Asylum Seekers Guide

Claiming asylum

Claiming asylum is a complex matter, and any claims must be made as soon as possible to maximise the chance of success. Claims for asylum should ideally be made at the port which you enter the UK at, but if you have already arrived you will need to approach the Asylum Screening Unit in Croydon.

It is imperative that a solicitor is hired as soon as you begin seeking asylum because there is not much time for you to make your case, and there are many complicated issues you need to understand. If you do not have much money then you could be entitled to some free legal help.

Be aware that at any moment you can be detained by UK Visas and Immigration (who will explain their reasons for doing so). In order to be released you should confer with your solicitor to try and arrange for a release. Sometimes you are detained because the authorities consider your claim for asylum to be straightforward and want to complete it quickly.

Eligibility

In order to be classed as a refugee there is a specific criteria which must be met, focused around you being in danger if you return. You must:

  • fear persecution if you return home
  • fail to have anywhere in your country to live safely
  • fail to have protection from your country’s authorities

Any of these factors should be caused by issues such as nationality, politics, race, religion or being a member of a certain social group which places you at risk, in order to be considered.

Required information

It is imperative that you tell your solicitor everything about your situation so they can explain how likely your case is to succeed, what preparations are needed and how they will be able to assist your claim. They will prepare your case but in order for them to do this you should provide them with the following information:

  • Why you have left your home
  • Why you cannot return to your home
  • When you left your home, and when you arrived in the UK
  • A description of how you got to the UK
  • What information/documents you have already provided to immigration
  • What information/documents you have been given by immigration to fill in and return

Asylum screening

A screening interview with UK Visas and Immigration will be arranged for as soon as possible once you have indicated your intention to claim asylum. Here you will provide personal details (including identification), details on your journey to the UK and have your fingerprints and photograph taken. You receive an Application Registration Card (ARC) to prove you have applied for asylum.

Asylum interview

After your screening you will need to attend a lengthier meeting to thoroughly discuss your situation and present your claim to the authorities. It is necessary to provide as many details as you can to give yourself the best chance of success, and if you falsify anything then you could face prison or deportation. The interviewers will compare your comments to the information you have already provided to ensure that you are not altering your story.

You should ask your solicitor to come with you to this interview, because this stage is essential in obtaining asylum and they will be able to deal with a multitude of issues. If your solicitor is unable to attend with you, then request for the entire interview to be recorded.

Immigration detention

Asylum seekers can be kept in detention centres during their application, appeal, or whilst they wait to be deported. In the UK there is no limit to the length of time someone can be held in a detention centre.

If you are in detention you can apply for bail, which will enable you to stay at a specific UK address and require you to regularly make contact with the Home Office. However, many applications for bail are unsuccessful, so you should hire a solicitor to use their expertise and so give you the best chance of success.

Outcome

You will discover the decision of the authorities within six months normally. If your claim is successful, then you will be granted permission to remain in the UK for up to five years, called ‘leave to remain’. After five years you can apply for permanent residence in the UK.

If your claim for asylum is denied, the caseworker does not believe you meet the requirements and there is no reason for you to remain in the UK. You will therefore face deportation. If this happens you should immediately consult your solicitor for guidance because there is not much time to appeal if they recommend that you do that.

If you do choose to appeal, but it is rejected or not submitted in time, you will be required to leave the UK. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.