Legal Guides

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Refugee status in the UK

The way in which someone who has come to the UK can become a refugee is through claiming asylum. An asylum seeker is the term used to describe someone who has an undetermined application to become a refugee.

The asylum process in the UK is complicated and can be lengthy, and so the purpose of this article is to help explain the process in an easy to understand form.

In contrast to other immigration applications in the UK, to make an asylum application, it is necessary for the asylum seeker to attend interviews with the Home Office.

There are usually two types of interviews involved:

  1. A screening interview
  2. A substantive interview.

The substantive interview is longer than the screening interview; in this interview the interviewer will go into more detail about your claim.

The purpose of the interviews is to ascertain whether the criteria for qualifying for refugee status is fulfilled. The asylum seeker must show the following:

  1. They have a well-founded fear of persecution. This fear must be genuine and there must be a real and substantial risk of persecution.
  2. The fear of persecution is due to reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. There is no set definition of what constitutes “persecution”, but, usually, persecution is accepted if it relates to the breaching of human rights.
  3. They are unable to obtain state protection of the country from which they have fled.
  4. It is unreasonable to expect the asylum seeker to internally relocate within the country from which they have fled.

Only if the above criteria are satisfied, can refugee status be granted. Moreover, in light of the above criteria, it may be advisable for the asylum seeker to submit country of origin information, which can help substantiate their own account of what is happening in the country.

Asylum seekers do not have a right to work in the UK. However, they are issued with a cash allowance and accommodation (currently, asylum seekers receive £37.75 per week).

Refugees, on the other hand, do have the right to work and may be entitled to claim welfare support from the government.

A refugee must surrender their passport; however, they can apply to be issued with a travel document allowing him/her to travel to any country, aside from their country of origin. A refugee is eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain, after spending 5 years of being in the UK with refugee status.

Article contributed by: Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitors

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. It is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered above, please speak to Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitorsdirectly

Published on 11th November 2019
(Last updated 7th May 2021)