Asylum and International Protection
Our experienced immigration lawyers can guide you and your family through the process of claiming asylum in the UK.
Claiming asylum can be a particularly difficult time, especially when you have been forced to leave your home, family and friends behind. Our experienced immigration lawyers are here to guide you through the asylum process and have years of experience working with clients, assisting them to present the best possible case to the Home Office.
The difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker
A refugee is defined by article 1(A) of the 1951 Refugee Convention as someone who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.
An asylum seeker is a person who is seeking international protection as a refugee but who has yet to have their claim determined and has not yet been granted protection.
Claiming asylum in the UK
The 1951 Refugee Convention provides protection to individuals and offers a mechanism for those in need to seek international protection in a safe third country. Those individuals seeking protection in the UK as refugees can claim asylum. Those who do not qualify for refugee status under the Refugee Convention may be eligible for humanitarian protection if they are at risk of suffering serious harm on return to their country of origin.
What does claiming asylum involve?
Asylum claims and claims for humanitarian protection are considered by the Home Office. The process usually involves a series of interviews with the Home Office to establish the basis of a person’s asylum claim.
The first interview, known as the screening interview, is a short interview where basic information, including the applicant’s personal details, details of their dependants and a brief summary of the basis of their asylum claim are recorded. The applicant will also have their biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) taken as part of the screening process and will be issued with an asylum registration card (ARC) which is a photographic identity card recording the fact that the individual has claimed asylum in the UK.
The applicant will normally be provided with a Preliminary Information Questionnaire (PIQ). This questionnaire lists a series of questions about the basis of the applicant’s asylum claim. Upon completion, the form is returned to the Home Office, together with any documents the applicant wishes to submit in support of their claim. Thereafter, the applicant will receive an interview date for their substantive asylum interview. Given the current delays in processing asylum claims, it is not unusual for there to be a long wait between the screening and substantive interviews.
The substantive interview is a longer style interview where the applicant is asked detailed questions about their reason for claiming asylum. It is an opportunity for the individual to explain to the Home Office why they would be at risk of persecution upon return to their country of origin.
The applicant is permitted to provide additional documentary evidence, including witness evidence, in support of their claim. Our team will thoroughly investigate your claim and help you gather supporting evidence, including, where appropriate, working with independent experts to obtain objective supporting evidence.
The Home Office will then make a decision on your asylum claim. There is currently a large backlog of cases and it could take many months, even years, to receive a decision.
The inadmissibility rules
Following the introduction of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 there have been changes to the rules on the inadmissibility of asylum claims. For claims made on or after 28 June 2022, the scope for a claim to be deemed inadmissible has been widened. Those claimants with a ‘connection’ to safe third country may have their claim certified as inadmissible. What constitutes a ‘connection’ is defined by section 80C of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2022 and includes where it is considered reasonable, in light of the individual’s particular circumstances, to have claimed asylum in a ‘safe’ third country.
If the Home Office think that you travelled through a “safe country” on your way to the UK, they can decide to investigate whether your claim should be treated as inadmissible. While your claim is being considered under the inadmissibility rules, your asylum claim will not be progressed.
Will I receive any support whilst my application is pending?
Whilst an asylum claim is pending, those seeking asylum may be eligible for financial assistance, which includes accommodation and a small subsistence payment. Accommodation is normally provided on a no choice basis, which means applicants can be dispersed to live in accommodation around the UK. Generally, asylum seekers are not permitted to work. However, where an asylum claim has been outstanding for more than 12 months through no fault of the applicant, they can ask the Home Office for permission to work. If permission is granted, the right to work is limited to jobs appearing in the Home Office’s shortage occupation list.
What happens if my asylum claim is successful?
Following the introduction of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, there are different types of immigration status that can been granted following a successful asylum claim. The type of status granted will largely depend on the timing of the claim and the method of arrival to the UK. The various types of status include refugee status, temporary refugee status, humanitarian protection and temporary humanitarian protection. There are some key differences between the different forms of status.
Those granted refugee status will be granted permission to stay for a period of five years, with the right to work and recourse to public funds. They can also apply for refugee family reunion to be reunited with their pre-flight family. Having completed five years residence in the UK with refugee status, refugees are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. This application is free of charge and there is no requirement to demonstrate a knowledge of language and life in the UK.
Those individuals granted temporary humanitarian protection or temporary refugee status are granted permission to stay for a shorter period of time; for 30 months. Permission to stay can be extended for a further period provided the individual continues to be in need of protection. Successful applicants will be permitted to work and may have recourse to public funds. Family reunion is possible but is more restricted; the person with temporary permission needs to show that a refusal would breach the UK’s obligations under Article 8 ECHR which protects the right to a private and family life.
Temporary refugee status is not a route to settlement but individuals may be eligible for apply for indefinite leave to remain following 10 years continuous lawful residence in the UK.
My asylum claim has been unsuccessful. What can I do?
Most asylum seekers will be given a right of appeal against the refusal of their asylum claim. An appeal lies to the First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). There are strict appeal deadlines. If your asylum claim has been refused, we would recommend you seek immigration advice as soon as possible.
How can we help?
We can advise and assist you with all stages of the asylum process, including advice and representation should your claim be refused and proceed to the Tribunal on appeal. We can also assist with fresh asylum claims, claims for humanitarian protection or human rights claims, either together with your asylum claim or as standalone claims.
We do not offer legal aid. If you require legal aid, you can find a legal aid solicitor here.
Support for asylum seekers is also available from a number of UK charities, including the Scottish Refugee Council.
Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.