Asylum Explained


The right to seek asylum is set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Asylum Seeker – a person seeking refugee status whose claim has not been determined. 

Refugee – a person who has been granted refugee status (Leave To Remain). 

Refused Asylum Seeker – a person who has had their claim rejected by the Home Office.

New Refugee – a person in recent receipt of Leave To Remain.

The transition from asylum seeker to refugee is fraught with increased risk of destitution. This is due to a system whereby one support mechanism ends before another is in place. The situation could be alleviated if asylum seekers were allowed to work. See more on LiftTheBan on our Campaigns and Awareness page. 


  • Asylum seekers don’t choose where they live.
  • Dispersal is the process by which the Home Office moves asylum seekers to specified local authorities. 
  • The process has been criticised for its inequities – on 31st December 2018, Kirklees had 766 asylum seekers, 21% higher than if dispersal was spread equally across the region. 


The Home Office  

  • The Home Office (government) makes the initial decision on an asylum case.
  • If they refuse it and it goes to appeal, the UK legal system (courts) decides. 
  • In the year up to March 2019, the number of appeals allowed was 39% indicating poor decision-making by the Home Office.
  • March 2019 saw a record high in the total backlog of cases pending an initial decision by the Home Office. Each of those 30,027 cases represents a person anxiously awaiting news of their fate.
  • The appeals process is complex and lengthy, plunging claimants into months, even years of stress, uncertainty and poverty.


Indefinite detention for no crime, with no trial, happens here every day.

    • The UK is the only European country that detains indefinitely. 
    • Around half of all asylum seekers are detained at some stage during their asylum process.
    • The decision to detain is made by the Home Office alone. While the police have to apply to the courts to detain for more than 36hours, the Home Office can detain an asylum seeker (not a criminal) indefinitely without any independent scrutiny. 
    • Neglect and abuse have been widely reported in UK detention centres. 
    • Those detained include children and victims of torture and sexual violence. 
    • The BMA and Amnesty have reported on the serious mental and physical harm indefinite detention causes. 
    • The detention system costs £108 million a year. 
    • 69% of those detained are released, revealing their detention to have been a waste of public money.

About us

We are OISC accredited to offer Asylum and Protection Advice at Level 2.
We do not offer legal advice. We help clients find solicitors.