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Immigration and Asylum: Procedures

Britain's immigration system is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. There are large variations in the procedures that are required for each individual option and also a large variance in eligibility criteria. The British government attempts to cater to all circumstances and in general does a good job. In this article we are going to look at the UK's immigration system, with a focus on claiming asylum in the UK. We will look at the eligibility criteria for illegal immigrants and how they can become legal citizens in the UK.

Who qualifies as an illegal immigrant?

As a general rule, an illegal immigrant is classified so by their method of entry to the UK. If they came to the UK using fake documents or managed to get through without being stopped at a port, then they would qualify as an illegal immigrant. Each year, thousands of illegal immigrants find themselves in the UK. Often these illegal immigrants have left war torn countries in order to make the dangerous and sometimes fatal journey to safety in Western Europe, and usually the UK.

The UK is a hotspot for illegal immigration due to the prevalence of the English language. Often, illegal immigrants simply skip the countries in between their own and the UK because the second language that they know is English. These people become illegal immigrants in the UK due to not entering the country in a legal manner.

Can I claim refugee status?

In order to claim refugee status, you will need to make an application for asylum. Once you have applied for asylum in the UK, you will be re-classified as an asylum seeker rather than an illegal immigrant. This is the first stage in becoming legal in the UK and for the time being at least, means you will not be removed from the UK if you are stopped by the police. It is important that you claim asylum as soon as possible once you reach the UK in order to avoid being deported.

Once you have applied for asylum in the UK, your refugee application will be assessed. You will need to provide some documentary proof of your refugee status and will need to wait until your application has been assessed to see if you qualify as a refugee. If you do, your status will change to refugee and your right to remain in the UK will be approved. Please note that even once you have gained refugee status, you will not be able to work.

Will I be able to work as an asylum seeker / refugee?

Unfortunately asylum seekers and refugees are not allowed to work in the UK. There are many reasons for this, but principally, you are here for protection as your country of origin is too dangerous to return to, you are not here on a working visa. This vast distinction is what causes many to take a huge risk and try to work illegally. The UK has got significantly better at rooting out fraud and will likely deal with rule breaks very harshly.

If you want to talk to someone about your options, please get in touch and our immigration specialists will be able to talk to you about your situation and guide you in the right direction. There are also many charities that help asylum seekers and refugees and we can help put you in touch with them.

How do I apply for asylum?

If you wish to make an application for asylum, you will need to attend a "screening". The "screening is a meeting with a Border Force agent who will assess your case and decide where to proceed next. You will normally have your biometric information captured (photograph and fingerprints) and will take part in an interview to determine whether you may have a claim for asylum in the UK.

If you are in the UK already, you will need to make an appointment for a "screening" and will be told what documents you need to take with you. You will also need to take along any dependents that you have with you in the UK. If you have nowhere to live, you can turn up without an appointment. If you are unsure of how to proceed, or feel that you need legal advice, call us today and let our immigration specialists help you with your asylum queries.

Am I entitled to benefits as an asylum seeker?

You are not entitled to any state benefits as an asylum seeker. You will however be entitled to receive a home and a small allowance that can help to look after you and your family. How much you receive will rely on where you are in the application stage and the government's immigration guidance will let you know what you are entitled to.

Your entitlement will also change if you refuse a home that you have been offered. The UK has a severe shortage of housing stock and you will be expected to accept a property that has been offered to you.

Can I ever exchange my refugee status for a better option?

Yes, once you have been in the UK for long enough (usually 5 years) you will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Once you have received Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you will be able to work, and after spending a further 12 months in the UK, you will be able to apply for British citizenship.

This route is often the one taken by refugees who want to remain in the UK for the long-term. If you wish to discuss applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for refugees, then please call us and we can discuss your options with you.

Where can I get more help?

If you need more help with an asylum / refugee claim, or indeed any other immigration query, get in touch today and our immigration solicitors can help to look at your case and assist you where needed. We can also put you in touch with many of the UK's charities that are set up to help those in your position. So, for more information or advice, call us today.

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