Claiming Asylum in the UK

The United Nations Refugee Convention in 1951 granted the right to claim asylum in another country. 146 countries are part of this convention and bound to its regulations under international law. In the UK, the person has the legal claim to asylum if they cannot return to their home country for fear of oppression.

You can claim asylum in the UK if you are facing any of the following situations:

  • You are under duress for leaving your country because of a threat to your life. 
  • You flee your country and are unable to return to your homeland because you will likely be persecuted based on your religion, race, political opinion, or nationality.
  • You are facing persecution in your home country (due to some reason) and require shelter in a country with stricter laws and tighter security. 
  • The authorities in your country are unwilling or unable to protect you from persecution. 

If any of the above situations apply to you, please seek professional guidance immediately. These circumstances meet the criteria set by the UN Refugee convention in 1951, and the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950. Under these, you may be allowed to enter and reside in the UK as a refugee. To obtain refugee status, you need to apply for asylum. 

What does the term “asylum-seeking” mean?

The term is used for an individual that has left their home country due to persecution, and is seeking shelter and refuge in another country. They cannot return to their homeland for fear of being killed. 

The asylum seeker has the right to request humanitarian protection in another country. Once protection or refugee status is received, they now have a specific and internationally recognised right. 

In the UK, you can hold your refugee status for five years, after which they can extend their leave if required. 

Eligibility Requirements to Claim Asylum Claim 

To apply for asylum, you must demonstrate that you are under persecution in your home country and are unable to live there any longer. The UK government has outlined categories persecution is based on. These include race, religion, nationality, political perspectives, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. 

You must be able to demonstrate that you sought protection from authorities in your own country and were denied. In addition, the persecution must be caused by the authorities or by a group of individuals sanctioned by the authorities, implicitly or explicitly.

There are certain factors in which your asylum claim may be denied – travelling from another EU country, or travelling through another country on the way to reach the UK. These are new rules to the Immigration Law since Brexit. With a refused asylum claim, the person may be forcibly deported from the country depending on the case. Or they may be allowed to return to their homeland on their own. 

We recommend that you contact Royce Legal Solicitors for accurate and comprehensive advice on your asylum claim. Speak to our specialist Immigration solicitors to know more about asylum claims uniquely for your situation. 

How to Register an Asylum Claim

It is imperative that you register your asylum claim following your arrival in the UK. The asylum application process is lengthy. The initial asylum claim should be made based on leaving your country of origin with the impossibility of returning to it due to the threat of persecution endangering your life. 

If an initial asylum claim is not made immediately on arrival, your application could be denied. The Home Office may conclude that you are not in life threatening danger.

Once you have notified the Border Force Officials for asylum protection, a meeting with an immigration officer will be held. It is known as the “screening interview.” These meetings are held in person. The officials will take a record of your fingerprints and photograph and discuss why you want to claim asylum.  It registers your asylum claim, and your case will be forwarded to the Home Office for review. If successful, it will be followed by an “asylum substantive interview.”

You can attend this interview with a caseworker. It is your opportunity to explain your reason for claiming asylum. You have the right to bring an immigration solicitor with you to this meeting, and we recommend you take one of Royce Legals’ due to our experience and expertise in this field. 

The decision on your application will take roughly six months from the date of appointment. During these six months, you will not be allowed to work. In certain circumstances, you can be detained while waiting on a decision. You have the right to appeal if your asylum claim application is refused.

Royce Legal Solicitors offers legal guidance on asylum cases in the UK. Contact us for support with your claim. Asylum law is a complex area of immigration law and requires navigation by a specialist immigration lawyer.

What happens at an asylum screening?

Asylum screening is the first step towards claiming asylum in the UK. The process is different depending on where you seek asylum, at the UK Border or through an appointment at the asylum intake unit. 

The screening interview builds a record for you:

  • biometric information such as fingerprints and pictures;
  • background information;
  • your immigration status; 
  • health or medical needs;

You must provide accurate answers for all. Please ask for a copy of the interviewers’ notes at this time. Questions may include name, date of birth, languages, nationality and home country, ethnic background or group, race, religious beliefs, employment details and family. These answers will be backed up by tangible proof, such as your passport or birth certificate. The border official will also ask the reason for seeking asylum in the UK and what persecution you have been facing in your home country. 

At best, the interview lasts an hour or two. The information will categorise your case into one of the following: 

  • non-detained general casework, 
  • Detained non-suspensive appeal: it means that the claimant is detained, following the screening interview. They do not have the right to appeal this decision.
  • Unaccompanied minor: if the Home Office believes that the child is under 18, an assessment is conducted. This case will have a substantive interview.

The categorisation of your asylum claim impacts the tone of your case.

