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ASYLUM, HUMANITARIAN PROTECTION & REFUGEES

Legal Centre lawyers can assist you to understand if you have a valid asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave claim.

To successfully seek asylum you must match the definition of a refugee as set out in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees (RC 1951). This stipulates that you must have a well founded fear of persecution in your country of nationality on the basis of at least one of five grounds.  These grounds are race, religion, nationality, member of a social group and political opinion.  It is the last ground that obviously relates to your case.  Your success will depend on whether the Home Office believes your account and whether they believe that there is a reasonable risk that you will receive some form of serious harm, rather than just some harassment and relatively minor intimidation if you are returned to the country you fled from.  If they do not believe you they will refuse your claim.  You will though have right of appeal in front of an independent adjudicator.  Again, much will depend on whether he or she believes you.

The burden of proof is on you to show that you will face persecution if returned to the country you fled from.  However, the standard of proof is relatively low as you merely have to show that there is a real risk or serious possibility of it occurring.

You will also be able to claim under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as you have an absolute right of freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.  The ECHR also gives you a right of freedom of security and a right to privacy and family life, although these rights can be restricted with some valid justification. Again your credibility will be at issue, and your rights under the ECHR will be assessed together with your asylum claim. Both these claims overlap significantly and in the majority of cases, if you fail in your claim under the 1951 Convention you will also fail under the ECHR.

If you are ultimately successful in your asylum claim under current UK government policy you will be given a limited leave to remain valid for 5 years. On completion of those 5 years your case will be reviewed. Then you may be granted indefinite leave to remain. This basically gives you the right to live, work, study and claim benefits on the same basis as a British Citizen.  Please be aware though that you can lose your refugee status if you return to the country you fled from or leave the UK for more than 2 years or commit a serious criminal offense.

Asylum and Humanitarian Protection Applications

The UK remains one of the top countries for asylum seekers. It will be wrong to state that the country specifically invites asylum seekers, but the fact that the recognized refugees get the right to legally remain in the UK, work, get free health services and education, can have their families join them in the UK stands for itself.

Legal Centre can represent you at any level of your asylum application in the UK. Please do not hesitate to speak to our specialist lawyers for immediate assistance and representation in relation to your asylum claim in the UK.

Applying for asylum in the UK

When you apply for asylum in the United Kingdom (UK), you are asking the authorities to recognize you as a refugee as defined by a piece of international law called the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (RC 1951). Whether or not you qualify for protection under the Refugee Convention will depend on whether you have a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’ because of your race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Alternatively, you may have other humanitarian or compelling reasons why you need to stay in the UK, the denial of which may violate your human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Your legal representative should be able to tell you whether this applies to you. Asylum and human rights laws are complex. It is vital that you get good legal advice and representation. When you apply for asylum, the authorities will refer to you as an ‘asylum seeker’.

Who deals with asylum applications?

In the UK, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) at the Home Office is the government body responsible for interviewing asylum applicants, and assessing their asylum applications.

How do I apply for asylum?

You can apply for asylum:
  • to the immigration officer on arrival at the port of entry, for example, at an airport or seaport. If you apply for asylum in this way you are a port applicant
  • you can also apply for asylum in person at the nearest Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND)  office in Croydon or Liverpool after you have entered the UK. You may, for example, have entered the country illegally or legally on a student, visitor or business visa. Anyone applying for asylum in this way is called an in-country applicant.
What happens when I apply for asylum?

The procedure for considering your asylum application depends on whether you are a port or an in-country applicant. Steps described below can vary depending on where you apply for asylum and whether you have applied without any delays.

Screening interview

When you apply for asylum, the immigration authorities will carry out a short screening interview with you. During this interview, they will want to find out your personal details and how you entered the UK. They will take your fingerprints and a photo of you. At this stage, you should not be asked to give details about why you want to apply for asylum. But if you have already been in the UK for some time and you are applying for asylum, they can ask you about why you are applying. At the screening interview, the authorities will check:
  • if you have a valid document with your name and nationality written on it, and with which you entered the UK. This could be a passport or other identity document. If you have such a document, you must take it with you to the screening interview. Please also take documents for each member of your family, including children. If you don’t have a valid identity document, the authorities will ask why not. If you fail to provide a reasonable explanation you may be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. If you find yourself in this situation you need to contact a legal representative immediately. Please note that not all asylum seekers who do not have a valid identity document are charged. It is important that you explain in as much detail as possible why you do not have one.
At the screening interview, the authorities will also consider the following:
  • They will check if another country, not the UK, may be responsible for considering your asylum application
  • They may decide that they can deal with your asylum application quickly. If this is the case, the authorities may move you to the Oakington Reception Centre until they make initial decision on your case. Or, they may move you to the Harmondsworth Removal Centre (or to Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre if you are a woman) until your asylum case is completely dealt with
  • They will check if you applied for asylum as soon as you could after your arrival in the UK, and if you cooperated with the authorities when they made enquiries about you. If the answer if ‘no’, the authorities are likely to refuse your application for help with accommodation and living expenses. For more information on how you can apply for government support see leaflet entitled
Applying for asylum support (NASS)

