A new law called The Illegal Migration Act 2023 has recently come into force. The Act has brought about significant changes to the UK asylum and immigration system for people who arrive in the UK on or after 20 July 2023. We are in the process of updating the Toolkit to reflect these developments. For now, please be aware that some of the information in the Toolkit may be out-of-date for people who arrived in the UK after that date. To stay up to date with any changes to the Toolkit, please sign up to our newsletter here.

Last updated: 19 December 2023

On this page, you will find the following information:

If the Home Office accepts your story and evidence and agrees that you need protection in the UK – they make a positive decision on your asylum claim – you will be granted leave to remain in the UK. You may hear this described as getting “immigration status”, “permission to stay in the UK”, or getting “papers”.

You may be granted Refugee Status or Humanitarian Protection, or sometimes another form of leave to remain.

What happens when the Home Office grants status after an asylum application?

A grant of refugee status 

If the Home Office decides that you have a need for protection because you are at risk of persecution, and your claim falls under the grounds for protection in the Refugee Convention, you will be granted Refugee Status for a period of 5 years. After this time, you can apply for settlement (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) in the UK. After 1 year of settlement, you will be able to apply for British citizenship (a British passport).  You can read more about this in the ‘Applying for British Citizenship’ section of this page below.

The new Nationality and Borders Act which came into law in 2022 created an asylum system with two different levels for people who arrive in the UK after 28 June 2022. People who arrived to the UK directly (without passing through a safe country) and claimed asylum without delay were to fall into Group 1 which is the ‘regular’ refugee route. Everyone else was to fall into Group 2 and be granted a lesser type of leave called ‘temporary refugee permission’.

However, in June 2023 after less than a year, it was announced that this two-group system would be discontinued from July 2023. Everyone whose asylum claim is granted will receive Group 1 or ‘normal’ refugee status. Anyone who was given Group 2 status will be ‘upgraded’ to Group 1. You can read more about this change here.

You can read the Home Office guidance on asylum claims lodged on or after 28 June 2022 here.

What happens after you receive refugee status?

Rainbow Migration has a guide to help you move forward with education, support, housing, help with mental health and looking for work after you have been granted refugee status. You can access the guide by clicking here

You can contact your local Citizens Advice bureau for advice after you receive refugee status. They also have an information sheet which you can access here.  There may be other local groups who may be able to help you with this. If you type in the name of the area you live in, followed by ‘asylum support groups’ on Google or any search engine, you should be able to find them. 

The Migration Justice Project (part of Law Centre NI) published an excellent Refugee Transition Guide, which is a support guide for people who have recently received Refugee Status, Humanitarian Protection, or Discretionary Leave to Remain.

The guide covers topics such as what your rights are when you transition from being an asylum seeker to a refugee, your Biometric Residence Permit, what the end of asylum support means, social security, working and National Insurance, and many other useful topics. It is available for download in English, Arabic, Farsi, Somali and Tigrinya. 

Please do note that some sections of the Migration Justice Project guide are Northern Ireland-specific.

Family reunion

Those who receive refugee status can apply to have their family members join them in the UK under a process called ‘family reunion’. 

Free Movement and Refugee Legal Support have drafted a user-friendly, detailed guide to family reunion which you can use to understand this process.

The Refugee Legal Assistance Project at the University of Bedfordshire assists people with their family reunion applications. Their campus is in Luton. You can email rlap@beds.ac.uk to book an appointment – but please note that this may take some time because they receive many requests.

A grant of humanitarian protection 

Refugee status (see above) should be granted if you can show you are at risk of specific, individual persecution. 

If you are fleeing war or violence that is threatening or harming many people where you are from – not you specifically because of who you are– you may not qualify for refugee status.

If you are not at risk of individual persecution but you would be at risk of serious threat or harm if you returned to where you are from because of general violence, (for example during a war or internal conflict) then you may be granted another form of immigration status called Humanitarian Protection.

People who receive humanitarian protection status are granted leave to remain for 5 years, and enjoy almost all of the same rights as those with refugee status. 

Under the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, the Home Office sought to limit the rights and benefits of those who received humanitarian protection. However, this unworkable plan was scrapped in the summer of 2023. You can read about that here

If you are granted Humanitarian Protection and you would like to travel, you will either need to use your national passport or if you have proof of not being able to do this, you can apply for a Certificate of Travel from the Home Office.

Other leave to remain

In some cases, your asylum claim may be refused but you may be granted another type of leave to remain in the UK.

If you have applied for asylum, and that application is refused, you may be granted leave under the immigration rules (on human rights grounds, for example). You can read more about this here.

If you are an unaccompanied minor and there are not adequate reception arrangements in your country of origin, the Home Office may grant you limited leave to remain until you are 17.5 years old. You can read more about young people’s journey through the asylum process on our Young Asylum Guide website.

