- What is asylum?
- Who is eligible to seek asylum?
- How to claim asylum
- Asylum process UK
- The screening interview
- The substantive interview
- The decision
- After the decision
- Appeals process
- Asylum support
- Being detained during an asylum claim
- Families applying for asylum
- Claiming asylum as a child
- How Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help
- Frequently asked questions
What is asylum?
Asylum is the international protection granted by countries to individuals fleeing their own country due to fear of persecution. When someone asks for asylum in the UK, they are called an asylum seeker. If the government grants them asylum, they are given refugee status.
A refugee is allowed to remain in the UK for 5 years. After this time, they are entitled to apply to settle in the UK.
Who is eligible to seek asylum?
You can seek asylum in the UK if you have left your country of residence and are unable to return due to a fear of persecution because of your:
- Political opinion
- Membership of a particular social group
How to claim asylum
Asylum seekers should apply for asylum immediately upon entering the country. If you wait to apply for asylum, your application is more likely to be denied.
To claim asylum in the UK upon entry, you will need to inform a member of the UK Border Force, they are usually uniformed.
If you are picked up by a member of UK immigration when entering the UK, then you should tell them of your wish to seek asylum immediately.
If you are already in the UK and you wish to seek asylum then you will need to phone and make an appointment with the Screening Unit in Croydon.
The UK asylum process
The asylum process in the UK varies depending on your circumstances. Once you have made your claim you will have a screening interview and will be assigned a caseworker.
You will then usually have a 2nd interview known as the Substantive Interview. After this, your case will be reviewed and a decision will be made.
You may be asked to do more interviews or submit more evidence during the asylum process.
The screening interview
If you claim asylum at your port of entry to the UK, you will usually be interviewed by an immigration officer on the same day.
If you wait before claiming asylum when you’ve entered the UK, you will usually be interviewed at a screening unit in Croydon, South London.
You won’t have to go into detail about why you’re seeking asylum, this may be done at a later date, but you will be asked some basic questions about yourself and your claim for asylum, these include:
- Personal details (language, name, gender, ethnicity etc.)
- Whether you believe you are at risk of persecution if you had to leave the UK
- The country you claim to fear persecution from
- Whether you have a place to stay
- Whether you have any dependents in the UK
- Details about how you travelled to the UK
- Details about what ID you have (passport, driving license etc)
- Whether you have applied for asylum in the UK before
- Medical details
- Brief details about your decision to apply for asylum in the UK
- Whether you have any criminal history
- If you have any supporting documents you wish to submit
After your screening interview, you will usually have a second interview, this is often called the substantive interview. You’ll receive a letter telling you where and when to attend.
During the asylum substantive interview
During the asylum interview you will usually be interviewed alone. Information you disclose will be kept confidential and you will be provided with an interpreter if you need one.
The substantive interview is when the Home Office interviewer will seek to find out in detail your reasons for claiming asylum in the UK. Some of the questions may be difficult to answer but it’s important for your claim that you try to be as detailed as possible. The substantive interview is your chance to tell the Home Office everything about your case.
You should explain how you were persecuted in your country and why you’re afraid to go back.
You should bring any evidence you have of the persecution you faced as well as your birth certificate, passport and medical records if you have them.
The asylum substantive interview is the main interview in the UK asylum process and as such, can last several hours as you will be asked lots of questions. You are likely to be asked the same question several times in different ways.
After the asylum substantive interview
After your substantive interview, the Home Office will consider all the information you provided at both the initial screening interview and the substantive interview. They will also look at the information they have about your country, and then make a decision about whether they believe you need protection in the UK.
The asylum process in the UK is often lengthy, the time it’ll take from claiming asylum to receiving a decision varies from case to case depending on the complexities of your claim.
The government says that you’ll usually get a decision within 6 months but it’s often much longer than this and COVID-19 means there could be further delays. Most decisions in 2019 took more than 6 months.
When you get a decision about your asylum claim you will either be allowed to stay in the UK for a set amount of time if successful, or your claim will be rejected and you will have to leave the UK.
You will receive a letter to inform you whether your claim has been successful or not.
Your asylum claim may be successful for 1 of 3 reasons, and how long you can stay in the UK depends on the reason you have been granted asylum.
- Permission to stay as a refugee – if you qualify for asylum you will be given leave to remain, this means you and your dependents can stay in the UK as refugees for 5 years. After 5 years you will be eligible to apply to settle in the UK.
- Permission to stay for humanitarian reasons – You may not qualify for asylum but you may still need to stay in the UK for your protection, so you could be granted leave to remain for humanitarian reasons. This will allow you and your dependents to stay in the UK for 5 years, after which you can also apply to settle in the UK.
- Permission to stay for other reasons – If you don’t qualify for asylum or permission to stay for humanitarian reasons, you could still be given permission to stay for other reasons. The length of time you can stay in the UK varies depending on your situation. Once this time is up you may be able to apply to extend your stay or apply to settle in the UK.
If your claim is unsuccessful you will be asked to leave the UK and return to your country of origin. You can either arrange to travel yourself or the home office may detain you and force you to leave by deportation.
