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How to Seek Asylum in the UK: Legal Assistance

Seeking asylum in the UK can be a lengthy and complicated process so it is important to understand how to claim asylum in the UK step by step, the documents required for asylum in the UK, and any assistance available to you.

Here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, we have a leading team of immigration experts who will be able to assist with any queries or problems you might have. Whether this involves visas, asylum, work and business, or citizenship processes, you only need to get in touch with us online or call our office at 0191 667 6530 to speak to one of our lawyers.

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    An Overview: Claiming Asylum in the UK

    An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their country to reside in another country instead. The reasoning behind doing this is that they fear persecution and are afraid for their human rights, well-being, or safety.

    To ‘claim asylum’ is to apply for a type of international protection called ‘refugee status’ where you fear returning to your country on the basis of persecution. People will usually apply for asylum upon, or after, entering the UK and will go through a series of steps as part of their application.

    When somebody is granted ‘refugee status’ then they will have permission to stay in the UK for a minimum of 5 years and they will be able to apply for a refugee integration loan. After these 5 years, they will be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK.

    Yet, to be successful, you must have reasonable grounds to claim asylum in the UK. Grounds for asylum are measured alongside eligibility criteria to ensure that asylum is granted to the most appropriate people who are fleeing persecution and are faced with limited options.

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    Eligibility Criteria for Claiming Asylum in the UK

    In order to claim asylum in the UK you must be unable to live in your country because of a fear of persecution. There must be no place within this country that you could move to to avoid this fear of persecution. If you are currently stateless then your country is the one you normally live in, or the one you have lived in for most of your life.

    When claiming asylum in the UK, your fear of persecution must fall under one of the following categories to be considered:

    • Race
    • Religion
    • Nationality
    • Political opinion
    • Any other factor that puts you at risk because of the specific political situation within your country

    If you can demonstrate that you fear persecution based on one of these reasons then you may have grounds to claim asylum in the UK.

    However, there are also a number of reasons your claim might not be accepted in the UK, and they are as follows:

    • You are from an EU country
    • You travelled to the UK from a safe third country where you could have already claimed asylum
    • You have a reasonable connection to a safe third country where you could have claimed asylum

    If you are unsure what constitutes a ‘safe third country’ then the UK government defines it as a country where you:

    • Are not currently a citizen
    • Would not be harmed for any of the reasons listed above
    • Would not be sent to another country where you might subsequently be harmed.

    If you want to claim asylum in the UK then it is important to carefully consider the eligibility criteria as it is usually a very lengthy process.

    Documents Required for Claiming Asylum in the UK

    You will need a variety of documents to successfully claim asylum in the UK. It is crucial to have these in order before making your application as some of the following documentation can take weeks or months to organise if you don’t yet have them.

    The key documents you will need are:

    • Passports and any relevant travel documents
    • Identification documents to prove you are who you say you are such as birth certificates, identity cards, school records, or marriage certificates
    • Any other documents that might assist with your application including bills, proof of qualifications, or previous employment records

    If you are already in the UK when you claim asylum then you and your dependants will need to bring documents that prove your UK address.

    If you are staying in your own accommodation you will need:

    • Bank statement
    • Tenancy agreement
    • Housing benefit book
    • Household bills
    • Council tax notice

    If you are staying in somebody else’s accommodation you will need:

    • A letter from within the past 3 months from the person you are staying with stating you have their permission to stay
    • Documents that show the full name and address of the person you are staying with such as a tenancy agreement or a household bill

    You may lack some of these documents for various reasons. If this is the case then it is important to be clear as these documents are required to show that you are who you say you are and to demonstrate your current living situation.

    Seeking asylum in the UK? Contact our skilled immigration team to assist you. Contact us

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      Claiming Asylum in the UK: The Process

      Overview

      Once you have the relevant documents to hand it is time to begin your application to claim asylum in the UK and there are four key stages. It is helpful to understand these stages clearly before you start your application so you can prepare thoroughly for each one to increase your chances of having your application approved.

