Our Immigration team share their most frequently asked questions when it comes to aslyum applications and their recommendations.
Can I apply for asylum in the UK if I am outside of the UK?
No. You can only make a claim for asylum if you are in the UK.
Can I apply for asylum at any time if I am in the UK?
You can make a claim for asylum at any point either on arrival or after arrival in the UK. However, you will be expected to make the application as soon as practically possible for you to do so once you are aware that you need to claim asylum.
Can I include my family members who are with me in the UK on my claim?
Your family members can make their own claim or you can include them on your claim.
On what grounds can I claim asylum?
You can claim asylum in the UK if you fear returning to your home country or usual country of residence. The basis of your fear must be that you will be at serious harm if you return. The basis of the serious harm has to be one of the Refugee Convention reasons listed below:
- Political opinion
- Membership of a particular social group.
Are there any other conditions that I need to meet in order to be granted refugee status?
Yes. The Home Office have to be satisfied that you will be at risk of harm in your home country and that the state authorities of your home country cannot or will not protect you from that harm.
In some cases, the Home Office may expect you to move to another area of your home country if they think you would be safe there. The Home Office will also assess whether there is any other safe third countries that you could be returned to.
If I claim asylum what happens to my rights to stay in the UK while my claim is being considered?
Whilst your asylum claim is being considered you will not be expected to leave the UK.
If you have ‘leave to remain’ at the time you apply in another category, your leave will usually continue until the asylum claim has been decided. On some occasions the Home Office will curtail your leave and you will be here solely on the basis of you seeking asylum. You should seek advice from a solicitor if this happens.
Can I work whilst I claim asylum?
No. Unless you already have been granted permission to work in the UK in another category and that status continues. It is possible to request permission to work if your claim has not been decided after 12 months but the type of work you will be able to do will be restricted.
As an asylum seeker am I entitled to any public funds?
No, but you may be eligible for financial support and accommodation support from the Home Office whilst your claim is pending. This is referred to as Asylum Support. An application for Asylum support can be made at the same time as your asylum claim.
How do I make a claim?
The Home Office insist that all asylum claims are made in person at their asylum screening units. The usual place to attend is the asylum screening unit at Lunar House, Croydon.
The first step usually is to ring the Home Office Asylum Intake Unit and book an appointment. Although it is possible to turn up without an appointment it is easier if you have an appointment booked
What happens when I make my claim?
You will attend the Home Office asylum screening unit and initially an officer there will take details of your name, family, dates of birth, country of origin and arrival in the UK and will ask you to confirm that you are claiming asylum. Brief details will be taken.
After that,you will be asked at some point to attend a full interview where you set out in advance the basis for your claim and you will be asked questions about it. This could be some weeks or months after you have made your claim.
Can I be detained if I claim asylum?
Yes the Home Office can detain you and in some cases can keep you detained whilst they consider your claim. You may be able to obtain immigration bail if you are detained. (link to FAQ’s on bail here?)
How long does it take for an asylum claim?
There is no set time limit for asylum claims to be decided. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic the Home Office were taking many months, if not more than a year, to arrange for asylum interviews to take place and for decisions to be reached. During that time you will remain lawfully in the UK but you will not, in most circumstances, be able to work or leave the country.
What if my asylum claim is accepted?
If the Home Office accept your claim they will grant you and possibly your family members, five years’ leave to remain as a refugee. The Home Office have introduced changes which impact on the status you will be given and the conditions of your leave, depending on when you claimed asylum and how you entered the UK. It is important to take specialist advice on this.
You will be eligible for a Refugee Travel Document, which will be valid for you to travel out of the UK to countries other than your home country from which you fled. Once you have completed five years as a refugee you and your dependent family members may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence).
What if my asylum claim is refused?
If your claim is refused you are likely to have a right of appeal to an immigration judge in the UK. In certain circumstances your right of appeal will be limited to being exercised once you leave the UK. If that is your position you should take urgent legal advice.
What if I have had an asylum claim refused previously and there are new grounds for me to make a new case?
You are entitled to make a fresh claim for asylum at any point. The claim has to be made through a different part of the Home Office known as the Further Submissions Unit. You will be asked to present evidence and the details of your new claim. The Home Office do not have to accept the new matter as requiring them to make a fresh asylum decision. They will only do so if they are satisfied that your new evidence is materially different from the evidence previously presented, and that there is a realistic prospect of success before an immigration judge taking into account the previous decisions and material. You should take specialist legal advice if this is your position.