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What is Asylum?

Asylum means permitting a person to live in another country because they are at risk of persecution in their own country.

A person who has come to the UK for asylum, and waiting for a decision on their application is called an ‘asylum seeker’.

If a person has come to the UK and made an asylum claim with a favourable decision, meaning they have leave to stay, they are called ‘refugees’.


What if an individual entered the UK illegally?

Even if someone has entered the UK illegally, they no longer have illegal status once they have applied for asylum. Once the application is made, the person seeking protection can stay in the UK until a decision has been made.


Does the government have an obligation to give people asylum?

The UK government has an obligation to protect people who meet the criteria for asylum as set out under the ‘1951 UN Refugee Convention’. This is because the UK has signed international laws relating to asylum, and they have now become part of UK legislation.


What do you need to prove to make an application for asylum?

Firstly, you would need to show that in your home country, you have a serious fear of persecution based on one or more of the following refugee grounds:

  • Your ethnic background
  • The religion that you practice
  • Your place of origin (nationality) in your home country
  • Your political views
  • Any social group membership or affiliation


How can I make a successful application?

The favourable outcome of the claim will typically depend if your story is believed by the UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI). This is an agency run by the Home Office.

Your chances of a positive outcome would be dependent on whether you can demonstrate that you’re are facing intimidation or any potential serious harm in your home country.


What if your application for asylum is unsuccessful?

If your application is unsuccessful, you may challenge the decision using the appeal process in the UK.

However, there are instances where the Home Office may say that your application is unfounded, this being that you made an application solely for no good reason or there is no basis that you need protection.

In those circumstances, the Home Office will want you to return to your country of origin to lodge an appeal, known as an out of country appeal.

You can challenge the decision in the UK by way of Judicial Review, that you should be given an in-country right of appeal


What if I can’t currently show that I’m being persecuted?

You may still make the application based on the 5 points made above. You may not have any evidence to support your case, but the Home Office will still assess your case based on your interviews, along with any representations you have made to see if it is believable.


 What asylum laws are there?  

The 1951 Geneva Convention which addresses the status of refugees indicates that even if you have not suffered persecution in the past if you can demonstrate you will now face persecution in the future, this can be used to support your application. An example would be a change in circumstances in your country of origin, such as a new government.

An application can be made under the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Many claims are made under Article 2- the right to life or Article 3, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. Also, under Article 8, a person has a right to respect for family and private life.

Lastly, the European Union Asylum Qualification Directive. This directive is in place to establish standard criteria, so there is a similar way of dealing with asylum matters throughout Europe.


What if my application is successful?

In this case, you will get leave to remain either refugee status or humanitarian protection, which is valid for five years. In limited circumstances, you may get less.

You may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain after completing five years. This is called ‘settlement’.


What if I break the law while in the UK?

In that case, your refugee or humanitarian status may be lost.


If my application is unsuccessful, can I still reside in the UK?

You may be allowed to stay in the UK temporarily even if you’re situation doesn’t meet the requirements to be granted asylum. You may be permitted to reside in the UK for humanitarian reasons.

You can also submit a fresh claim for asylum or humanitarian protection if you have new evidence that was not considered before by the Home Office.


What are the criteria for grant of asylum?

The Home Office must be satisfied that the person applying for asylum meets several aspects:

  • The applicant is already present in the UK or has arrived through an official port of entry
  • The individual is a refugee as identified in regulation 2 of the Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulation 2006
  • The individual is not a UK security threat
  • The individual is not a danger to the UK
  • They have no criminal convictions for serious offences
  • It would be a violation of the Geneva Convention to refuse the individual’s application because, on their return to their home country, they will face threats due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, etc.


What if an individual’s circumstances changed since they were in the UK?

An individual could also argue that the circumstances have changed since they were in their home country. For instance, they could have been involved in some activities in the UK which have placed them in potential harm or persecution should they return to their home country.


Can unaccompanied children apply for asylum?

Yes, if a child is without a legal guardian, they may still apply for asylum if they face endangerment in their home country. These cases are treated as a priority by the Home Office.


What is Humanitarian Protection?

Humanitarian Protection is a form of international protection given to people who do not qualify under the asylum rules.

You can be granted humanitarian protection in a situation where you don’t meet the criteria for refugee status in the UK; however, you still require protection.

If a person faces a serious risk of life or endangerment on their return to their home country, they are likely to be granted humanitarian protection.

Examples of endangerment include unlawful killing, the death penalty, and torture or inhuman or degrading treatment/punishment.


What’s the difference between humanitarian protection and asylum?

There are only five grounds that you can base your asylum claim on. These being:

  1. Nationality
  2. Race
  3. Religion
  4. Member of a particular social group
  5. Political or imputed political opinion


Humanitarian claims are different

Usually, a humanitarian claim would be made when you are not able to meet any one of the grounds under which to make an application for asylum. However, you must still be able to show evidence that the risk to your life or safety is of a serious nature.

It could be argued that asylum and humanitarian claims are almost the same things. The difference being, if you claim asylum, you must have specific grounds. At the same time, an application for humanitarian protection can be based on a more general reason that you require protection from the consequences of a serious nature.

The Home Office also considers them interchangeable.


What if a humanitarian protection claim is granted? 

If it’s a successful claim for humanitarian protection, you would be granted leave for five years. In limited circumstances, you may get less.


What if I remain under humanitarian protection in the UK for five years?

After five years, you may qualify for settlement. However, it is not automatic after five years. It must be shown that you still need ongoing humanitarian protection or need to at least apply for a further grant of leave with justifiable reasons.

If you are looking for safety in the UK, contact us to seek specialist advice so that you can have the maximum chance of getting your application successful.