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8 Claiming Asylum

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1. Introduction

2. Who qualifies for asylum?

3. How do I apply for asylum?

4. What happens when I apply?

5. What can I live on while I am waiting?

6. What rights do I have while I'm waiting?

7. Where can I get help with my claim?

If you do not have enough money to pay for legal representation, you should be able to get specialist advice free of charge. This is available through solicitors and voluntary organisations who have a contract with the Legal Services Commission. Two of the larger organisations that can provide advice are the Refugee Legal Centre and the Immigration Advisory Service. See 'Further help' for details on how to contact them.

Also, free services are provided by other organisations and some local agencies, particularly law centres. The one-stop service or a Citizens Advice Bureau can help you find these, though you may not be able to find a legal adviser to help you immediately.

If you have been detained and you can't get to any of these organisations, you should try to contact one by phone or speak to a member of the visitors' group. This is a group of volunteers who visit people who are detained, and can put you in touch with services outside.

Your adviser must tell you in writing:

  • what service you can expect;
  • who to complain to if you have concerns about the advice service or adviser;
  • whether you will have to pay a charge, and if so how it is worked out; and
  • how to contact the advice service when you need to.

It is against the law for organisations to offer advice or help with asylum cases unless they are solicitors or on the register of the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). Anyone who offers advice that isn't free must always tell you that free advice is also available.

Using interpreters
The immigration authorities will provide you with an interpreter for any interview they carry out. Your legal representatives should also find one for you when you see them. If you do not understand an interpreter, you must say so immediately. It is very difficult to correct mistakes later. Remember that interpreters are meant to help you to communicate, and should just translate what is said, not give advice or answer questions for you. You should avoid using friends or family members for all but the simplest help.

8. What will be the outcome of my claim?

9. What if my claim is refused?

10. What happens if my appeal fails?

11. Further help

12. About this leaflet

This leaflet was written in association with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and Mick Chatwin, a barrister and solicitor specialising in immigration law.

Leaflet version: April 2016


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