      Registering Your Claim and Asylum Screening

      If you arrive at the UK border and wish to claim asylum then you must inform the Border Force that you want to claim asylum and then your application will be registered and you will be screened. This is where an immigration officer will record who you are, where you are from, and take your photographs and fingerprints.

      After this, you will be asked why you are seeking asylum and you will be asked if you have any written evidence or documents to support your claim. This is where some preparation can go a long way. You will also go through any relevant medical information and whether or not you or any of your dependents have medical requirements that will need to be tended to.

      Most claims are made upon arrival but if you become eligible for asylum after having arrived then you must call the asylum intake unit and then an officer will call you back to start going through the relevant information.

      It is important to remember that you must take any dependents who are claiming asylum with you, as well as their documentation.

      What Happens After You Submit Your Asylum Claim

      Once your asylum screening has been made, the Home Office will review your case to decide whether or not your asylum claim can be considered in the UK.

      In the meantime, you will be given an Asylum Registration Card showing that you have applied for asylum. This can be used to show who you are, whether you have permission to work, and to get health or education services.

      If your case cannot be considered in the UK then you may be sent to a safe country that will consider your asylum claim. This may happen if you have arrived in the UK through a safe third country or if you have a reasonable connection to a safe third country where your asylum claim could be considered.

      Review the criteria listed in the eligibility section of this guide to determine whether this would apply to you.

      If your asylum claim can be considered in the UK then it will be handed over to a caseworker who will continue with the asylum process.

      You will have to attend regular ‘reporting events’ with your caseworker. Failing to attend these may result in the withdrawal of your asylum claim or even detention in some cases.

      Remember to bring your ARC to these reporting events and to contact the Home Office if you have not yet received it, if it is lost or stolen, or if it has expired.

      Whilst you wait for a decision on your application, you may be placed in a detention centre. If your application is accepted then you will be released, otherwise you will be removed from the UK.

      You will not be detained if you are a child, elderly, a family with children, pregnant, a victim of human trafficking, have been the victim of torture, or have a mental or physical condition that would not be managed well at a detention centre.

      Asylum Interview

      In some cases, there may be sufficient evidence to grant you refugee status without having to do an interview in what is called ‘streamlined asylum processing’. Most cases, however, will require an interview which will be conducted shortly after your screening and it is vital to attend because, otherwise, your application will be withdrawn. As with the screening, dependents will also have to attend the interview.

      This will be your chance to make your case. You should explain clearly and in a detailed manner how you were persecuted in your country and why you are afraid to return. It is important to make a good impression and to be open with the interviewer as they will be making an ‘interview record’ of what is covered and anything that is missed out can be used against your application.

      Nowadays, most interviews are conducted via video call so you will need to ensure you have a device and a good internet connection to attend properly.

      Asylum Interview

      In some cases, there may be sufficient evidence to grant you refugee status without having to do an interview in what is called ‘streamlined asylum processing’. Most cases, however, will require an interview which will be conducted shortly after your screening and it is vital to attend because, otherwise, your application will be withdrawn. As with the screening, dependents will also have to attend the interview.

      This will be your chance to make your case. You should explain clearly and in a detailed manner how you were persecuted in your country and why you are afraid to return. It is important to make a good impression and to be open with the interviewer as they will be making an ‘interview record’ of what is covered and anything that is missed out can be used against your application.

      Nowadays, most interviews are conducted via video call so you will need to ensure you have a device and a good internet connection to attend properly.

      Asylum Decision

      There is no set rule for how long an asylum decision will take as it depends on a number of factors including the verification of supporting documents, any extra interviews, and if there are any extra factors like medical issues or criminal convictions.

      Your decision will fall into one of three categories:

      1. Permission to stay: You will be recognised as a refugee or will qualify for humanitarian protection. Either way, you will not be made to return to your own country and you will have permission to stay in the UK for a minimum of 5 years and will be able to apply for an asylum integration loan to assist you financially.
      2. Permission to stay for other reasons: If you are unable to be classed as a refugee then you may be granted permission to stay for other reasons and the length of time will vary by case.
      3. No reason to claim asylum in the UK: If it is decided that you have no reason to stay in the UK. You can either leave yourself or you may be forced to leave by being detained at an immigration removal centre. If you appeal the decision within the given timeframe then you will not be made to leave the UK until a further decision is made.

