Navigating the asylum system
From and article by R2C2
The Refugee Resource Centre for Churches (R2C2) was set up partly at the request of many of the Christian groups working with refugees in Britain today, who pointed out a gap in bringing together all of the expertise and experience of those across the country involved in this vital work.
R2C2 is a partnership between Jubilee+ and the Boaz Trust, combining the infrastructure of the former with the expertise in refugee issues of the latter. Their vision is to see churches increasingly playing a major role in welcoming, loving and supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, both through practical action and as a voice for justice, so they can integrate, flourish and play a full part in society.
Thay have set up a website to facilitate churches and individual Christians (of all denominations) to work effectively towards that vision.
Here is an overview of the UK Asylum System
The UK Asylum System is complex, and difficult to navigate for those who are not familiar with it. When someone seeks asylum in the UK, they are first given a Screening Interview. This is to ascertain basic information about their identity, nationality, family and reason for coming to the UK.
The claimant is then given temporary accommodation, usually in a hostel, until being sent to a shared house in a dispersal area. There is no choice in this. While in asylum accommodation, they will receive free heating and lighting, plus £36.95 per week asylum benefits. They are not allowed to work while in the asylum system.
The asylum claim will be dealt with by a Home Office caseworker. The claimant will be called for their Main (or Substantive) Interview at Croydon or Liverpool, usually within a few weeks of being dispersed (but sometimes not for several months). The claimant is entitled to a Legal Aid solicitor, but the solicitor cannot attend the main interview.
Accepted Claim (Refugee Status)
If their claim is accepted (usually 25-35%), they will be granted Refugee Status (or another form of status such as Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave). Refugee Status is usually for five years, after which they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
If their claim is rejected, they can appeal within 14 days. The case will then go to an Asylum Tribunal, where it will be heard by an Immigration Judge. The asylum seeker will be represented by a barrister at court, if they are still entitled to Legal Aid, while the Home Office will also be legally represented.
If the claim is rejected again, the asylum seeker will have to leave the asylum accommodation within three weeks. They will no longer be eligible for any form of state support, and have no right to public funds. At this point most will be homeless and destitute. Those whose claims are accepted must leave their accommodation within four weeks. They will be entitled to work, and also access full healthcare and mainstream benefits.
See more at the R2C2 website here.
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