To claim asylum, a person must be both fleeing persecution and inadequately protected by the government in their country of origin.
The threat of persecution must derive from environmental factors (such as war or political turmoil) or personal factors such as religion, race, ethnicity or social/political identity. Despite this, there is no singular rule that determines who is able to seek asylum in the UK.
Once an asylum claim has been made, the claimant will be entitled to housing and financial support from the government providing they have no other means of supporting themselves. If the claim is granted, the person will receive refugee status and will therefore be entitled to work, study and have access to public funds.
Can I claim asylum?
If you intend to claim asylum in the UK, you will need to demonstrate to the Home Office that you have a well-founded fear of persecution in your country of origin. The threat of persecution must stem from one or more of the following:
- Membership of a particular social group
- Political affiliation
In certain situations, the government will grant automatic asylum based on your country of origin. This occurs when you originate from an area classed as dangerous for all citizens. Notable examples include Syria and Venezuela. You will not need to demonstrate that you would be unprotected were you to return home.
How do I claim asylum in the UK?
An asylum claim can be made at any UK port, from airports such as Heathrow to ferry ports such as Dover.
It is strongly advised that you make this claim as quickly as possible.
Upon arrival, you should seek out a member of staff and tell them that you intend to claim asylum.
You will then have to attend a screening interview. Entering the UK without making a claim will leave you classed as an undocumented migrant, something that could affect your claim in the future.
Claiming asylum is open to all people, regardless of background. Once a claim has been made, housing and a small allowance is available to those who are destitute. Legal Aid can also be applied for.
The asylum process
Once you have made an asylum claim at a port, you will be entitled to support from the government in the form of ‘no choice’ accommodation and an allowance of £37.75 per person per week.
Once this has been obtained, Legal Aid can be applied for. This will give you access to a lawyer who can assist you with your asylum application, helping you to organise your case and demonstrate that you have a well-founded fear of persecution.
An asylum claim can take up to 180 days to process. During this time, you will continue to receive accommodation and subsistence from the government. In most circumstances, you will also be asked to attend an interview with the Home Office.
Following the interview, you will be notified of the Home Office’s decision via a letter. If your application is granted, you will be legally classed as a refugee and will be free to access public funds. If it is rejected, you will have 30 days to appeal.
How to apply for Legal Aid
If you are destitute and therefore do not have the means to pay for representation, you are entitled to free legal advice from a qualified immigration solicitor. This comes in the form of legal aid.
The support can take the form of advice sessions or full-scale assistance throughout the entire process.
For legal aid to be applied for, you must have a pending claim in the UK. You will then be able to attend a drop-in session at a Legal Aid law firm. During this session, your assigned lawyer will apply for Legal Aid on your behalf.
It is important to provide your lawyer with proof that you receive government asylum support. Once Legal Aid is successfully applied for, your lawyer can begin helping you with your case.
Our Birmingham immigration lawyers have a wealth of experience in providing assistance to asylum seekers in the UK. Get in touch today on 0121 667 6530 to begin the process. We recognise the importance of securing a positive result.
The asylum interview process
Often known as the ‘substantive interview’, the essential purpose of the asylum interview is to determine whether your fear is ‘genuine and well-founded’.
It is an opportunity to present your case to the Home Office and outline why asylum ought to be granted. The interview is conducted in English- if this is not your first language, a translator will be arranged.
It is advised that you ask for your interview to be recorded. This must be done at least 24 hours before the interview is scheduled to start. You can request a female or male interviewer depending on what you would feel most comfortable with.
The only person permitted to attend the interview alongside you is your lawyer. However, this service is not covered by Legal Aid. The interviews can last for a few hours, and you are entitled to ask for a break as and when you need it.
It is vitally important that you bring the following documents to your interview:
- Birth certificate
- Passport/travel document
- Police registration certificate
- Application Registration Card (ARC)
- Evidence of living situation (e.g. utility bill)
Following the interview
Once the interview has concluded, you will have five days to submit a statement about the interview that contains your closing points on the case. This is your final chance to state why asylum should be granted. Listening back to your interview will help you with this.
Child asylum seekers
Those accompanied by parents
Child asylum seekers are able to make a claim alongside their parents. Children under the age of 12 do not have to attend an interview.
In these circumstances, a parent can make a claim on their behalf and discuss their circumstances in their own interview.
Children who are unaccompanied can make an asylum claim at a UK port in the same way an adult would. Volunteers and local authority staff will usually be on hand to help children make a claim.
Following this, a child will most likely be taken to the national intake unit in Croydon for their screening interview.
Unaccompanied children qualify for Legal Aid- it is vitally important that they have a legal representative.
Children under 12 usually do not need to attend an interview.
Those over 12 will need their solicitor present- the interviewer will be experienced in working with children.
The asylum process for unaccompanied children is as follows:
- Welfare interview: the child and their solicitor will be given a ‘statement of evidence’ to complete
- ‘Substantive’ interview: for those over 12
- Home Office makes a decision on their application
- If approved, the child has refugee status.
- If refused, a form of protective leave known as UASC leave is available. The child can also appeal the decision.
The appeal process
There are a number of reasons why a claim can be refused, from failing to provide the correct documentation, to the Home Office believing your fear of persecution to be unfounded. In the event of a refusal, you have the legal right to appeal.
Appealing involves demonstrating why the Home Office’s decision was legally wrong. You must submit your appeal within 30 days of receiving your refusal letter. This 30-day timeframe begins on the date displayed on the letter, not the date it was opened.
Submitting a new claim
A fresh asylum claim can only be made once you are classed as ‘Appeal Rights Exhausted’. Therefore, you must follow the appeal process on your first claim before submitting a brand new application.
It is also vital that you submit fresh evidence when making a new claim, and demonstrate how your situation has changed. If you have attempted to return home but are still threatened by persecution, you will have new grounds on which to make a claim.
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Asylum seekers with a pending claim are entitled to accommodation on a ‘no choice’ basis and a subsistence rate of £37.75 per week. This assistance is only available to those who are deemed destitute.
For asylum seekers whose application is refused, support from the government is withdrawn after 21 days. A further form of support- known as Section 4 support- is available to individuals in this situation. Section 4 is intended as a temporary form of support, and amounts to £35.39 per week via a payment card and ‘no choice’ accommodation.
Asylum seekers are unable to work. They are also unable to claim public funds other than those provided through asylum support.
Whilst awaiting a decision on a claim, asylum seekers are limited to living in the accommodation provided and spending the subsistence rate on essential items.
‘Asylum seeker’ refers to a person who has made a claim in the UK due to the threat of persecution in their country of origin.
‘Refugee’ refers to a person whose claim has been granted. Refugee status affords a person the right to work, study, start a business and claim public funds. It also provides them with full humanitarian protection in accordance with human rights law.
We are committed to providing support to those in need is of the utmost importance to us. We have a deep understanding of the complex and difficult circumstances that are faced by those seeking sanctuary, and do all we can to help. We can assist with all asylum and humanitarian protection claims, from completing an asylum application to organising visits for detainees. Our expert legal team will guide you through the process, doing everything possible to remove unnecessary stress.
To help you apply for asylum, we provide the following:
- Completing your application in full to the highest possible standard;
- Preparing a Letter of Representation in order to outline the key details of your application, providing the Home Office with reasons why it ought to be accepted;
- Maintaining a dialogue with the Home Office throughout the application process;
- Conducting a thorough document check to ensure you have the correct paperwork.
To apply for asylum, get in contact today on: 0121 667 6530.