At the screening interview, the authorities will take notes. You have the right to ask for copies of the interview notes and do not have to sign them if you disagree with what has been written.In addition, the following is likely to happen:
  • All your personal details, fingerprints and photograph are put on your application registration card (ARC). Your name is on the card and the card proves that you are an asylum seeker in the UK. The card also confirms that you are allowed to remain in the UK while the authorities are considering your asylum application. You must not lose the card or give it to anyone else
  • Some in-country applicants and all port applicants get a letter called IS96. It means that you have been admitted temporarily to the UK while the authorities are deciding on your asylum application
  • The authorities should inform you within 15 days about services to which you may be entitled. They should also give you information about non-governmental organizations which you can go to for advice and details of other organizations providing legal assistance.After the screening interview, the authorities may tell you to report for ‘induction’ to receive vital information you need to know about the asylum process and what your rights and responsibilities are while you are in the UK. You can get induction information by staying at a special centre for a week or two, or by attending a one-day induction programme run by refugee agencies
Asylum interview

Following the screening interview, the authorities will ask you to attend a longer interview to ask you about your asylum application. Before this interview the authorities may give you a statement of evidence form (SEF) which gives you an opportunity to put your case in writing. You must complete and return the form within ten working days. The form is complex and you should ask a legal representative to help you complete it. If you complete the form in your own language, you will still have to provide a written English translation. If the authorities do not give you a statement of evidence form, it means that they will instead decide on your asylum application using information you give them at an interview.

With the SEF form, the authorities may give you another form called a “one-stop notice”. You must complete this form if you think that there are other humanitarian or compassionate reasons why you should stay in the UK, which are not related to your claim for asylum.During the interview, the authorities will ask about all your reasons for applying for asylum. They will also compare what you say during your interview with what you have already written down on the statement of evidence form - if you get one - and on the ‘NASS’ form that you completed when you applied to the National Asylum Support Service for help with accommodation and living expenses.

It is important that you give as much detail about your asylum application as possible. You should submit any additional evidence, for example medical records or newspaper reports relating to what happened to you in your country. It is very important that any information and evidence that you give to the authorities is not contradictory and supports your claim.

Our specialist lawyers can attend your asylum interview if instructed so by you. If no legal representative is present during your interview, you can ask the authorities to tape-record it. You should tell them 24 hours before the interview if you want the interview tape-recorded. They will make two copies of the tape, one of which they will give to you and which you can then give to your legal representative.

Detention and reporting

The authorities have the power to detain some asylum seekers but they must show that your detention is necessary. Very often, the authorities detain people if they think they can decide on their asylum application quickly or if they think the person will not stay in touch with them. If the authorities decide to detain you, they must tell you in writing why they are detaining you. You may be able to challenge this decision. You should get legal advice to try to negotiate your release. Our specialist lawyers can fully represent you with any detention issues.

If you are given temporary admission, the authorities will expect you to report regularly to a reporting centre. It is important that the authorities can contact you when they make an asylum decision or if they want to see you.

What happens while I wait for a decision?

The authorities say that they aim to decide on asylum applications within two months. It is important that during this time you inform the authorities if your address changes. You can do so yourself or you can instruct us to do it on your behalf. You must attend all the interviews that the authorities ask you to attend. You must complete and return any forms which the authorities give you within the prescribed time limit. Failing to do so may mean that the authorities will refuse your asylum application because you did not comply with their requirements.

If the authorities refuse your asylum application, you will be able to appeal against the refusal, although some asylum seekers will only be able to appeal once they have left the UK. It is important that you contact your legal representative immediately to help you lodge an appeal because you will have to do so within a strict time limit.

Legal Centre’s specialist lawyers can help you with the necessary paperwork and representations that will be needed to ensure that your application meets the essential requirements.

We provide specialist advice and representation on all aspects of your proposed application on privately funded basis. Our lawyers are experienced immigration specialists, who are qualified to the highest level with the Office of Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC). As such we can provide a comprehensive service that is second to none that includes advocacy before Asylum & Immigration Tribunals.

The above options are not exhaustive as we treat every client's case individually. Please do not hesitate to book a phone, Skype or office consultation with us for a professional immigration advice and possible further representation before the UK Border Agency or the First Tier or Upper Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (FTT/UTT IAC).

We offer same day/instant Skype or phone consultations.

You can book your initial Skype or phone consultation with us via the following link: Legal Centre Skype or Phone Consultations