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Claiming Asylum in the UK

We understand how complex and important asylum cases can be. Find out how our team of experienced immigration solicitors can support your application for asulym in the UK. 

Claiming asylum is an important human right which is recognised by the United Nations Refugee Convention. Refugees are protected and defined in UK law by The Refugee Conventions 1951, which defines a refugee as:

“someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Eligibility requirements for asylum claims

To seek asylum in the UK, you must meet eligibility requirements to submit a claim. The most important factor is that you must be unable to live in your home country without fear of persecution. This fear of persecution must have been caused by the authorities or governing bodies or a group of individuals who are sactioned by the authorities. This could be either explicitly or implicity. Your fear of persection could be driven by a number of factors including: 

  • your race

  • your religion

  • your nationality

  • your political opinion

  • your gender, gender identity or sexual orientation

  • another factor that will result in persecution because of the social, political, or religious culture in your country


You must be able to evidence that you have tried to seek protection in your own country and that your government or official organisations denied these attempts or failed to keep you safe.

How to claim asylum in the UK

If you need to claim asylum, you can do so as soon as you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country. This means informing an immigration officer at Border Control of your intention to seek asylum in the UK. Following this, you may be asked questions about the validity of your claim in the form of a screening interview. If this doesn't happen on the same day, it will usually happen within 5 days of arriving in the UK. 

If you have already arrived in the UK and wish to claim asylum, you must inform the Home Office of your intention to apply. At this point, you will be asked to attend a screening interview at the Asylum Screening Unit. 

What happens at an asylum screening interview?

At the screening interview, you must bring all relevant documents including your passport or proof of identity. You will usually be asked to explain your reasons for seeking asylum and explain your circumstances in your home country. You may also be asked information about your health status or medical needs. At this stage, the interviewer will not ask in-depth questions about your asylum claim. The purpose of the interview is just to identify you and establish that you meet initial eligibility for a further substantive asylum claim. 


The Home Office will then make a decision on whether your asylum claim can be submitted. If you receive confirmation that you can make a claim, you will then be required to attend a substantive asylum interview with a caseworker.

Substantive Asylum Interview

If you are allowed to make a claim for asylum, you will be asked to attend a substantive asylum interview in person. This interview is your opportunity to explain the reasons why you are claiming asylum. Substantive Asylum Interviews intend to give you a chance to properly explain your circumstances and provide evidence to your support your case. For this reason, the interview could take 4 - 6 hours. The Home Office understands that this process can sometimes be traumatic, stressful and emotional - so you are entitled to ask for a break at any stage throughout the interview. 

You will be asked to provide a detailed account of your story in order of the events as they happened. If you are uncertain about a date, or you are unable to remember, you should say that you are unsure. Your application may be impacted if you provide different dates for your story. If you hold evidence or documents to support your case, it is important to bring them to the interview and outline their importance. 

It is strongly recommended that you bring an experienced immigration lawyer or solicitor with you to this meeting. Asylum cases can often be lengthy and complex, so it is always useful to have an legal expert on your side. If there is a language barrier, you are also entitled to an enterpreter. 

The interviews are recorded as standard, and it is strongly recommended that you seek a copy of the recording and the written transcript following the interview.

Following this interview, you will receive a decision within 6 months from the date of your appointment. In the meantime, you will likely not be allowed to work while your claim is being processed. 

What happens if my asylum claim is refused?

There are circumstances under which your asylum claim may be denied by the Home Office but this does not necessarily reult in deportation or detention. There may be the possibility to appeal the decision or apply for Judicial Review. 

Your decision letter will outline if you are granted the right to appeal. This can be submitted to a First-Tier Tribunal. Here it is important to outline key pieces of evidence which may have been overlooked. 

If you are not granted the right to appeal, you may be able to apply for judicial review. 


Since 1 January 2021, the Home Office reserves the right to assert that a claim for asylum is inadmissible if you passed through another country where you could have claimed asylum after leaving your home country.If you are coming from another EU country, or you have travelled through another country on the way to the UK, your claim may not be accepted under new rules that were introduced since Britain left the EU.

Get legal assistance for your asylum claim

At MSD Solicitors, we are experts on immigration matters. We pride ourselves on subject matter expertise and niche knowledge of Home Office guidance and procedures. We work closely with our clients to ensure that we fully understand the details of your case before providing legal advice and guidance to support your unique circumstances. Our services are always tailored to your individual requirements and we strive to ensure that you are completely satisfied with the support you receive. 

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