What Is Asylum?
Asylum is protection given by a country to someone who is fleeing persecution in their own country. It is given under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. To be recognised as a refugee, you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you have a well-founded fear of persecution.
The United Kingdom also adheres to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prevents the UK authorities sending someone to a country where there is a real risk that they will be exposed to torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
If an asylum seeker does not qualify for asylum but the Secretary of State thinks that there are humanitarian or other reasons why the Home Office should allow the applicant to stay in the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State may give the applicant temporary permission to remain in the United Kingdom.
According to the Immigration Rules, an asylum applicant is a person who either:
(a) makes a request to be recognised as a refugee under the Geneva Convention on the basis that it would be contrary to the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Geneva Convention for him to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom, or
(b) otherwise makes a request for international protection. “Application for asylum” shall be construed accordingly.
Every person has the right to make an application for asylum on his/her own behalf.
Criteria For Grant of Asylum
According to Immigration Rules, an asylum applicant will be granted asylum in the United Kingdom if the Secretary of State is satisfied that
(i) he is in the United Kingdom or has arrived at a port of entry in the United Kingdom;
(ii) he is a refugee, as defined in regulation 2 of The Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006;
(iii) there are no reasonable grounds for regarding him as a danger to the security of the United Kingdom;
(iv) he does not, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime, he does not constitute danger to the community of the United Kingdom; and
(v) refusing his application would result in him being required to go (whether immediately or after the time limited by any existing leave to enter or remain) in breach of the Geneva Convention, to a country in which his life or freedom would threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.
A person may have a well-founded fear of being persecuted or a real risk of suffering serious harm based on events which have taken place since the person left the country of origin or country of return and/or activates which have been engaged in by a person since he left the country of origin or country of return, in particular where it is established that the activities relied upon constitute the expression and continuation of convictions or orientations held in the country of origin or country of return.
Unaccompanied children may also apply for asylum and, in view of their potential vulnerability, particular priority and care is given by the Home Office to the handling of their cases. Although person of any age may qualify for refugee status under the Convention and the criteria in paragraph for grant of asylum as laid in the Immigration Rules apply equally to all cases. However, account is taken of the applicant’s maturity and in assessing the claim of a child more weight is given to objective indications of risk than to the child’s state of mind and understanding of his situation. An asylum application made on behalf of a child should not be refused solely because the child is too young to understand his situation or to have formed a well founded fear of persecution. Close attention should be given to the welfare of the child at all times.
Any child over the age of 12 who has claimed asylum in his own right is interviewed by the Home Office Immigration Officer about the substance of his claim unless the child is unfit or unable to be interviewed. When an interview takes place it is conducted in the presence of a parent, guardian, representative or another adult independent of the Secretary of State who has responsibility for the child. The interviewer is required to have specialist training in the interviewing of children and have particular regard to the possibility that a child will feel inhibited or alarmed. The child shall be allowed to express himself in his own way and at his own speed. If he appears tired or distressed, the interview shall be stopped.