Claiming Asylum In The UK as a Ukrainian Refugee
For Ukrainian refugees seeking safety in the United Kingdom, understanding the asylum process is crucial. This process involves several steps, from initial contact with local authorities to the final decision by the Home Office. It’s designed to assess each case on its own merits, protecting those who are unable to return to their home country due to fear of persecution.
- Claiming Asylum In The UK as a Ukrainian Refugee
- What Is The Asylum Screening Process Like And What It Consists Of
- What Happens While Awaiting Decision On Your Asylum Claim
- Your Rights and Benefit Entitlements as an Asylum Seeker in the UK
- What Happens When Refugee Status Has Been Granted?
- What Happens If Asylum Claim Is Denied
- Trust In Our Total Law Immigration Solicitors To Help Your Case
To be eligible for asylum in the UK, Ukrainian refugees must meet specific criteria:
Presence in the UK
The individual must be in the UK to make an asylum claim. This is a fundamental requirement to claim asylum here, as the claim cannot be processed from outside the country.
Fear of Persecution
The applicant must have left Ukraine and be unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution. This persecution can be due to various factors, including race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
Exclusion from Ukraine Schemes
Those who do not qualify for the Ukraine Family Scheme or other related programs, perhaps due to the absence of qualifying immediate family members already in the UK or the inability to either bring family members or members to find a sponsor, must seek asylum.
General Risk of Serious Harm
Following the Home Office’s recent withdrawal of its country guidance on Ukraine, each asylum claim from Ukrainian nationals is considered individually. Applicants who can demonstrate a general risk of serious harm in Ukraine are likely to be granted asylum.
For a successful asylum claim, the following documents are typically required:
- Passports and travel documents for yourself and any dependents.
- Identification documents such as identity cards, birth and marriage certificates, or school records.
- If you have a named sponsor in the UK, provide documents showing their identity, like a UK or Irish passport and biometric residence permit.
- Evidence of persecution or risk, including affidavits, witness statements, medical and psychological reports, country condition reports, and expert opinions.
- Photographs and fingerprints for identification and background checks.
- Submit any additional documents proving your fear of persecution or risk in Ukraine.
Importance of Being in the UK
The necessity of being physically present in the UK to claim asylum is rooted in the legal system that regulates the asylum process for displaced people in neighbouring countries. This presence allows the UK authorities to:
- Being in the UK enables the authorities to conduct a thorough assessment of the claim, including interviews and background checks.
- For those facing immediate risk, being in the UK allows for quicker access to protection and support services.
- The UK’s asylum process is designed to comply with international laws, including the 1951 Refugee Convention, which necessitates the presence of the asylum seeker in the country where asylum is being sought.
Overview of the Screening Process
The asylum screening process in the UK is the initial stage for individuals seeking refuge, marking the beginning of their asylum claim. This process is crucial as it sets the foundation for the entire asylum application.
The process begins when an individual claims asylum, either at the port of entry or by contacting the Screening Unit in Croydon, South London. For those not claiming at the port of entry, an appointment must be made via telephone.
Duration and Waiting Time
The screening interview typically lasts between 30 minutes to two hours, although this can vary based on the complexity of the case. Unfortunately, due to Home Office delays, many applicants experience a long waiting period before their interview.
The primary objectives of the screening interview are to register the asylum claim, establish the claimant’s identity, understand their journey to the UK, and identify any specific needs they may have.
The screening interview is a crucial moment in the asylum process, where officials gather essential information about the applicant.
- The interview covers basic information about the applicant, including their journey to the UK and reasons for seeking asylum. It’s important to note that this is not the substantive interview where the detailed asylum claim is discussed.
- The interview can feel overwhelming and may seem like a trial, but it’s important to remember that its purpose is to gather information rather than to interrogate.
Preparing for the screening interview is crucial for a successful asylum claim.
- Bring all necessary documents, including identification and any evidence supporting your claim.
- Understand that the process is designed to gather facts. Stay calm and answer questions to the best of your ability. If you’re unsure or don’t remember certain details, it’s better to be honest about it.
- It’s highly recommended to seek advice from an immigration specialist, such as our team at Total Law. Legal aid might be available depending on your circumstances. Our experts at Total Law can provide you with the necessary guidance and support throughout your asylum application process.
