Coronavirus Temporary Changes To Asylum Immigration Process
The worldwide COVID-19 outbreak has so far caused an enormous amount of upheaval and changed the way many things must be done - it is far from business as usual. Unsurprisingly, one heavily affected area is immigration. For those who are looking to come to the UK to claim asylum (or perhaps are already in the country), there are several changes to the UK’s asylum system that you will need to be aware of. In this article, we will look at a few of those changes to help you understand what you need to do if you’re looking to claim asylum in the UK during the COVID-19 outbreak, or are currently having your case reviewed.
Read more on “Claiming Asylum in the UK”
Can I Still Attend an Asylum Screening Interview?
While the Coronavirus outbreak has caused significant changes to the UK’s asylum system, the system is still up and running. This means that you are still able to make a fresh claim, and where necessary attend an Asylum Screening Interview. These interviews are for those who are not screened at the port of entry which usually takes place at the Asylum Intake Unit in London. Due to people in the UK being urged not to travel unnecessarily, the Home Office has also opened up asylum screenings at offices in the following cities: Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Solihull.
Where you will go for your Asylum Screening Interview will depend on your location in the UK. Because of the rapidly changing picture, we urge you to contact the Asylum Intake Unit on 0300 123 4193. The unit will advise where you should go for your interview. If you are homeless, or otherwise vulnerable, you can claim asylum without calling for an appointment first, but you will need to contact them to ensure you are going to the correct office for your needs.
If you require a substantive interview, you will need to contact the Home Office as these are currently paused. There are face-to-face interviews that run for an extended period, the Home Office is looking at alternative options - such as Skype calls - to facilitate them. In the meantime, keep in regular contact with the Asylum Intake Unit, who will guide you on your next steps.
Can I Still Lodge A Fresh Claim for Asylum in The UK During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
As the UK’s asylum system is still running, you can make a fresh asylum claim. You normally need to visit the Home Office’s Liverpool office to provide the further evidence required for a “fresh claim” in person. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, this is not currently required. If you need to send further evidence to support your claim, you now need to do this by email. In your email, you will need to identify yourself and provide the documentation that has been asked for. If you aren’t confident of doing this yourself, or you would like the support of experienced immigration solicitors, get in touch and we can send these for you.
Because the department is very busy, they prefer to deal with claimants by email. You can still call, but this is not the best way to deal with them and you may find it better to do so by email. This isn’t ideal for many people, but we can help to take care of this for you if you are not confident communicating in English. We can also help if your case needs help from an immigration specialist.
What Support Is Available to Asylum Seekers During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
The Home Office has changed many of the rules for what happens to asylum seekers because of the coronavirus outbreak. On the 27th of March 2020, the Home Office announced a three-month window in which they will not remove immigrants from their asylum accommodation. Usually, asylum seekers would receive a “Notice to Quit” letter once their application had been processed. Whether they received refugee status or their claim had been refused, they would need to move out of their accommodation. If you have received a “Notice to Quit” letter, it is important that you contact Migrant Help so that they can get their support extended.
You will not be asked to leave your asylum accommodation if your asylum application has been approved. You will also continue to receive money on your Aspen card until you begin receiving Universal Credit and you will be contacted once the coronavirus lockdown has ended to tell you what you need to do next.
If your asylum application has been rejected and you have received notice of “appeal right exhausted”, you will now be transferred onto Section 4 support. Previously, if you were in this situation, you would have had your financial support removed and would be expected to leave the country. As the UK is in lockdown, they will not expect you to leave. Once the coronavirus lockdown is finished, you will be contacted on what to do next. As much of the world is locked down, it is unlikely that you will be able to leave the UK for some time. If you need to discuss your options, please get in touch with a member of our team who can look at your options to see what you can do next. We understand that this is a terrifying position for many people and we will do our best to give you all the options possible.
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