How to make an asylum application in the UK
Applications can be made directly to the Home Office through the Asylum Screening Unit (located in Croydon). It is important for LGBT people claiming asylum to seek legal advice before making an application and they should ensure their solicitor has experience in supporting claims for LGBT people. The asylum process can move very quickly, and once an applicant is detained, especially if they are placed in the Detained Fast Track, they will have limited access to legal advice and little time to put a strong case together.
How an asylum claim is considered
Every application received is assigned to a case owner. This will be someone who works for the Home Office and they will be responsible for assessing the claim.
The case owner will arrange an initial meeting with the applicant, followed by an official interview at a later date. It is possible to arrange for a solicitor to be present at the Home Office interview. It is also possible to ask for the interview to take place privately, without any friends and family present.
A translator for the interview and/or appeal can also be arranged, and the applicant should let the representative know if either the language or the dialect used by the translator is not right.
Asylum decision and appeal
If an asylum claim is accepted, an individual achieves refugee status. Once a person is granted protection in the UK, they have the right to work, claim benefits and be reunited with their spouse and children (under 18).
If an asylum claim is rejected an individual can appeal.
Appealing a Home Office decision on asylum
There is an appeals process for asylum claims, using a tribunal. The person appealing the decision (and their solicitor) will have to persuade the tribunal that the refusal of asylum is:
- in breach of the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention, because the asylum seeker will be at real risk of persecution if removed and/or
- in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights because the asylum seeker’s right to private/family life will be endangered if they are forced to return to their country and/or
- unlawful for some other reason (for example, it is against stated Home Office policy)
The appeal will take place in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). It is very important that an appeal be lodged correctly, with the help of a solicitor, as the Home Office may otherwise claim that the appeal is not valid.
It is possible to appeal the judgement made by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. To do this, the asylum seeker must apply for a reconsideration of their appeal decision. The Home Office can also appeal against a tribunal decision.
Other useful sources of support
You can find LGBT-friendly solicitors and other useful contacts through Stonewall's online database What's In My Area.
For further information contact Stonewall's Information Service.