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Ukrainian Asylum Seekers In The UK: Legal Support

Seeking asylum in the UK can be very complex. Many refugees seek safety in the UK, but Ukrainian nationals are seeking refuge in the country as a result of the war. Luckily, the UK has three schemes specifically for Ukrainians seeking safety.

However, as available as these schemes are, having an immigration lawyer to help with the process can be very beneficial and make the process easier. Here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, our legal team are experts and can help with your asylum claim in the UK. Just call us at 0121 667 6530 to get started.

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    How To Claim Asylum In The UK As A Ukrainian Refugee

    Those who are fleeing Ukraine and seeking asylum in the UK have several options. Those who have friends or family in the UK can also seek help through the Ukraine schemes that the UK offers.

    The UK government has three total schemes to help Ukrainians, and two of these are in support of Ukrainian nationals entering the UK. These are the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

    These schemes are strictly run by the UK government and are not aided by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR UK)

    The Ukraine Family Scheme

    The Ukraine Family Scheme enables those who apply to join family members who already reside in the UK. This is also a suitable scheme for those who are already visiting family members in the UK, enabling them to extend their stay in the UK.

    This scheme is free to apply for, and should the applicant be successful in their application, they will be able to stay in the UK for up to three years. Additionally, they will be able to study and work in the UK and access public funds, such as benefits.

    This scheme is eligible for those who fit the following criteria:

    • The applicant must be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying for this scheme and has been residing in Ukraine on or just before January 1st, 2022.
    • The applicant must be applying to accompany or join family members who are UK-based.
    • The applicant needs to be an immediate family member, extended family member, or immediate family member of an extended family member based in the UK.

    As well as this, the family member who lives in the UK needs to meet at least one of the following requirements:

    • The family member must be a British national.
    • The family member must be an individual settled in the UK. For example, they need to have indefinite leave to remain, settled status in the UK, or proof of having permanent residence in the UK.
    • The family member must be a person from the EU, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, or Norway who has pre-settled status and began living in the UK before January 1, 2021.
    • The family member must have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.

    Note that the family member that the applicant is joining does not need to meet all the above criteria, only one of the above.

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      Applying For The Ukraine Family Scheme

      Applications for the Ukraine Family Scheme need to be made directly to the UK Home Office. This scheme can be applied to inside and outside of the UK in the following ways:

      • Those outside of the UK will need to apply online for the Ukraine Family Scheme. If this is the case, the applicant will need to book and then attend an appointment at VAC (Visa Application Centre). Those who hold valid Ukrainian passports will still need to complete an online application, but there will be no need to attend an in-person appointment at a Visa Application Centre. Those who do not hold a valid Ukrainian passport will have to book and attend a VAC appointment.
      • Those already in the UK will need to apply online for the Ukraine Family Scheme. After this, they will need to book and attend an appointment at a UKVCAS service point (UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services).

      The Homes For Ukraine Scheme

      The Homes for Ukraine Scheme is a scheme that gives Ukrainian asylum seekers a route to safety in the UK if they have no family ties in the UK, but instead if someone in the UK is willing to provide accommodation for at least 6 months.

      Those who enter the UK through this scheme will be allowed to live and work in the UK for up to at least three years and can access the public services available in the UK.

      This scheme is available to those who fit the following criteria:

      • Ukrainian nationals and/or the immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals who were residents in Ukraine before January 1, 2022.
      • Those applying must be outside of the UK and need to have an eligible sponsor based in the UK.

      Applying For The Homes For Ukraine Scheme

      Applications for the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme need to be completed on the UK Government Home Office website.

      If an applicant does not have a sponsor, they can seek out help from Reset or Refugees at Home.

      Sponsoring A Ukrainian Refugee or Asylum Seeker

      Those in the UK who wish to act as sponsors for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme will be matched with a person. Once there is a match, the UK-based sponsor should get in touch with the person directly to fill out the visa application with both details.

      Those who do not know anyone specifically to sponsor but who wish to act as a sponsor can get in touch with charities, such as those mentioned above.

      UK Asylum Claims

      Those who do not apply to one of the above schemes and instead claim asylum in the UK will need to go through another route to stay in the UK as a refugee. To make an asylum claim in the UK, individuals need to prove their inability to return to their home country due to fear of prosecution.

      Those claiming asylum in the UK should apply upon arrival in the UK, or as soon as they believe it to be unsafe for them to return to their home country. Waiting can increase the likelihood of a refusal.

