UK Asylum: An Introduction
Despite popular misconception in the media, claiming asylum in the UK is a very complex process and can take a long time. Upon arrival in the country, those looking to seek asylum should declare their intention to do so at the border with an immigration officer; or, if they’re already in the UK, with a Home Office official as soon as possible.
Those who have successfully sought asylum in the UK must demonstrate that they have a well-founded fear that they are fleeing persecution in their home country and so are not able to safely return. Applicants who are granted asylum will be done so either through being awarded refugee status (as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention), humanitarian protection rights or other sound reason to stay. In the vast majority of cases, the asylum seeker will be given permission to reside in the UK for a set period of time before they may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain.
Initially the asylum seeker will undergo a screening interview during which they will present any relevant documentation and evidence of their reasoning for claiming asylum; be this that they are part of a particular social group subject to persecution, hold a political opinion likely to cause offence or harm, or be eligible for refugee status.
After the initial screening, a substantive interview will be set up for the asylum seeker to present their case to a Home Office asylum caseworker. A record of this interview will be made, and the Home Office will make a decision on the asylum claim as a result of this.
The whole process from start to finish can take anywhere from six months to a couple of years, with the exact duration dependent on the complexity of the case for asylum and where the claim lies amongst the building asylum backlog of cases to be processed.
Given the gravity of the consequences of failing to claim asylum in the UK, it is always recommended that asylum seekers access specialist legal support. Newcastle Lawyers can help advise on the UK resettlement scheme. Give our team a call today on 0191 303 8965.
Under What Circumstances Can Asylum Seekers Get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is a UK government sponsored scheme that offers free legal assistance to those unable to afford appropriate representation, but it only facilitates certain areas of law. It does cover asylum claims, but the asylum seeker must be able to prove that they meet several financial requirements.
As of April 2013, the eligibility criteria for legal aid were tightened – for asylum seekers alongside all categories of law. As a result, applicants for legal assistance through the legal aid scheme must fit one of the following categories:
- People seeking asylum who are being held in an immigration detention centre
- Asylum applications and appeals (including in ‘fresh claims’ where new evidence has been uncovered for previously refused asylum seekers)
- Victims of human trafficking applying for Indefinite Leave To Remain in the UK
- Victims of domestic violence applying for Indefinite Leave To Remain in the UK
- Asylum seekers undergoing the process of deportation or deprivation of citizenship through the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, particularly where there is considered to be a concern of national security
- Immigration cases involving human rights issues or violations.
Applying for legal aid can be a complex process in itself and there are extremely strict financial requirements in place. Asylum seekers, much like anyone else applying for legal aid, must be able to provide comprehensive evidence of their inability to afford assistance.
Legal aid entitles the holder to a set amount of legal assistance and so for unlimited support, private asylum lawyers should be hired.
If asylum seekers don’t qualify for legal aid, they can hire private solicitors – and it is always advised that they seek specialist advice for managing this area of law. Call 0191 303 8965 to speak to the UK’s leading immigration law solicitors, Newcastle Lawyers.
Unlimited legal assistance
While legal aid does entitle those eligible for it to a solicitor’s advice and guidance on their asylum claims, they are only paid for a set amount of their time and so are unable to offer unlimited guidance and advice. This does mean that in more complex cases, further legal aid may need to be applied for or the support may not be comprehensive enough. Asylum seekers unfortunately frequently find their cases experience delays which may result in inadequate legal support.
Emotional and moral support through the asylum claims process
Recounting persecution and fear in order to prove qualification to be granted refugee status or humanitarian protection can be taxing emotionally. Having a professional present in asylum interviews can help ground the asylum seeker and help them get their point across clearly even in difficult circumstances. Asylum seekers are often already vulnerable people who require specialist help through the process.
Specialist knowledge and strategic contacts for asylum support
Immigration law is complex and most people seeking asylum will not hold the specialist knowledge needed to navigate it successfully. What’s more, specialist immigration lawyers will have contacts in the Home Office and will understand what it is that asylum caseworkers are looking for in order to grant an asylum claim.
Higher chances of success being granted asylum
Specialist solicitors have proven expertise in helping asylum seekers find success with their cases and can improve their chances of being given permission to stay in the UK.
Asylum Lawyer Costs
Given the nature of the complexities faced by those looking to claim asylum in the UK, there’s no one-size-fits-all fee structure. As a result, people seeking asylum should seek a bespoke approach from a legal team and receive a tailored fee for the work being done.
It can be difficult to predict exactly how much an asylum seeker will need to spend on legal assistance for their case, but at Newcastle Lawyers we always do our best to be transparent with how much you can expect. What’s more, we offer free calls with no obligation to proceed to discuss the personal circumstances of asylum seekers – so contact our team on 0191 303 8965 to share your story.
Those looking to claim asylum in the UK are faced with a complex and often convoluted asylum process to manage, which can be time-consuming, stressful and frustrating. Newcastle Lawyers are the UK’s leading immigration law firm, with over 5,000 successful claims to a UK resettlement scheme utilising their asylum support.
Whether your claim is eligible for legal aid or is a private hire case, Newcastle Lawyers can help with both the application and appeal process – for both asylum seekers detained and those with free roaming. Our team have vast experience in helping individuals successfully claim asylum in the UK, no matter how difficult or complicated their case. If you’re an asylum seeker or supporting one, contact our team today for a free and no-obligation chat on 0191 303 8965. All calls will be managed confidentially and we find the vast majority choose to continue on with our help.
Last modified on October 23rd, 2023 at 7:24 am
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Not everyone is entitled to legal aid, and it is no easier for those seeking asylum to receive it than anyone else. In many cases, it can be difficult for asylum seekers to prove that they don’t have the financial means to pay for their own legal assistance because they don’t have sufficient documentation to do so. Not all asylum seekers will be classified as refugees, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will be declined protection.
The 1951 Refugee Convention, supported by the later 1967 refugee protocol, provides the definition of a refugee as recognised under international law and outlines the legal rights and protection those people are entitled to.
Humanitarian protection refers to the protective legal rights of those affected by humanitarian crises anywhere in the world, as established by the 1949 Geneva Convention.
Persecution can be experienced by particular social groups anywhere in the world, dependent on the current socio-economic and political situation at any one time. Most commonly those seeking asylum to flee persecution as a result of their social status are those of the LGBTQ+ community, those with non-conventional gender identities and those holding a political opinion that differs from their home country’s government stance.
Asylum seekers can be granted refugee status provided they meet the set definition of refugee under the UN Refugee Convention. There is no requirement for them having stayed in an arranged refugee camp, immigration detention facility or to be admitted to the country as a result of small boat arrivals. People seeking safety may be designated refugee status whichever asylum route they have taken to the country.