In some modern slavery/trafficking cases, Discretionary Leave may be granted. This may be if asylum is refused or was not sought, but there are particular circumstances meaning that you, as a recognised victim of trafficking need to stay in the UK. This includes situations where you are assisting the police with inquiries, or where there are particularly compelling personal circumstances. Read more about the National Referral Mechanism and modern slavery in our Legal Updates blog here.

Some medical cases may also result in Discretionary Leave, if removal would breach your Article 3 (right to protection from torture or degrading treatment) or Article 8 (right to private and family life) rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In rare circumstances, another kind of leave called Restricted Leave may be granted. For example, if you are excluded from receiving Refugee Status or Humanitarian Protection, but your Article 3 rights under the ECHR would be breached if you were removed from the UK.

Applying for permanent residence (Citizenship) in the UK 

If you are granted refugee status or humanitarian protection, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after spending 5 years in the UK. ILR is sometimes called ‘settled status’. You can learn more about applying for ILR here.

After having ILR for 12 months, and if you meet the ‘good character’ requirements, you can apply for British citizenship. This is sometimes called ‘naturalisation’. You can learn more about applying for British citizenship here.

If you have humanitarian protection, you will typically be granted 5 years’ leave to remain in the UK. At the end of this period, you will be eligible to apply for ILR (settled status) in the UK. After having ILR for 12 months, you will be able to apply for British citizenship. 

What happens after a Home Office refusal?

If your asylum claim is refused by the Home Office, you should speak to your lawyer as soon as possible. We use the word lawyer to mean the person representing you in your legal case. You can read more about lawyers here.

Your lawyer (or you, if you do not have a lawyer) needs to look carefully at the Home Office decision letter. Read more about this below.

You may be able to make a legal challenge to the Home Office’s refusal. This is called an appeal. Read more about this below.

If you are going to challenge the Home Office refusal, you will need evidence to support your claim. You can find out more about this below. The information about evidence will also be useful for other stages of the legal process – for example, if you are making a fresh claim.

If you have a legal aid lawyer, they will have to assess whether they can continue to represent you. This is called a “merits test” and they can only continue with your case if they can argue that you have at least a 50% chance of succeeding on appeal. Read more about this on our legal aid page.

If you are receiving asylum support (financial support and/or accommodation) you will continue to receive this after a Home Office refusal, if you have a right to appeal the refusal (see below). This support will stop when you are “appeal rights exhausted”. Read more on our asylum support page, and our appeal rights exhausted page.

Read this section for information about what happens after your claim has been refused, and what you can do. It is useful to read this information and prepare while you are still waiting for a Home Office decision, as there are many delays and you may be waiting a long time.

Click on the buttons below for translated summaries of this section on refusals:


Video in other languages:

Look at the Home Office decision

If you want to challenge the Home Office refusal of your claim, you need to look closely at their decision letter. If you have a lawyer, they should do this with you. Read the Action Section in the yellow box below.

Think about how you could challenge this refusal. You will probably need evidence to succeed in this challenge. Read the sections on evidence below.

If your lawyer thinks the Home Office decision is very bad and major errors have been made, they may contact the Home Office before making a legal challenge to ask them to reconsider their decision. This is only likely to succeed in a very strong case.

In most cases, you will need to make a legal challenge of the refusal. Read below to see if you will have the right to appeal, and how to do this.

ACTION SECTION (for refusals)

  • If you receive a refusal on your case from the Home Office by post, keep the envelope. You may need to prove when it was posted, and the actual day you received it. Write the date you received it next to the postmark.
  • Go through every paragraph of the refusal letter, and write comments on a separate piece of paper. Are there mistakes such as dates or places in your story? Can you identify how these errors have occurred? For example, is the error also recorded in the written transcript of your asylum interview? If it is, you may also need to check the audio recording of your interview. Was it a mistake in interpretation?
  • Look at your other documents to identify when the error has occurred. These might include the record of an asylum screening interview, asylum interview, or any statements/evidence submitted to the Home Office. An asylum Reasons for Refusal Letter (RFRL) may reference the different documents with abbreviations: Screening Interview (SCI), Asylum Interview Record (AIR), Witness Statement (WS).
  • Are you missing any of the documents that are mentioned in the letter? If you do not have one or more of these documents, you can either ask the lawyer that was handling your case at that stage (if you had one), or you can request that the Home Office send you a copy of your file. This is called a subject access request (SAR) and you should receive a response within one month, although it will take longer if you do not provide the Home Office with the information they need to establish your identity.

