What is an asylum seeker ?

Those who have their asylum claim accepted will be granted refugee status and those who have their claim rejected will be asked to leave the UK.

Those granted asylum are given permission to stay in the UK for 5 years if they qualify for asylum. This is known as ‘leave to remain’.

You may get permission to stay in the UK for other reasons if you don’t qualify for permission to stay as a refuge or for humanitarian reasons.

What is a refugee ?

The criteria for recognition as a refugee, and hence the granting of asylum is to be a person who has a 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 their nationality and 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 is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. The definition comes from the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

How do you apply for asylum?

Asylum seekers can make their application at their port of entry to the UK or after entry to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). They should apply as soon as possible.

In some cases, claimants will be required to pursue their claim in another EU member state or other safe country, and if so, they are removed to that country. Under the Dublin II Regulation, which came into force on 15 January 2003 the applicant will be required to return to the EU member state deemed most responsible. This decision is assisted by the EU-wide fingerprint database of asylum applicants established by the Eurodac Regulation, which went live on 15 Jan 03, which allows for the computerised exchange of fingerprints in order to identify those applicants already known to other participating states and who may have made multiple asylum applications.

All leave the UK if their claim is rejected and their appeal fails :

  • Co-operate and tell us the truth;
  • obey the law; it is a crime to make a claim involving deception, and conviction can mean two years imprisonment;
  • keep in regular contact with the Immigration Service;
  • leave the UK if we reject the claim and appeal fails.

What benefits/support do asylum seekers get?

The support scheme for asylum seekers came into force on 3 April 2000 and is the responsibility of the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). Asylum seekers who are destitute may apply for one of three packages of support:

  • subsistence and accommodation;
  • subsistence only;
  • or accommodation only.
  • Accommodation is normally provided on a no choice basis in one of the designated cluster areas.

Those having the full support package will also have their accommodation, including utilities costs, met on top of the subsistence that they receive. Access to NHS treatment (including free prescriptions, health and dental services) is also included.

Asylum seekers in receipt of the full support package of accommodation and subsistence receive fully furnished accommodation including cooking utensils. Council Tax and utilities are paid for centrally. As a result of this, asylum seekers are able to access the full range of council services available to any other council tax payer. This includes services such as healthcare, education and social work.

For further information on NASS see the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website:

Or contact our team in Manchester