The asylum application process

The definition of refugee for the purpose of the Refugee Convention is contained in Article 1(A)(2), as applied by the 1967 protocol.

A Refugee is a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside his country of nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear is unwilling, to avail himself of the protection of that country.

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is a person who claims to be a refugee but whose claim hasn’t been evaluated yet.

This person would apply for asylum on the grounds that returning to his or her country of origin will lead to persecution on account of race, religion, nationality or political belief. Someone is an asylum seeker as long as the application is pending. Given that not every asylum seeker will be recognised as a refugee, it is important to note the distinction between refugee and asylum seeker. A vital part of being recognised as a refugee is the legal process through which the UK Government will determine whether the application is successful or not. The process can be lengthy and complicated and we aim to help our clients through this journey.

What are the challenges to seeking asylum in the United Kingdom?

The UK asylum seeker system is complex and one of the challenges is to provide the evidence required to be granted protection. Many people’s claims are rejected. The initial Home Office decision making is still poor and on many occasions asylum seeker cases are allowed by the courts rather than by the Government. The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year ending June 2019 was, according to the Refugee Council, 40%, and therefore it is important to get assistance from an immigration and asylum solicitor.

At Danielle Cohen Solicitors we are particularly skilled and motivated in assisting with women’s claims. We provide an open and supportive environment for women to give full details of their experiences and to make a successful claim.

Can I apply for asylum in the UK?

If you have come to the UK and you are unable to return to your country for fear of persecution because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or because you are a member of particular social group you may be able to claim asylum in the UK. We are particularly experienced in asylum claims on the basis on sexuality.

What do I need to do to apply for asylum in the UK?

In order to claim asylum successfully in the United Kingdom we have to demonstrate that you have a well-founded fear of persecution. We must prove that you are a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside his country of nationality and is unable or owing to such fear is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.

Read the article Human Rights Claims – on the basis of Homosexuality in Asylum Applications & Appeals by Danielle Cohen in the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association Monthly (April 2018).

How will the case will be prepared?

In order to show that you meet the requirements for refugee status, when preparing your application, Danielle will take a full statement from you to enable you to explain in full your circumstances and the reasons for your fear. She will compile a comprehensive bundle of evidence in support of your claim, including reports from experts in your country of origin and she will offer her advice and assistance throughout the asylum application process. When you claim asylum, you will first have to attend a screening interview, which will be followed a few months afterwards by a substantive interview. Both of these take place at the Home Office and one of the members of Danielle’s team of immigration solicitors will help you to prepare for both of these interviews and accompany you to the interviews on the day.

What are the documents required for asylum in the UK?

After you claim asylum over the phone, you will have a meeting with an immigration officer known as a screening interview.  The documents you must provide are your passports, other identification documents such as birth and marriage certificates and anything else that you think will help your application to be able to prove your fear of persecution.  You also need to provide documents showing your full name and address, such bank statements or Council Tax notices, tenancy agreements or household bills and if you stay with someone else you need to provide a letter from them stating that you have permission to stay. That person should also provide documents showing their full name and address, such as Council Tax Notice or household bills.

How long can asylum seekers stay in the UK?

The Home Office states that an application will usually be decided within six months, but currently, it may take longer.  You are permitted to remain in the UK as long as your application is under consideration and as long as you have an appeal which is outstanding.

What happens if asylum is denied in the UK?

You are able to appeal this decision to the First Tier Tribunal if the Home Office decides to refuse your claim.  The only exception to that is if your application is certified and then the appeal will have to be brought from outside the UK. The Home Office can certify an application if they believe that the claim is clearly unfounded and each claim must be considered on its individual merits.

Are UK asylum seekers allowed to work?

You are generally not allowed to work in the UK whilst your application for asylum is pending.  If you want to get permission to work in the UK you should contact the asylum team considering the case and the same applies for voluntary work.

Are asylum seekers in the UK eligible for Benefits?

You may be able to get housing and money to support you and your family while you are awaiting the outcome of an asylum application.  You can get free state school education and free healthcare from the NHS.  You can apply for short term support if your asylum application has been refused and you are ready to leave the UK.

How long does it take to get an asylum decision after interview in the UK?

The Home Office web site suggests that it usually takes six months, but it may take longer if the case is complicated, for example if supporting documents need to be verified or if you need to attend more than one interview.

What are the Safe Third Country Rules post the Dublin Regulations and Brexit?

  1. The Dublin III Regulations that provided for asylum applicants to be returned to the first EU country they entered no longer apply post-Brexit.
  2. The new rules are complex and appear to rely on non-existent international agreements with other countries to accept asylum applicants from the UK.
  3. There is also published guidance.
  4. There are likely to be legal challenges about this regime, including on the basis of the lengthy delays it will mean to the already very slow asylum process and in particular the impact of any admissibility process for those in immigration detention; vulnerable applicants such as victims of torture and those with mental health issues as well as victims of trafficking.
  5. Leaving the EU does not change the UK’s obligations to offer protection to refugees as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention.  In fact the Government reaffirmed its commitment to the Refugee Convention and said that the UK’s status as a “world leader” in the field of asylum will not change once it is no longer subject to EU laws specifying minimum asylum standards.

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