Additional Relevant Information
- Special considerations are given to unaccompanied minors and individuals with vulnerabilities.
- After the screening, applicants are usually informed about the next steps, including the substantive interview where the detailed asylum claim is made.
- Be prepared for potential delays in the process. The current system has been experiencing backlogs, leading to longer waiting times for decisions.
After submitting an asylum application, several steps follow that are crucial in the determination process. The first significant step is the interview, which is a detailed examination of your claim. This interview is conducted to gather facts relevant to your claim for refugee status determination.
You will be notified about the date, venue, and time of your interview, and it’s your responsibility to keep your contact information updated to avoid delays.
Ukrainian asylum applicants in the UK are experiencing extended waiting times, with certain cases exceeding a year before a decision is reached. Ideally, the UK’s asylum system aims to process and deliver a decision on asylum applications within 180 days (approximately six months) from the date of filing. This timeframe is the standard expectation for visa applications, barring any exceptional circumstances that might lead to delays.
These exceptional circumstances can include complexities in individual cases, such as difficulties in verifying information or the need for additional evidence. Additionally, the high volume of visa applications made, particularly in response to crises like the situation in Ukraine, can strain the system, leading to longer processing times.
Asylum Seeker Status
During the period of awaiting a decision, you hold the status of an asylum seeker. This immigration status also has specific implications:
Rights and Responsibilities
As an asylum seeker, you are expected to comply with the legal requirements of the host country. This includes staying within the country unless otherwise authorised and adhering to the conditions of your stay.
Support and Assistance
Depending on the country, you may have access to certain types of support, such as legal aid, healthcare, and possibly housing. It’s important to inquire about these provisions from your local authorities, refugee support organisations or legal advisors.
In some jurisdictions, asylum seekers are allowed to work after a certain period has elapsed since submitting their application.
If you have travelled through a safe country on your way to the asylum country, your claim may be affected. Some countries have agreements to return asylum seekers to the first safe country they entered.
It’s essential to maintain communication with the asylum authorities and attend all required appointments and interviews. Failure to do so can result in delays or affect the outcome of your claim.
Rights as an Asylum Seeker
- As a refugee or asylum seeker in the UK, you have the right to apply for welfare benefits in line with UK nationals. This includes access to healthcare, education, and other public services.
- If you are granted refugee status, you can work in the UK without any restrictions. You will need a National Insurance number, which is usually printed on your Biometric Residence Permit card.
- As an asylum seeker, you may be eligible for housing and financial assistance, even if your asylum claim is pending or has been refused. This support is provided under sections 95, 98, and 4 of the asylum support regulations.
- Under international Law, you have the right not to be returned to a country where you would face persecution.
- You are entitled to humane standards of treatment while your asylum claim is being processed.
- You may be provided with accommodation, which could be in a flat, house, or hostel. However, you cannot choose where you live, and it’s unlikely to be in London or southeast England.
- Asylum seekers usually receive €55.52 (approximately, based on current exchange rates) per person in their household to help pay for necessities like food, clothing, and toiletries. This allowance is loaded onto a debit card (ASPEN card) each week.
- Pregnant women or mothers of a child under 6 weeks old can apply for a one-off maternity payment of approximately €351.00 or €292.50 if they have been refused asylum.
- Additional financial support is available for pregnant mothers and mothers of children under 3 years old.
- Information and support are available for employment rights and recognition of qualifications for refugees, including those from Ukraine. This includes assistance with language needs and support for employers who hire refugees.
- Access to education for children and potentially training opportunities for adults is part of the support provided to asylum seekers and refugees.
- Assistance with Ukraine scheme visas and legal advice is available, particularly under schemes like the Ukraine Family Scheme, Ukraine Extension Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.
- Services like the ‘Make the Call’ offer support to ensure you are receiving all the benefits and support you are entitled to.
After being granted refugee status, the immediate process involves a shift in living arrangements, access benefits and support systems for displaced people. Asylum Support and ‘section 4’ support, which may have been provided during the asylum-seeking process, will cease 28 days after the decision. This means that refugees must find new accommodation and adjust to a life that is no longer under the asylum support system. They are required to move if they were provided housing as an asylum seeker.
