Asylum and Human Rights

As the Brexit transition period has now ended, new rules in claiming asylum in the United Kingdom now apply. We shall update you in due course.

Asylum and Human rights overlap in key places and work together. The law on Asylum or Protection arises from the 1951 Refugee Convention which defines what it means to be a refugee setting out their rights and the duty and legal obligations of states to protect them. It origins lie in the move to protect European refugees who arose out of the destruction caused by World War II.

Article 1 of the Conventions defines refugee as:
As a result of events occurring before 1 January 1951 and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

The application for asylum is based on all or part of the reasons in the above definition.
Human rights law emanates from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and now has been incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. Just like the 1951 Refugee Convention from which it drew inspiration, the ECHR arose out ashes of World War II with the intention that the gross breaches of human rights that had that had taken place would never again occur.
Arguably, the most important articles of ECHR are Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (protection against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), and Article 8 (the right to private and family life). Article 8 is a qualified right but nonetheless affords protection where family life is breached or where private life affected. This covers your personal life in the UK such as work, study and social participation in wider society.
Applications to remain in the UK can be made on ECHR grounds. Claims based on Articles 2 and 3 offer stronger rights that are absolute for obvious reasons.
Where leave is granted under either the asylum or human rights route, you may be able to acquire ILR.


As explained above, those that qualify as refugees must come under the Refugee Convention.
If you arrive here with family members, they can apply with you.


It is accepted that many who escape persecution abroad leave with very little and do not always have much documentation.

If you are already in the UK, the following are examples of documents that you might be able to provide if living alone although it would be reasonable if you do not have them due to not having access to a bank account etc;
-bank statement;
-housing benefit book;
-council tax notice;
-tenancy agreement;
-household bill.

If staying with someone:
-a letter less than 3 months old from the person you are staying with confirming you have their permission;
-documents showing the full name and address of the person you are staying with such a council tax letter or tenancy agreement.

Claiming Asylum

You must claim asylum as soon as you enter the UK, legally or otherwise, or as soon reasonably practicable or as soon as you think it would be unsafe to return to your country of origin. It is better to make a claim as soon as you can.

When you start or make a claim for asylum, a meeting with an immigration officer, known as a screening interview, will take place. This can be at the border. If already in the UK you will have to call the asylum intake unit to make an appointment to attend an interview.

In either case, this is when you tell them about your case. Be sure that the information you give is accurate as there have been occasions of late where people have been prosecuted for giving false information. However, it is not unknown for asylum seekers not providing full details or even providing false information in order to protect themselves from third parties such as agents who have facilitated their entry into the UK.
You will have your fingerprints and photographs taken.
After the screening interview, you will wait for a decision on your application. In the meantime, you are not allowed to work.
Children who do not arrive with relatives can apply on their own.
After the screening you will be given an asylum registration card (ARC) to your UK address unless you are in detention. The ARC will explain who you are, whether you have permission to work and allow you to access health and education services.
Thereafter, you will have an asylum interview with a caseworker who will decide your application.

Be warned that you might also be detained at an immigration removal centre while your application is decided. You will be released if you application is successful or be removed if you do not get permission to stay, subject to any appeals process.
The following persons are not usually detained:
-the elderly;
-families with children;
-pregnant women;
-accepted trafficking victims;
-torture victims;
-people with mental health issues.

Asylum Interview

This interview will usually take place not long after the screening interview which you must attend. You are usually with a legal representative if you have one, and an interpreter if required. This is your opportunity to provide full details of your persecution and why you cannot return to you country.
This information will be confidential. Again, it is accepted that many cannot recall all the relevant information before an authority figure or due to trauma have difficulty in recalling incidents without the help of professionals.
You must try as best as you can to provide all information and documentary evidence. Hopefully, you would have had legal representation through which your legal team would have done their job properly in ensuring that you had provided everything that you possibly could have.
The interview will be noted in an interview record of which you will receive a copy. If you did not have legal representation, you can request the casework at least a day before the interview for it to be taped.

A decision is usually within 6 months but sometimes its longer depending on the case.
If you are successful in being deemed a refugee or being granted asylum, you and any dependants may be granted leave to remain for 5 years. Thereafter, you could apply to settle in the UK.

If not granted asylum you may get permission to stay for humanitarian reasons or for your protection. You and your dependants are allowed to stay for 5 years known as ‘leave to enter’. Thereafter, you can also apply to settle.

Where you have been unsuccessful in either category, you might be asked to leave if there is no reason to stay. There is an appeal process open to you but there are time limits. It is therefore imperative that you seek prompt legal advice.

Those asylum seekers who are under 18, should claim asylum with any adult relative that is applying. If you are alone, you should go to the nearest police station or social services or use the walk-in service at an asylum intake unit.