The Rights Of Pregnant Asylum Seekers In The UK
According to the United Nations, some 50% of asylum seekers worldwide are women and girls, of which 4% are pregnant at any one time (and in some cases, the pregnancy is the primary reason for their displacement from a safe territory).
There are a great deal of risks involved throughout the physical journey to the UK, and with there currently being no route to file an asylum claim until an individual has arrived in the country, there may be no choice but for this trip to take place.
- The Rights Of Pregnant Asylum Seekers In The UK
- The claim process
- Financial support
- Maternity and postnatal health care
- Maternity leave from work
- How To Access Maternity Care And Benefits In The UK
- Baby Born In The UK From Asylum-Seeking Parents: Does That Mean Citizenship?
- How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
The claim process
When pregnant asylum seekers arrive in the UK, they are subject to the same claim process as any other person seeking safety.
This means that they must declare their intention to seek asylum to a Home Office immigration official at the border or as soon as possible upon arrival.
It is important that, at this initial asylum screening, they make clear they are pregnant and provide any documents related to the pregnancy alongside anything else presented.
While the UK Home Office does recognise that those pregnant are particularly vulnerable women, the support for expecting asylum seekers is not far-reaching. Additional help from charities or other relevant bodies is often sought.
Once an asylum claim has been filed, applicants are not entitled to work or claim benefits in the UK. A set weekly amount of £37.75 in financial aid is provided for all, with an additional ‘healthy food’ allowance of £3 extra for pregnant women or those with a child under three, and £5 extra for those with a baby under one.
The Home Office estimates that it takes on average six months to process an asylum claim in the UK – but the ongoing asylum backlog of cases means that it’s not uncommon for the process to take a year or more.
It is critical that financial aid is made available as soon as possible, but there are documented cases of delays in payments being made forcing pregnant asylum seekers to endure the duration of their pregnancy without such support.
A one-off maternity grant can be applied for to buy things for the baby/babies. If the baby is due within the next eight weeks or the baby/babies has already been born and is under six weeks old, the applicant may be entitled to a £300 payment. This amount does not vary in the case of twins or triplets.
If an asylum seeker has had their claim refused, they can still apply for a one-off maternity payment but for a lesser amount of £250.
Maternity and postnatal health care
Healthcare is free at the point of access for British citizens through the NHS (National Health System). The entitlement for medical care depends on immigration status, and those seeking asylum, those who are victims of modern slavery and those who are victims of human trafficking should not be charged for NHS maternity care.
However, if a pregnant woman is either going through the asylum process or has had their claim granted but has yet to receive permanent residency, they will be charged for antenatal care, births and postnatal care.
Furthermore, such charges carry a 50% additional tariff above standard rates in a government bid to cut down on health tourism.
It can be difficult to access relevant free medical care in the UK if you’re pregnant and seeking asylum. Newcastle Lawyers can provide the legal support needed to help rightfully gain free healthcare. Call our office on +441913038965 to understand your entitlements.
It should be noted that healthcare provided by the NHS will not be refused or delayed because an individual has not paid any outstanding bills.
Due to the continuing backlog of asylum cases being processed by the Home Office, those seeking asylum may apply for formal ‘permission to work in the UK’ if their application has been outstanding for a period of 12 months or more.
The work to be completed is restricted to a list of set roles and the right to work is not automatically granted but must be applied for.
If a pregnant woman is working under the permission scheme, they are entitled to maternity leave and pay from their job providing they meet the standard eligibility requirements for such benefits.
If the individual doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements for maternity leave but have been employed for 26 or more of the last 66 weeks before the baby is due, they may be able to claim Maternity Allowance. Maternity Allowance is a lesser amount than paid for standard maternity leave but is not accessed through public funds.
If, while employed and on maternity leave, an asylum seeker’s claim is denied, their leave would end but there may remain an entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
It’s always advised for those pregnant and employed under the ‘permission to work’ scheme to seek legal advice to ensure they’re able to rightfully access the relevant leave and payments under what can be a tricky part of the state benefit system to navigate. Newcastle Lawyers can help – contact us on +441913038965 to learn more.
Protection from removal
Home Office policy dictates that migrant women seeking asylum who are 34 weeks or more into their pregnancy will not be removed from the UK until they have given birth as there is a ‘physical impediment to travel’.
