The real problem is the classic Catch-22 that the UK has deliberately created for anyone needing to claim asylum.
- To claim asylum, you have to be physically present within the UK to claim asylum. One cannot apply for asylum from abroad.
- To legally gain entry to the UK, one needs possession of a visa or some other official permission to enter.
- However, there is no class of visas (e.g. "Asylum Visas") suitable for people to come to the UK in order to apply for asylum. Visiting on a tourist visa and then applying for asylum once in the UK is generally regarded as being deceptive and will be rejected.
- Accordingly, many people who seek asylum need to first travel somehow to the UK, often by irregular means such as by using fake passports or by using "small boats".
Finally, anyone applying for asylum protection is not permitted to work while their application is being processed.
Entering the UK to claim asylum
The following sections and paragraphs are taken from this document produced by the charity "Right to Remain".
The Government makes it very difficult for people to enter the United Kingdom (UK) to claim asylum. This is especially so after the Government introduced a law called the Nationality and Borders Act 2022. If you are in danger in your country of origin or residence, and you want the UK to grant you international protection, you can claim asylum when you are in the UK.
However, it is not possible to claim asylum from outside the UK, and there is no visa which allows people to enter the UK in order to claim asylum. This means that most people have no choice but to enter the UK without permission. People may come hidden in vehicles, on boats, or by aeroplane using a false passport.
Under section 40 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (NABA), it is difficult for a person to arrive in the UK without a visa.
As there is no such thing as an ‘asylum visa’, this law will apply to almost all asylum seekers entering the UK. From 28 July 2022 onwards, anybody who enters the UK (without a visa) and claims asylum will be going against this law. This offence carries a maximum sentence of 4 years (5 years for people who re-enter the UK in breach of a deportation order).
However, it is important to remember that it would not be practical for the Government to prosecute (this means to bring criminal proceedings against) everybody who enters the UK without a visa, because this would put a lot of pressure on the courts and prison systems.
The Government has said that prosecutions will target people who are re-entering the UK after having been deported or removed as a failed asylum seeker. They will also apparently target people who have caused a danger to themselves or others, or have caused disruption to the channel tunnel or services such as shipping routes.
A person who successfully applies for an unrelated visa (for example, a tourist visa) can enter the UK lawfully and claim asylum without breaching section 40 of NABA.
However, it would be impossible to secure a tourist visa without being dishonest on the application form by stating that you intend to travel to the UK for a holiday, when your real intention would be to enter the UK to claim asylum. This could be seen as deception when applying for a visa. Deception is what happens when you hide or misrepresent the truth.
This means that it is now almost impossible to enter the UK to claim asylum. This goes directly against international law (which you can read more about below), and is an element of the ‘hostile environment’ which the UK Government wants to create to discourage people from claiming asylum in the UK.
The most important thing to remember is that, even though these laws are difficult, many people successfully claim asylum in the UK each year. In the year ending June 2022, 76% of initial Home Office decisions on applications resulted in the grant of refugee status or some other form of protection. This means that the UK Home Office – the government department responsible for immigration and borders – found people’s asylum claims legitimate even though they may have entered the UK through ‘irregular’ means. A legitimate claim is one that is genuine.
The above article continued by talking about certain legal defences available to those seeking asylum after having used a false passport or similar (c.f Article 31 defences).
Contributors: Mark Collins, Paul Hazelden, Brian Monahan