Can You Apply For UK Asylum From Outside The UK?
It is only possible to apply for asylum when you are in the UK. You will need to arrive at a port of entry and tell the border force that you intend to claim asylum, who will then take some details. In some cases, people will claim asylum despite having already lived in the UK for some time.
Either way, asylum seekers cannot claim asylum from outside the UK.
As will be explained, the UK government requires you to enter the UK through a ‘safe legal route’ to claim asylum. However, the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 made it considerably more difficult to enter the UK through these routes. That being said, there are some other ways to come to the UK which will be discussed below.
Eligibility Criteria to Claim Asylum in the UK
In the first place, you must be fleeing your home country and claiming asylum because you fear persecution based on:
- Race or ethnicity
- Political opinion
- Religious beliefs
- Any other factors that put you at risk due to the current political situation within your home country, such as your sexual orientation or gender identity
Even if you do meet the above description, the Home Office will deny your asylum claim if:
- You traveled to the UK through a ‘safe third country’ where you could have already claimed asylum
- You have a connection to an EU country
- You have a connection to any other safe third country where you could have already claimed asylum
The Home Office describes a ‘safe third country’ as one where:
- You are not a citizen
- You would not be harmed
- You would not be sent to another country where you could be harmed
If you meet the above criteria, it does not mean you will be granted asylum by default. It only means that your asylum claim will be considered by the Home Office, which might then decide to grant you asylum or deny your claim and remove you from the country. Understanding whether you have a strong claim is one of the ways we can help here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers.
Documents Required for an Asylum Claim in the UK
As part of your asylum claim, you will need to submit a variety of documents to prove that you are who you say you are and also to prove your UK address.
You must begin to collate these documents as early as possible as some of them can take a while to obtain.
To prove your identity and travel, the following documents will be required for you and any of your dependents:
- Any passports or travel documents
- Documents that show your identity such as school records or birth and marriage certificates
- Any other documents that might help in these areas, like driving licenses or travel cards
As well as these documents, you will also need to show where in the UK you are currently living, and the specific documents required depend on whether you are staying at your own accommodation or living in somebody else’s accommodation.
If you are staying in your own accommodation, you will need any documents that have your full name and address such as a tenancy agreement, bank statement, or any household bills. If you are staying with somebody else you will need a letter from this person stating that you have their permission to stay as well as a document showing their full name and address like a tenancy agreement or a council tax notice.
The first step when it comes to claiming asylum in the UK is ‘immigration screening’. This is where an immigration officer takes your basic information to check who you are and where you are from.
They will also take your photographs and fingerprints. This is where you will need the above documents, and it is best to include a document explaining why you want asylum as well.
If you are only just arriving in the UK then this screening will take place at the border. If you are already living in the UK when you apply for asylum then this screening will likely take place via a phone call and should last around 30 minutes.
Once your screening has taken place, the Home Office will usually check over your application to see if you have grounds for an asylum claim before proceeding to the interview stage. In some rare cases, people’s asylum claims are so urgent or strong that they do not need to attend an interview.
When you do attend an asylum interview, this is your chance to explain how you were persecuted and why you want to claim asylum. Whilst you will be asked questions about challenging topics, you must be as open as possible because any information you withhold can work against you.
What Your Asylum Decision Means
After your interview, you will need to wait for a decision to be made. Due to the current backlog of asylum claims in the UK, which was at 100,000 by the end of 2021, you must be prepared to wait over a year in some cases.
However, the exact time frame largely depends on the evidence you have submitted and the particulars of your claim.
If your claim is accepted then you will be granted ‘refugee status’ for five years. This means you will have access to key public services and you will be able to take up work. In some cases, the Home Office will ask for supplementary evidence or a second interview to make a decision.
However, if your asylum claim is denied then you will need to make preparations to leave the UK. Fail in this, then the Home Office will send you a letter notifying you of their intention to detain and remove you.
If you do not agree with your asylum decision then you can appeal which would postpone your requirement to leave the country until the appeal has been processed.
Other Ways To Come To The UK
It is worth noting that there are numerous ways to come to the UK. You may want to consider these if you are unable to come to the UK through a safe and legal route, and then apply for asylum further down the line.
For example, you can apply for a UK visa and, because there are many different types, it is likely that at least one will apply to your circumstances. The following visas may be good options:
- Work visas for those who have job offers
- Study visas for those attending university and other educational institutions
- Business visas for people setting up and running a business in the UK
- Visitor visas for those wishing to stay for under 6 months
- Family visas for visiting family members who live in the UK
You may also want to consider the available resettlement schemes which can be great options to come and live in the UK:
- The UK Resettlement Scheme is an annual resettlement scheme whereby the Home Office chooses individual refugee cases presented by the UNHCR
- The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme is specifically for those who are affected by the Afghan withdrawal and the fall of Kabul in 2021
- The Community Sponsorship Scheme is where a community gets together and sets up provisions for refugees to come and live in the UK, usually with a sponsoring family
Here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, we understand how overwhelming it can feel when you are trying to apply for asylum in the UK because it is a very complicated and important process. Because of the current backlog, it is crucial that you get your application right the first time around.
To help you make the strongest claim possible, all you need to do is call 0121 667 6530 or get in touch with us online to speak to one of our expert immigration lawyers. We can also help with a range of other issues including citizenship, detainment documentation, and work and business visas.
Last modified on November 16th, 2023 at 10:04 am
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You can claim asylum when you drive at any port of entry. All you need to do is explain that you intend to claim asylum to the border force and they will help you begin the process.
If you meet the eligibility criteria to claim asylum, have the necessary documents, and explain yourself well at your interview then you have a good chance of your asylum claim being approved.