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UK Asylum System

Applying For Asylum In The UK

When you apply for asylum in the United Kingdom (UK), you are asking the UK Home Office to recognise you as a refugee. The definition of a refugee comes from a piece of international law called the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The UK government will decide if you qualify for protection as a refugee or not. To qualify as a refugee the UK Government must think that you have a reason to fear persecution in your country because of your race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.  Alternatively, you may have other humanitarian or compelling reasons why you need to stay in the UK, the denial of which may violate your human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Your legal representative should be able to tell you whether this applies to you. Asylum and human rights laws are complex. It is vital that you get good legal advice and representation. For more information about legal advice and representation, see page 5 of this leaflet. When you apply for asylum, the authorities will refer to you as an ‘asylum seeker’. If you are under 18, and are applying for asylum on your own, you will normally be put in touch with social services or a refugee agency.


Who deals with asylum applications?

UK Visas and Immigration is a division of the Home Office responsible for the United Kingdom's visa system. It was formed in 2013 from the section of the UK Border Agency that had administered the visa system.


How do I apply for asylum?

 It is important that you apply for asylum as soon as you enter the UK and that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

 You can apply for asylum

  • to the immigration officer on arrival at the port of entry, for example, at an airport or seaport or 

  • at the UK Border Agency office in Croydon after you have entered the UK. You may, for example, have entered the country illegally or legally on a student, visitor or business visa. The Croydon Asylum Screening Unit is based at Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR9 2BY

  • Under very exceptional circumstances it may be possible to have your asylum application recorded and screened at a Local Enforcement Office, or by post. This may apply to unaccompanied children and those whose condition is such that they cannot reasonably be expected to travel to Croydon. Contact a local refugee agency to find out if this may apply to you.


What happens when I apply for asylum?

The UKBA processes asylum applications in different ways. Some asylum applications are dealt with very quickly. The UKBA will decide how to deal with your application after the first interview which is called the screening interview. An interpreter will be provided should you need one. You can request a female or male interpreter if you prefer this.


What happens at the screening interview?

The purpose of this interview is for the UKBA to ask basic questions about your personal details and health, how you arrived in the UK and the details of any illegal activity you have taken part in. They will ask you about your reasons for coming to the UK and why you cannot return to your country of origin but should not ask you detailed questions about why you are applying for asylum. Much of the information you submit in your screening interview will be requested again at your asylum interview and, if that information does not match, you will be expected to explain why. This interview can take up to 10 hours in some cases.