Work Possibilities And Volunteering For Asylum Seekers
Those who have claimed asylum in the UK can apply to get permission to work if they have been awaiting a decision on their application for 12 months or more, and they are not considered to be the reason for the delay.
Should permission be granted, the person will then be allowed to take up employment that is listed on the shortage occupation list; however, they can only take jobs on this list.
This means that they will be restricted to only highly skilled jobs that require a formal qualification. That being said, social care work is now listed on the shortage occupation list.
This government policy has changed over the years, as until mid-way through 2022, asylum seekers could apply to have permission to work if they were waiting more than six months for a decision on their claim. However, this was removed, and it was stated that it was necessary to do so to distinguish asylum from economic migration.
This saw the right to apply for work permission change after 12 months in 2005, in compliance with EU law.
- Work Possibilities And Volunteering For Asylum Seekers
- Requirements To Work In The UK As An Asylum Seeker
- Asylum Seeker Permission To Work Application Process
- Granting Or Refusing Applications
- Circumstances Of Which The Work Permission Can Be Revoked
- Volunteering As An Asylum Seeker
- How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help You
Understanding Asylum Permission To Work
A majority of people who claimed asylum in the UK were not initially allowed to work. It does make things more difficult for these individuals, as many who do seek asylum in the UK are seeking to be able to move on with their lives. Being unable to work means that there is no ability to earn one’s own money, which can be frustrating as decisions on applications can take some time.
Yet, immigration rules will allow you to apply for permission to work if you have waited for over 12 months for a decision, and this is due to no fault of your own.
Everyone who is permitted to work through this policy is only able to work a job that is on the shortage occupation list. Yet, should those seeking asylum in the UK wish to volunteer, this is always possible. Those seeking asylum will always have the right to volunteer.
The Shortage Occupation List
The Shortage Occupation List is a list that is published by the Home Office showing jobs that have a shortage of people working in these roles in the UK.
A majority of jobs on this list are specialised jobs, such as architects, civil engineers, and so on. This is quite limiting for these asylum seekers, as those who get permission to work cannot work in any role.
However, in 2021, the list was expanded, and it now contains roles such as nurses and care workers; in 2023, roles in the building industry were included.
The only requirement for asylum seekers to work in the UK is that there must be a claim or further submission on the grounds of protection that has been undecided by UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) and has been outstanding for a minimum of twelve months from the date when the claim was made.
This is only applicable to UKVI-decided cases. In cases where a decision was made within 12 months but an appeal against the decision is pending, the applicant cannot get permission to work.
Those who have been dealing with permission to work applications will first review the case of the asylum claim to assess why the claim decision has been delayed and ensure that the case will not receive further unnecessary delays.
The delay cannot be due to the applicant; if so, they will not be granted permission to work.
The Home Office is obligated to consider an application for permission to work should the delay not be, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, the applicant’s fault. A caseworker who is considering the application will also need to consider how much time the 12-month delay is due to the applicant. This will include considering the reasons behind the applicant’s contribution to delays. This could include periods of non-compliance with the asylum process.
If the delay is the fault of the applicant, permission to work will be refused.
In cases where the applicant is partially responsible for the delay due to non-compliance with procedures, reasoning for non-compliance should be considered.
For example, in a case where an individual gives reasoning for failure to comply with the necessary procedures, these must be considered. If the applicant had a period of serious illness, this would be considered a valid reason for non-compliance. Alternatively, a prison sentence would not be considered acceptable.
Dependents Of Asylum Seekers
The UK government has no provision in the Immigration Rules to grant permission to work to the dependents of an asylum seeker or a failed asylum seeker. This includes instances where a claim or further submission for asylum has been outstanding for over 12 months.
If permission to work is granted to the primary applicant claiming asylum, it is important to note that caseworkers need to ensure that it is clear that this permission to work is not extendable to the applicant’s dependents.
Asylum Seekers Who Have Existing Leave
Should an applicant claim asylum but still have limited leave in another form that allows them to work, they can ask if they can still work beyond the date of their leave expiration. The permissions will depend on whether or not the applicant applied for asylum before the expiration of their current leave.
If an asylum application was made before the expiration of the current leave and this leave was not a type that prohibited work, the applicant can continue to work on the same conditions as their leave until they receive a decision on their claim for asylum.
The Immigration Act, 1971, Section 3C automatically extends the leave of an individual who applies for further leave to remain (of which asylum is included) as long as they have existing leave to remain (or enter) at the time of the application being made. The applicant needs to be informed in this case that they can continue working on the same terms as they did on their previous visa.
However, should an applicant make their claim out of time, then Section 3C cannot be applied, and any conditions attached to the leave will cease from the date that the leave expires. This means that permission to work will be refused unless requirements are met under Paragraph 360.
Every application for permission to work as an asylum seeker or as a failed asylum seeker needs to be made by making a statement to UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration). This should include the required information, as follows:
- The full name of the applicant, their date of birth, and their nationality.
- The applicant’s Home Office reference number.
- A statement from the applicant setting out their request for permission to work in the UK
- Contact details of the applicant and a legal representative of the applicant, if they have one
Applications need to be sent to the relevant team, there are a variety of teams that regularly receive these applications.
Asylum Casework Teams
Those who are still waiting on an initial decision on the claim or those who have a failed asylum claim with outstanding further submissions need to submit requests for permission to work to the Permission to Work team.
It should be made clear in this whether or not the application is related to an asylum claim or for further submissions. Decisions to grant permission to work should never be taken without the asylum claim or further submission first being reviewed. This is necessary to assess why the decision has been delayed.
