1. Overview

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

You must have left your country, and be unable to go back because you fear persecution, to meet the eligibility requirements.

You may be able to apply another way if you want to be in the UK for another reason, eg to work or study.

You should apply as soon as you arrive in the UK. If you’re already in the UK (eg as a student or visitor) you should apply as soon as you think you’ll be at risk of persecution if you return to your country. Waiting to apply can count against your application.

You’ll need to attend an asylum screening to register your claim for asylum and then go to your asylum interview.

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

You may be prosecuted and forced to leave if you provide false information as part of your claim - the maximum penalty is 2 years in prison.

While you’re applying

You’ll be told after your screening what you must do while you’re waiting for your asylum decision, eg go to regular reporting meetings.

You must report any changes to your situation after you apply.

You won’t usually be allowed to work.

Help you can get

You can get help with:

  • your application
  • 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.

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