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Asylum is the protection given to an individual who is recognised as a refugee. If you are in the UK, but you genuinely fear persecution if you return to your home country, you may qualify for refugee status, giving you the right to stay here. If you wish to apply for asylum in the UK, you can speak to an immigration lawyer from Meyner and Landis LLP who is an expert in immigration law and who can advise you of the way forward.

Refugee Status

An asylum seeker is someone who has fled his or her country of origin to find a safer place to live, and has lodged an application for protection either under the Refugee Convention or under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. If you wish to claim asylum, you need to satisfy the authorities that you are a person who has a "well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion" in your home country.

The Process

Applications for asylum usually take up to six months to process during which you could be detained by the authorities. The process is complex and includes a formal interview in which you must state your reasons for seeking asylum and why you fear returning to your home country.

If asylum is granted, you will be allowed to start life in the UK and you will be given a residence permit for an initial period of five years. Any dependants you have will be given the same permission. If you are refused asylum, you may have the right to appeal, otherwise, you will have to leave the UK straightaway.

Refugees who already have humanitarian protection in the UK will be permitted to apply for indefinite leave to remain and British citizenship if their initial five-year permission to stay will end between August 2010 and July 2011. In July 2011, a new system of earned citizenship comes into effect. If your initial permission to stay expires after that date, you must apply for probationary citizenship instead of indefinite leave to remain.

The Gateway Protection Programme

The UK’s Gateway Protection Programme is for the resettling of the most vulnerable refugees, many of which are living in refugee camps. These include those at risk of forcible return to their home countries; those whose personal safety is in danger from their governments; those who are victims of trauma and violence needing specialist care; and those whose basic human rights are threatened.

Each application is assessed entirely on its merits taking into account:

  • Refugee status
  • Need for resettlement
  • Security risks
  • Family status
  • Health of both the applicant and any dependants

The programme offers up to 750 refugees a safe haven each year and the chance to settle in the UK, bypassing the usual asylum process. Applications are made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who, in turn, refers them to the UK Border Agency. Successful applicants under this programme will be granted a safe route to the country and indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

If you wish to apply for asylum or know someone who needs to seek asylum, speak to an immigration lawyer from Meyner and Landis LLP who is an expert in immigration law.

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