Requests in this form are dealt with as soon as is reasonably possible and without any unnecessary delays.
Permission To Work Applications Dealt With At Reporting Centres
Should an applicant request permission to work at a reporting centre, staff at this location will advise the applicant to write to the Asylum Casework Team as above.
Reporting centre staff are not able to decide on permission to work applications.
Permission To Work Applications In Litigation
If a request for permission to work is submitted as part of a pre-action protocol letter or as a part of a judicial review application that relates to another matter, it is necessary to inform the applicant that they need to contact UKVI.
A formal application needs to be made in writing to UKVI for the request to be considered. Permission to work requests cannot be considered unless made following the appropriate process.
With the exclusion of exceptional circumstances, applications made for permission to work by asylum seekers who are awaiting an initial decision should only be considered where there is a pending asylum claim with the Home Office that has been outstanding for an excess of 12 months.
Caseworkers making decisions on these applications need to consider the relevant criteria.
An Outstanding UKVI Decision On Grounds Of Protection
To consider a permission to work application, an asylum or further submission regarding protection grounds must be made. This claim needs to have not yet been decided by UKVI and has to have been outstanding for at least 12 months from the date on which the claim was made.
This is only relevant to UKVI decisions. Should a decision have been made within 12 months; but an appeal is pending, the application will be rejected.
If the applicant is not at fault for the delay in the decision of their claim, then the Home Office is obligated to consider the permission to work application. This includes considerations regarding the reasoning for delays, non-compliance issues, and the reasoning for non-compliance.
An applicant who has been non-compliant due to severe illness and has a delayed claim for over 12 months may get permission to work. However, an applicant who has been non-compliant due to jail time and has a delayed claim for over 12 months will not get permission to work.
Failed asylum seekers and asylum seekers who have been convicted of a criminal offence cannot receive permission to work if the decision on the claim has been delayed due to a need to wait for the outcome of the prosecution.
Delays on this basis are considered to be attributed to the applicant.
Dependents Of The Primary Applicant
The dependents of the primary applicant cannot get permission to work, even if the claim has been outstanding for over 12 months. Dependents of a primary applicant also do not get permission to work, even if the primary applicant obtains permission to work.
Should an individual be granted permission to work, they will use a template letter, ASL.4264, with option 1. Doing so informs the applicant of the conditions of this permission to work and advises them to make contact with DWP (the Department for Work and Pensions) to get a national insurance number.
From here, the caseworker will follow ARC guidance, and the ASL.4264 needs to be retained by the applicant as proof they have permission to work, as this may be needed by the Job Centre or a future employer.
The Home Office records and case file need to be updated to ensure that the permission to work granted to asylum seekers is legitimate and verified.
Alternatively, if the individual applying is granted permission to work and has existing leave in a different capacity, the template used is ASL.4043, option 1. To ensure the process is outlined and legitimate.
When confirmed, caseworkers dealing with permission to work asylum seeker cases will need to arrange for any biometric captures necessary and will arrange and pay for travel to facilitate this.
Successful applicants will only be able to take work on the Shortage Occupation List. The Home Office rarely reviews an applicant’s qualifications or experience when they consider an application; therefore, the applicant must ensure that they are qualified. Employers and applicants need to also ensure that the jobs applied for are on this list.
Any qualifications or experience for a job on the SOL list cannot be obtained illegally.
There are several reasons a permission to work application may be denied. These are as follows:
- The asylum claim has not been outstanding for 12 months.
- The delay is due to the applicant’s inaction or actions.
- The delay is due, in part, to the applicant’s actions or inaction and isn’t reasonable to exercise favourable discretion.
- There is evidence of criminality.
- Further submissions are not based on protection and are due to Article 3 medical grounds or Article 8 medical grounds; instead, a charged valid application should have been made.
Case files are updated with the Home Office if an application is rejected. This enables enforcement staff to be aware of the rejected status of the application. This will be worded like so:
- Permission to work request received in (team name) on (date).
- Permission to work was refused on (date).
- Permission to work was refused because of (selected reasoning).
- ASL.4264 was sent or handed to the applicant or representative at (address) on (date).
- Name of the caseworker.
- Name of the team.
- Contact telephone number.
Circumstances Of Which The Work Permission Can Be Revoked
Where an asylum seeker is granted permission to work due to an undecided claim, this will cease when the claim has been refused or any appeal rights against a refusal are ceased.
Permission to work will not be revoked where an asylum seeker is granted refugee status, humanitarian protection, leave under family rules or discretionary leave. This is because upon being granted this protection, the individual will have full labour market access.
Volunteering As An Asylum Seeker
Volunteering is possible at any stage of the asylum process; however, volunteering activities cannot interfere with any scheduled events relative to the asylum claim process.
Asylum seekers are fully able to volunteer while they await their claim decision without needing permission to work. Yet, this volunteering cannot be considered engagement as an employee or worker, and the organisation and individual hold the responsibility of ensuring that such activity does not breach conditions.
Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help with applications for permission to work, as well as many other stages of the asylum claim process. This includes:
- Asylum applications and appeals
- Detained casework
- Bail (SoS applications, tribunals, renewals)
- Fresh claims
- Permission to work applications
- Travel documents
- BRP issues
- Family reunion applications and appeals
- Applications for permission to appeal
- Errors in law preparation and hearing
Our legal team is here to support asylum seekers in making claims and finding safety and security in the UK. Just give us a call at 0121 667 6530 or online to get help today with your permission to work application!
Last modified on November 15th, 2023 at 9:54 am
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