Rights and Benefits
Upon gaining refugee status, individuals acquire the right to work in the UK without restrictions, allowing them to seek employment in any profession and at any skill level. If they are not ready or able to work, they can apply for benefits. This transition is crucial as it marks the shift from being dependent on asylum support to becoming a self-sufficient member of society.
Refugees are also advised to open a bank account and obtain a National Insurance number, which is essential for employment, accessing benefits, and accessing various services. Organisations like Migrant Help can assist in these processes, including finding housing and claiming benefits.
For long-term residency and integration, refugees need to consider several factors:
- Finding stable and long-term housing is a priority. Local councils can provide guidance and support in this process.
- Refugees are encouraged to seek employment or educational opportunities for humanitarian aid in their integration and self-sufficiency.
- Engaging with local communities, including charities, English language schools, and community groups, is vital for social integration.
- Refugees should be aware of the legalities regarding their status, including the potential for applying for permanent residency after a certain period and the process for family reunification if applicable.
- Access to healthcare and social services is a right for refugees, and understanding how to navigate these systems is important for their well-being.
- Adapting to a new culture and society is a significant aspect of long-term integration. This includes understanding local customs, laws, and customs of society.
Reasons for Denial
Asylum claims can be denied for a variety of reasons, often depending on the specifics of the individual case and the legal framework of the refugee agency and host country. Common reasons include:
- Suppose the decision-maker believes the applicant does not have a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. In that case, the claim may be denied.
- Some countries deny asylum if the applicant has travelled through or has connections to a country deemed safe, where they could have sought asylum.
- If it’s deemed that the applicant could avoid persecution by relocating to another part of their home country, the claim might be denied.
- Providing false information or forged documents can lead to denial.
- Serious criminal convictions can be grounds for denial.
If an asylum claim is denied, the applicant usually has the right to appeal the decision. The asylum appeal process can vary by country but generally involves the following steps:
- Carefully review the decision to understand why the claim was denied. This information is crucial for formulating an appeal.
- An appeal must typically be filed within a specific time frame after the decision. This involves submitting a formal request to a higher authority or court.
- Collect any additional evidence that supports the claim or addresses the reasons for the denial. This might include more detailed personal statements, expert reports, or additional documentation.
- Many appeals involve a hearing where the applicant and their legal representative can present their case. Being well-prepared for this hearing is crucial.
- It’s highly advisable to seek legal representation when navigating the complexities of asylum and refugee law. Lawyers specialising in this field can provide invaluable guidance, ensuring that your case is presented effectively and increasing the chances of a successful appeal. For expert assistance, consider reaching out to Total Law. Our team of experienced immigration solicitors is well-equipped to support you through every step of the asylum process. Contact us at 0333 305 9375 for personalised advice and representation.
If the appeal is unsuccessful, there may be other options, although these will depend on exceptional circumstances and the specific laws of the host country:
- Some countries offer subsidiary protection for individuals who don’t qualify as refugees but still face serious risks if they return to their home country.
- In certain cases, countries may grant permission to stay for humanitarian reasons.
- Some countries have programs that allow certain undocumented individuals or failed asylum seekers to regularise their status.
- In some cases, the only option might be to return to the home country voluntarily, sometimes with the assistance of international organisations.
- Though rare, resettlement in a third country might be an option, especially in cases where returning to the home country poses a risk.
Trust In Our Total Law Immigration Solicitors To Help Your Case
At Total Law, our team of dedicated immigration solicitors specialises in a wide range of services to assist with various aspects of the immigration process. Whether you’re facing an Asylum Application, navigating the complexities of an Asylum Appeal, or dealing with Detained Casework, our experts are equipped to provide the guidance and support you need. We handle Bail applications, including SOS and Tribunal applications, and assist with Bail Renewals. Our expertise extends to submitting Fresh Claims, aiding in Permission to Work Applications, and resolving Travel Document issues, including BRP problems related to loss, theft, or errors.
For families seeking to reunite, we offer comprehensive assistance with Family Reunion Applications and Appeals. Additionally, we can guide you through the process of applying for Permission to Appeal at both the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) and Upper Tribunal (UT) and prepare for Error of Law hearings.
Trust in our Total Law Immigration Solicitors to help your case with professionalism and empathy. For expert legal assistance and immigration advice, contact us at 0333 305 9375. Let Total Law be your guide, immigration advisor, and advocate in navigating the complexities of the immigration system.
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