Symbol Of Law And JusticeAsylum is the permission given to a person to stay in another country because they might be at risk of being persecuted in their own country should they remain or return there.The UK abides by United Nations rules and regulations that aim to protect refugees/asylum seekers. A person who has asked for asylum in the UK is called an asylum seeker and whilst they are waiting for a decision on their asylum claim they will be entitled to stay in the UK, even if they first entered the country illegally.

Seeking asylum

To be recognised as a refugee who is seeking asylum, you must have left your country and be unable to return because you fear genuine persecution due to your:

  • race
  • religion
  • nationality
  • political opinion
  • membership of a social group

It is the UK Border Agency who decides on all asylum claims. You should book an appointment to visit an Asylum Screen Unit. When you book the appointment you will need to provide some initial information about your circumstances and your contact details. You can also ask for an interpreter on the telephone to help book the appointment or in the screen unit when you attend.

The interview process

When you attend the appointment at the unit you will be interviewed or ‘screened’. You should take your passport, certificates and any other supporting documentation with you, as they are required by the screening officers to determine your identity and nationality. After the screening process is complete and if the officers determine that your application can be concluded quickly you may be detained and placed in the Detained Fast Track process. If you are not detained you will be given an Application Registration card that shows you have made an application for asylum.

At the screening, the person who has interviewed you will be your caseworker for the entire asylum application process. They will be your main point of contact to the Border Agency during the process and will inform you of what is involved. Your caseworker will:

  • manage welfare support and accommodation for you
  • make the decision on your application
  • help you to integrate into the UK following a successful appeal
  • help you arrange your return to your own country, if your application fails

Usually after a week after meeting your caseworker, you will be required to attend a full interview with them. It is in this interview you will have the opportunity to explain why you fear persecution if you return to your own country. It is important to be truthful and explain every matter to the caseworker, as this will be your only opportunity to do so before they make a decision. After the interview and whilst you are waiting for a decision, you will be expected to report back to the Border Agency regularly to see your caseworker.

Your caseworker decides each case on its own facts and application. You should expect a decision roughly 30 days after you submit your application.

A successful application

If your application is successful, you will be recognised as a refugee and given an immigration document that will allow you to stay in the UK for up to 5 years. After the five years if it is still unsafe for you to return to your own country, you may apply for ILR status to remain in the UK. 

An unsuccessful application

If your claim for asylum is unsuccessful, then an appeal can be made. If you choose not to appeal, you will be asked to make arrangements to leave the UK within the time period stated by your caseworker. If you do not leave the country voluntarily, the Border Agency will be forced to remove you or detain you until you are removed.

Many applicants go through the application process without adequate legal advice and are unfortunately unsuccessful. It is best to consult a legal advisor to get help with the application process to ensure that your claim is successful and that you receive adequate support and help throughout. 

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