In a world marked by conflicts, persecution, and instability, many individuals find themselves in dangerous and oppressive circumstances. Seeking refuge and the chance for a better life, people from these troubled regions often look to migrate to countries that offer safety and the prospect of a dignified existence. Unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom has emerged aspopular destination for those in search of asylum.
In this article, we will discuss what you need to know to get asylum in the UK. Join us as we shed light on the crucial steps, documentation needed, and other considerations that would help you speed up the application process.
- What Is Asylum?
- Who Qualifies for Asylum?
- What Documents Are Required To Apply
- Making the Asylum Claim
- Reaching a Decision
- Appealing The Decision
- A Fresh Start in the UK
What Is Asylum?
Asylum is the legal status granted to individuals who have fled their home countries due to persecution or the fear of harm. It provides protection and the right to seek refuge in the United Kingdom.
Who Qualifies for Asylum?
Moving to the UK is subject to strict migration rules, but the country does accept individuals who are seeking asylum due to persecution in their country of origin.
So, how does the asylum process work? To seek asylum, individuals must arrive in the UK and demonstrate their inability to return to their home country due to a genuine fear of persecution. The grounds for persecution can be based on various factors, including:
- Political opinion
- Other social factors, such as gender or sexual orientation
If the applicant can establish a credible claim of persecution on any of these grounds, they can proceed with the asylum application. Once the application is made, it undergoes careful consideration by caseworkers from the Home Office. During the “screening stage,” they will assess the claim and determine whether the individual qualifies to stay in the UK as a refuge.
Why You May Not Be Eligible?
While seeking asylum is a viable option for many individuals, there are certain scenarios that may affect the eligibility of an asylum claim. These include:
- Being from an EU country
- Arriving in the UK via a ‘safe third country’
- Having connections to a “safe third country” where asylum could be claimed
A ‘safe third country’ is one where the person is not a citizen and where they will not be harmed or sent to another unsafe country.
Family members can be included in the asylum application, providing an opportunity for them to seek protection together. This typically includes the applicant’s partner or spouse and any dependent children under the age of 18. If the asylum application is successful, the family members are granted the right to stay in the country for the same duration as the primary applicant. This ensures that families can remain united and receive the necessary support and protection during their time in the UK.
What Documents Are Required To Apply
At the “screening” meeting, the applicant must bring documents for themselves, their partner, and dependents. These documents include:
- Travel documents and passport
- ID documents such as ID cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and school records
- Anything else that could support the asylum claim
If a person is already living in the UK and in their own accommodation, they must bring documents to prove their name and address. These documents will include things such as:
- Tenancy agreements
- Bank statements
- Household bills (e.g., gas, electric, water bills)
- Council tax letters
- Housing benefit statements
If the applicant is living in the UK and in someone else’s home, they will need to produce the following:
- A letter (no more than 3 months old) from the person they are living with to confirm permission to stay at their abode
- Document with the full name and address of the householder (tenancy agreements, council tax letters, or household bills will suffice)
Making the Asylum Claim
An asylum claim is made through the “screening” process. It will take place at the UK border if the application is made as soon as a person arrives in the UK. People coming into the country by air travel will have their “screening” process conducted immediately.
Others who are already in the country (they will have arrived on other visas such as student, visitor, or worker visas) and wish to change their status to that of a refugee will have the “screening” application take place while they live in the UK.
“Screening” at the Border
You will be photographed and fingerprinted as part of the “screening” process. An interview with an immigration officer will take place to check identity and country of origin. You will be asked why you wish to claim asylum.
The application will then be passed onto caseworkers, who will conduct further interviews in the following weeks and months. During this process, if you do not have anywhere to live, arrangements will be made for accommodation. In some instances, people are detained and held in immigration removal centres.
“Screening” in the UK
For individuals already present in the UK, it is necessary to contact the Asylum Intake Unit to initiate the processing of their asylum claims. After making the initial call, they will be contacted by the unit to gather essential information. Those who are without a place to live can also reach out to the Asylum Intake Unit for assistance in securing accommodation at 0300 123 4193. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 9 am until 4.45 pm and Friday from 9 am to 4.30 pm.
The Asylum Intake Unit will then schedule an in-person appointment for a thorough screening. It is crucial to bring all the necessary documents to this appointment. Additionally, both the applicant’s partner and dependents will be required to attend the screening process.
What Happens after the “Screening”?
Arrangements will be made for you to have an interview with a caseworker from the Home Office. During the interview, you will be asked to explain how you are persecuted in your country and why you do not want to return. You are allowed to have legal representation if you wish to.
Reaching a Decision
After the interview with the caseworker, the decision on the asylum case status is made. It can take up to 6 months to conclude. It is a lengthy process because the information provided will need to be verified, and further interviews may need to occur.
People who successfully obtain refugee status will be classified as Group 1 or Group 2.
Group 1 Refugee
If a person meets all the requirements, such as coming from a place of persecution and the application was made without delay, they may be granted to stay in the UK for a minimum of 5 years. After this time, a person can apply to settle in the UK permanently.
Group 2 Refugee
If a person fails to meet all the requirements, they may be given a “temporary refugee permission to stay.” It allows the individual to stay in the country for at least 30 months. The exact length works on a case-by-case basis and the assessment process.
Other Reasons To Stay
Though a person may not obtain refugee status, the Home Office may allow the individual to stay in the country based on other grounds. For example, a person could be allowed to remain in the UK for humanitarian reasons.
Appealing The Decision
If permission to stay in the UK is not granted, all is not lost. You can appeal the decision. The process is long-winded and takes an extended period of time (sometimes years) to conclude. It means an individual will remain in the UK for a prolonged time before they are asked to leave. It is not unusual for circumstances such as the political landscape to change such that failed asylum seekers receive an indefinite leave to remain.
A Fresh Start in the UK
The United Kingdom has long been a sought-after destination for individuals seeking refuge from persecution in their home countries. The sense of security and protection provided by the UK is a compelling draw for many.
A successful asylum application not only grants individuals the opportunity to start anew but also offers them the invaluable gift of personal safety. By embracing the refuge offered by the UK, individuals can embark on a journey towards building a secure and promising future.
With their rights protected and a fresh start ahead, they can leave behind the shadows of persecution and look forward to a life of dignity and opportunity.