The information gathered from this interview will be used by the Home Office to further you into the next step of the process – the substantive interview. Asylum law is immigration laws most multi-faceted areas. It is essential to work with knowledgeable immigration solicitors. Please contact us regarding your asylum claim. Our involvement from the start will work to your benefit. 

What is a substantive interview?

The Substantive Interview provides further evidence by the claimant on why they qualify for international protection. In depth and detailed questions are asked by the Home Office about your background and persecution details. 

The substantive interview is a vital part of the asylum claiming process. It is a lengthy interview lasting four to six hours. You have the right to bring an immigration solicitor with you to this interview as your representative. Interpreters are also available in case of language barriers. 

The interview is recorded. We strongly recommend that you ask for a copy of the recording along with a transcript. The interview is emotionally taxing, and you can request a break at any point during the interview. The home office officials are empathetic and understand that recounting your persecution is a traumatising experience. However, the decision will not be influenced, they will have to remain objective and impartial.

Questions asked at the substantive interview

  • A chronological account of your story
  • Reasons for your asylum claim. 
  • Details of persecution – it is better to provide documentary evidence. If you do not have it, provide as much information about the relevant incident as you can – the people involved, the location and time, your attire, whether authorities were present, whether you reported the violence or were imprisoned, psychological or medical issues and how you left that situation.
  • Dates – Please do not give false information such as wrong dates. If you are uncertain, say so. Your application may suffer if you provide different dates for your story. 

Prepare yourself for this interview with your solicitor. Our immigration team solicitors will discuss your story and advise you on the most effective approach to your specific situation. 

What documents are needed for asylum?

Each stage of the asylum claim requires different documents.

Screening Interview

  • Travel documents/passports
  • Proof of identity (identity cards, birth certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, school records, etc.)
  • registration certificate by the police
  • Any other relevant documents to help your case

If you are making the claim as a resident of the UK, provide proof of your address via the following: 

  • Lease or tenancy contract
  • Letters from your bank
  • Household bills
  • Council tax letters
  • Housing benefit 

Substantive Asylum Interview 

Documentary evidence of your persecution will strengthen your claim. While this may be hard to obtain, it is recommended you provide as much evidence as possible. Documents include:

  • An Arrest warrant
  • A membership card for your political party
  • A newspaper or media article that details your story.
  • Tangible evidence to support your claim.

Please ensure that all evidence is genuine and true. With our solicitor by your side, we will discuss which evidence you should submit to support your asylum process. 

Approval of Asylum Application 

If your asylum claim is approved by the Home Office, it means the following: 

  • Refugee status – stay in the UK for five years with benefits, work and housing. You can apply for the family reunion programme and a travel document followed by ILR after five years. It will let you apply for citizenship a year after. 
  • Humanitarian protection – similar to refugee status, but you cannot apply for a Refugee Convention travel document.
  • Leave to remain – Leave to remain forms include unaccompanied minor, Discretionary Leave or Restricted Leave.

Refusal of Asylum Claim

A refusal does not equate to detention or deportation. You can appeal the decision on the scenario and type of case. 

If the refusal decision does not contain the right to appeal

You can opt for a judicial review. If the judicial review has a positive decision, the case is forwarded to the First-Tier Tribunal. If the outcome is negative, the Home Office will begin your removals process.

If the refusal decision contains the right to appeal

Your case can be submitted to a First-Tier Tribunal. With a positive decision, the status may be granted, with reservations to further appeal this decision. If the decision is negative, the case is submitted to the Upper Tribunal

Upper Tribunal

A positive decision will grant you refugee status, but the Home Office can reconsider its decision. If the decision is negative, there is no right to appeal. A risk of detention or the removal process is involved.

In case of detention, our immigration lawyers provide emergency advice no matter where you are held.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Family Reunion Programme?

This programme is meant for individuals who have fled to the UK and have left their dependents behind, including spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner and minor children.

Only pre-existing family members can apply for a family reunion.

What is the Gateway Protection Programme?

This program is operated by the UK Home Office in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Applications for this programme are made through UNHCR, they, in turn, refer these to the Home Office.

What is Discretionary Leave to Remain?

If you are not given refugee status or humanitarian protection, you can apply for Discretionary Leave to Remain. It is granted in limited circumstances, and it is best to contact an immigration specialist to gain more insight. 

The applicant is assessed on the credibility of their refugee status, resettlement needs, security risks, family status and health conditions. Applicants can receive permanent residence in the UK immediately under the Gateway Protection program.

How Can Royce Legal Help?

Royce legal has experienced solicitors ready to advise you. Our services include. High-quality translation and thorough document-checking, giving your case the best chance for a positive decision. We will ensure that your application is at the highest standard before submission. We liaise with the Home Office and prepare a letter of representation for you as well. Contact us now at 01706 655 592 to speak to one of our expert immigration advisers.