The UK Asylum Process
Asylum is the protection of a country or state granted to those who leave their home countries due to the well-founded fear of persecution or violation of their human rights. An asylum seeker is someone who leaves their country and seeks protection from another country but has not been granted refugee status.
The term refugee refers to someone who has fled from their home country because they fear for their safety and do not believe their government will protect them from that danger. Their refugee status has been legally recognised, and they have been granted asylum.
To be able to claim asylum and remain in the UK as a refugee, you need to prove that returning to your home country is not safe and that you are at risk of persecution or human rights violations there. Those who seek asylum in the UK must do so as soon as they arrive in the country as waiting may make a refusal more likely.
Once you claim asylum, you will attend a meeting with an immigration officer, known as a screening. The Home Office will then decide if your asylum claim can be considered. If it can, you will be granted an asylum interview with a caseworker. After this, you must wait for a decision on your claim. Due to the asylum backlog, the processing of your claim can take several months.
- The UK Asylum Process
- Home Office Fast-Track Scheme for Iraqi and Iranian Asylum Seekers
- Document Requirements for UK Asylum Claims
- The Asylum Interview: Tips and Guidelines
- Legal Rights and Protection in the UK for Asylum Seekers
- Country Policy and Information Notes for Iran
- Challenges Faced by Iranian Asylum Seekers in the UK
- Support and Resources for Iranian Asylum Seekers in the UK
- Importance of Legal Representation
- How Can London Immigration Lawyers Help?
Home Office Fast-Track Scheme for Iraqi and Iranian Asylum Seekers
The fast-track scheme for Iraqi and Iranian asylum seekers was introduced by the UK government in 2023. The aim is to clear some of the legacy backlog of more than 11,698 Iranian claimants and 8,909 Iraqi claimants. The current grant rate for Iranians is 80% and 54% for Iraqis.
Only those with outstanding claims from before June 2022 are eligible for the fast-track scheme.
As part of the new scheme, each claimant is issued a detailed questionnaire to streamline the asylum process and allow for a shorter interview. The forms must be filled out in English and returned within 30 days of the date on the questionnaire and fail to comply could lead to a claim being withdrawn.
A similar scheme introduced for asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Libya and Yemen resulted in 10% of the questionnaires being filled out correctly, which meant officials had to conduct interviews to assess a claimant’s clase.
Document Requirements for UK Asylum Claims
The essential documents required for anyone claiming asylum include:
- Passport and travel documents
- Identification documents such as ID cards, marriage or birth certificates
- Any other documents that will help your claim such as a political party membership card or arrest warrant issued in your home country
You and any dependants must provide proof of your UK address. These documents will differ depending on whether you’re living in your own accommodation or staying with someone else.
For those with their own accommodation, the following forms of evidence are acceptable:
- Bank statement
- Tenancy agreement
- Household bill
- Council tax notice
- Housing benefit book
If you are staying with someone else you must provide the following:
- A letter that is less than 3 months old from the person you are staying with which confirms that you have their permission to stay.
- Documents showing the full name and address of the person you are staying with such as a household bill, tenancy agreement or council tax notice.
The Asylum Interview: Tips and Guidelines
The asylum interview is an important step in the process of applying for refugee status so it is vital to attend as it is an opportunity for claimants to make their case.
Typical interview questions include why you left your home country and the reasons that made it dangerous for you to stay. You will also be asked how and when you arrived in the UK.
If you passed through a safe country on your way to the UK you’ll be asked why you didn’t claim asylum there. If you entered the country illegally, for example as one of the small boat arrivals you will be asked why you chose that route.
Most asylum interviews happen in large cities so make sure you know how to get to the interview well in advance. You must take your application registration card with you as well as your passport, birth certificate and evidence of where you are living.
The interview letter will tell you who you should take with you to the interview, such as an interpreter or a lawyer. You should not take family members, friends or your children to the interview.
If you need the assistance of an immigration lawyer for your asylum interview call London Immigration Lawyers on 020 4502 8582 or contact us online.
Legal Rights and Protection in the UK for Asylum Seekers
Seeking asylum is a human right and anyone should be permitted to enter another country to look for this form of humanitarian protection. Asylum applicants have the right to remain in the UK while their claim is being considered.
The UK is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the 1951 Refugee Convention and has international obligations under those conventions.
To reform the asylum system, the UK government introduced the Nationality and Borders Act 2022. Among other things, this Act seeks to reduce the number of people entering the UK illegally and separates refugees into two groups depending on the manner of their arrival into the country.
Every asylum seeker has the right to legal aid and representation as part of their asylum claim.
Iranian military service is compulsory for men between 18 and 49 years of age with some exemptions. The consequences of evading or refusing military service include arrest and possible imprisonment. The Armed Forces Offenses Law mentions desertion without specifying what penalties would be applied in these cases.
The basis of asylum claims regarding military service on Iranian claimants may include concerns about the following:
- conditions and treatment they may be faced with during military service
- penalties for refusing to undertake military service
- such service would include acts contrary to the basic rules of human conduct
Christians and Christian Converts
Persecution of Christians in Iran may constitute a well-founded fear and form the basis for seeking asylum in the UK. While exact numbers are difficult to confirm, it is estimated that there are between 300,000 to 1.5 million Christians in Iran, a country with a population of more than 87 million.
