Information for Asylum Seekers

Claiming Asylum in the UK

You must apply for asylum if you want to stay in the UK as a refugee. To be eligible, you must have left your county and be unable to go back because you fear persecution.

You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country. Your application is more likely to be refused if you wait.

When you apply, you will have a meeting with an Immigration Officer. After this screening, the Home Office will decide if your claim can be considered in the UK. If it can, you will have an asylum interview with a caseworker.

The following guide has information on claiming asylum which can be accessed here.

Housing and Finance

As an asylum seeker, you may be able to get housing and money to support you and your family while your asylum claim is being reviewed. This also means your children will go to a free state school and you may get free healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS).

You will be given somewhere to live if you need it. This could be in a flat, house, hostel or bed and breakfast. You cannot choose where you live.

You will usually get £49.18 for each person in your household. This will help you pay for things you need like food, clothing and toiletries. Your allowance will be loaded onto a debit card (ASPEN card) each week. You will be able to use the card to get cash from a cash machine.

You can find more information around support that you may be eligible for here.

Immigration Advice

In England, the following people can provide immigration advice: –

  • An immigration adviser who is registered with the Office of the Immigration Services (OISC) or is exempt from registration
  • A solicitor who is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (England and Wales)
  • A barrister who is regulated by the Bar Standards Board (England and Wales)

You can search for an OISC registered adviser and solicitor via the following links: –

Some organisations provide free immigration advice and assistance to asylum seekers in the UK. Click on the following links for further information: –

Moving into a New Home

This leaflet tells you what will happen when you first move into your new home provided by Mears. It explains who you will meet, what they will talk to you about, and how they will help you. The leaflet is available in eight different languages.

Moving into your new home leaflets:

Illegal Migration Act

On the 7th March 2023, the Illegal Migration Bill was announced. The aim of the bill is to deal with the challenges relating to small boat crossings on the English Channel. The bill passed through Parliament and became law on 20th July 2023.

The bill includes the following measures:

  • Remove those who enter the UK via unauthorised routes to their home country, or a ‘safe’ third country such as Rwanda
  • Strengthen detention powers (people can only apply for bail to the First-tier Tribunal after 28 days)
  • Those subject for removal will not be able to access the modern slavery system in the UK
  • Expansion of the list of countries that are considered safe in law
  • The government will commit to resettling a specific number of refugees from around the world every year

You can find further information on the Illegal Migration Act by clicking the below links:

The Refugee Council has provided a detailed impact assessment of Illegal Migration Bill. This can be accessed here.

Free School Meals

The government has permanently extended free school meals to all No Recourse to Public Funds groups, subject to maximum income and savings threshold.

The capital (savings) threshold is £16,000, while the income thresholds are as follows:  

  • £22,700 per annum for families outside London with one child.  
  • £26,300 per annum for families outside London with two or more children.

You can apply for free school meals online on your local council’s website by clicking here.