Claiming asylum means asking the UK for protection because you fear for your life (you are scared) for specific reasons under the law. To claim asylum, you either tell the immigration officials (government workers) at the airport/port you arrive at, or you go to a Home Office building if you have not claimed asylum at the airport/port.
The Home Office is a government department dealing with immigration and asylum. Home Office caseworkers are the people who will look into your reasons for wanting protection and stay in the UK.
You will usually need to go to the Home Office in Croydon (South London) if you don’t claim asylum at the airport/port, but if you are a long way from Croydon, the Home Office may allow you to go to a local office nearer to where you are.
You might hear people talking about ‘unaccompanied minors’. Unaccompanied minors are children (anyone under the age of 18) who are in the UK without an adult who is responsible for them. Accompanied minors are children who are with an adult who is responsible for them.
While you are under the age of 18, any decisions relating to your care should take your ‘best interests’ into account. What is classed as being in your best interests will depend on your personal situation, your wellbeing, and your views and your identity.
You might have heard of people talking about the ‘inadmissibility rules’. These will not apply to you if the Home Office believes that you are under 18 years old. However, if the Home Office does not believe that you are under 18, you may be given a ‘Notice of Intent’ letter. If you receive one of these letters, it is very important to speak to someone (for example a charity that supports you) to help you challenge it.
If you are encouraged by a Home Office official to withdraw (take back) your application for protection, do not do this. Make sure you speak to an adult that you trust, such as a lawyer.
You don't know how to claim asylum
Go to the police or ask someone to show you how to get to the local council or social services.
You turn up at the Home Office to claim asylum without an appointment
You explain you are homeless, and Home Office policy is that “You don’t need to make an appointment if you have nowhere to live – you can go to the screening unit between 7:30am-4:00pm, Monday-Friday"
You explain that you are homeless, and that the Home Office policy is that “You don’t need to make an appointment if you have nowhere to live – you can go to the screening unit between 7:30am and 4:00pm, Monday to Friday”. All unaccompanied children must be referred to social services at the earliest possible opportunity, even if only the most basic details are known. Home Office staff must provide social services with the information they have and request that a duty social worker attend the welfare (small) interview.
You claim asylum a week or two after arrival
It is really important you claim asylum as soon as possible because this could go against you in your application for asylum. However...
It is really important you claim asylum as soon as possible because this could go against you in your application for asylum. The Home Office may argue that this shows you are not in real danger. However, not everyone will claim asylum as soon as they arrive, and there can be good reasons for this. You can ask your lawyer (solicitor) to explain to the Home Office why you didn’t claim asylum straight away.
You do not have a lawyer when you claim asylum
If possible, you should claim asylum with a lawyer (solicitor) - but this is not always possible early on in the asylum process. Your social worker will help you with finding a lawyer...
Your social worker, foster carer or key worker will help you find a lawyer. Your lawyer must be regulated by the Law Society or registered with the OISC at the right level. In most cases, you will have an interpreter during your meetings with your lawyer.
You arrived in the UK in Kent, but now the Home Office are saying you will be moved to a different place
If you arrive into an area where there are already a certain number of children being supported by the local authority, you will be moved to a different area of the UK.
If you arrive into an area where there are already a certain number of children being supported by the local authority, you will be moved to a different area of the UK. Sometimes these decisions will be made without taking your wishes into account. However, it is important that the Home Office always takes your best interests into account. If this has happened to you and you do not want to be moved, contact your solicitor to ask about how you can challenge it.
You have been invited by the Home Office to withdraw your application for asylum
You might be asked to withdraw your claim for asylum in certain (limited) circumstances. This can only happen if...
You might be asked to withdraw (take back) your claim for asylum in certain (limited) circumstances. This can only happen if: you have a close family member in another country who can take care of you, and UK social services believe that you can be looked after by this family member. For this to happen, three things need to happen:
If you do not want this to happen and would rather stay in the UK, you do not have to agree.