    You can read more about subject access requests and how to make one on the Home Office website. Because of a Home Office backlog, it might be delayed in responding to your request. 
  • Have all areas of your claim been considered? If you are claiming asylum, has it been considered under the correct Refugee Convention grounds? If you are applying under human rights grounds as well as claiming asylum, have these been considered properly in the decision letter? For example, if you have claimed asylum and applied to stay under Article 8 (family and private life), has your Article 8 case been considered in the decision?
  • You can write a statement about the things you think are wrong with the refusal letter. You can get a friend/supporter to help with this if you find writing in English difficult. If you have a lawyer, they should write and submit this statement for you. You should submit this statement to the Home Office and, if you have the right of appeal, to the court in advance of your appeal hearing.
  • What evidence can you find to support your statement? This might be evidence specific to your case, country of origin information, expert evidence. See below for more information on what sort of evidence you should be looking for and how to collect it.
  • Have there been problems because you couldn’t remember something clearly, especially if the event was traumatic? You can find useful resources about memory recall and traumatic events on the Centre for the Study of Emotion and Law website.

Appealing a Home Office refusal

There is currently only the right of appeal within the UK if the Home Office refuse an application based on:

  • a human rights claim
  • an international protection claim
  • a decision to revoke Refugee Status or Humanitarian Protection, or
  • a decision on an EU Settled Status application made after 31 January 2020.

Not all applications based on human rights or international protection have a right of appeal. Read more on the Appeals page of this guide.

For example, you do not have the right of appeal in the UK if your asylum or human rights claim is certified by the Home Office because they think it is “clearly unfounded”.

If you are making a human rights claim when you are subject to deportation after a criminal sentence, the Home Office may certify the claim unless you can show that “serious and irreversible harm” would occur if you had to appeal outside of the UK. The Home Office is less likely to certify your claim if your child is a British citizen. Read more on the Deportation page of this guide.

If your claim is certified, you may be able to appeal the negative decision on your application from outside of the UK. It may also be possible to challenge the certification of your claim through a judicial review. Read more on the Judicial Reviews page of this guide.

Getting evidence for your appeal

Read this section to learn about the types of evidence you can consider collecting. 

If you have a lawyer, they should gather evidence for your appeal. This is likely to include general evidence about your country of origin. This may also include evidence specific to you.

If you do not have a lawyer, you will need to look for this evidence yourself.

The information about evidence below is also useful for other stages of the legal process, such as if you are making a fresh claim. Read more on the Fresh Claims page of this guide.

If you are appealing on the basis of your human rights – your right to family and private life – you should also read the Evidence page of this guide.

Country guidance information

Country guidance information (including that used by the Home Office) may be helpful for your case if what you said happened or could happen to you is supported by general evidence about your country. If information about your country suggests that you would be safe if you returned there, you will need to either show that the information is incorrect/out of date, or that your specific situation does not fit the general pattern.

When making a decision on your claim, the Home Office will refer to its own country guidance notes. The Home Office guidance for your home country may be flawed – it may be out of date, or not reflect the concerns of human rights organisations. You can find the Home Office’s country documents here.

The Home Office guidance and your Reasons for Refusal Letter will refer to country guidance cases. You should take a look at any cases that are referred to by the Home Office in your letter. These are asylum appeal cases chosen by the immigration tribunal (this is the court) to give legal guidance for a particular country, or a particular group of people in a particular country. The decisions in these cases are meant to be based on the best possible evidence about that country at the time. Until there are significant changes in that country, a country guidance decision sets out the law for other people seeking asylum from that country. You can find the latest country guidance decisions here.

These cases can be quite old and may not reflect a current or changing situation. Your individual situation might be different from the circumstances mentioned in the country guidance case. Or the Home Office refusal letter may only refer to cases or paragraphs that support its decisions. Other cases or decisions might show information that is different or more up to date than what is in a country guidance decision.

Watch our video on Understanding Case Law below.

Expert evidence

Your lawyer may get some expert evidence if your case goes to appeal, but it is something you or a supporter can think about as well. Evidence could come from an academic, university researcher, or experienced professional who is an expert on your country of origin, or a particular part of your case. They can be asked to look at your testimony and comment on whether it fits with what they know about the subject. They could also be asked to comment on why your case might not fit the general pattern.

IMPORTANT NOTE: you are not asking the expert to say whether or not you are telling the truth. You are asking them to use their knowledge to comment on how your story fits into known information on that topic.

If you have physical and/or mental health problems because of what has happened to you, your lawyer may be able to get a report from a medical expert which can be submitted as evidence in your asylum claim. Read more about that in our blog post here.

Usually, a lawyer will “instruct” an expert, and pay them a fee. This fee will normally be covered by legal aid, if your case is eligible for this.

An expert may be useful in other aspects of a case too. If there are reasons why you can’t give testimony easily, because of memory or psychological problems, they can comment on this. If you have had problems understanding things, an expert could comment on language problems or learning difficulties.

