Contact Law blog

What laws govern asylum seekers?

The term ‘asylum seeker’ applies to person who has applied for refugee status with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and is awaiting their decision. Solicitors should be appointed to manage the application being made to the UKBA. A person will be granted refugee status if the definition in the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (UN Convention) applies to their situation. The UN Convention defines a refugee as a person who has left their country and has a reason to fear persecution in their country because of their race, religion, nationality, or member of a particular social group or political opinion.The UKBA also will consider a person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and whether they will be violated if the person is returned to their country. A solicitor can relate the terms of the ECHR to any application for asylum. The ECHR protects a person’s right to be safe from torture, the death penalty, and unlawful or degrading treatment.

If asylum seeker faces a real risk of this treatment if they return to their country, they will be granted refugee status. If an asylum seeker does not qualify as a refugee, they still may be granted humanitarian protection if there are sufficient humanitarian reasons and this will enable them to remain in the UK. Solicitors acting for the refugee will be able to make these applications to the court.

A person seeking refugee status must apply to the UKBA when they enter the UK. The application process under asylum and immigration law has six stages. The first is the screening interview where the asylum seeker will be asked for their basic details. They are then assigned a case owner who is responsible for conducting further interviews.
The third stage is the initial meeting between the case owner and the asylum seeker. The fourth stage is the asylum interview. This is an important stage as the asylum seeker can put forward their reasons for claiming asylum and present any evidence they may have. An asylum seeker is advised to have contact with an immigration solicitor prior to their asylum interview. They must then wait for the case owner’s decision. The sixth stage is the appeal. Asylum seekers have the right to appeal the case owner’s decision in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. If an appeal is to be made, the legal advice from a solicitor is highly recommended.

Asylum seekers have rights under UK civil law. They are entitled to free health care, housing and financial support if they meet the requirements, and legal representation by an immigration solicitor. In addition, they have the right to not be discriminated against because of their asylum seeker status. If any discrimination is alleged, a solicitor can make a formal complaint on behalf of the asylum seeker.

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