An Overview Of Claiming A Political Asylum In The UK
Asylum is the type of protection granted by a country to a non-citizen in its territories. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that every person has the right to seek asylum and have asylum from persecution.
Asylum seekers are individuals who have fled their country to seek asylum somewhere else. This is done practically, safely, and legally, and those seeking asylum must do so as soon as possible.
Alternatively, there are refugees; those who have refugee status are described by the 1951 United Nations Convention as:
‘A person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.’
In the United Kingdom, a person can become a refugee if the UK government agrees that the person who applied for asylum meets the definition outlined in the above convention. The UK government will then recognise this person as a refugee, and they will be issued with adequate documentation.
- An Overview Of Claiming A Political Asylum In The UK
- What Are The Rules For Political Asylum Seekers In The UK?
- How To Claim Political Asylum In The UK
- What Happens After You Claim Asylum?
- Getting Benefits From The Government
- Claiming Asylum And Family Members
- Birmingham Immigration Lawyers Can Help You Claim Asylum
To stay in the UK as a refugee, an individual has to apply for asylum. To be considered eligible, the individual must have left their country and be unable to go back due to a fear of persecution.
Applicants for asylum need to apply when they arrive in the UK or as soon as they believe it is unsafe for them to return to their own country. If the applicant waits before applying, their application has a higher chance of being refused.
When the applicant applies, they will have a meeting with an immigration officer; this process is known as ‘screening’. After this, the Home Office will decide whether or not the claim can be considered in the UK.
To stay in the UK with refugee status, an individual must be unable to live safely in any part of their own country due to a fear of persecution.
This persecution needs to be concerning one of the following:
- The race of the individual.
- The religion of the individual.
- The nationality of the individual.
- The political opinion of the individual.
- Any other factors that put the individual at risk due to the cultural, social, religious, or political situation in their origin country This can include the individual’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Additionally, the applicant must have also failed to get protection from the authorities in their own country.
When A Claim Won’t Be Considered
An individual’s claim for asylum may not be considered if they fit any of the following criteria:
- The individual is from an EU country.
- The individual travelled to the UK via a ‘safe’ third country.
- The individual has a connection to a safe third country where they would be able to claim asylum.
A safe third country can be defined as a country in which:
- The individual is not a citizen of.
- The individual would not be harmed.
- The country would not send the individual to another country where they would not be harmed.
Including Family Members
An asylum-seeking applicant can include their partner or children who are under 18 years of age in an application as dependents if they are with the primary applicant in the UK.
If the application is a success, any dependents that are named on the application will be able to stay in the UK for the same amount of time as the primary applicant can. However, dependents cannot get refugee status unless they make their asylum claim.
When a claim is successful, the applicant is granted refugee status and is protected by the Refugee Convention.
An asylum claim is registered at a screening. This screening is an interview where the applicant meets with an immigration officer and informs the interviewer of their case.
Most asylum seekers will have their screening at the UK border after informing an immigration officer that they wish to make a claim. However, it is also possible to be screened for asylum once the individual has entered the UK if the individual becomes eligible to claim asylum.
At screening, the applicant should expect the following:
- The applicant will have their photograph taken.
- The applicant will have their fingerprints taken.
- The applicant will have an interview that will check over who they are and where they are from.
The applicant will later be asked why they want asylum. It is advisable to bring written evidence that will support the claim if possible. Attempt to bring any additional potential documentation that could be needed as well.
As well as this, the applicant will need to inform the interviewer if they or their dependents are taking any medication and provide all relevant medical information at this point.
Screening Interview At The UK Border
If making an asylum claim upon arrival in the UK (recommended), the applicant should inform the Border Force officer of this upon entry. At this point, the application will be registered, and the applicant will be screened. If the applicant needs an interpreter for this process, it is time to clarify it.
Screening Interview in the UK
Should the applicant wish to make an asylum claim when they are already in the UK, they must call up the asylum intake unit. After this, they will call the applicant back and proceed to ask simple questions regarding the applicant and their family. At this point, it is not expected to be asked the reasoning for the asylum claim.
The applicant will also be asked whether they require assistance with housing. If the applicant has nowhere to live, an appointment is not necessary; instead, a call should be made to the asylum intake unit to find out the location of the most reasonable asylum registration centre and learn its opening times.