The challenges of Christians who convert from Islam include discrimination and ill-treatment by the state which by its nature amounts to persecution. These converts are not able to relocate within Iran and often seek asylum elsewhere including the UK where they are afforded religious freedom.
‘Zina’ (Sex Outside of Marriage and Adultery)
In Iranian law, a person who commits adultery or has sex outside of marriage is guilty of ‘zina’. People accused of ‘zina’ are of a particular social group (PSG), under the meaning of the Refugee Convention, in that they share a common characteristic.
The crime of ‘zina’ in Iran can often be punishable by disproportionately harsh sentences including flogging, hard labour or the death penalty. These unmarried relationships can also be a motive for ‘honour’ based violence.
People with a well-founded fear of ‘zina’ persecution will not be protected by the authorities in Iran and may seek asylum in other countries.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression
LGBTQ+ individuals in Iran form a PSG within the meaning of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Those within this group are likely to suffer persecution as the Islamic Penal Code criminalises same-sex activity. Penalties include flogging and the death penalty.
Homosexuality is seen as a mental illness and anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes are prevalent in the conservative Muslim society of Iran.
Individuals with LGBTQ+ identities often seek asylum in the UK and elsewhere due to fear of persecution.
Kurds and Kurdish Political Groups
Kurds are an ethnic minority in Iran and face systematic discrimination and barriers to services such as housing, education and employment. While persecution may not be based on ethnicity alone, when coupled with Kurdish political opinion and activity Kurds can be at serious risk thus requiring humanitarian protection.
The death penalty is used as a tool of repression against dissidents, protesters and ethnic minorities such as the Kurds. Surveillance of online activity and the involvement of Kurds in protests against the Iranian government in the UK can increase the risk to them and their family members if they return to Iran.
Women Fearing ‘Honour’ Based Violence
Honour-based violence faced by women and girls in Iran is likely to occur in rural or tribal areas where social practices are more conservative. Females may be punished for having extra-marital sex, being in a same-sex relationship, choosing their own spouse without family approval or being the victim of rape.
There are several charities and organisations in the UK that offer support for women at risk of honour-based violence. There are also particular laws and policies protecting women’s rights in this country which asylum-seeking Iranian women and girls can benefit from.
Women – Early and Forced Marriage
Another issue which particularly affects women in Iran is the prevalence of early and forced marriage. The legal age of marriage in Iran for women is thirteen although fathers can get judicial permission for their daughters to be married as young as nine years of age.
Under the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the age limit for protection is 18 so these girls are still considered children.
The consequences for individuals at risk of early and forced marriage include psychological and physical trauma. Due to the systematic discrimination of women in Iran including forced marriages, they often seek asylum abroad.
Challenges Faced by Iranian Asylum Seekers in the UK
The biggest challenge Iranian asylum seekers will encounter is the backlog of historic asylum cases in the UK. This backlog prompted the plan to fast-track the asylum applications of Iranian and Iraqi claimants as they are the two highest nationality cohorts with outstanding claims.
Other common challenges and obstacles faced by Iranian asylum seekers in the UK include language and cultural barriers. This can result in Iranians encountering difficulties accessing support and resources that they may be entitled to.
Support and Resources for Iranian Asylum Seekers in the UK
Some Iranian refugees come to the UK through the UK Resettlement Scheme, the Community Sponsorship Scheme or the Mandate Scheme allowing them to access services and help in the UK. These people have been granted refugee status in another country and transferred to the UK under these various refugee resettlement schemes.
As asylum seekers cannot work in the UK asylum support is available. Main applicants will get £47.39 per person per week on a payment card for food, toiletries, and clothing. Housing is provided if you have no accommodation, but you cannot choose where that housing will be.
Importance of Legal Representation
Asylum seekers from any country are entitled to legal advice and representation in the UK. Those with little or no money can get Legal Aid. This allows claimants to get advice on their rights and options as well as help with paperwork and interpretation for interviews.
Legal representation is vital for any asylum application. Immigration lawyers can explain the process, advise, help with paperwork and liaise with other services applicable to an asylum seeker’s case.
At London Immigration Lawyers we have extensive experience helping people with their asylum claims. We understand how difficult and complex the asylum claim is, how stressful it can be and how important it is to get things right.
With our knowledge of how the asylum system works, we can provide professional advice and guidance at every stage of your claim. From document fact-checking to excellent translation services, we offer thorough and detailed assistance.
To benefit from the expertise of our professional advisors call London Immigration Lawyers today on 020 4502 8582 or contact us online.
Last modified on December 27th, 2023 at 12:16 am
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Within Europe, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and the UK are the countries that most first-time asylum seekers travel to and hence have the largest number of asylum seekers.
It is possible to claim asylum in the UK without a lawyer, but it is not advisable as you may not know what all your options are. Those who have little or no money will qualify for legal aid so there is no need to attempt to claim asylum without legal representation.