If your case includes a claim to a family or private life in the UK, a teacher, psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker may be able to comment on the impact the removal/deportation of you or your child might have on their development. You may find it useful to look at the ‘Best Practice Guide to Asylum and Human Rights Appeals‘ section on expert evidence. This is a guide written by lawyers for lawyers, but you may find parts of it helpful or be able to ask someone with legal knowledge to help you go through and read who an “expert” would be in this situation, and what they can and can’t say.

ACTION SECTION (for expert evidence)

If you do not have a lawyer, you could try contacting experts yourself. If a supporter or local group has connections to an NGO or a university, they may be able to find an expert who is willing to do this for free.

You could also try contacting the experts listed on the Refugee Legal Aid Information website or on the EIN website.

If the expert cannot produce an export report for free, a reasonable price might be £500. Remember this amount is just for producing the report.

An expert may not be required to attend the appeal, especially if they have simply verified they think a document is genuine, but you should check that the expert would be willing to appear in court just in case. If you are paying the expert yourself, they may ask for more money if they are required to come to court.

If the expert asks to be paid, your friends/community could consider fundraising for this. You need to decide if this is a good use of funds – is there a crucial element of your case that the Home Office doesn’t believe, that an expert report could realistically help with?

Objective evidence

When challenging a Home Office refusal of your asylum or human rights claim, especially if you are appealing the decision, you may need objective evidence.

When challenging a Home Office refusal of your asylum or human rights claim, especially if you are appealing the decision, you may need objective evidence.

Objective evidence may be general information about the situation in your country, from reliable sources such as human rights organisations or trusted media sources. It could also include an expert statement on your country or situation (see above).

Objective evidence is especially important if your credibility has been questioned by the Home Office, because the evidence isn’t based on what you say happened or could happen.

The evidence needs to be relevant to your asylum claim and either cover the time period when your previous persecution occurred, or be recent evidence if you are talking about a future fear of persecution.

Objective evidence in this section refers to sources that aren’t connected to you. Generally, good places to find this evidence are through human rights organisations or reputable media sources.

Good places to look for information on human rights in a country of origin:

For more suggestions of where to look for evidence, see the country information Toolkit page, where sources are also listed by theme.

All the sources listed above are considered to be reliable sources of information, which have a good reputation for being accurate, and the media sources listed are ones that have good world news sections and are interested in human rights. If you are getting evidence from other sources, think about who has written the report or article. If it’s a group that is in opposition to a government, the Home Office and the courts might not consider it to be objective/good evidence.

An expert may be useful in other aspects of a case too. If there are reasons why you can’t give testimony easily, because of memory or psychological problems, they can comment on this. If there have been problems understanding things, an expert could comment on language problems or learning difficulties.

If your case includes a claim to a family or private life in the UK, a teacher, psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker may be able to comment on the impact the removal/deportation of you or your child might have on their development.

You may find it useful to look at the ‘Best Practice Guide to Asylum and Human Rights Appeals‘ section on expert evidence. This is a guide written by lawyers for lawyers, but you may find parts of it helpful or be able to ask someone with legal knowledge to help you go through and read what an “expert” in this context is, and what they can and can’t say.

What you can do after being refused by the Home Office

ACTION SECTION

  • Think about what might happen next, and make a plan of action. After a refusal, you need to think about what your options are and what might come next. If your asylum or human rights claim has been refused, use the diagram above to see what the process involves after this point.

    Read the section on appeal rights, above. Prepare yourself for the appeal if you have the right to appeal the decision. If you don’t have the right to appeal the decision, read our pages on judicial reviews and fresh claims.

    If your lawyer says they can no longer work on your case, you can look for a new lawyer and think about how to explain your case is strong. Read more on our information about lawyers page.

    If there are weaknesses in your case (where the Home Office say they do not believe you) can you get evidence to support your story? Read the Evidence sections above. You could use this to convince a new lawyer to take on your case, or to appeal the refusal if you have to continue without a lawyer.
  • Stay strong, and look after yourself. Going through the asylum system is very difficult and stressful. Sometimes it can be hard to think about anything else. But constant worry about your case can leave you feeling emotionally exhausted, and less able to cope with the process.

    Everyone has a different way of coping – think about what works for you. While your immigration status is of course very important, it’s also important to try and give yourself a break from thinking about it. Think about activities that can distract you or help you relax for at least a short period every day, which can help your mind and body recover a little.

    Talk to people you trust. You may be very upset or even feel ashamed if your application/claim is refused, but don’t hide it from people. You’re going to need people to help you – don’t be afraid to ask for their solidarity.

    Don’t leave it till it’s too late for them to do anything.
  • You may wish to speak to your MP about your refusal, especially if you don’t have the right to appeal. Think about how to explain what has happened clearly and calmly. What has gone wrong? Why is the decision unjust? What do you want your MP to do about it? Read more here.