Claim asylum in the UK:

You must apply for asylum if you want to stay in the UK as a refugee.

To be eligible you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you fear persecution.

You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country. Your application is more likely to be denied if you wait.

After you apply you’ll have a meeting with an immigration officer (known as a ‘screening’) and then an asylum interview with a caseworker.

You’ll usually get a decision on your application within 6 months.

Prepare for an asylum interview:

The asylum interview (or ‘substantive interview’) is an important step in your application for refugee status – it’s a chance for you to put your case across to someone from the Home Office. They’ll make a decision based on what you say.

Your application will usually be rejected if you don’t go to your interview.

Your interview will happen after your ‘screening’ – it could be anything from a week to a year or even later. The Home Office will send you a letter telling you when your interview will be.

It’s really important that you  before your interview. Your case is more likely to be successful if the evidence you have is prepared properly – it’s hard to do this on your own.

As an asylum seeker, you might be entitled to legal aid (depending on your savings and income). If you get legal aid, you won’t have to pay for legal advice. If you’re eligible, don’t let anyone charge you – you’ll spend money for no reason.

Before the interview:

You should ask for the interview to be recorded. You must do this at least 24 hours before the interview.

It’s a good idea, just in case:

  • an interpreter makes a mistake
  • you’re not sure if you mentioned something

Your interview letter will tell you how to do this, or you can  if you need help.

You can also ask for a male or female interviewer (and interpreter, if you need one) – do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.

The above information is a brief overview.

For all matters relating to preparing for an asylum please see the links below:

Updated 24/08/2021

Adviceline: (free)


*Adviceline is open 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday