Asylum Seekers

Introduction to Asylum Seekers And Refugees

Introduction to Asylum Seekers

There are many geopolitical conflicts around the world and many people flee their homes and their own countries for many reasons and seek the protection of the UK government. Persons who seek protection from the UK Government against persecution in their own country are referred to as Asylum seekers.


Under Immigration law, Once an Asylum-seeker’s protection is approved or granted by the Home Office he would acquire the status of a Refugee.

Humanitarian Protection

Asylum seekers UK may also be granted a protection on Human Rights grounds as well, which is commonly referred to as Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave.

Initial Procedure

Anybody in the UK can apply for asylum in UK, irrespective of his/her immigration status, it could be a student, visitor, overstayer even an illegal immigrant with or without any documents. Currently, the Home Office aims to decide a claim within the 1-month time frame.

Asylum seekers UK may have to call the Home Office and book an appointment. A solicitor can be present at the first interview which is known as a screening interview. In the screening interview, the asylum seeker’s identity and nationality will be established and he may have to answer a few questions in regards to his claim. His fingerprints and photographs are also taken at this stage.


A person may face persecution from different sources, it may include governments and state or state bodies such as the Army or Police. A person may have a fear of persecution from non-state actors. Non-state actors are people who are not related to Government. Examples of non-state actors may include, political, religious, and racially intolerant groups.

It may also occur due to someone’s race, religion, nationality, political opinion, by being a member of a particular group. It is important that to claim asylum the person has to leave his country of citizenship.


Where asylum seekers meet the conditions of the Geneva Convention and other requirements, he is likely to be granted refugee status, however, the UK Government has the power and discretion in certain circumstances to refuse the claim of a person for asylum UK and may also forcibly remove him.

However, before the UK government can take such a decision it is obliged to consider the applications of the asylum seekers on HUMANITARIAN grounds as well, where it is appropriate to do so.

  • UK government can remove asylum seekers where there is evidence and grounds for regarding them as a danger to the security of the UK.
  • Involved in serious crime.
  • Danger to the general public.

Obligation of the Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers are under an obligation or duty to disclose to the Secretary of State as soon as possible;

  • All material factors required to validate the claim.
  • It may include a statement of the reason for making such a claim, and
  • All documentation that may disclose or provide information about his age, background, identity, nationality, country, and place of the previous residence, previous asylum applications, traveling history, and other travel documents.
  • The burden to provide the evidence and explanations are on the Asylum Seekers.

What is Refugee

Upon a successful claim, Asylum seekers are granted refugee status, which is normally for 5 years leave to remain in the UK. Refugees in the UK are free to work and they may also be able to claim some public benefits as well.


After five years a refugee is entitled to apply for settlement however, he has to fulfill the criteria for Settlement.

Curtailment of Status

A refugee’s status is subject to review, which may result in curtailment of status, cancellation, or revocation as well. The Secretary of State has the power to withdraw refugee status from a person on the fulfillment of certain criteria. The Secretary of State also holds power to cancel the refugee status where it is acquired through false documentation, misrepresentation and where such an asylum seeker is a threat to national security.

Human Rights Issues

A person may also claim the right to remain in the UK on the basis of Human Rights as his removal would be a breach of his private and family life in the UK and he cannot reasonably be expected to return voluntarily.

A person may have a claim on the basis of family and private life in the UK or where a person may have claimed that requiring him to leave the UK will result in violation of his EU convention rights in the country of return or he may be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment in the country of return or may suffer death or may be subject to unlawful detention in his country of return.

Humanitarian Protection and Discretionary Leave

A person will be granted humanitarian protection in the UK where he fulfills the following criteria;

  • The person is in the UK or has arrived at a port in the UK
  • The person does not qualify as a refugee or asylum seeker
  • The person has shown substantial evidence, that if the person is returned to the country of return he will face a real risk of suffering serious harm
  • He is not excluded from a grant of humanitarian protection

Serious Harm

By serious harm it means;

  • The death penalty or execution
  • Unlawful killing
  • Torture or inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Punishment in the country of return
  • Serious and individual threat to private life in the country of return
  • The subject of indiscriminate violence in the situation of international or internal armed conflict

Grant of Humanitarian Protection

Upon a successful claim, humanitarian protection is granted normally for 5 years, as leave to remain in the UK. Such a person is allowed to work and he may also be able to claim some public benefits as well. The grant is also subject to review and may be withdrawn in certain cases. 

Discretionary Leave

Most cases for discretionary leave arises due to asylum claims and some due to claim under human rights, where a qualifying criterion is met by an applicant. There is no separate application for discretionary leave. A person has to apply for either UK Asylum or for Humanitarian protection. Discretionary leaves are normally granted for 6 months and 3 years, depending upon the facts of the case. The discretionary leave can be extended.


For a settlement, the applicant has to complete at least 6 years in total or in certain cases the time period is 10 years.

Unsuccessful Claim

An unsuccessful claim can have a severe impact on the current status of a person, provided the person has some sort of status i.e. limited leave to remain. Where a person who has a limited leave to remain applies for asylum and his application is refused, the Home Office may consider whether his existing limited leave to remain meets the required criteria.


Appeals in the case of asylum are dependent on the outcome of the case. A person whose asylum case is refused outright will have no rights of appeal but in certain circumstances, an appeal can be made to the First-Tier Tribunal. The appeal is a complex area of Immigration Law, please ask our experienced Immigration lawyer for further help and guidance.

Fresh Application

In very limited circumstances, an applicant whose application is refused for asylum in the UK is allowed to make a fresh application. It is only allowed where there is significant new material or facts have arisen which;

  • Have not already been considered in the previous application
  • And taking together the previous application and facts and this new development or facts a claimant has a realistic prospect of success

As many people have used the asylum process especially failed asylum seekers to extend their stay in the UK, the likelihood of a fresh application is very rare unless there are new facts that were not considered in the last application.

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legallex does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.

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