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The Asylum Screening Interview: What to Expect

If you are travelling to the UK to claim asylum, or are already in the UK and become eligible for asylum, you will have a screening interview. This initial interview will collect your information and assess your eligibility for claiming asylum.

For support with preparing for your asylum interview and bespoke help with how to arrive safely and legally to the UK, contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online today.

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    Overview of the Asylum Screening Interview

    Asylum is a type of humanitarian protection given to people who are no longer able to live safely in their country because of their personal or social characteristics.

    An asylum seeker whose application is successful will be granted refugee status, protected under international laws, and given refugee protection and permission to stay in the UK.

    You can only claim asylum once you have safely and legally arrived in the UK. As soon as you arrive, you must tell a Border Force officer that you want to claim asylum and you can let them know if you want an interpreter. You will have a screening interview with an immigration officer and they will register your asylum application.

    You can also have your screening interview if you are already in the UK and become eligible for asylum by calling the Asylum Intake Unit at Lunar House in south London.

    After you claim asylum, you may have to wait upwards of a year before you have your screening interview as there are delays in decisions from the Home Office. You will receive a letter confirming where and when your interview is, but you may have to wait many months for your letter too.

    The asylum screening interview is the first interview that takes place as part of the asylum process. During the interview, the immigration officer will take your personal and family details and hear why you are making an asylum claim.

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      What Documents Do I Need for My Interview?

      You will need to provide documents for yourself and anyone who you are including in your application as ‘dependents’ (for example, your partner and children under 18 years old).

      If you have them, you should take:

      • Your passport and travel documents
      • Your identification documents, such as identity cards, birth and marriage certificates or school records
      • Anything else that may help your application

      You will also need to take these documents for your dependents.

      You must take proof of address for you and your dependents if you are already in the UK.

      If you have your own accommodation, you will need to take something showing your full name and address, such as a bank statement or household bill.

      If you are staying with someone else, you will need a letter from within the last 3 months from the person you’re staying with to say you have permission to stay with them. You will also need a document showing their name and address, such as a tenancy agreement or household bill, and provide their contact details.

      How Do I Prepare for My Screening Interview?

      If you are travelling from outside the UK, you may not have any time to prepare for your asylum interview as you may be screened at the airport’s screening unit.

      However, as this is the first interview, you will only be asked basic questions to register your claim. You can make sure you have your identification details ready and the address of where you are staying or going to stay while in the UK.

      Newcastle Immigration Lawyers will be able to support you with preparing for your interview or with any questions you may have about claiming asylum. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online today.

      What Happens at the Asylum Screening Interview?


      Before your meeting, you can tell the immigration officer if you would like a Home Office interpreter to join you; you can also ask for a male or female interviewer, but they won’t always be able to accommodate this.

      During your interview, the immigration officer will take your photograph and fingerprints and ask some questions about you, your family, and your journey to the UK. Anyone who is being included as part of your claim, like your partner or children, will join you in the screening interview.

      At this stage, you can tell the interviewer if you need somewhere to stay, financial aid or legal aid and they will register you as needing asylum support.

      It is very important that you are honest throughout every stage of your asylum process, as your application may be rejected if your information is inconsistent at your second interview, known as the substantive interview. You must also tell your interviewer if you have any problems with the interpreter, like if they can’t understand you well, so they can make a note in your interview record to share with the Home Office.

      Usually, you will not need to bring any evidence to your screening review as the Home Office prefers to review this at the substantive interview but don’t forget to take the documents outlined above and any others requested in your interview letter.

      All of your answers will be noted down in your interview record and these notes will be shared with the Home Office and sent to you after the interview. Follow up with the Home Office if you don’t receive your notes because it is important for you to have a written record too just in case they question what you have said at a later date.

      This is much shorter than the substantive interview and can take between 30 minutes and two hours, although it may be longer if your case is especially complex. You will be given an application registration card (ARC card) at the end of your interview.

      What Sort of Questions Will I Be Asked?

      The Home Office interviewer will ask you about your identity, family, background, and travel history and ask you some health and welfare questions.

