ASSIST Sheffield

Challenging asylum destitution

About asylum

What is an asylum claim?

An asylum claim is a claim for international protection on the basis of a fear of persecution in one’s home country.

Asylum claims are submitted to the Home Office.

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their own country, has crossed an international border and has asked the government in the country they have entered for recognition as a refugee. They have asked for the protection of that country and the right not to be returned to their own country where they would face danger.

While applicants are waiting for decisions about their applications they are referred to as asylum seekers by government agencies. When all appeal rights have been exhausted they may be referred to as ‘refused’ or ‘failed’ asylum seekers.

It is also legitimate to use the word ‘refugee’ to refer to people who are seeking asylum.

Why should refused asylum seekers have our support?

In ASSIST’s experience, many refused asylum seekers in the UK are in fact genuine refugees who have been let down by the system.

Inadequate legal aid and a culture of disbelief result in many genuine cases being refused.

Is there such a thing as an illegal asylum seeker?

No. This term is always incorrect. It cannot be illegal to seek asylum as everyone has the fundamental human right to request asylum under international law.

What does ‘destitute’ mean?

According to the UK government, a person is destitute if

  • they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not their essential living needs are met) or
  • they have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet their essential living needs now or within 14 days

Why do many asylum seekers become destitute?

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work. Whilst a claim is ongoing, they receive accommodation and cash support under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act (1999).

Once an asylum seeker has exhausted all appeal rights, they are known as ‘appeals rights exhausted’ (ARE).

Once a person is ARE, they have no right to accommodation or asylum support from 21 days after losing their appeal, unless they qualify for support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act (1999) because there is a temporary barrier preventing them from leaving the country.

Those who do not qualify for Section 4 support become destitute.

Let’s do what we can to help those asylum seekers in our city who are left with nothing – no right to work, no benefits and no accommodation.