Applicants need to inform the asylum intake unit if they need any of the dependents on their claim to be present at any stage of the registration for asylum. This includes welfare interviews, or if the primary applicant is a child who needs to be accompanied.
Applicants need to provide documentation during their screening for themselves and their dependents. Documents that need to be provided include the following:
- A valid passport and/or travel documents
- ID documents such as birth and marriage certificates, identity cards, or school records
- Additional information may help the application succeed.
Those who are already in the UK will need to prove they have a UK address. Depending on their living situation, they may need to provide different documents.
If the applicant lives in their accommodation, they will need to provide documents such as:
- A bank statement.
- Housing benefit book.
- Council Tax Notice.
- Tenancy Agreement.
- Household Bill.
If the applicant is staying with someone else, they will need to provide documents such as:
- A recent letter (under 3 months old) from the person they are staying with confirming they have permission to stay.
- Documents that show the full name and address of the person that the applicant is staying with could include a household bill, a council tax notice, or a tenancy agreement.
After an asylum claim is made and the screening interview is conducted, the Home Office will review the case and decide whether or not the case can be considered in the UK.
The applicant will be sent an asylum registration card to their relevant UK address unless they have been detained.
It is possible that the applicant could be sent an asylum questionnaire. This will need to be filled out and returned by the deadline shown on the letter that comes with the questionnaire. If this is not possible, the applicant should call the Home Office asylum team.
Be aware that the Home Office does contact applicants directly concerning their applications; therefore, if the contact details of the applicant change, the Home Office needs to be informed online.
Claims That Cannot Be Considered
If the applicant’s claim cannot be considered in the UK, they will be sent to a safe country that will consider the claim. This could happen if the applicant travelled through a safe third country to get to the UK or if the applicant has a connection in another country, where they could claim asylum.
However, if the Home Office is unable to place the applicant in another safe country, the case will be considered in the UK instead.
Getting Benefits From The Government
Those who do not have anywhere to live or no money to support themselves in the UK need to inform the Home Office of this when making their claim. At this point, the individual will be entitled to housing and a small amount of money. However, the individual will not be able to state where in the country they will live.
After receiving refugee status via a positive asylum claim outcome, individuals are entitled to benefits. Refugees may be entitled to some benefits in the UK, even though Asylum Support will cease 28 days after the decision is made.
Refugees in the UK can get benefits such as:
- Universal Credit: This is given to the unemployed, those who are too ill to work, and those on a low wage.
- Pension Credit: This is given to those who have reached State Pension age.
- Housing Benefits: This is given to those who need assistance in paying rent, those in temporary or supported housing, or those over the State Pension age.
- Refugee Integration Loans: This can assist in paying rent deposits, household item fees, work training, and education.
Claiming Asylum And Family Members
An application can be made with dependents, such as a partner and children under the age of 18. However, in this case, the dependents do not receive refugee status if the primary applicant does.
Another option is a family reunion. Once an applicant has obtained refugee status and has the right to leave the UK, a family reunion application is viable.
Family unity is a human right. Therefore, if an applicant was separated from their family before or during their fight, the applicant can apply for them to join them in the UK under specified conditions.
However, the success of this type of application depends on the type of legal status that the primary applicant is granted and the nature of the familial relationship.
Family reunion applications can be submitted to the Home Office by individuals who have refugee status or 5 years of humanitarian protection or settlement on grounds of protection in the UK.
However, these applications are only viable for immediate family members, such as spouses and unmarried children who are under the age of 18. Other relatives who are not considered immediate are seen as being ‘extended family members and cannot be brought into the UK this way; however, there are some other options available in these situations.
Those seeking political asylum in the UK as asylum seekers can claim asylum upon entering the country or when already in UK territories. However, asylum applicants need to be aware that the UK asylum system can be complex, and an asylum application can take a while to receive a decision.
Thankfully, immigration lawyers, such as our team at Birmingham Immigration Law, can help you make your claim and more. We offer asylum services to assist you throughout the asylum claim process.
People seeking safety in the UK should always seek legal advice to ensure they have the highest chance of a successful asylum application. Contact us today at 0121 667 6530 to get started!
Last modified on November 14th, 2023 at 10:10 am
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