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8 Claiming Asylum

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1. Introduction

2. Who qualifies for asylum?

3. How do I apply for asylum?

4. What happens when I apply?

5. What can I live on while I am waiting?

6. What happens while I'm waiting?

Most asylum seekers who apply as soon as they arrive aren't detained, but are given temporary admission instead. If you are given temporary admission you must:

  • report back to the immigration authorities at a particular date and time that you will be told about;
  • live at a particular address; and
  • not work.

You may also have to report regularly to an immigration office to sign in, or accept 'electronic monitoring' or 'tagging'. This will usually mean having to wear a special piece of equipment that allows the Home Office to check you are staying at a specified address.

If you break the conditions for temporary admission, you could be detained. And if you don't report back when you are told to, you will be treated as an 'illegal entrant'. If you move, you must tell the immigration authorities straight away.

The Home Office will send you an appointment for an interview at the address that is on your temporary admission notice. If you don't attend, the Home Office will refuse your application because of 'noncompliance'. You could lose your right of appeal if notices don't reach you and you miss the time limit because of this.

If you can't get temporary admission
If you can't get temporary admission, you will be detained, but you can apply for bail after seven days. This means you can leave the detention centre as long as you can arrange to pay a small sum of money to the court if you break the conditions of release. It will usually help if you know one or two people who live in the UK and who are willing to guarantee that you will keep to any conditions of the bail. These people (also known as 'sureties') will be asked to promise to pay the money if you don't report back when you are told to. There is a separate booklet of advice for people who are detained, 'Challenging Legal Detention: A Best Practice Guide', which you should be able to get from:

  • the visitors' group, which is a group of volunteers who visit people who are detained, and can help put you in touch with services outside; or
  • the website of the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (see 'Further help').

There may also be other conditions of bail, similar to those for temporary admission. You may have to go regularly to a police station or immigration office to sign in. If you break these conditions, you may be breaking the law, and your sureties can lose the money they have promised.

The cost of applying for bail will be covered by publicly funded legal help, if you qualify for it (see 'Where can I get help with my claim?'). You should ask your legal representative to apply for you.

You will not be allowed to work while you are still an asylum seeker, unless you have to wait for more than a year before your case is decided.

Other rights
As an asylum seeker, you can get free medical care, and you can register with a local doctor to receive free healthcare. In most areas, English language classes are available free of charge, and you can take some other further education courses too.

Very little money is available, apart from your asylum support, but some travel costs can be paid. These will include fares to an interview with the immigration authorities and to an asylum appeal hearing. You should ask for help with your fares if you have to report to the police or at an immigration office. But to get the fares paid you need to tell NASS about your appointment five or six days before it takes place. You will also have your fares paid if you are sent to another part of the UK. The one-stop service can help you with these.

If you are getting publicly funded legal help, you may get your travel costs to go to an interview with your legal representative.

7. Where can I get help with my claim?

8. What will be the outcome of my claim?

9. What if my claim is refused?

10. What happens if my appeals fail?

11. Further help

12. About this leaflet


The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law and the way the government deals with asylum seekers often change, so information may be incorrect or out of date. If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See 'Further help' for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet was written in association with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and Mick Chatwin, a barrister and solicitor specialising in immigration law.

Leaflet version: February 2008

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