About Asylum

What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

An asylum seeker is an individual who has entered the UK to claim asylum and has registered this fact with the
UK Border Agency. Whilst their claim is being considered, asylum seekers are not allowed to work but will be housed and given £40 per week to cover food, clothing and transport costs. Those who have their asylum claim accepted become a refugee and are given “leave to remain” or they are rejected and required to leave. Other forms of “leave to remain” include Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to Remain.

A refugee is a person who has been give permission to stay in the country by the UK Border Agency.
A refugee is entitled to the same rights and support as any other foreigner who is a legal resident, including the right to work. Refugees are no longer given Indefinite Leave to remain, and most people allowed to stay in the UK must reapply after 3 or 5 years.

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 because of your:

  • race
  • religion
  • nationality
  • political opinion
  • membership of a particular social group

The criteria for the granting of asylum and hence the recognition of a person as a refugee can be found in the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The UK is a signatory to the convention, and thus has a legal obligation to protect refugees.

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