Enter the UK

ⓘ Information card

The Government makes it very difficult for people to enter the United Kingdom (UK) to claim asylum. This is especially so after the Government introduced a law called the Nationality and Borders Act 2022

Under section 40 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (NABA), it is difficult for a person to arrive in the UK without a visa. 

As there is no such thing as an ‘asylum visa’, this law will apply to almost all asylum seekers entering the UK. From 28 July 2022 onwards, anybody who enters the UK (without a visa) and claims asylum will be going against this law. This offence carries a maximum sentence of 4 years (5 years for people who re-enter the UK in breach of a deportation order). 

Some people claim asylum immediately on arrival at the airport/port of entry in the UK. If you do this, you will have your screening interview at the airport/port.

Some people who come to the UK to seek asylum use their own passports, but for many this is not possible. It would either put them at risk to apply for a passport in their country, or using a passport in their own name to leave their country would make their presence known to the very authorities they are fleeing.

Some people enter the UK on a visit visa, student visa, or work visa and then claim asylum on arrival in the UK or at a later date.

Not everyone will claim asylum as soon as they arrive, and there can be good reasons for this. However, you should be aware that the Home Office may use this against you in your application for asylum. They may argue that this is evidence that you are not in real danger. They may argue that your visa application was dishonest, or that you are only applying for asylum because it expired.

The most important thing to remember is that, even though these laws are difficult, many people successfully claim asylum in the UK each year. In the year ending June 2022, 76% of initial Home Office decisions on applications resulted in the grant of refugee status or some other form of protection. This means that the UK Home Office – the government department responsible for immigration and borders – found people’s asylum claims legitimate even though they may have entered the UK through ‘irregular’ means. A legitimate claim is one that is genuine.

Read more in the Entering the UK section of the Right to Remain Toolkit.

Now read the problem card below. Discuss with a friend (or have a think if you’re doing this on your own) what you might be able to do in this situation. When you have finished discussing/thinking, click to reveal a suggested action.

⚠️ Problem card

You enter the UK using a false passport (a passport in a name other than your own). The Home Office prosecute you for this, which is a criminal offence.