      Upon application, the applicant will have a meeting with an immigration officer, and then the Home Office will decide whether or not the claim can be considered. If the claim can be considered, an asylum interview will be conducted with a caseworker.

      Once a decision is made on your claim, you will be informed.

      The Screening Process

      Overview

      The registration of an asylum claim is done at the screening interview. This interview will be conducted as a meeting with an immigration officer, during which the applicant informs them of their case.

      This interview is conducted at the UK border, as long as the applicant registers to claim asylum as soon as they arrive in the UK, which is highly recommended. The applying individual can also be screened for asylum once they enter the UK if they become eligible to do so.

      At the screening interview, asylum seekers should expect the following:

        • Have their photo taken (biometrics).
        • Have their fingerprints taken (biometrics).
        • Have an interview that will check over who the individual is and where they are from.

      During the interview, the immigration officer will ask why the individual wishes to claim asylum. It is beneficial to bring written evidence to this interview to support the claim, as well as supporting documents.

      During this process, the applicant will need to inform the immigration officer if they, or any of their dependents, are taking any medication and provide relevant medical information regarding this.

      Screening Conducted At The UK Border

      If applying upon arrival in the UK, the applicant needs to tell a Border Force office that they intend to claim asylum. The application will be registered, and the individual will be screened at this point. If an interpreter is required, be sure to ask for one at this point.

      Screening Conducted In The UK

      If the individual making an asylum claim is already in the UK, they need to call up the asylum intake unit. They will then call the applicant back and ask some basic questions regarding them and their family. At this point, the applicant will not be questioned regarding the reasons for claiming asylum during this stage.

      At this point, the individual may be asked whether or not they need assistance with housing and may even be asked questions regarding Covid-19.

      The call should take 30 minutes, and the number to call for this is 0300 123 4193.

      If the applying individual has nowhere to live, they do not need to make an appointment; instead, they can call up the asylum intake unit to find out which asylum registration location they should attend as well as its opening hours.

      If any dependents on the claim need to be present at any stage of the applicant’s registration for asylum, then the primary applicant will need to inform the asylum intake unit of this. This includes welfare interviews if the applicant is a child and needs to be accompanied. It is also possible to ask for an interpreter at the screening.

      Be aware that appointments may be at temporary locations.

      The Appointment

      If the applicant is helping a child register their asylum claim, only the child and applicant can attend their appointment with them. It is best to be prepared for an application also, and therefore, applicants should be sure to prepare any documents needed for the application and bring them to the appointment.

      Applicants who have dependents applying with them need to bring these dependents along with them. This includes children under 18 years of age or a partner.

      Do not show up without an appointment booked, as you may be asked to come back another day. Also, it is not possible to get financial aid for assistance in travelling to or from an asylum intake unit.

      Documents Required

      It is essential to ensure that all documents required are prepared for an asylum screening interview. Applicants should prepare all relevant documents for themselves and any dependents applying alongside them.

      The documents that should be brought along to an asylum screening interview (if you have them) are as follows:

      • Passports and travel documents.
      • ID documents, such as ID cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and school records.
      • Any documentation that will aid in the application process and help you prove your case

      Documents To Prove UK Address If Already In The UK

      Those who are already in the UK, with or without dependents, will need to bring along documentation to prove their address in the UK. Different documents will be required depending on whether the applicant is living in their accommodation or if they are staying with someone else.

      Those who are living in their accommodations will need to provide the following documentation:

      • Bank statements.
      • Housing benefit books.
      • Tenancy agreements.
      • Council tax notice.
      • Household bills.

      Those who are living with someone else will need to provide the following documentation:

      • A recent letter that is less than three months old from the person that the applicant is staying with confirms that the applicant has this person’s permission to stay.
      • Documents that show the full name and address of the individual that the applicant is staying with could be a council tax notice, a tenancy agreement, or a household bill.

      What Happens After You Make An Asylum Claim?

      After the applicant has attended their screening appointment and made their claim, the Home Office will review their case and then decide whether or not it is eligible to be considered in the UK.

      At this point, the applicant will be sent an asylum registration card to their address in the UK, unless they have been detained. If the Home Office is not able to send an ARC (Asylum Registration Card) straight away, they will instead send an appointment letter, which will disclose what needs to be done next.

      It is also possible that the applicant may be sent an asylum questionnaire. If this is received, it should be filled in and returned by the deadline noted. Both the return address and deadline for it to be returned should be written on the letter that comes with the questionnaire.

      If it is not possible to fill it in, the applicant should call the Home Office asylum team; the phone number for this will also be disclosed in the letter.