If those seeking asylum in the UK are less than 34 weeks pregnant but have been advised through their NHS maternity care that there are complications with the pregnancy putting the applicant or their unborn child/ren at risk, exceptions to this rule may be made and temporary permission to remain until after birth may be granted.
Upon arrival in the UK, a Home Office caseworker will be assigned to each claim for asylum.
This person will be able to advise on the entitlements of the individual and how best to seek the relevant asylum support on offer. However, asylum law is particularly complex and so it’s advised that applicants seek specialist legal advice to ensure they’re accessing all of the appropriate help.
Newcastle Lawyers can help navigate and are available for a free, no-obligation chat on the phone on +441913038965.
To access free maternity care and hospital treatment as well as regular appointments with midwives, individuals must first register with an NHS GP. In the UK, all GP and primary care services are completely free of charge and anyone, regardless of their current immigration status, is able to register with a GP.
Most GPs cover specific geographic locations, and the nearest accepting new patients can be found through the NHS website. Registration forms can, in some areas, be completed online but may need to be filled out in person at the surgery.
Once a pregnancy has been declared to a GPs surgery, a community midwife will be assigned for a booking appointment to talk through the pregnancy, carry out some basic checks and refer onwards to a hospital for consultant-led care if required.
Low-risk pregnancies will usually entail several antenatal ultrasound scans and regular midwife appointments, but high-risk pregnancies may require further medical intervention.
In the UK all pregnant women are entitled to decide on how and where they give birth to their new baby. This may be at a midwife-led birth centre (for low-risk pregnancies), in a hospital delivery suite or, if applicable, at home.
Pregnant women are entitled to free prescriptions for the duration of their pregnancy and for one year after the birth of their child. Midwives and relevant healthcare professionals will be able to advise if any current prescriptions are safe for continuation through pregnancy at one of their routine appointments.
Baby Born In The UK From Asylum-Seeking Parents: Does That Mean Citizenship?
Babies born to an asylum seeker mother in the UK are not automatically granted British citizenship. The birth may not necessarily have any impact on the mother’s immigration status.
If pregnant women are refused asylum by the Home Office either during their pregnancy or after the birth, they and their child/ren will be protected from removal from the UK for a period of six weeks after birth.
In many cases, babies born inherit their parents’ nationality. However, in the case of discrimination and persecution resulting in displaced individuals fleeing, this may not apply as the parents will be unable to register the birth. This puts refugee children born in exile at risk of statelessness. If you’re worried about your child’s entitlement to nationality, specific legal advice should be sought.
Newcastle Lawyers have had over 5,000 asylum applications granted successfully and continue to work hard to secure refuge in the UK for those seeking safety from persecution and discrimination.
Pregnant women are at huge risk mentally and physically from the trauma of having to seek asylum and so specialist help should be obtained as early as possible to help reduce the toll such an experience takes on them.
Our team are able to guide, advise and support asylum seekers through the process and in the cases of vulnerable women, to find additional support systems and link them with appropriate communities for mutual support. Contact us now on +441913038965, or contact us online, to start making moves to secure a safe future for you and your family.
Last modified on October 27th, 2023 at 8:12 am
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Migrant women who are seeking asylum are protected from removal from the country where they are:
- Over 34 weeks pregnant
- Under 34 weeks pregnant but experiencing complications that may result in a health issue for either mum or baby
- Caring for a new baby under six weeks old.
Migrant women who have experienced female genital mutilation or cutting should declare this to their GP, midwife or other healthcare professional as soon as possible as it may impact on the care required, the relevant birth options and/or their perinatal outcomes. It may be that the mother is automatically referred for consultant-led care throughout their pregnancy – but all cases will be approached on an individual basis.
If antenatal appointments are not within walking distance of an asylum seeker’s address, they may be entitled to transport support to get them there safely. Midwives and consultants will be able to give advice on NHS transport services and Home Office caseworkers on any financial grants available to help.
If an asylum application is rejected and the applicant found ineligible to stay in the UK, both mother and baby can still be removed from the country once the child is six weeks old. It is, however, recommended that appeals are lodged against refused applications as soon as possible to avoid having to relocate a young child.