1. Overview

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.

Apply for a visa if you want to come to the UK for another reason (eg to work, study or remain with family). If you’re already in the UK and want to remain with family living here, apply for a family of a settled person visa.

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.

You can get up to 2 years in prison or have to leave the UK if you give false information on your application.

Waiting for your decision

You’ll be told after your screening what you must do while you’re waiting for your asylum decision, eg report to a caseworker regularly (known as ‘reporting meetings’).

You must tell the authorities if your situation changes.

You won’t usually be allowed to work while your asylum claim is being considered.

Help you can get

You can get help with:

  • getting legal representation for your asylum claim
  • living in the UK while you wait for your decision

Children applying on their own

You can apply as a child on your own if you don’t have an adult relative who is also claiming asylum.