      The Home Office will then contact you regarding your asylum claim. Be sure to inform the Home Office of any contact details changes by updating this information on an online form.

      If your case is eligible to be considered in the UK, it will then be given to a caseworker.

      Your Rights As An Asylum Seeker In The UK

      As an applicant for an asylum case in the UK, you have certain rights. These rights are as follows:

      • Asylum seekers in the UK have the legal right to be treated fairly and lawfully regardless of gender, age, race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.
      • Asylum seekers in the UK have the right to practise their religion and, in turn, are expected to show respect for others and other faiths.
      • Asylum seekers in the UK have the right to have their applications considered accurately and fairly.
      • Asylum seekers in the UK have the right to access free healthcare from the NHS (National Health Service).
      • Asylum seekers in the UK have the right to have legal representation. Free legal help may be available depending on the individual case and income of the individual. A designated caseworker can inform on this more thoroughly.

      What Are The Steps Once You Are Given A Refugee Status?

      Overview

      Those who claim asylum successfully will be granted refugee status, and therefore the asylum support and types of section 4 support will stop 28 days after this decision has been made. This means that those who obtain refugee status will:

      • Stop receiving a cash allowance.
      • Need to move houses if they have been given somewhere to live as asylum seekers.

      Once they have obtained refugee status, they will be permitted to work in the UK. They will be able to work in any profession and at any skill level. If they are not ready or able to look for work, or if they have little or no income, they can apply to get benefits instead.

      Refugees will also need to consider opening a bank account and getting a national insurance number. Once the individual is granted migrant status, the Home Office will inform an organisation called ‘migrant help’, which is an organisation that can help those in need find housing, get benefits, and arrange an appointment with the jobcentre to obtain work. Migrant Help will contact an individual within a working day of being informed of a migrant’s status.

      Finding A Home

      If an applicant has been living somewhere as a part of asylum support, they will be required to move within 28 days of being given refugee status. If they are already living with family or friends, there is no need to move.

      To get help obtaining housing, an applicant can contact their local council or housing office. The Home Office will not provide refugees with accommodation, but a local council can inform individuals of their options.

      The ability to stay in the same area is dependent on how long they have lived there, if they have family in the area, and the risk of homelessness. There are often waiting lists, however.

      Working

      Those who are ready to look for work can search online and can also receive assistance if they apply for benefits

      Benefits Claims

      Some refugees are entitled to benefits. The options include:

      • Universal Credit: For those who are unemployed.
      • Pension Credit: For those over the state pension age.
      • Housing benefits: for help in paying for rent over the state pension age or in supported or temporary housing.
      • Refugee integration loans: to pay for rent deposits, household items, training for work, and education.

      A national insurance number is required to claim benefits, however. When first claiming asylum, applicants will have applied for one. This is a series of numbers and letters that are necessary to register with a doctor and to pay taxes.

      If you have any questions about claiming asylum in the UK as an Ukrainian, our team is here to help. Contact Us

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        What Happens If An Asylum Claim Is Denied?

        If, after the screening interview, your case is defined as not being eligible to be considered, you will be sent to a safe country, which may consider your claim. This may occur if the applicant has travelled to the UK via a safe additional country or if there is a connection with another country.

        A safe country is defined as one that:

        • The applicant is not a citizen of.
        • The applicant will not be harmed.
        • Won’t send the applicant to another country where they would suffer harm.

        However, if, after the process, the applicant is believed to have no reason to stay, they will be asked to leave the UK. This means they do not qualify for refugee status, and there is no other reason for a need to stay. It is possible to appear against this. If the applicant does not appeal in the timeframe allowed, or if the appeal is not successful, the applicant will have to do one of the following:

        • Leave by themselves, with aid in returning home.
        • They may be forced to leave; they will first receive a letter before this occurs; and they may be detained without warning.

        How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help You

        Many Ukrainians use the routes available to them specifically to seek safety in the UK. However, if this is not possible for you, it is possible to seek out an asylum claim.

        Here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, we can help people fleeing Ukraine with all the following aspects of an asylum case:

        • Asylum applications and appeals.
        • Detained casework.
        • Bail, including SoS applications, tribunals, and renewals.
        • Fresh claims.
        • Permission to work applications.
        • Travel documents.
        • BRP issues.
        • Family reunion applications and appeals.
        • Applications for permissions to appeal.
        • Errors in law preparation and hearings.

        For help from our legal team or to speak to a legal representative or immigration advisor, contact us today at 0121 667 6530.

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