After the decision
If you are granted leave to remain in the UK then you will be allowed to work, live and study in the UK and have access to public funds.
You will be given a Biometric Residents Permit, which will have your details, photograph and fingerprints on it and will act as proof that you are allowed to live and work in the UK.
If you wish to travel you should not use your national passport, but instead apply for travel documents.
The asylum appeal process
If your claim for asylum has been rejected the asylum appeal process could help you. You will receive a letter along with details on how you can appeal the decision.
You will usually be able to appeal the decision to the First-Tier Tribunal. You must lodge an appeal within 14 days.
If an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal is rejected you may be able to appeal through 3 more stages of appeal, include:
- Upper Tribunal
- Court of Appeal
- Supreme Court
An appeal can only be lodged with each of these methods once you have appealed and been dismissed by the stage before it.
As an asylum seeker, you may also be able to get asylum support, you could be entitled to a number of things including:
- Housing – If you have no where to stay whilst in the UK then accommodation will be provided. You won’t be allowed to choose where in the UK you stay
- Cash support – You will receive £37.75 every week for each person in your household. This will be loaded onto a debit card that you can use at cash machines to withdraw the money
- Extra money – If you are pregnant or have a child under 3 years old, you could be given between £3-5 extra a week
- Maternity payment – If you have a baby under 6 weeks old or are due to give birth in 8 weeks or less then you could receive a £300 one-off payment
- Healthcare – you may get free healthcare on the NHS, this includes free prescriptions, dental care and eyesight tests
- Education – If you have children between the ages of 5-17 then they must go to school. State schools are free and you may be able to get free school meals
You are not legally allowed to work whilst waiting for a decision on your asylum application
Asylum seekers may be detained during their claim for asylum in the UK. If you are not detained when you apply for asylum you will usually remain free unless your claim for asylum and any appeal is rejected. There are several reasons that you may be detained during your application for asylum, these include:
- Your claim being deemed as “clearly unfounded” at your screening interview
- If you’ve passed through another European country the Dublin regulations mean you may be detained if your case is transferred
- If you have been in the UK for a while and do not have valid immigration papers
You can be detained for an indefinite amount of time (unless you are pregnant – where the maximum time is 72 hours) but most individuals that get detained are released before their appeal is heard.
Applying for asylum as a family
If you are applying for asylum you can do so either individually or as a family.
You can add married or civil partners and your children (if they are under 18) onto your claim.
Grandparents, siblings and children over 18 will have to make a separate claim.
If you have a partner or child under 18 outside of the UK, then they can apply to join you if your application to seek asylum is successful.
They must apply for family reunion whilst outside the UK using the online form on the gov.uk website.
Applying as a child
Children accompanying an adult family member who is making an asylum claim should apply as part of their application. If a child is unaccompanied, they will need a solicitor to bring their case to the Home Office.
A child can apply for asylum the same way as an adult, by notifying someone at the port of entry or by contacting the national intake unit in Croydon if they are already in the UK.
The asylum process for a child varies slightly, after the initial application the process will continue as follows:
- The child will have a welfare interview
- The child will fill out a statement of evidence form with their solicitor
- They will then have their substantive interview
- The Home Office will make a decision
Interviews with children are done by people who have been specially trained. Children may also have the right to appeal a rejection by the Home Office.
How Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help
At Manchester Immigration Lawyers we can offer urgent, fast and comprehensive advice for all your asylum issues. Our immigration lawyers can meet with you immediately to provide you with asylum advice wherever you are.
The UK asylum process can be complex, but our lawyers can help. Our services include high-quality translation services and thorough document checks. One of our lawyers will work with you to complete your asylum application, ensuring you have all the required documents and that your application has been completed to a high standard before submitting it. He/she will also prepare a Letter of Representation, this is a cover letter that will contain details of your case as well as citing immigration laws that support your asylum claim. We will liaise with the Home Office while your application is being processed.
We understand the urgency involved with claiming asylum in the UK. Our lawyers will work quickly and efficiently, ensuring your chances of success are maximized.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
Anyone can apply for asylum in the UK but to be eligible you must prove that you are fleeing your home country because you fear persecution. You must also apply from inside the UK, preferably as soon as you arrive.
If your claim for asylum is rejected then you will usually have a right to appeal the rejection to the first-tier tribunal. If all appeals are rejected then you will have to go back to your home country.
No, to apply for asylum in the UK you must apply when you are in the country. You should try to apply upon entry or as soon as you can.
It can take a long time to get a decision on your application for asylum. The British government says that they try to make decisions within 6 months, but most decisions in 2019 took longer than this, some don’t get a decision for a year.
You are allowed to remain in the UK until a decision is made on your case. If you don’t have anywhere to stay you will be given accommodation, if you don’t have enough money for food you could get some financial support. Asylum seekers usually aren’t allowed to work whilst they are waiting for a decision.
Usually asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK whilst they wait for a decision on their application. However it is sometimes possible for an asylum seeker to be given permission to work if they have been waiting over 12 months to get a decision and if the delay in the decision making is not their fault.