      Claiming asylum in the UK can be challenging. Allow our immigration team to help you. Contact us

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        Appealing Your Asylum Decision

        If you are not happy with the decision that is made then you have a right to appeal.

        When a decision is appealed then it is presented to the First-tier tribunal which is the Immigration and Asylum Chamber. This tribunal is independent from the government and the judge will take an impartial decision after having considered arguments from both sides of the case.

        Some of the most common reasons a decision is appealed is that the Home Office has:

        • Refused your asylum claim
        • Refused your human rights claim
        • Refused or revoke your permit
        • Revoked your British citizenship
        • Revoked your protection status
        • Varied the length of your stay or want to deport you under the settlement scheme

        In some cases, you may not be allowed to appeal, in which case you could ask the Home Office for an administrative review.

        Reuniting with Your Family Members

        The government has provisions in place for asylum seekers wishing to reunite with family members and there are some specific conditions and requirements to adhere to. These typically depend on the nature of your relationship and the type of legal status you have already obtained from the government.

        If you have been granted refugee status or have a 5 year settlement ground in the UK for humanitarian protection then you can submit an application for a family reunion. This is intended for ‘immediate family members’ which includes spouses and children. There are other options in place for any ‘extended family members’ such as parents or siblings.

        To apply to reunite with your family members, simply contact the government via their website, send them an email, or phone their number. We are also able to help with family reunion applications because we know how important it is to see family members.

        Rights and Duties for Those Claiming Asylum in the UK

        To make sure you access all the help available to you when claiming asylum in the UK, it is important to know the rights and duties that could assist with your time in the UK.

        Section 95: If you are an asylum seeker who is waiting for a decision on their claim and you are an adult who has passed the destitution test then you will be eligible for Section 95 support whereby the government will need to support your living conditions.

        Section 98: This is a temporary support measure for asylum seekers who appear to be destitute and have applied for Section 95 help but are awaiting a decision on their application and need immediate assistance.

        Section 4: If you are an asylum seeker whose application has been refused but you meet the criteria for the destitution test then you will be eligible for Section 4 support which provides financial and housing assistance.

        Accessing Benefits: As a refugee, you have a right to apply for welfare in the UK.

        Work: If you are a refugee with a national insurance number then you can work in the UK. However, if you are an asylum seeker then you are not allowed to work in the UK unless you have permission because you have been waiting for more than 12 months for a decision through no fault of your own. Then you can do skilled jobs that are on the Shortage Occupation List.

        Understand your rights and responsibilities as you seek asylum in the UK. Our team of expert immigration lawyers are here to assist you. Contact us

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          How Birmingham Immigration Lawyers Can Help You Claim Asylum

          Claiming asylum is a very serious and complicated process and it is easy to get overwhelmed at various stages. There are many factors to think about, documents to gather, and paperwork to fill out. The best thing to do is to allow a professional to assist you with these stages to improve your chances of a successful application.

          Here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, we recognise how difficult it can be to claim asylum which is why we offer a range of services to help our clients. These services include a range of fields like work and business, UK residency and citizenship, asylum claims, detainee cases, and visa processes.

          If you have any further questions about claiming asylum, or any of the other areas listed above, then please get in touch with us online or call our office at 0121 667 6530 today.

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                    Related pages for your continued reading.

                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Although there is no definite timeline for asylum claims, they will be seen to as quickly as possible. They can vary in length depending on the case e.g. if there is a lot of supporting evidence or any extra interviews that need to be conducted.

                    It is hard to get asylum in the UK if you do not meet the criteria outlined at the beginning of this article involving the reasons for claiming asylum.

                    The NHS is available to recognised refugees as well as asylum seekers who are in the process of having their cases heard.

                    After the initial screening, documents, and interview, the Home Office will decide whether or not your asylum claim can be accepted in the UK and whether you can be granted refugee status or if you need to be removed from the UK.

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