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What is the process to claim Asylum in the UK?

If you are in the UK and you want to remain as a refugee because you think it is unsafe to return to your country, you should claim asylum in the UK. Asylum seekers apply to remain in the UK on the ground of their situation as a refugee, meaning they do not apply based on their family, work, or studies in the UK.

Refugee status is defined under Article 14(1) of the 1948 Universal declaration on Human Rights and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. A refugee is a person who is unable return and live safely in their country of origin, due to persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or anything else that could put them at a serious risk or harm. This status is the major eligibility requirement for the asylum seeking, meaning that must be impossible for the asylum claimant to live with any degree of safety in their home country because of the persecution they may face there and the failure of the government to protect them.

The process for claiming asylum in the UK has four phases:

  1. Register your claim for asylum

  2. Attending the screening

  3. Attending the asylum interview

  4. Receive a decision

Step 1: Register your claim for asylum in the UK

If your personal situation meets the one described above, you should make your application as soon as you arrive in the UK, or as soon as you are aware of the situation in your country of origin if you are already in the UK. It is highly recommended that you don't delay the application, because it is more likely to be denied the longer you wait.

If you are entering to the UK, you should tell the border official that you are making a claim for asylum. If you are already in the UK and are worried about returning to the situation back in your home country, you should contact the screening unit in Croydon to register your asylum claim. Either way, you must register your asylum claim at a ‘screening’, which is a meeting or interview with an immigration officer where you discuss your situation.

You should have your passport or travel documents with you at the time of the screening to evidence your identity, along with other supporting documents of the situation in your country of origin and how it affects yourself. Therefore, in addition to your passport, you should have your police registration certificate, identity documents and evidence of the risk of persecution you would face if you returned to your home country. If you are already in the UK, you should also provide proof of your UK address, such as a bank statement or household bills.

Can I register a claim for asylum for my dependents?

If you are accompanied by any dependants, like your partner and any dependent child, you should add them to your application for asylum. However, they must have accompanied you to the UK. Alternatively, they can make their own applications for asylum, in which case they will not be treated as dependants.

Step 2: Attending the screening for asylum

You should attend the screening on the date and time arranged with your documents and accompanied by any dependants who are also claiming with you.

What happens at the screening for asylum claims?

At the screening meeting, your biometric information (photograph and fingerprints) will be taken and you will be expected to provide your Passport and other supporting documents. You can ask for an interpreter to be present at the screening if you do not feel comfortable speaking English.

You will be asked about your reasons for claiming asylum, to confirm your identity, your medical history and any medication you are taking, and to give details of any dependants (partner and children under 18 years old) who have accompanied you. If the screening unit is not completely satisfied that you are a lawful asylum seeker, for example because of a lack supporting documents, they may issue a Section 120 One Stop Notice, which is an opportunity to provide grounds which may not have been submitted during the screening. The grounds submitted on a Section 120 Notice are vital as they can potentially trigger a right of appeal if they are strong enough to support your case.

What happens after the screening appointment?

After the screening, you will be informed on what to do while your claim is being processed. An Asylum Registration Card (ARC) will be sent to your address, and it will show your identity and whether you can work in the UK. You can use the ARC to Access health and education services. While your claim is being processed, you will have assigned a caseworker who may contact you in relation with your application. Failure to keep contact with your caseworker could mean detention.

Step 3: Attending the asylum interview

The purpose of the interview is to provide you with a chance to explain the prosecution you would face in your country of origin, and why you feel your life would be at risk if you go back there. You should go with all the evidence which could evidence that prosecution, along with your ARC and other medical records, where possible. Your dependants will not be able to attend the interview with you, but you could ask for an interpreter and/or legal advice to attend the interview with you.

Step 4: Receiving a decision on your asylum claim

It may take 6 months or more to receive an asylum decision. Once you have applied, you have the right to remain in the UK while your application is being processed, you can live at your usual address or seek support under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This support can provide asylum seekers with ongoing applications that are (or are about to becoming) destitute, with a minimal accommodation and financial support. If you are granted with section 95 support, once your refugee status is granted you have 28 days to find another place to live in.

Types of Asylum Decisions

Approved permission: Where your application was successful, and you will be granted with a Limited Leave to remain in the UK for 5 years as a refugee.

Permission to remain in the UK for humanitarian reasons: Where your application is refused but it is decided it is against the human rights to return you to your home country.

Asylum denied: Your application is refused, and you should leave the UK. You can appeal the decision within 14 days if you are in the UK or within 28 days if you are already outside. Not every decision is subject for appeal.

Get legal advice from the experts

MSD Solicitors are experts in immigration law and visa applications. Our team of experienced immigration lawyers can help answer any of your asylum questions. We also correspond with the relevant legal bodies and provide clarity on Home Office guidance, processes and eligibility criteria. Our dedicated team can help you by ensuring that all documents and supportive evidence are correctly organised. Get in touch today for a free consultation to discuss your case requirements.


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