Seeking sanctuary: How to claim asylum in the UK? 7 Easy steps!

If you’re in a bit of a sticky wicket and need to seek sanctuary in the UK, we can help. We’ve got you covered with these 7 easy steps to help you claim asylum like a proper Londoner. 

So whether you’re fleeing to get a safe sanctuary or just looking for a fresh start in this big old’ city, we’ve got the scoop on how to navigate the process and come out on top.

How to claim asylum in the UK?

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DifficultyModerate ●●●○○
Time neededVaries, but can take several months 
Things you needProof of identity and journey to the UK, detailed reasons for seeking asylum, completed application forms, and biometric data (fingerprints and photograph) 

To claim asylum in the UK you have to know your eligibility, arrive in the UK, make an appointment with the Home Office, attend a screening and substantive interview,  wait for a decision and make an appeal (if necessary).

Let’s go into detail for each step below.

Step 1. Know your eligibility

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To be eligible to claim asylum in the UK, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must be unable to live safely in your home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution. This could be because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership in a particular social group.
  2. You must be unable to seek protection in your home country. This means that you have tried and failed to get help from your government, or you have a legitimate reason to believe that they will not protect you.
  3. You must be unable to relocate within your home country. This means that you can’t just move to a different part of your country to avoid persecution – the risk must be present throughout the entire country.

It’s worth noting that these requirements are just the tip of the iceberg. Many other factors can affect your eligibility to claim asylum, such as your previous immigration history and your criminal record.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of this, don’t worry – there are plenty of resources out there to help you. The UK government has a handy guide to claiming asylum that you can read here, for example.

There are also lots of charities and organisations that provide free advice and support to asylum seekers, such as the Refugee Council and the British Red Cross.

Step 2. Arrive in the UK

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You can’t claim asylum in the UK if you’re not actually in the UK. It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people think they can claim asylum from their home country or a neighbouring country.

To be able to claim asylum in the UK, you need to physically arrive on UK soil. 

This means coming through a UK port of entry, such as an airport, or seaport. 

Plus, if you do arrive in the UK and want to claim asylum. You need to do so as soon as possible.

This means that you can’t just hang around in the UK for a while and then decide to claim asylum later – you need to do it pretty much as soon as you arrive.

Step 3. Make an appointment with the Home Office

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So, you’ve arrived in the UK and are ready to claim asylum. The first thing you need to do is make an appointment at The Home Office through the UKVCAS.

There, you’ll book an appointment to register your asylum claim and provide biometric information, such as your fingerprints and photo.

But before you start booking that appointment, you need to make sure you have all the necessary documentation to register your claim:

You’ll need to provide detailed information about your identity, your reasons for claiming asylum, and your previous immigration history.

You’ll need to provide a detailed account of your experiences in your home country and explain why you are at risk of persecution or harm. 

  • Range of supporting documents – These may include things like your passport or other travel documents, medical records, police reports, and letters of support from family members or other individuals.

Keep in mind that you can also book your appointment over the phone.

You can call the UKVCAS contact centre at 0800 587 2750 (inside the UK) or +44 203 481 1736 (outside the UK). The contact centre is open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.

Step 4. Attend a screening interview

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You should receive notification of your screening interview by email or post after you’ve registered your asylum claim and provided your biometric information. Your screening interview may last for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

This is your chance to provide detailed information about your reasons for claiming asylum and to help the Home Office make a decision on your claim.

During the screening interview, the caseworker will ask you questions about your identity and your reasons for seeking protection.

They may also ask for more information about any supporting documentation you have, such as medical records or police reports.

It’s worth noting that due to the high volume of asylum claims in the UK, waiting times for screening interviews and other appointments can be quite long. 

It’s important to be patient and to stay in touch with the Home Office or UKVCAS if you have any questions or concerns about the status of your application.

Step 5. Attend a substantive interview

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The substantive interview is a more detailed and in-depth interview than the screening interview, and it is conducted by a trained Home Office caseworker.

Compared to your screening, your substantive interview can last more than 2 hours since you will be asked by your caseworker more detailed questions about your identity, nationality, and journey to the UK. 

They will also ask you to provide more evidence to support your asylum claim like statements from witnesses.

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it – attending a substantive interview can be an intense and emotionally draining experience. But don’t worry – there are plenty of resources out there to help you prepare.

You can check out the Right to Remain toolkit to give you an overview of what a substantive interview is. 

Step 6. Wait for a decision

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After you’ve attended your substantive interview, the Home Office caseworker will take some time to review your case and make a decision on your asylum claim. 

The amount of time it takes to receive a decision can vary depending on the complexity of your case. During this time, you’ll need to be patient and wait for the Home Office to make a decision on your claim.

If your asylum claim is accepted, you will be granted refugee status or another form of protection in the UK. 

This means that you will be allowed to remain in the UK and have the right to work, study, and access public services such as healthcare and housing. 

You may also be able to apply for travel documents and bring family members to join you in the UK.

As a refugee, you will be entitled to the same rights and protections as UK citizens, and you will be able to apply for permanent residency after five years in the UK. 

You will also be able to apply for British citizenship after you have been in the UK for at least five years and meet other eligibility criteria.

However, if your claim was not accepted, you’ll need to proceed to our next step. 

Step 7. Make an appeal (if necessary) 

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If your asylum claim is rejected, you may be able to appeal the decision to the First-tier Tribunal.

The appeal process can be complex and time-consuming, and it’s important to seek advice from a qualified immigration lawyer or a reputable charity.

During the appeal process, you’ll need to provide more evidence to support your claim, and you may need to attend a hearing to present your case. 

The First-tier Tribunal will then make a decision on your appeal based on the evidence presented.

If your appeal is successful, you will now be granted refugee status or another form of protection in the UK. 

But, if your appeal is unsuccessful, you may be able to make a further appeal to the Upper Tribunal, although this is a more complex and costly process.

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