By Oshin Shahiean and Hans Sok Appadu, of OTS Solicitors
Oshin Shahiean is a founding partner at OTS Solicitors. He has years of experience in Immigration law and has handled hundreds of applications from EEA nationals for permanent residence Cards. Oshin is also regularly called on to provide expert opinion on television and print media, both in the UK and internationally. Hans Sok Appadu is a senior Level 2 Accredited advisor and Trainee Solicitor.
OTS Solicitors is a Legal 500 recommended law firm, and we have won numerous other awards for our immigration services (including a Global Excellence Award for the Most Trusted in Immigration law). Oshin and Hans regularly advise and represent high-profile people who are seeking Asylum in the UK.
The rules around seeking Asylum in the UK
If a person is facing persecution in their own country, they can escape to another nation and ask to claim Asylum.
Strict international laws and conventions govern Asylum, and the UK is a signatory to all major international treaties governing refugees.
The two pieces of international law that govern the Asylum process are:
1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees – 145 States have ratified this convention. It defines what a refugee is, outlines their rights and states the legal obligations ratifying countries have to protect them. Its core principle is non-refoulment, which means that no State can return an Asylum seeker to a country where they face persecution. The non-refoulment principle is now so entrenched, it has become part of customary international law. To be classed as a refugee, a person must show they have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership of a social group, and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from the authorities in their own country. The chance of future persecution can be considered under the 1951 Convention, even if no actual persecution took place before the Asylum seeker fled.
1950 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – if removing a person would breach their rights under this Convention, they may be entitled to claim Asylum in the UK. Most claims are based on a breach of Article 3 (right to freedom from torture and inhumane/degrading treatment) and Article 8 (right to private and family life). The UK’s ratification of the ECHR is unrelated to its membership of the European Union. A claim under the ECHR can be brought in conjunction with a claim under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, or it can stand alone.
The Common European Asylum System
The Common European Asylum System is designed to unify the Asylum process across the UK, and all Asylum claims made in an EU country must be considered in light of its provisions. The Reception Conditions Directive sets out the minimum standards of reception (housing, welfare support, health care etc.) that states must provide to Asylum seekers.
Included in the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is the Dublin Regulation, which allows Member States to return Asylum seekers to the first Member State in which they passed through where they should have claimed Asylum. This is designed to prevent floods of migrants entering Europe through the poorer Southern European countries such as Italy and Greece and moving onto richer countries such as Germany and the UK (which is exactly what happened during the migrant crisis of 2015-16).
There have been two standards set by the CEAS in separate years. The UK opted into the first round in 2005 which set the minimum standards, but decided to opt-out of the second which set common standards. The CEAS has repeatedly been criticised for being too harsh on Asylum seekers.
Once Britain leaves the EU, it is not required to be part of the Common European Asylum System, but it may still choose to do so by negotiating an agreement with the EU.
How a decision on an Asylum seeker is made
A claim for Asylum should be made as soon as possible after you enter the UK. Failure to do this may result in you not receiving money and accommodation from the State.
You will need to attend a screening interview, where your name and other details are collected, and an immigration officer will check if you have claimed Asylum in any other European country. Following this, you will attend an Asylum interview, where your assigned caseworker will hear your story and discover why you cannot return to your home country. In some cases, following this interview, you may be taken to Harmondsworth immigration Removal Centre or Yarl’s Wood immigration Removal Centre. If this happens, your application will be fast-tracked, meaning the entire decision and appeal process should be completed within 10-14 days.
If you are not detained, you may need to wait up to six months for a decision on whether your Asylum has been granted.
If your claim for Asylum is refused, you will normally have the right to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.
Our client was from South East Asia and was an active member of a prominent political party. The Home Office refused our client’s Asylum claim and their subsequent appeal was dismissed by the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). The judge did not take the view that our client’s evidence was credible. The client instructed us to deal with their fresh claim, which was based on the latest developments in their home country and their involvement when a senior Minister of that country visited the UK. Our client had various arrest warrants issued against them in their home country and their name was mentioned in various newspapers in South East Asia. We reviewed the merit of the client’s claim and established that it passed the fresh claim threshold. We then prepared a submission on their behalf, after instructing an expert to provide us with an opinion about the risk for someone in our client’s position of returning to their home country. The claim we submitted, along with the expert’s opinions, was persuasive. We instructed expert counsel to give their opinion on the matter. We then booked an appointment with UK Visas and immigration (UKVI) and our client travelled to Liverpool to submit their fresh claim. A few months later, the claim for Asylum was allowed and our client was granted refugee status without needing to make a further appeal.
By organising expert opinions from a leading barrister and someone with a strong knowledge of the political situation in our client’s home country, we were able to overcome any credibility issues our client faced.
Our immigration solicitors in London can provide the best advice and representation in relation to obtaining Asylum in the UK. Our team is friendly, professional, highly responsive and always available to answer our clients’ questions.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is a Legal 500 leading firm. We work with many businesses and individuals, both in the UK and the Middle East. By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. Please contact us on 0207 936 9960.
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 020 7936 9960 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Tuesday, 02 January, 2018