Duncan Lewis

Asylum support - What services and support are available to asylum seekers in the UK?

Date: (10 December 2009)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:There are various types of support and services available to asylum applicants in the UK who have leave to remain here during the time that their applications are being processed. A number of these services are available to all asylum seekers whilst others will depend on their level of income, should they have any. Every asylum applicant is assigned a caseworker and they will be able to give the applicant full information on the support services they may apply for.

In the first instance, the UK Border Agency will assess the needs and circumstances of the applicant. If, for example, the applicant cannot support themselves or their family whilst their application is processed, they can apply for money and a place to live in the meantime. This might not be possible for asylum seekers who were living in the UK for some time before they made their application, except in cases where breaches in their rights under the European Convention of Human Rights occur.

If the applicant meets the criteria for receiving support then they will receive suitable housing and a caseworker will enable them to collect money from their local post office. This will be enough to buy basic food, clothing and toiletries. Partial support is also available for those in various circumstances, such as having somewhere to live but needing financial support, or not needing money but needing somewhere to live.

The UK Border Agency provides support under certain conditions, and all applicants before receiving it have to sign an agreement to abide by the conditions. The support stops automatically should the applicant breach the conditions.

The applicant is not able to choose where they prefer to live when housing is provided, and they will be directed to a suitable area whilst their application is being processed. There are also various rules governing the level of financial support offered and this depends very much on individual circumstances that have been assessed by the applicant’s caseworker. The applicant receives an Application Registration Card, which has to be produced whenever they collect their cash support.

The applicant’s children, if any, may also be sent to school whilst the application process is working through, although the applicant will not normally be allowed to work before the application decision has been made. This and other matters will be discussed with the caseworker, and immigration solicitors, such as Duncan Lewis, who are able to provide expert advice on this and other areas of the law.

Individual councils can be approached to see what provision they have for asylum seekers, and the caseworkers will have information on voluntary organisations dealing with this area.

Short-term support is also often available where applications have failed and the applicant is waiting to return home. Strict criteria must be met in order to receive this Section 4 support.