Guide to Claiming Asylum in the UK

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Historically, the UK has always been open to asylum seekers, although it’s interesting to note that the current government’s relatively hardline approach has increased the number of people travelling through illegal means.

Overall, asylum seekers comprised 6% of all immigrants to the UK through 2019, while this number doubled to 12% during the following year as the coronavirus curtailed overall immigration.

In this post, we’ve prepared a brief guide to claiming asylum in the UK, while asking how you can make an application.

What is Asylum Status?

The word ‘asylum’ is defined as ‘the protection granted by a state to someone who has left their country of origin as a political refugee’.

Political refugees typically flee their country as a result of war or persecution, which places them and their family in perceived danger. This entitles them to seek asylum status in a so-called “safe country”, where they’re granted the right to stay indefinitely.

By claiming asylum, you’re asking a state or government for international protection, with the 1951 Refugee Convention compelling those who have signed the agreement to safeguard those who have viable asylum claims.

How and Where to Claim Asylum

There has been a great deal of focus recently on how the UK government has closed down many legal and viable routes into the country for asylum seekers, which created a marked increase in the number of people arriving by small boat (28,381 people in 2021 as opposed to just 8,500 during the previous year). 

This poses an issue when making an asylum claim, as an applicant must be within the boundaries of the UK to complete this process.

The reason for this is simple; as there’s no formal asylum visa that enables you to process an application from outside the UK.

The rules are a little more accessible in the UK’s neighbours such as France and Germany, which is partially why these countries have much higher rates of migration and asylum claims overall.

Of the 82 million displaced people currently in the world (mainly as a result of war and conflict), most live in countries that are close to their homeland. For example, Lebanon currently houses around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, while over a million Ukrainian asylum seekers have recently been taken in by Poland. 

The Asylum Process in the UK

If you are able to claim asylum in the UK, the Home Office will consider data from various sources as part of the process.

This will include your answers to a preliminary information questionnaire, along with the data gathered from one or more screening interviews.

This information will be used to determine whether you have a “well-founded fear of persecution” or more widespread violence. To demonstrate a well-founded fear, claimants must be able to showcase the real risk of persecution or harm over time.

If so, the claim will fall under one of the Refugee Convention grounds, increasing your chances of a successful application for asylum.

Another key consideration is whether your own national government is capable of providing protection, but this may not be the case if it’s responsible for the risk of violence or persecution.