      These are the types of topics you will be asked will be about:

      • Your name, any previous names, date of birth, gender, languages spoken, nationalities, and personal details of any dependents included in your asylum claim
      • Where you are staying in the UK and if you feel safe there
      • If you have any health needs, medical conditions, any mental or physical health concerns, or if you are pregnant
      • If you have been exploited in your home country, on the way to the UK, or in the UK
      • Why you have come to the UK, how you have travelled to the UK, and if you have any family in the UK or Europe
      • All of the reasons why you cannot return to your home country
      • If you have ever worked in any national armed forces or worked in certain jobs (for example, judiciary, media, government)
      • If you have ever been accused of or committed an offence or been detained in any country

      Our team of legal experts can help you prepare for the asylum screening interview. Contact Us

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        How Can I Have a Successful Screening Interview?


        There are some simple tips which could support your screening interview.

        In any forms you complete or conversations you have with the Home Office, you must always be honest. Your application could be affected if any of your information is not consistent or believable. If you have said something wrong, it is best to explain this immediately to your interviewer and say why.

        It is also important to consider how you are travelling to the UK. The Home Office changed the law in 2021 so that if you travelled through another country where you could have claimed asylum en route to the UK, they can refuse your asylum.

        If you don’t know the answer to any questions, it is better to say “I don’t know” instead of guessing. If you are not comfortable answering a question, you can say that you do not want to answer.

        Illegal Migration Bill 2023

        The UK has recently changed the law. Now, anyone travelling to the UK illegally will be detained and removed from the UK and will be unable to re-enter or apply for asylum again.

        If you are travelling from outside the UK, it is essential you enter by safe and legal routes to avoid jeopardising your asylum claim.

        What Happens After the Screening Interview?


        Following your interview, they will categorise your case as either:

        • General casework
        • (Detained) non-suspensive appeal
        • Unaccompanied minor

        If the Home Office thinks your case may be ‘inadmissible’, which means that your case may not be considered for asylum. This is not the same as receiving a formal rejection and you will be sent a letter to let you know that they are considering if your case is inadmissible.

        General Casework

        If you are in fact eligible for asylum, have travelled by legal and safe routes, and have not travelled through a safe country where you could have claimed asylum, your case will be filed as general casework.

        Next, the Home Office will consider all the information you have provided and invite you to a substantive interview. Due to delays in the UK, some people are waiting up to two years for their asylum substantive interview.

        If you explained to your screening interviewer that you needed accommodation or asylum support and they have seen that you meet the criteria, you should be moved into accommodation immediately after your interview.

        (Detained) Non-suspensive Appeal

        If the screening interviewer does not think you are eligible for asylum, finds fault with your story, or does not think it is believable, your asylum claim will be categorised as a “non-suspensive appeal”.

        You will be invited to the substantive interview; however, you will not be able to appeal their decision from within the UK if they reject your claim after this longer interview.

        If your case is categorised as a “detained non-suspensive appeal”, you will be detained immediately after your screening interview.

        Unaccompanied Minor

        If you are an asylum seeker under 18 years old who has been separated from both your parents and is not being looked after by an adult who has a responsibility to care for you, you can apply for asylum as an unaccompanied minor.

        Your asylum claim process will be different from an adult’s claim and you will usually be invited to a substantive interview or welfare interview.

        If you have any questions about the asylum screening interview, our team is happy to assist Contact Us

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          Our Immigration Solicitors Can Help With Your Asylum Claim

          The asylum screening interview is a critical part of claiming asylum and can be a difficult process to navigate after travelling to a new country.

          There are many stages involved that must be carefully followed to increase the chances of a successful application, especially if an asylum claim is categorised as non-substantive. Speaking to knowledgeable immigration lawyers, especially if you have time before your screening interview, could benefit your claim and help you understand this complex process.

          Newcastle Immigration Lawyers are experts in immigration law and can help you at each step of your asylum claim, from guiding you in gathering the best evidence to helping you understand and appeal your decision letter. Call us on 0191 303 8965, or contact us online today.

          We can offer support with any aspect of the visa process; 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
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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    It is normal to feel nervous or emotional during your interview. It is ok to cry during your interview and you can ask the immigration officer for a break if you need one.

                    While you are waiting for a decision, you are not allowed to work. If you were already in the UK with a visa that allowed you to work and then you became eligible to claim asylum, you would be allowed to keep working. You would be able to continue working if you are still waiting for a decision when your work visa expires.

                    If you are waiting for more than a year for a decision, you can apply for permission to work. However, there are conditions and restrictions to applying to work and what type of work you are allowed to do.