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.

Find out more about who is eligible to claim asylum.

Apply for a visa if you want to come to the UK for another reason (for example 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 refused if you wait.

When you apply you’ll have a meeting with an immigration officer (known as a ‘screening’).

After your screening the Home Office will decide if your claim can be considered in the UK. If it can, you’ll have an asylum interview with a caseworker.

You’ll be told when there’s a decision on your application.

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, for example report to a caseworker regularly (known as ‘reporting events’).

You must tell the authorities if your situation changes.

You will not 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 do not have an adult relative who is also claiming asylum.