.
Last modified on October 5th, 2023 at 7:51 am
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Between 2016 and June 2022, Iranians were the most common nationality to claim asylum in the UK. In the year ending in March 2023, they were the 3rd most common nationality to claim asylum in the UK, with 7,719 applications from Iranian nationals.
In 2022, the UK received 72,027 asylum applications in total, across all nationalities.
As many Iranians continue to face persecution in Iran, they continue in turn to seek asylum outside of their home country. There are a number of reasons why Iranians may seek asylum in the UK in particular. These can include English language proficiency, family ties in the UK, and compatibility with UK culture.
Many also attempt to reach the UK because they believe that they will receive good treatment, with the UK generally seen as a safe country.
As of mid – 2022, Albanians are the nationality which most commonly claims asylum in the UK.
In 2021, 42% of UK asylum applications were made by nationals of the Middle East, 23% by nationals of Africa. In 2022, Asian applicants became the largest group, accounting for 32% of applications, with European applicants accounting for 25% of applications (which reflects the UK’s recent introduction of specific entry routes for Hong Kong and Ukrainian nationals).
In 2019, asylum seekers accounted for 6% of immigration to the UK.
It is not recommended that Iranian refugees return home to Iran after receiving refugee status, unless it is permanently safe for them to do so. Returning home can jeopardise a refugee’s internationally recognised refugee status, as the act of returning home suggests that the refugee status is no longer needed.