The legal definition of a refugee is found in Article 1A(2) of the Refugee Convention. The definition can be broken down into five conditions, all of which must be met for the person to be considered a refugee:
- Possession of a fear that is well founded
- Of treatment that is so bad it amounts to being persecuted
- For one of five “Convention reasons”: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion
- Being outside your country of nationality
- Being unable or unwilling to obtain protection in that country
You can claim asylum if you fear persecution from your own state, or from private individuals, as long as you can demonstrate your state’s level of protection is insufficient.
You may have already claimed asylum at your port of entry, for example at the airport, by simply telling a Border Force official you wish to claim asylum. When claiming asylum at a port of entry, you will usually be asked some questions about your claim; this constitutes something known as a “screening interview”. You may also be given a Personal Information Questionnaire (PIQ), a self-completion form in which you outline your reasons for claiming asylum.
If you wish to claim asylum after entering the UK, you must call the Asylum Intake Unit (AIU) of the Home Office, and request an appointment. It is always advisable that you claim asylum at your earliest opportunity; failing to do so may be used against you by the Home Office.
Screening interviews which don’t occur in the port of entry will usually take place at Lunar House, in Croydon. You should attend this interview with evidence of your identity, and your address in the UK. You do not need to take evidence of your claim with you at this stage, although you will be asked basic questions about your case.
After completing your screening interview, you will receive an interview date for your substantive interview. This should be within 6-12 months, so you have plenty of time to begin gathering evidence in support of your claim. At your substantive interview, you will have to answer many questions about your claim. These questions may be confusing, upsetting, and unpleasant. Make sure you are consistent and clear in your responses. You are entitled to ask for breaks, and legal representatives are allowed to attend the interview, but generally, we can’t intervene except to draw attention to a serious misunderstanding between you and the interviewer. You will be given a copy of the interview after it is completed.
All evidence should be provided to the Home Office within five working days of completing your substantive interview. A decision should be made on your claim within 12 months, but this is far from guaranteed.
If your claim is accepted, you will generally be granted two and a half or five years’ refugee status, and you will be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit, confirming your status, and right to work.
If your claim is refused, you will be given a right of appeal against this decision, unless you have previously made an asylum claim which has been refused. Your appeal will be heard by a Judge of the Immigration Tribunal. If your appeal is dismissed, you may be able to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, but only if the Judge has made an error of law – disagreeing with the decision is unfortunately not enough.
If your appeal is dismissed, and you are unable to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, then your only option is to submit a fresh claim. As the name suggests, you must submit material which is significantly different from what has previously been considered. This can be a new claim altogether, should one exist, or additional evidence of the same claim, which, when considered alongside the material you previously submitted, creates a realistic prospect of success.
How we can help
At Latitude Law, we can assist you at every stage of the asylum process. Whether you have not yet claimed asylum, or you have unsuccessfully navigated the entire process and wish to submit a fresh claim, we are here to help you. Our lawyers are thoroughly experienced when it comes to providing legal advice to those seeking asylum in the UK, as well as those who are hoping to overturn Home Office decisions on appeal.
Our in-depth knowledge of refugee and human rights law allows us to provide a comprehensive assessment of your chances of success in light of current legislation, case law, and Home Office policy.
Our refugee and human rights law solicitors regularly advise clients on:
- Applying for asylum
- Human rights law
- Obtaining refugee or humanitarian protection
- Obtaining the right for your family to join you in the UK
- Challenging Home Office decisions
- Appealing to the Immigration Tribunal
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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 01/02/2021